Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NICE, FRANCE

Nice's main square


The Nice Flower Market

We disembarked Azmara Quest on April 11 and moved into an apartment downtown Nice for 2 weeks.  It was ideally located for exploring the city (old and new), the flower market and strolling along the Promenade des Anglais. 
    Beautiful tomatoes at the Flower Market
Nice waterfron
In the 18th century the mild Mediterranean climate attracted English and Russian aristocracy to the area.   The English loved  walking along the seaside and suggested that a walkway be built.  And so it is that the fabulous walking, biking path that stretches for miles beside the Mediterranean is called the Promenade des Anglais.
Promenade du Paillon


Stretching inland from the Promenade to the Museum of Modern Art is Promenade du Paillon, a 12 hectare park with beautiful gardens, fountains and walking paths.  (1 hectare = about 2 and 1/2 acres.)  
Rotunda of Le Negresco Hotel


A landmark in Nice is Le Negresco Hotel.  It is a National Historic Monument with a glass ceiling rotunda and world class art collection. The chandelier has 16,800 pieces of Baccarat glass.  Its twin hangs in the Kremlin.

Nice is the 5th largest city in France and the second most popular after Paris.  Within the city limits, population is about 400,000 but climbs to over 1 million if you count the surrounding area. The earliest settlements occurred over 400,000 years ago.  Greeks settled here around 350 B.C. and named it Nike after the goddess of victory.  
St. Paul de Vence


Fortunately, we have a friend here who was extremely gracious in spending time with us and showing us the surrounding area.  He took us to St. Paul de Vence, a medieval mountaintop town. The cobblestone streets are lined with quaint shops.  The artist Marc Chagall lived here from 1966 - 1985. This was where Yves Montand and Simone Signoret met in 1949 and married a year and a half later.  
Shops & galleries line the paths of Eze

Begi drove us to and through some of the other charming Cate d'Azur towns (Antibes and St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat) and  to Eze, a medieval village perched on top of a rocky cliff with winding pathways to the top. Flowers, galleries and shops line the way.  At the top are the ruins of an ancient fortified castle.  

We had a lovely afternoon with Begi in Villefranche, a charming village situated on what claims to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world.  It is encircled by the Cap of Nice on one side and Cap Ferrat on the other. 

Chef Ron's salad
With our friend in Villefranche
The weather was not always ideal but having interesting streets to wander and a friend to spend some time with made this a pleasant interlude.   And having a kitchen allowed us to have healthy meals at home.  
With Begi in Villefranche
 On April 25 we pick up the car we have leased for the coming months and happily look forward to returning to Italy.