The sun is beginning to shine in Europe and thrilled is the exact word I can use to describe how pleased I am. I have arrived in Nice, France. When I think I could not see any place more beautiful than the ones I have seen so far…. I visit France.
France has got to be one of my favourite places and Nice proves exactly why. Something to look at every turn.
From small lanes and cars trying to get through one-way roads packed with people. To large open spaces with trams coming through. Alleys and lane-ways with hidden treasures; shops, cafes and restaurants. Walking the lanes, I felt enclosed by the tall buildings.
It’s what you imagine when thinking about a dream European holiday. Or see a perfect movie scene that makes you want to book a holiday in France, ASAP. Small in width, the buildings either side creating a tunnel-like effect when looking up to the sky. The buildings are different in colour. Yellow, terracotta, blue and so many more. Some with stone showing and others were a bit of colour and stone. Some had small balconies others had what looked like balcony’s but is more of a window barrier. Most had shutters with a colour that compliments the exterior. Some were open and some closed, others half open and few with one of the shutters open and the other closed.
I walked through the old town, making my way to the morning markets. I passed through a lane that was on a slight hill. It was the kind with those giant steps that take two or three steps before you go up to the next. I turned down a darkish alley as shortcut, it didn’t look like much. One of the buildings had some construction going on, all I could see was the markets down the end so I took the short cut but as I passed through, I crossed, what is the definition of a hidden gem. The place, Angea. It was here, I had the best macarons I have had outside of Paris, France. Mouth-watering and full of flavour. All my favourite flavours on display and irresistible.
It’s boutique style drew me in. Looking at it from the outside, you know they have the sweetest treats. White and pink exterior and a window filled with cakes, you can’t pass without having a look. That’s right, this tiny place offered more than macarons. I couldn’t pass by and not get one, well four. I am in France after all and my dad did say as we said our goodbyes, “do everything and have no regrets”. I know in my heart, and stomach, mostly stomach, I would have regretted not getting any.
After making my purchases I continued to the markets. If you can’t tell by previous posts, markets are my favourite place on earth. This one had so many different scents going on. One minute its all sweet with the smell of crepes and the next the smell of meat, followed by olives. Not going to lie, the olives made me gag a little. It ruined the moment, but it was soon followed by the beautiful scent of flowers and lavender.
Everything seemed to be so well organised. Sweets than savoury. Fresh produce (fruit and veg), floristry, then lavender and finished off with souvenirs. At the end I was met by loads of restaurants. But, I took a left and went to the water, aka The Promenade.
The water is a gorgeous turquoise and the road lined with palm trees. I crossed to the other side of the road to see the water better. It was at that moment I began to miss home and our beautiful beaches. The beaches I have so often visited with my friends and family. The place where I ground myself; walks, runs and even standing with the sand between my toes. And yes, the water in Nice and many parts of Europe are stunning. But coming from Australia, I often find it hard to be amazed by beaches. I don’t know, perhaps I’m being biased.
I must say though this water is stunning. Different and defined shades of blue and green as you look out and down along the shoreline. The rocks/pebbles here, are by far some of the nicest I have seen at any rocky beach. I’m not joking. The white and grey contrasting with the colour of the water was something to behold. I love a good white rocky beach.
I decided to rent a bike for two hours, to see the whole of the shoreline and Promenade. On my way back down, I rode through the streets, more inland before heading over the port side of Nice. It was a perfect day for a ride. The sun out and a light breeze blowing. It was so nice to finally have sunshine. There was enough sunshine, I got a little sunburnt. Crazy thing is, it wasn’t that warm only a mere 17 degrees, it was enough for shorts and a light jacket. My body must have been in shock after having been out of the sun and covered up for so long.
Once I returned the bike, I went up to castle hill to see a magnificent view of Nice. A perfect view of the terracotta roofs and the distinct coastline of where the sea meets the land. For the rest of my afternoon, I wander the streets exploring every nook and cranny Nice has.
Franc; day two. I decided to go for a visit to Monaco. After all, it is the cheapest it will ever be for me to get there. I’ll begin by saying the ticket was the cheapest part of my day. I knew it was going to be expensive, but geez. I have never felt so poor than while I was walking around Monte Carlo. I had my $15 zirconia earrings in, Big W coat on and a K-mart backpack. Jeans I got on sale and my white converse’s, that are not so white anymore. I oozed the look of wealth.
Seriously though, there was money and signs of wealth everywhere you looked.
As soon as I came out of the station, I was met with a racetrack. Set up was in full swing for The Monaco Grand Prix, which was awesome to see. I felt like I was walking through a Gran Turismo video game.
First I went to the Monte Carlo Casino; I will be honest and say I was so disorientated during my time here and took me ages to find. I’m going to say it was the fact that the streets looked more racetracks than normal roads. Also, the weather was a terrible, complete opposite to the beautiful sunshine we had the day before.
During my day I saw most of the coastline of Monaco. At first, I wasn’t overly keen until I went to the top of the hill where the palace is. I wish I had more time to see inside the palace, but the rate I go through those places my whole day would be gone. I walked around the outside and down the tight, curvy streets. The streets are so cramped. The shops spreading out their displays and restaurants with tables and chairs out.
I walked around the entire hilltop and saw the whole of Monte Carlo port from high above. This area was so different from the rest of Monte Carlo. Because all the prep was happening for the race, Monte Carlo wasn’t as I had seen in images or what I pictured in my head. So that disappointed me a little. The roads blocked and barracked and the views obstructed. But the hilltop was giving me good vibes. Buildings so colourful with shutters and/or balconies. I loved it and had me coming around to the idea of revisiting Monte Carlo. Still can’t make me get over how pricey it is. Perhaps my return will be when there isn’t race prep going on, or maybe for the actual race. Now that would be an experience, way more expensive but awesome.
The train ride to and from Nice was 25 minutes and on the way in you could totally tell who was going to Monaco. Everyone dressed in their poshest clothing. Women in their monogrammed blazers, wearing white and navy blue, paired with diamonds. Men in colourful pants with buttoned-up shirt and sweaters tied around the shoulders. It was a sight.
I loved my two days in Nice, France. I felt so relaxed and felt like I was on holiday. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel way more relaxed on holiday when its sunny. My next stop is just a little down the train line, opposite direction to Nice. Still in France, Marseille.