Friday, February 09, 2007

January 2007 - Nice, France

We took a break from the cold weather in Limone and headed to Nice for a day trip. This capital of the French Riviera is absolutely gorgeous. The blue sky and warm weather brought tons of people out including a lot of northern italians also escaping the cold. Despite being the largest town between Genoa and Marseilles, Nice looks like a small French town with plenty of baroque architecture, narrow winding streets, and colorful pastry shops.
We strolled through tight winding streets of Vieille Ville (the old town where the authentic Nicoise live) which lead up to the "Rock" or Le Chateau at the top of the cliff. The buildings of the Place Messina are amazingly colorful and known for their vibrant pink color.
Rising sharply on a rock (hence the nickname) is the site known as Le Ch√Ęteau, the spot where the ducs de Savoie built their castle, which was torn down in 1706. Le Chateau is now a cliff-top park with gardens of pines, flowers and an enormous waterfall fountain. From here we got some great panomaric views of the seashore and coastal part of Nice.We also took a stroll through what is left of the Chateau.We also stopped to visit the famous old graveyard of Nice, known primarily for its lavishly sculpted monuments that make their own enduring art statement. It's the largest in France and the fourth largest in Europe. The cemetary has a distinctly separate Jewish section displaying beautiful marble mausoleums from before WWII.From where Kenny is standing, we could see the Bay of Angels and Nice's port which is most often used for docking cruise ships as this is a major stop on the French Riviera. Today there was only freight ships at the port.We descended from the cliff-top park and strolled along the seaside promenade des Anglais. We were immediately struck by the red tents seen below. These are the "homes" of a homeless community that started on the banks of the Seine in Paris and has now spread in France. The group used the letters SDF (short for sans domicile fixe) to identify themselves. Many of the residents of these SDF communities receive their tents from charities which have handed out more than 2500 red tents. They are not only made up of the traditional homeless of any society, but also, the working lower middle class of France. They seek to make the point that housing in France has become unaffordable for under paid low wage workers.
Looking at the beach from another perspective, Nice looks like a perfect seaside vacation destination.

This is the Nice Opera House which sits on the promenade just across the street from the beach.

We also strolled through the Jardin Albert I with it's grand fountains and a ferris wheel that offers great views of Nice.On the promenade sit some beautifully colorful and grand hotels dating back to the baroque era,
as well as, some modern hotels like the one below which houses Nice's largest and most popular casino.

After a long day of sight seeing, we stopped at a pastry shop to pick up some goodies for the train ride home. The egg and prosciutti tartain was our favorite. The cuisine in Nice is a mixture of French and Italian. So we had wonderful croissants and even better caffe.

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