Nice Is Beyond Nice

But first before blogging, I had to replenish the larder after a week in Nice.  The gentleman coming out of the boulangerie was munching on the end of the baguette!  That’s always good to see and yes, it meant the bread was hot!  Miam Miam!

Nice was my one week vacation in France with a friend from North Carolina.  We had a lovely AirBNB with great views from either balcony (yes, there were two) and A/C which was an added bonus on the hotter days.

Dollar Rental provided us with the Peugot through Rentalcars.com.  This is the third time I have rented through them and it’s a simple process and good price.  And I learned exactly how to do the American Express we will cover you for rental insurance.  (If you are counting on using them, you must decline all the other insurances.)  This time Dollar didn’t ask me if I could drive an automatic like they did in Montpellier last year.  It was a manual transmission and I found myself quickly feeling like I was back in my dad’s MGB zooming through the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park in Los Angeles.  But it really wasn’t as zippy as that car, the top down, wind blowing in my hair.  We didn’t even have a sun roof.

The car and the driver and navigator all got back with nary a scratch.  Something I was very grateful for.  A couple times in the mountains, a bus and trucks came towards us with their front driver wheels over the center line.  To our right was a mountain.  Yikes.  Of course, that was nothing like the guy we saw in Monte Carlo.  He had no patience for a truck and construction congestion.  He saw an opening between a car and truck and he took it.  Unfortunately, his passenger side mirror didn’t go along with him.  We heard this awful noise and saw the mirror go flying and end up in the gutter.  That was an expensive poor judgment.  Didn’t harm the truck at all.

Some highlights in case you are ever in this area.

Nice – museums for Chagall and for Matisse.  (I really don’t like Chagall much…)  A boat cruise through the harbor and over to Villefranche.  (Do call first.  We are glad we did when we found out the trip we were planning on had been cancelled for that day.  Changed all our plans as a result.)  And the wonderful beaches.  As we drove down and back on Quai des Anglais, we were conscious of the horror here on last July 14 when the idiot drove a truck and killed so many people.

We made it to Ventimilgia in Italy for lunch.  I loved this city and its beach.  No, we didn’t make their famous market (they say the top chefs from Monte Carlo go there for the fish) – really on Fridays and that didn’t fit with our schedule.  The trip to Ventimiglia was on the middle Corniche.  There are three Cornich drives, High, Middle and Low.   All giving different perspectives of the coast.  From Nice we drove through Villefranche which has a gorgeous harbor.  Very deep too.  Apparently US ships were moored here after the war.  The villas were also gorgeous and expensive.  Like $200,000 per square foot… or maybe I missed the translation – but very expensive!  Elton John has a house on the top of the ridge that  allows him to see the bays of both Nice and Villefranche.  Nice.

And Eze – a wonderful mountain town filled with artisans.  They didn’t have running water until 1952.  And even now we saw the bellboys (men) carrying the suitcases up to the hotel and the delivery guys with boxes of supplies going to the various restaurants.  Much manual labor.

Gorge of Verdun – some 2 hours away and real mountain driving but not too many switchbacks.  It was pretty.  My friend from North Carolina raved.  I smiled and thought about Kings Canyon and Yosemite and said, nice.  On the way we stopped in Vence to see the Chapelle Matisse designed.  If you get the chance, watch the documentary about it – A Model for Matisse.   Worth the side trip.  We didn’t go into St Paul de Vence itself as it was full of tourists.  So we just went on to the gorge.  Beautiful views back to the Mediterranean.

Another day off to Antibes and Juan les Pins, west of Nice.  We stopped in the hilltop town of Biot.  Lovely old buildings and the present claim to fame is art.  Paintings, ceramics, glassware.

Churchill came to Antibes to paint and I can understand why.  You’ll find the Chateau Grimaldi there – where Picasso painted – for a mere four months – and donated some paintings so now it’s the Picasso Museum.  I am not a big Picasso fan so I will avoid commenting.  But I do respect and admire Churchill so he’s enough to make me want to stay in Antibes.  Maybe more than Nice…

But… then there’s Cap Ferrat.   Now that’s an incredible place.  It’s on the east side of the Villefrance bay.  That’s where the real estate is so expensive.  We visited the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.  WOW.  She was a Rothschild who married and separated from a Russian banker before he gambled away all her money.   With that money she bought 17 acres on the top of a hill and built this beyond beautiful villa. And gardens.  Spectacular.  I discovered that you can find a fairly reasonable apartment on AirBNB on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.  Only problem is then you must have a car.

Did I say the apartment came with an underground parking space?  Yikes.  It was a small car but we had only 2 inches to spare on each side.  The first night I think I had to make about 9 corrections.  By the last day, I could make it with only two turns!

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