Les Anglais may stroll along their Promenade, we Russians have a much more modest street to our name.
The local register says that the name appeared in 1880, when Russians living around the Orthodox church nearby made a very prominent part of the local community.
Marshal André Masséna, the city’s most celebrated citizen, would reportedly ‘give all his victories for his Russian adversary Suvorov’s Swiss raid’. To be frank and fair, it’s our Russian historians who claim this -)
The date 1809 on the second photo refers to the battle of Wagram, I believe, which brought Masséna the title of Prince of Essling.
One of the highlights of our trip to southern France was a drive along the Gorges du Verdon, the “Grand Canyon” of Europe. The gorge runs approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) along the Verdon River, which formed the canyon that is in places 700 meters (2,300 feet) deep.
It was about an 1 ½ hour drive from Nice to get to the start of the gorge. We had rented a car at the Nice Airport and near Cannes headed up the D6185, a winding road through Grasse and on towards Castellane. We opted to drive on the Rive Gauche side of the gorge so we didn’t go all the way to Castellane, but turned onto the D71 for our journey (the town at the other end is Aiguines). The signs were well marked as we were coming through these little towns for the two sides of the canyon.
The road is a two-lane winding road that goes up and down the hills while twisting and turning along the canyon. We were there in the middle of winter and we were the only ones on the road; we actually did not pass any other vehicles until we were almost at the other end of the canyon. I can imagine that this road is crowded and slow driving during the peak tourist time. There are turn offs in places where you can get out for a great view and two locations where there are places to get something to eat (both closed while we were there). While we were there we had several spots where the snow and ice had not melted and it was a bit scary going around some of the turns on the road.
But the day was sunny and the view was spectacular! We crossed the Pont d’Artuby, the highest bridge in Europe and one where in the summer they offer bungee jumping off of. Because there was no one on the road, we parked and walked to the middle of the bridge for a look down. The bridge is 182 meters (nearly 600 feet) high and spans the River Artuby, which flows into the River Verdon.
At the Aiguines end of the canyon is the gorgeous artificial lake, Sainte Croix du Verdon, which has some amazing turquoise colored water (like the Verdon River) and reflections of the countryside in the calm waters. From a lookout above Aiguines, you can capture this with photos, although I found the most beautiful views were from the other side of the lake.
Once at the other end in Aiguines, we continued on our way towards Avignon which was our next stop. Day trippers from Nice or Cannes can follow the signs to the highway which will bring you back down to the A8 and full circle to your starting location. Note: You can take the trip in the reverse from Aiguines to the other end, although on Rive Gauche your vehicle will be not be on the side of the road with the best views, although there are pull outs to stop at.
Besides the two stops along the canyon, there are very little services available. Be sure to start with a full tank of gas and perhaps bring lunch with you. There are several hikes that you can take – although we did not take them due to the snow and ice making it rather treacherous.
Plan on a full day to visit the Gorges du Verdon, especially in the peak tourist season, because the narrow road will be slow driving once you get there.
This was definitely well worth the trip!
Now I could make out both smart hotels, and the numerous health-resort visitors idly walking on English quay. It was pleasant to feel myself as an element of this carefree world in one of the most luxurious world resorts.
Once the Sochi Riviera was the top of our dreams, and now its original - the French Riviera has appeared within reach. It was possible to be convinced of it on Russian dialect which was heard from everywhere. Well, not only I decided to visit Nice that year.
You can watch my 4 min 36 sec Video Nice out of my Youtube channel.
Nice offers access to more than just the usual Riviera towns. The Cotes d'Azur is host to six Parcs Naturelle, the most spectacular of which is the Grande Corniche. Soaring to 700m above the sea, twice the height of the perched village of Eze which it overlooks, the wildness of terrain and the breath-taking views to the Mercantour and Italian Alps are a world apart from the hustle and mass tourism of the Cotes d'Azur. Running from La Turbie above Monaco to Col d'Eze and below, it encompasses the quirky Astrorama - more stars to spot than footballers WaGs at Ramatuelle, and the worst people-watching opportunity of the Riviera ever. I saw one person in five hours. And they weren't worth watching.
La Turbie is the main point of access, a pretty town famed for the giant Trophee des Alpes - forty minutes via the 116 bus from Nice (new Gare Routiere St Jean d'Angeley/ Tram Stop Vauban) two crossings a day - 10:45 and 14:15) . The La Turbie tourist office is delightful and a helpful French conversation lesson thrown in for free if you ask ( Alternatively pay Villefranche Total Immersion Language School a fortune) They have free walking guides - "Randonnees"- that will take you east around Mont Agel to Roquebrunne and Gorbio, downhill to Beausoliel and Monaco, or west to Fort Reverie and Eze Village. Any choice gives you a two to three hour walk ending in regular transport to return you home.
This stuff is not for the faint hearted, but its not so hard you need to be Ironman. Just a healthy enjoyment of a little physical effort repayed in spades. Your own Carte de Randonnee (No 3752 OT -www.ign.fr scale 1:25,000 Nice/Menton ) is a good investment.
Note to photographers - these high altitudes give bleached skies - shoot RAW, adjust white balance to daylight and reduce exposure 1-2 stops post processing . A Polarising Filter is helpful too.
Note to motorists: its never too late to park the car and experience to pleasures of actually being here, and walking.
In high season there are several boat trips worth considering - the best are probably the short trip to Monaco, and of course in the other direction, to the glamorous but not easily accessible St Tropez. There are also frequent cruises along the coast, for the less adventurous...
The Boats and ticket office are at Quai Lunel along the port. Expect to pay around 60 euro for the daytrip St Tropez. Its not cheap, but its a great experience, and you can't get easily get to St Tropez any other way as there are no direct buses from Nice and the famous town has no rail connection (The only other practical way is by train to St Raphael and then a direct ferry from the port)
The all-important daytrip boats tend to fill up quickly, so book tickets in advance. They start to leave around nine o'clock, but unless you want to stand for two hours, arrive a lot earlier! In both directions you will be regailed with the captain's commentary on the fabulous history and coastal villas of the rich and famous, and the view from the sea gives you unique access.
Another short bus ride, Route 100 from Nice JC Bermond (next to the old Bus Station in Jean Jaures) , will drop you off at the next town along the Riviera direction Monaco, of Villefranche.
Here is a restful and attractive little town with harbour, popular sandy beach, cafes and restaurants and a few historic sights such as Cocteaus inspired frescos in the Chapel St Pierre, the Citadellle St Elme, and the medieval rue Obscure
Visit Villefranche virtually
This orchestra gives free concerts of classical music.
For the 2009 spring season, book your sunday afternoons:
From March, 1st to April, 26th, you'll find them in the Eglise Notre-Dame du port (the church on the harbour), at 15h30, for a (free) hour of music.
After that, from Mai, 3rd, they'll play again in the outside in the kiosk in the middle of the Jardin Albert 1er garden.
Cap Ferrat Zoo is a pleasant place to take children for a day out. The zoo can easily be covered in an hour or two. Most of the animals look well cared for, although one of the tigers looked a little "stir crazy". There is a cafe/restaurant within the zoo which sells a variety of snacks and meals. Entry is 12 euros for Adults, 8 for children + free for under 3.
To get there from Nice Gare Routiere you can either try to catch the 81 bus which stops off just by the Zoo at Cap Ferrat a few times a day, Mon-Sat. It departs Gare Routiere 0650 / 1020 / 1245 / 1315 / 1800 (although it sneaked out of the Gare Routiere early on the day we wanted to use it!) and returns from the zoo stop are at 1039 / 1304 / 1340 / 1819. Or TAM 111 which leaves for the zoo at 0910 / 1215 / 1550. For a more regular bus service you could try the TAM 100 bus and walk from Villefranche as we did. It took about 25 minutes to walk from the closest stop to the Zoo.
A nice place for children to visit, take the train to Biot from Nice and walk. Our son who was 4 at the time really enjoyed this place. Marineland is full of dolphins, killer whales, seals etc. At le Petite Ferme du Far West you can have pony rides etc. There’s also mini golf, water park and birds section. You can pay for each part separately, although when looking to go this year it was really expensive to visit each attraction! Park opens from 10am. Check their website as closing times varies through the year, as do prices.