Last year I added an element of variety by going to Rome and Venice before settling into my Paris apartment the second week in May. Italy was of course thrilling, and it was a perfect time of year to visit. The contrast with more-familiar Paris put me off balance for a few days but on the whole I liked the structure of the trip. This year I decided to spend a similar amount of time at the start of my journey in the south of France, which I had not visited since a marathon road trip in my law school days.
The best vantage point for Nice is the hilltop site of the château that Louis XIV destroyed in 1706. Of course I climbed it but there’s also a free elevator.
The old city is suitably medieval, but I was equally charmed by the modern city.
I had read a New York Times travel piece, 36 Hours in Nice, but I really hadn’t done much research before the trip. I was surprised to learn that Nice is the fifth largest city in France. There are plenty of people in the streets but it comes across as being much smaller and cozier than Paris.
Of course Nice is famous for its beach. It was on the cool side for swimming but warm enough for sun-bathing.
I took a boat trip recommended in the Times piece. It was worthwhile, and included a cruise along Cap Ferrat and by the picturesque town of Villefranche-sur-mer.
There were some charming little boats in Nice’s 19th century harbor.
And also an enormous private yacht that at first looked like a cruise liner.
One of my favorite places in Nice is the linear park called the Promenade Paillon, just opened in 2013, atop the river of the same name that runs between the old and new cities.
I had several good meals in Nice, helped by the Trip Advisor app The Fork, which I had joined when it was an independent site based in France. My first dinner in Nice, at La Ferme Saleya, did not disappoint.
Lunch on my last day was at a health-oriented fast food place in Massena square called “So Green.”
The city is vigorously expanding its tram network, including — through tunnels — to several sensitive historic areas. This causes some dissonant scenes like a charming café in Garibaldi Square with what appears to be an enormous factory behind it. Fortunately these disruptions are temporary and will leave Nice with a further improved public transit system.
Off to Toulouse tomorrow morning but here’s one last look at Nice.