I wrote this post 3 days ago, and then had no internet for 3 days. So to try to not confuse you, we are currently in Tuscany- outside a small town, outside of Siena. Stay tuned for that post…
Nice is nice but I LOVED Ville Franche sur Mer! Oh la la!
I am writing this blog to fill time on the trains as we journey to Italy- my other home. I feel excited to be entering in to this part of our adventure. I actually could not sleep in anticipation of today. France was wonderful, but for some reason, I kept speaking french with an Italian accent, my kids kept telling me- and very annoyed at me for doing this. This was amusing to me.
We arrived in Nice first, with the view of the 2 tones of the oh so blue ocean. Ahhh…. Oh how I love being by the water! Nice is quite the sight for the eyes. There are white, yellow, peach, shale, rose colored buildings in the hills surrounding the sea. You can feel the money here, as there are Mercedes, BMW’s, Ferrari’s, Lambourghinis, Porches, and every other kind of luxury car available in Europe driving in the streets here. We drive along the boardwalk trying to find our way to Ville Franche sur Mer, and as we drive we find Nice’s port. Parked here are many sizes of Yachts, in addition to sail boats, fishing boats, ski boats, etc.
We continue to follow the sea, as we know that Ville Franche is next to Nice, and is also on the sea. As luck would have it, we follow the right windy road, and Hotel de la Darse appears just as we see the harbour. This is our home base for 2 days, and we are extremely happy to be here.
We have 2 rooms booked- 1 double with a sea view, and 1 triple with a garden view. It worked perfect for us. I could not have been happier to wake up in the morning to sit on our deck and have a nice cafe while admiring the Amazing view. The building is very old, but the rooms have all been updated, and are very lovely. I found out from the woman at the front desk that her husband was born on the 1st floor of this building and has been in his family for many years. I love stories like this. If only the walls could talk…
As soon as we arrived at our hotel we got our bathing suits on, and walked approx 10 minutes to the “busy beach” in the Old town. As Kalyna and Noah are my water babies, we did this first, and of course they had a blast in the water, while Kim and Jordan enjoyed the France beach views, that Noah was completely oblivious to. After spending a couple hours at the beach we walked back to the hotel, showered, and went for supper once again to the old city, as that is where Rick Steves had recommended a few restaurants. It is a neat town with many steps, curvy walk ways that lead to many restaurants, and shops. I am discovering that many of these beach towns on the Mediterranean are quite similar, just with their own personality. The history is especially appealing for me to learn about, because as you wander around you find spaces and places that were once used for one purpose, and are now for another. A good example of this was as we walked up and down the lanes in the old town, we came across a tunnel, and later I read that this tunnel was used during air raids in WW2.
The beaches here are rocky, so I had a very hard time walking without sandals, but it did not even hardly faze Kalyna and Noah. Note to self: next time bring water shoes. The busy beach has smaller rocks on that beach, where the beaches in Nice and by Ville Franche’s harbour had bigger rocks and stones for a beach. It had its pros and cons. Kim liked the rocks, because there was no sand to stick to you. However you needed something more than just a towel to pad the hardness of the rocks to sit comfortably. Our hotel was great, as they supplied us with beach towels, mats and umbrellas for the beach, so that was 1 less thing to think about.
Day 11: Today we must drive to Nice central train station to return our rental car full of fuel by 10am. Sounds easy…. The 15 minute drive took us 1 hour, and we had to stop twice for directions. Enough said? No, we returned the car to Hertz, and then they charged us a E70 drop off fee. Fine print… WTF, then move on.
We brought our beach gear to try out the Nice beaches after we dropped off our car and did a bit of exploring. The kids actually agreed to go see the Marc Chagall museum, but when I got directions from a TI (tourist information), we discovered that it was closed that day, so off we went to find the church that had the machine that sold the coveted medallions that Kalyna had started collecting in every town that sold them. It had become a part of our routine everywhere we went to find where the machines were. Then off to the beach where Kalyna and Noah played in the water, Jordan read his Kindle under the umbrella, Kim discovered how to get a code in a McDonald’s to use a toilet, and I sat on rocks close enough to the water to constantly get wet to cool off, and when done, needing to get all of the smaller rocks out of my bathing suit bottoms that the waves had directed them into.
Did we like Nice? I guess so, but I am not sure that I would want to stay there, when there are many other smaller and more quaint options close by so that you can do day trips to take in the sights and what looked like Amazing shopping. I say, looked like because we walked passed all of the stores I LOVE to shop at, but did not have the opportunity to stop because of the GRUMPY boys attitudes towards shopping. Don’t worry, I will sneak away at some point to feed my soul. This trip’s focus is not about my needs, but the needs of my family as a whole.
Our last night in France we went for a nice meal at le Cosmo, which was recommended by Rick Steves. As we took in the atmosphere and people watching, I noticed that a large percentage of the diners were locals. To me, this is an ideal experience. Not only did we eat wonderful food, but it was authentic enough that the locals dined there also. As I have said before, travelling to me is not supposed to be all touristy, but in addition to doing things like visiting the Eiffel Tower, but also trying to experience where you are like those that live there. It was clear that the locals like to go to the beach- check, eat out- check, and have fun- check, and love life- check!!!
Now we are off to Italy- first stop Monterosso, Cinque Terre for 3 nights. No a.c. so pray that we don’t need it!
Blessings, Trina, Kim, Jordan, Kalyna and Noah