Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Nice day two;
We woke up later than usual, and I went out baguette hunting, in the off season-winter there aren’t many Boulangeries’s open. When we were here last year in July you couldn’t swing a beret without hitting a boulangerie sign, now all the bakers are……..I have no idea what a baker does off season, maybe a time share in Orlando, “ze kids are loving the Epcot center so“. I really got to know the outer fringes of old Antibes today. I discovered an area of town that’s probably not even recorded in the city survey. A place where old people walked into and drank from a fountain and returned to their family as teenagers, or where bakers had their own little Shangri-La, so I circumvented my way back to the house and found a baguettes-r-us shop a block and a half from our little maison. An hour after leaving I return with the elusive loaf of bread. Don’t get me wrong French baguettes could be currency, they are that good. I probably would have joined Burt Reynolds, and Ned Beatty in Deliverance if there were a boulangerie at the end of the canoe trip.
The plans are made with Andrew and Arlette that we will go with them to Nice, and they will go see her mother who is not doing well, our hearts are breaking for Arlette, she is such a good soul, seeing her mother in the most strained of circumstances. So we drive up the coast road, and into Nice where Andrew competes in his Lemans “for the parking space” Race . He has become a surgeon with his car able to squeeze through traffic with precision, and as passengers we feel completely at ease, as he navigates with such competence. Were I driving I would be enjoying it completely, but my passengers would be administering last rights to each other.
We park the car in the only available space in Nice, after a long search, Arlette knew it was there all along, Andrew is so fortunate. We depart the below grade parking structure and exit into Nice. We are right at the weekly flea market, it has everything from antique oil paintings, furniture, bric-a-brac, you get the idea. We peruse the market and wind our way to the steep stairway that scales the side of the mountain and ends on top with a water feature. After an hour of climbing and stopping and enjoying the view we arrive at the top.
The view is spectacular, one sees the old part of Nice and the more modern suburbs, the Alps seem closer, and the Med shows off its winter colors. The weather is agreeable for this time of the year, a little cool, breezy, and a hint of rain is always present, but so what, its France. We walk around the twenty plus foot high water feature, it must have been spectacular after its unveiling, all the period wear, old world charm. It’s a kind of grotto waterfall, pond, archeological feature type affair, with a wind blown mist at the bottom that cools or freezes the pedestrians walking its base. We actually suck it up and walk around the back side of the park, real good decision, and we are treated to the backside of Nice. Below is the larger harbor, battlements, and small part of the town that looks as though it serves the marine industry. There is also a spot that you walk out on and there is a 200 plus foot drop, quite inspiring, or perspiring as the case may be. The walk down the stairs is as rewarding going down as it is going up, you see the same vistas but with a grander sense of perspective. Everything about Nice fits into place when viewed from a great elevation. When the bottom is reached you feel a little tinge of accomplishment, and look forward to exploring more of this old place.
When we were staying in Antibes last year we would occasionally take a train ride for a day to Villfrance sur Mer or Eze, for hikes or beach days, and on the train ride we would go through or pass Nice, and I gotta tell you not so alluring. I didn’t have that much of a desire to stay any longer than to change trains, well man am I converted. There is a special magic to this place, some places have it or don’t, this one took a little prying but once in you’ll never want to leave.