The Cote D’azûr is not quite what I expected. I was looking for golden sand beaches but I found only pebbles the size of footballs peppered with smaller pebbles and gravel. One cannot walk on the beach without some form of footwear to protect the soles of one’s feet. Apart from that, bathing in the Med was a treat and I enjoyed bobbing about in the 26 degree warm water. The weather was glorious and altogether too hot, about 31 in the shade. Even the locals were complaining. Blue skies, cold beer, good food and lots of water. The weekend in Nice was great.
We stayed at the Splendid Hotel, which it was, about 400 meters from the sea front which is known all over the world as Le Promenade D’Anglais. Once on the Promenade, one could easily believe one was in Brighton. The only difference being the huge palm trees and the traffic on the wrong side of the road for the Brits.
Old Nice is a pleasure to wander about in. The streets are narrow and the buildings are high and they protect one from the sun, which was giving everyone a hard time of it while we were there. Luckily, there were numerous places to fall down in a chair and quench the inevitable thirst.
And now a word of warning. I realise that one can’t take a holiday for free and that however you try to figure it, the tourist industry is only granted a certain amount of time each year in which to make it’s money, but how can a small beer possibly cost €10.00, no matter where you drink it? A small bottle of water costs €3.00 in any café. €8.00 for a coffee. Why? Overpricing seemed to be the order of the day. It was certainly so when it came to food. At least I thought so. What I paid for it, was way too high considering the quality, or lack of quality, of what I got. And that is a general observation. After eating at different restaurants for four days, one gathers a certain experience. Too little and too expensive is my own conclusion.
OK, for our last evening we went to the famous Koudou restaurant on the Promenade. The food was exquisite, the wine was to die for, the service was excellent and the price was actually not bad. Certainly not hugely over expensive compared with what we otherwise paid at lesser establishments. I recommend that others going to Nice try it.
Beware of the restaurants on the beach. They will charge you a tariff ranging from €14.00 to €26.00 per person just to sit in their chairs. That price goes on top of the bill. They don’t advertise the fact that they do this, so be bloody careful if you feel you want to eat close to the sea because it looks romantic. It probably is, but damned expensive too. And it could come as a nasty surprise if you eat close to the amount in your wallet. Suddenly finding out that you brought €50.00 too little is hard to explain away.
Nice holds local festivals. We were lucky to be in town on one of those occasions. We knew nothing about it in advance but simply believed that all the extra activity on the Prom was due to it being Saturday night.
We ate at a little restaurant from which we could see down to the beach. At 22:00, music could be heard coming from the beach area and then a 45 minute fireworks display that simply knocks the socks off anything I have ever experienced before, got under way. It was magnificent. I can’t be sure, but perhaps it was Jean Michel Jarre’s music we were hearing. It was a marvellous and totally unexpected event and I feel lucky to have seen it.
All in all, we enjoyed ourselves there. I used, perhaps, a little more money than I would have liked but the whole experience of the South of France was enjoyable. I tried out my broken French, learned a little more and generally had a whale of a time. I may even go back there in the future. If I do, I will probably hire a car and venture off into the area around Nice rather than stay in the town itself.
That will have to wait for another day and will be another story.