Our first (and only) full day in Nice, began with factor forty suncream and two bottles of chilled water. The heat has returned with le vengeance.
With our flat being sans-grub, we head out early for breakfast. Most eateries are still le shut. We very briefly consider finding an Irish pub for a full English, then give our heads a wobble and ditch such thoughts, banishing them to the darkest recesses of our brains. We don’t have to wander too far to find a nice little cafe doing far more civilised breakfasts. I opt for granola with fruit. It is perfect in every way.
With a population of 343,000, Nice is not a huge city, but it is the 5th largest in France.
First founded 350BC, its strategic importance, due to its port, has meant it has changed hands many times over the years. It was, for a brief period, part of Italy, till the French captured it for the final time (so far) as recently as 1860. Which explains a lot of the Italian architecture.
Situated on the French Rivera, the climate and surrounding area made it a big draw for the English middle classes from the early 18th century.
After breakfast we head for ‘The Chateau’, a castley thing on the top of a mountain separating the old port from the beachy promenade thing. We never find the castle. We give up looking when we spy the views looking down on the old port. Absolutely stunning. We think, while we are here, might as well see what’s on the other side. And then…. AND THEN… we feast our eyes on the promenade. My flabber has not been this gasted for a very long time. A stunning panorama lays in front of us. The bluest sea I have ever seen in the flesh, with a beach that stretches out for miles. It’s like Tenby, but with sun.
After taking a decent number of photographs we decide to wander, but fall into a cafe/bar on top. Beers are drunk.
After a while we gently stroll down to the promenade. First constructed in 1931 it is typical of many British Victorian seaside resorts. Indeed her Vickyness liked to pop down in her cossy now and again. The beach is pebbly, like Penarth or Brighton. As we walk hand in hand, like we were in training for the world holding hands championships, we note that the beach goes out about 40m then drops quite significantly. So if you go for swim it’s like jumping in at the deep end. There is no shallow bit. Presumably, when the tide is out, it only goes out ten foot, but drops about 20 ft. (I must check Eats, Shoots and Leaves to see what she says about mixing writing numbers and actually using numbers). There are ropes present for people to pull themselves out of the sea. And presumably abseil down into the sea when the tide is out.
Megan declared she needed a toilet, some shade and a cold drink. So we walk ten meters (look at me mixing imperial and metric) and set up camp in a cocktail bar. Most of the bars were full but there was plenty of room in this one. £13 for a pint of cider might have had something to do with it. We treat ourselves to a Pinocalada, a Purple Helmet and tap some ass, then go looking for a Wetherspoons.
We wander into the ‘old town’, which is picturesque. Tall pastel coloured buildings with wooden shutters on the windows, form the mostly narrow streets. We don’t get far into town before deciding to stop for a beer.
I think there are probably lots of boutique shops in the town, but we don’t see many. Where we are is wall to wall restaurants. They go on for ever.
We sit for a while watching council workers hose the street down. Much more fun than sweeping, but in the middle of a hose pipe ban it seems odd.
We stroll a little, do a little gift shopping then pile into the dreaded ‘Irish Pub’ for a cider fix.
We need food, but as tempting veggie bangers and mash were, we can have them at home. We look for something French. And end up in an Italian restaurant.
The waiter is incredibly friendly and as soon as he realises we want to watch the jazz trio about to come on, he moves our chairs so we are both facing the band.
It’s a three piece, with double bass, piano and guitar. Half way through they are joined by a trumpeter. It’s sort of laid back crooner stuff, with the guitarist singing and sounding very much like Sinatra. Despite looking like Jimmy Durantae.
The food arrives and is delicious. The combination of the food, the music and the general ambience, and of course the company, make it amazingly romantic. We have a truly glorious hour or so.
We float on air towards our apartment, or at least try to. We are now completely lost. The old town is a rabbit warren of alley ways full of restaurants and boozers. We feel compelled to stop for a drink. Or three. Including a ‘traditional British’ theme pub. I drink Strongbow. Because I can.
Eventually, our romantic evening comes to an end as we walk past an illegal bare knuckle fight, turn left by the guys slapping each other’s face with gloves, shouting something about pistols at dawn, and up past the severed head in a basket next to an illegal guillotine. We look fondly into each other’s eyes, spend the next thirty minutes climbing up the stairway to rat heaven, then collapse on the bed exhausted and go to sleep.