Early wake up in old town
If you stay in the old town be warned. The streets are washed regularly, and at least my "home street" was washed every morning at 5 am. Add some shouting and loud shrieks of birds to this voice world, maybe at some point a churc bell or two. And if there is no air conditioning in your room your window will be open to the streets, just the shutters are closed... At least I woke up every morning with the washing.
On the other hand, it was rather nice to lie there in a gentle breeze from the window, listening to the town to wake up. In the afternoon or on the beach I took a nap because I did not want to miss the evenenings in the old town either.
And as I was awake, I also did some morning shopping for chokolate and raisins buns an some traditional bread for our breakfast!
- walk on Promenade des...
- walk on Promenade des Anglais, Quai des Etats Units, place Mesena, la Vielle Nice, Marché aux Fleurs, Palais de Justice, le Chateau
- eventually dare to have a 'parachutisme ascensionnel' tour as it's funny and u'll get an amazing sightseeing on all Cote d'Azur...unfortunately it lasts only about 15 minutes and is 40 Euro
You may think you like white wine, you may like red wine. But that is at home and you are not at home. You are in Provence and in Provence you drink pink.
Do you recall the Sixties, Mateus rose in those funny round bottles? Pink was for people who couldn't make their mind up if they liked red or white. Or at a teenage party, a punch made up of the assorted bottles of cheap white and red wine kids had brought.
However sitting in the hot Mediterranean sun, a Salade Nicois on your table, forget what you think - go pink. Chilled pink not only taste good, more importantly, it looks good. It goes with blue sky, its uncomplicated, and it partners your salad perfectly. Rose is an any time of the day drink, on its own or with food.
In France, ordering whole bottles in a bar or restaurant can be bad for your wallet - ask simply for un verre - glass, or smarter still "un demi pichet" - 50cl , a half litre - thats a small earthenware jug into which bulk wine is poured. A simple glass of rose is often the cheapest beverage on any bar tarrif - cheaper than a can of soft drink.
The house wine is usually perfectly acceptable. If you want to impress, "Cotes de Provence" is the generic name for the middle range, the top appelations are Bandol and Bellet which will cost a lot more for not noticably better.
When shopping for wine, remember the French take their wine very seriously. A long discussion with the wine merchant is customary before buying a bottle. Debating the merits of this and that, in the process showing you know a lot about wine, then calling for his recommendation, which of course you are now honour bound to take, since he is clearly an expert not a shop assistant.
It is a matter of national pride that French wine is best - don't even dream of discussing its merits against Australian, South African or Chilean. This merely demonstrates that you you are an ignorant foreigner who doesn't know what he is talking about. And for appelations which are well known, expect to pay a lot. After all, "the best wine in the world" is hardly going to be cheap, is it? The French are accustomed to paying.
get your skates on
For about 3 weeks in December as part of the Nice's 'Village de Noel' or Christmas Village, part of the main central square, Place Massena, is converted into an outdoor ice-skating rink.
We were here in December before the French school holidays began, so the daughter had the ice-rink to herself. It was lovely watching her in the winter sunshine.
The ice-rink is surrounded by the Christmas Village (wooden huts!) selling gifts, foods and drinks. Across the road, there is a walkway of white Christams trees and a Big Wheel. For more details about the Christmas Village in Nice, please see my tip in Local Customs.
I think the ice-skating rink will taken up at the end of December but I am sure the Big Wheel will stay in place until the famous Nice Carnival is over (end of February)
So, you will need to get your skates on (sorry) if you want to have a go. If you don't make it, you don't have to wait until next December as there is a huge indoor ice-skating rink or 'Patinoire' at the Jean Bouin Palais de Sports Centre, by the Acropolis Exhibition Centre, just north of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. If you are in time to try the outdoor rink at Place Massena, skates can be hired (5 euros) just opposite the rink and there are four 1 - 1 1/2 hour sessions a day when the public can use the rink.
Warm clothes are a good idea plus gloves; in fact there are notices saying that gloves must be worn.
If you go to the indoor rink by the Acropolis (I've not been yet) then www.wguides.com gives the following details:
"Located right in the centre of town, this Olympic ice-skating rink is open throughout the week. You can rent a range of skates (from EUR2.75): classic skates for beginners or hockey skates for those in search of speed and thrills. Once kitted out, step out onto the ice, try to keep your balance and above all, avoid crashing into anybody! Entry EUR3.15-EUR4.30. Snack bar and paying car park available."
The villas of Mont Boron
Rising up away from the port around the Cap du Nice is Mont Boron, where the most expensive and desirable residences of Nice nestle on the slopes.
Here you will see the pioneering luxury dwellings, established fifty years before the likes of the Negresco.
Most prominent on the crest of the hill is the pink frilly fantasy mansion of Colonel Robert Smith's Chateau de l'Anglais" (1859), turned into apartments in the nineteen thirties.
Adjacent to the L'Anglais is the cream-coloured rotunda and villa of the Chateau de la Tour (1884) and next up the hill is the Palais Beau Site (1896) . Residents of Beau Site have included English families Lindon and Larrey, and more recently the harpist Gissel Tissier
Sadly none are open to the public.
The villas of Mont Boron command dramatic views across the Port, the Colline du Chateau and the Baie des Anges and are close to where the grand tour bus stops for photographs of the magnificent panorama this location offers.