Saturday, 25 October 2008

14th October - Nice

At long last, it was Tuesday and the day had arrived for our main trip to Nice. We'd been looking forward to it. So after an early start and much consuming of 2 raisin escargot and tart aux pommes from the local boulangerie, off we headed in the car. Wise this time though, no crazy mountain roads for us........ straight up the the 57 and onto the main A8 route! We were fast becoming locals!!

Nice was in our sights and we drove into the centre and parked up at an underground car park. Stepping out into the streets we eventually headed towards one of the main squares in Nice - Place Massena. We just don't have anything quite like this in our Scottish cities, a huge open area filled with fountains and statues and superb cobbled and tiled streets. People sitting having lunch, reading or just enjoying the sights in front of them.

You just have to look up and admire the wonderful buildings around the square. So colourful. And you then clock the statues sitting on tall poles!! Strange but very effective in that setting.

It's hard to imagine just how large an open area it is but this picture towards the fountains gives you an idea. The first one is Fountaine du Soleil.

and you then turn and look the other way............

From what we had read in our books, there were a lot of mentions of the famous flower market in Nice - cours Saleya. So leaving the Place Massena behind we headed towards the old town [Vieux Nice] in search of the flower market. And we found it. About 100 stalls jam packed with flowers and plants. It was wonderful just to capture the smells of all the plants, all beautifully paraded in their vases and tubs. And reasonably priced too.

With lunchtime looming we played safe and settled on one of the many highly recommended restaurants that flank the flower stalls. You can just see it under the canopy in this picture. It was called Le Cobuse. I had fish again and Andrew and Amber both settled on a pasta dish.

In an attempt to walk off the large lunch we had just eaten we headed through the old town. The narrow and sometimes dark streets had amazing gems hidden round the few open spaces there were. Catherdrale de St Reparate was one of them.

Out of the darkness, heading north of the old town we just kept looking up at all the wonderful colours on the apartments that line the streets. They are certainly not shy with their paints.

Being a huge fan of all things "arty" we kept walking looking out for a local statue called La Tete au Carre de Sosno. It was huge....... but we couldn't quite find it straight away. Heading up towards Musee d'Art Moderne we stopped to look at another couple of interesting sculptures. The first one is a book on legs!

and then a large silver sort of dinosaur....... hmmmm

..... but then we got to it the statue we had been looking for. It's a giant square head made from concrete.

To give you an idea of its size here it is further back across the road.

now for the funny part. We actually walked past it and nearly missed it!!!! I mean.... it's not as if it's discreet is it?

A slightly subtler statue outside the Congres Acropolis building can be found.

And then it was time to head back down towards the eastern edge of the seafront [Promenade des Anglais] in Nice. We walked past more lovely painted townhouses. If you look at the detail underneath the roof ledge it's just amazing the time they must have spent painting it.

We were wanting to go back towards the Promenade des Anglais to get an elevator that takes you up to the castle overlooking the bay at Nice. Our map told us to head towards Quai des Etats-Unis on the eastern edge of the Promenade. Alas we lost our way through the narrow streets of the old town and Nice and after climbing a few stairs [well more like 100 odd!!!] we were on our way "manually" up to the Chateaux. The effort was worth it though with spectacular views across Nice.

and the main Promenade des Anglais......

We still had a bit of a walk to go until we reached the top to the chateau but there were many features on the way to keep you interested. This is a fountain which tumbles off the main terraces on the chateau. To be honest I was that hot from the climbing I could have just stood for an hour and enjoyed the spray from the fountain!!

And then we were rewarded with breathtaking views from the chateau terraces, across Nice and the Promenade des Anglais. We were in no hurry to go back down, we just stood savouring the views.

Walking around the other side of the terraces were views across the main marina in Nice. We stood watching all the expensive yachts sailing into the marina. Smell the money!!!!

I loved the colourful apartments and townhouses that flanked the marina.

To quicken things up we opted for the elevator to return us to the street level. The elevator was housed in this large round tower.

And finally back down to earth and time to stretch our legs on the main seafront that epitomises Nice - the Promenade des Anglais. Well Amber did anyway. I opted for a more leisurely stroll.

There are hotels and restaurants all the way along the Promenade. The 2 ones that I particularly liked and would have happily stayed at are Palais De La Mediterranee.......

and one of Nice's oldest hotels Hotel Negresco

which had a cute statue outside it's front door. A colourful man playing a trumpet!!!

before heading along for a final stroll along the Promenade. For history buffs the promenade was built around 1820 by the British gentry who flocked to the riviera every winter. Apparently nowadays you can see all sorts walking along it, including old ladies with perfectly manicured poodles!!!!

A quick visit to a sandwich shop [Brioche Doree] and then parked up at the marina and ate our sandwiches whilst watching the yachts Mustique and Polarus sitting looking all grande. Darkness was upon us so we headed back home to the apartment.

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