When you walk along the streets of Nice, the buildings are splashed with happy pastel colours of yellows, blues, and pinks. The style is vividly French with Mediterranean and Italian influences. Flower boxes sprout on balconies, soft white curtains blow in the sea breeze, and two smiling nuns walk by with baguettes in their satchels. A large Farmer’s Market opens up on various days during the week in Place Charles Félix, a square in Nice’s Vieille Ville or “Old Town”. Quiches with all sorts of delicious cheeses and vegetables baked inside are lined up in rows, and fresh bread is piled so high in large crates that is drastically reduced around 14:00 that signals the French do not consider a day without bread to be a day lived at all. In addition, Biologique, or “organic” grocers are as necessary here as they are accessible and well-stocked; you can find all the delights of French organic “terroir” products to your hearts content.
What I love about Nice is it is not as stuffy and pretentious as Monaco or other exclusive places along the French Riviera. For regular people, Nice is as comfortable as it can be affordable and friendly. Surprisingly, the uninterrupted, miles-long beach of Nice’s coast is better than the smaller, crowded beaches of Monaco for example. The Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is open to the sea and not protected by coves, making the water cleaner, jelly-fish free, and satisfactory for a long swim. Nice is a fun and jovial place. Families frequent the area, and in late October of this year, Nice opened up their long-awaited Promenade du Paillon (a long, grand park that stretches a few blocks north of the coastline) in which it appeared every resident of Nice came out to celebrate, gossip about, and enjoy. It was neat to see, and was a beautiful new addition to the already amiable city.
Highly refreshing in comparison with other parts of Europe, is the new, streamlined, and reliable transportation system called “Lignes d’Azur.” You can ride up and down the coast, visiting other towns and sites of interest for a cheap fare. Matthew and I made a special trip to the local town of Vence located up in the hills about a 45 minute bus ride from Nice that cost us a mere three euros. As you can imagine, the bus ride was scenic as well. There we visited a very special Chapel I have dreamed of visiting for some time, and I share that experience with you in photos below, as well as the rest of our sojourn along one of the most romantic and captivating coastlines in the world.
LANGUAGE. Français (French).
Photo. Walking on Castel Plage’s pebbled beach.
Photo. Evening light from above shines down on distant fishermen.
Photo. Cinderella pumpkins for sale, along with “Chayottes” which (after the skin is peeled away) tastes like a cross between an apple and a cucumber. On the right is a Romanesco Cauliflower (I love its intrinsic design) that cooks up just like a regular cauliflower. I like it steamed, salted, and oiled.
Photo. All sorts of sea salts in enticing flavours for sale at the Farmer’s Market.
Photo. Delicate pink roses lit up along Nice’s Port Lympia.
Photo. Residences in a six-story building built up along Quai Lunel and looking out to ships and yachts coming and going from Port Lympia.
Photo. Sailing school on their way into Port Lympia after a day of practice on the water.
Photo. Hangout Restaurant – 5 Carriera dou Moulin 06300 Nice. I enjoyed a delicious roasted duck breast with brussels sprouts, and Matthew, a grilled sea bass. The chef was Japanese, meticulous and precise in his flavours, he even kindly came to our table to say hello.
Photo. Henri Mattise, one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, funded in entirety this special place of devotion in Vence for the Dominican Sisters, and painstakingly designed in every detail as his final masterpiece in the last years of his life – a true labour of love – La Chapelle du Rosaire.
Photo. Here is a moment my husband captured of Sister Marie-Pierre and I that I will never forget. Sister Marie-Pierre came and sat down behind us to ask us if we had any questions. We were instantly fond of her, and after answering our curiosities, I asked Sister if we could pray together. We whispered the “Hail Mary” together in unison in our respective English and French. I will never forget Soeur Marie-Pierre, she held in her heart the love of Christ so pure that so whole-heartedly embodies the way a woman in her line of vocation can give so freely to everyone she meets.
Photo. Matisse’s more detailed sketch of Veronica wiping the face of Christ in a scene from the Stations of the Cross. Matisse, however, as I mentioned above would end up completely stripping the sketches of almost any shade, and form, and painting his final version of the Stations of the Cross with raw, difficult delineation and definition. As Sister Marie-Pierre and I agreed, the agony and the power, within ragged, painful lines is what emerges from the Stations’ tiles. Follow the link in this caption to see a proper photo of the Stations of the Cross within the Chapelle.
Photo. A final snapshot from the Chapelle du Rosaire’s adjacent museum housing a selection of the priest’s conspicuous robes, original preliminary drawings, and architectural models for the final construction and design of the devotional space. Indeed, this space was every bit the miracle Matisse thought and dreamed it into being.
What is your favorite thing to do in the French Riviera? Share with me in a comment below.
© by Emily Rose Reeder, est. 2012. All Rights Reserved