A short visit to Nice 6th – 9th March
Our good friends James and Pascale and their two daughters, Victoria and Margaux had invited us to go to see them and so we decided to pay them a visit..
…..so that we could catch up with them and all that they have been up to since we saw them last year. Also that some sunshine was what we really needed after several weeks of grim weather in Normandy. Of course the latter wasn’t guaranteed as it is early for the region to be having warm sunny conditions but we were very lucky, the weather played ball and we enjoyed lovely warm Spring weather!
Tuesday 7th March – Le Vieux Nice
James and Pascale wanted to show us some more of the area which we hadn’t seen on our first visit to them during last summer and they took us to see the area of old Nice (Vieux Nice) and some of the architecture was truly beautiful.
Le Palais de Justice and one of the beautiful hotels in the heart of the city
We walked through the Place Masséna in the heart of the city of Nice which was very grand with it’s black and white tiles underfoot and impressive buildings surrounding it. In the middle of the Place is the very imposing statue of Apollo, by Alfred Auguste JANNIOT, standing in ‘La Fontaine du Soleil’! Apollo, symbolizes the sun, which always seems to shine in Nice, and is surrounded by bronze allegories of the planets Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Venus and Earth.
We then walked through the market which is open every day to the foot of the Parc du Château to begin our ascent of the many winding pathways and steps through lush greenery to the top of this steep rock from where the views were stunning and where it is possible to see the remains of the château. Of course we could have taken the lift but that really would have been cheating!! The top of the rock is at 93 metres so there were lots of steps!
Views in all directions from the Parc du Château – to the west, out to sea and a panoramic view of the old port.
The Bellanda Tower was the name of the original Nice Château and has been mentioned since the Middle-Ages. There were other towers but Bellanda is the only one that remains of the original fortress.
There are several hair-raising stories about the tower and this is just one of them…In 1537, duke Charles II of Savoy and his wife Béatrix of Portugal took shelter in the tower during the war between king of France François I and emperor Charles the Fifth: their son Emmanuel-Philibert was born here!
One of the parks most impressive features is the large waterfall that cascades down over a short cliff. We walked up to the base of it and we could feel the cool spray and see the rainbow effect of the sun through the spray. It is possible to stand at the top of the waterfall and watch the torrent come crashing down from the viewing balcony.
The park offers welcome shelter with it’s lush greenery from the fierce Mediterranean sunshine in the height of summer.
Meandering through the narrow streets after our descent from the park we came across these beautiful buildings which typify the Mediterranean region with all their different colours. I particularly liked the colours of this épicerie pictured below, the intricate wrought iron balconies and the shutters!
The beautiful Mediterranean colours displayed in the architecture in the streets of Vieux Nice
Wednesday 8th March – Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Today we drove to St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a commune on a peninsular next to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Villefranche-sur-Mer and extends out to Cap Ferrat. It has a very beautiful climate and is also tranquil and quiet. It is very up-market and has some of the most expensive property in the world. It is a favourite holiday destination for European aristocracy and international millionaires, famous residents include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The marina and old port and one of the secluded villas
James had planned a hike round the peninsular and so that’s what we did and it was so good to be out in the sea air and in the warm sunshine! The walk was 5 kilometers long and thoroughly enjoyable too. The picture at the head of this blog is our picnic stop on one of rocky outcrops of this rugged coast!
Some shots taken during our 5k walk
At the end of the day – Vence, a detour!
James and Pascale, in particular Pascale who with her late father has close connections with this ancient town of Vence on the French Riviera and wanted us to see it. Vence is a very attractive town that developed on a rocky ledge and is still surrounded by its original fortifications.
The old town, which is the most interesting part, is still entered by way of the original five gateways in the ancient ramparts. The centre is circular and still retains all its fortifications intact. We wandered around the old town and admired the quaint streets and houses which now form the ramparts. We loved it and were grateful for the detour!
Views of the very pretty streets which display the circular nature of the old walled town
We had had a lovely day and so time to make our way back to Opio and the beautiful surroundings of La Casala! We thoroughly enjoyed our short break on the Cote d’Azur. It was very good to see James and Pascle as always and I’m sure we’ll be back….