Nice is quite an amazing place, an interesting mix of Italian and French, especially in the old town (due to its history of being part of Sardinia and then later part of France). The 4km beach is a sight with the Promenade des Anglaise being the perfect place to watch the rollerbladers, bike riders and beautiful people strut their stuff.
We were surprised, on arrival, to find most of the main part of Nice a major road works site where they are installing a new tram system in an effort to ease Nice’s huge traffic problems. When this is finished that part of town is sure to be quite lovely again.
Walking through the old town was like stepping into any number of films or photographs. This was a completely new experience for Nic – John had done bits of Europe before. But Nice was really only the beginning of such beautiful, tiny old streets and alleyways.
We stayed at the Hotel Rex on Rue Messena (a main shopping street, but surprisingly quiet) where our host, Thierry, made this little 2 star place seem like it was more. He was a very helpful and friendly man with a great sense of humour. The rave reviews found on Tripadvisor were justified.
We spent the first afternoon and evening just wandering around getting a feel for the place. The next day we caught the bus east along the coast to a place called Villefranche-sur-Mer (used for a couple of scenes in the film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). It was a delightful little sea town with an amazing tunnel/underground street where residents were once able to hide from marauders.
We continued our journey to the ‘palace’ built by Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild on the narrowest part of the ‘cap’ near Beaulieu-sur-Mer. What a glorious place. The mansion is an eclectic mix of architectural styles – which she insisted on because of her many travel experiences and love of exotic cultures. The grounds are 4.5 hectares divided into 9 different gardens – Spanish, Japanese, Provence….the list goes on. Highly enjoyable few hours spent there.
We then walked and continued by bus to Monaco where we met a young Canadian woman who is teaching in England. We hung out together for the afternoon, enjoying the hill top palace and other buildings while digging into some ice cream (hi Jenny).
The next day was less full, but still very pleasant. Got some chores done (washing, blogging) and then headed off to the Marc Chagall Museum. We both loved this! As he is a huge favourite, this was such a treat!
That night we went to a restaurant recommended by our host for a truly ‘Nicoise’ experience called Lu Fran Calin. They had the most amazing risotto ever tasted (well, so far on this trip!). A very memorable experience and the perfect way to finish our time in Nice.