Nice has connections with 24 other cities around the world. Or so the woman in the petit train headphones told us today. She told us a lot of other things besides, while we sat and meandered around the streets and up to the top of the hill that was a fort then a chateau and a cathedral and a hill and now a park.
When seen from the petit train, Nice is quite an amazing place. It has changed so many times through out it’s long history that it’s probably quite difficult to know who’s actually in charge at any given time. The Greeks, it seems, started things (though there was some sort of settlement here 400,000 years ago – I’m thinking homo erectus rather than sapien) in around 350BC when a few of them moved down the coast from Marseilles and built a neighbouring city. Maybe they’d argued, maybe they just wanted to move, no-one knows.
The Romans came next. Then the Greeks again followed by the second Roman wave. All was well until the barbarians destroyed the whole place (because that’s what barbarians do, Terry Jones) in order to sleep on the rubble of ancient Rome like some sort of uncomfortable thumbs up to the imperialists. (Sounds a bit Brexit to me.)
At various times the place flourished then diminished. It was owned by various people (the Savoys controlled it for quite a while) until it eventually ended up being part of France and the playground of the rich, famous and/or powerful. Now it’s just full of tourists. But not so many that you can’t have a jolly happy stroll down the Promenade du Paillon. Which we did first thing.
The day was already getting quite warm when we found this delightful ‘fountain.’ When I saw it from a distance I thought it was sending steam up but, when Mirinda walked through it she said it was very light, fine water.
It was strangely refreshing around the ankles. As we left it a poor lady walked into it and it all stopped. She looked rather sad that she’d missed the mist. Perhaps if she waited long enough…but we couldn’t wait because we had a date with a pastry.
While we are lo-carb these days, a French treat once a year is mandatory. So to a patisserie we retired to partake of a single delight each. This also gave us time to wait for the Museum of Contemporary Art to open. The museum was Mirinda’s concession to me. I was allowed one art gallery so I chose the modern one. In retrospect I rather wish I’d picked the Marc Chagall instead.
As I mentioned in an earlier post this holiday, sometimes Mirinda is just like her father. No more so than in modern art galleries. I kept wandering away from her because she was getting more and more riled by what she claimed was just a bunch of wanky garbage disguised as art. As she said, the fact that the wanky artists would love this sort of reaction just made her madder.
I rather enjoyed some of it; some of it I didn’t. Of course there were no ‘pretty pictures’ and there were a lot of pieces that appropriated every day objects and reused them to represent various aspects of our wasteful society. The place is circular and the visitor goes from floor to floor and round and round until reaching the terrace at the top. The terrace has an amazing view…
…all around, especially on such a day as today. Though it was a bit blowy.
There was a special exhibition on called ‘Regarding Nice: 1947-1977’ which I rather enjoyed (Mirinda hated most of it). It was about the so called Nice School of artists. Among these artists were Yves Klein, Ben and Claude Pascal to name but three. I particularly like Ben and his own style of mayhem.
But enough of that…we had other things to do before the sun set. We headed down to the old town to look for some lunch. And we found some in a lovely little Portuguese restaurant called Le Barbecue. I had one of the loveliest salads ever – duck, goats cheese on gingerbread and various other bits and pieces. I also had a Portuguese beer which I’ve not tried before. All in all, a lovely lunch.
It was then off to find ice cream, another carb treat. Before that though we popped into the cathedral in order to disapprove of all the riches on display and the dead saints littering the place.
Given Nice is a beachy place, there are signs up in the church about what you can and can’t wear in church. The thing is, some of the women wear such brief shorts, it’s hard to say where the bikini starts and the day wear ends. Still, everyone went in, wandered around and then came out and god didn’t do anything…except make it a bit windier.
Not that the wind stopped us having our ice creams. Rose and lavender for me, rose and violet for Mirinda – totally lush.
But then the wind did get up. We wondered if it was the leftover puff from one of the various devastating hurricanes doing the rounds at the moment. It certainly wasn’t the mistral which is pathetic in comparison. This wind was enough to pick up small children and send them to Italy.
We struggled against it down to the petit train stop only to wave goodbye to a full one as it left the park. We decided to go and sit in a sheltered spot while waiting for the next departure.
And, as I said, we enjoyed a lovely ride through the streets in a very unhurried fashion.
Of course the highlight was getting to the top of Nice, leaving the train and taking lots of photographs of the panorama before us.
The wind seemed to have left its mark on the trees at the top though…
Still, we survived and managed to make it back to the hotel as the wind died down.
Then, for dinner, Mirinda found a Japanese/French restaurant not far from the hotel. It was called Ma Yucca and absolutely brilliant. It felt just like we were back in Japan…except for the dessert. The Japanese don’t really do dessert. So we figured that was the ‘French’ bit. The starters and mains were delicious and the miso soup wonderful – I thought it was better than mine but lovely loyal Mirinda said mine was better.
The only downside was the creme brulee I had.
Finally, we staggered back to the hotel for our last night in France.
Here’s today’s video from the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Nice.
Before I sign off, I have a question about today. Does anyone reading this know what the flag at number 8 on this photo represents?