Hi, again. We’re just back home now, but I wanted to share some final, sweet (suite) thoughts of our time in Nice and Paris.
While we intended on visiting the surrounding towns and villages of Nice we decided instead to concentrate this trip on the many charms of Nice and to rent a car on a subsequent visit to facilitate trips to Antibes, Eze and Vence.
There was much to see in Nice, from the street where we lived in the old town (see the view from our apartment window in the first picture below) to the panoramic views from the hills surrounding the city (second picture below). On two separate days, we climbed high above the city on the hills which surround it. On the first climbing day, we made our way along the coastal road to Coco Beach, an out of way small beach not known to many tourists, and went beyond that half-way to Villefranche-sur-Mer.
On the second, we fell upon the panoramic views from Chateau Hill, reached by winding paths and stairs up, up from La Vieille Ville, where we discovered sweeping views over Nice, the Baie des Anges, and Nice Harbour. At the top is a Jewish cemetery with an impressive Holocaust memorial to honour the many Jewish lives lost due to the Nazi deportations from Nice in 1944. The memorial was consecrated only in January of this year.
There is a novel beer bar, called Foam, along one of the quais in the Nice Harbour. It uses a stored value card, self-serve beer dispensing system, novelties that appealed to the banker in me and to the beer enthusiast in Gary. We especially liked a Corsican IPA dispensed at one of its taps.
There are a number of world class museums in Nice. I visited two of them while there: the Marc Chagall Museum and the Matisse museum. The Chagall Museum contains the largest public collection of Chagall’s work. This purpose-built museum was created by the artist himself to bring together in one place his most important biblical works.
The museum contains as well a performance hall with Chagall’s signature blue-stained windows and a grand piano decorated on its hood’s underside with a Chagall painting.
I also visited the beautiful Matisse museum housing many of Matisse’s major works. It was clear what impact the radiant light of the Mediterranean and blue skies had on the artist’s work. He said:
“Most people come here for the light and the picturesque scenery. Me, I’m from the North. What fixed me on this place were the reflections of coloured light in January, and the radiance of the day.” (Matisse, 1952, from Museum).
Nice has 300 days of sunshine out of 365 days in the year! Coming from the grey of Toronto’s winter, I understood perfectly when Matisse also said:
“Quand j’ai comprise que chaque matin je reverrais cette lumiere, je ne pouvais croire a mon bonheur. Je decidai de ne pas quitter Nice et j’y ai demeure pratiquement toute mon existence.”
“When I realized that each morning I would see this light again, I could not believe my good fortune. I decided never to leave Nice and I have lived here practically my entire life”. (My translation).
Just outside of the museum, the 11th century Roman ruins of an amphitheater greet the visitor. One could almost hear the roar of the crowd being entertained by the games once held there.
Finally, we spent a couple of days in the 12th arrondissement in Paris before heading home. This is an area we had not stayed in previously, but which was convenient as the train from Nice ended there at the Gare de Lyon. If you go to Paris, do not miss the Marché de Beauvau in the 12th, a classic outdoor and covered market, with vendors selling produce, meat and seafood, plus wine, cheese and more.
Especially, do not miss a hole in the wall restaurant in the perimeter of the market called Restaurant de Gevaudan, located cheek by jowl next to a purveyor of fish and seafood at 19 Rue d’Aligre. There, I had the best meal of the trip, an étouffée of salmon à la façon tagine. It came bubbling hot with salmon, potatoes, aubergine, onions, lemon and carrots in a shallow tagine dish (see the final picture below). Gary had a whole bream (bar) steamed that he filleted like a boss.
And so, home again, to dream of the next trip and to savour the warm memories of our Nice and Paris adventure.