Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Nice diary - parting thoughts

Mark Twain once wrote that "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." I dare add it is also fatal to ignorance.  At first glance Nice la belle lives up to its reputation as the seductress. But if you spend a couple of days, you will find that it is more than just the reknowned pebble beach, the turquoise sea, the friendly Niçoise who have embraced tourism, and spoke melodious French and impressive English.  No, it is so much more than that. It is immersing yourself in the market with lavender, wine, and olives, and enjoying a conversation with the friendly server, without having to pay for a criminally overpriced meal.  Nice's history boast of how it withstood the war and plague and revolution. How Napoleon Bonaparte once stayed here and fell in love with the innkeep's daughter. The ruins atop castle hill does not make it to the guidebooks, nor the time when the war had turned its hotels into infirmaries. Only if you go will you experience Nice's Sardinian and Italian roots before it voluntarily joined France.  This city is a survivor.

Now I can say that I share something in common with Princess Grace Kelley, Matisse and Queen Victoria. We have all breathed Nice's salubrious air, and were enchanted by its beach umbrellas, palm trees and le soleil toute l'Anneé (sun year round). Ok, so the palm trees were a bit confusing to me. Not surprisingly, I found that these are not native to the area, but planted to convey balmy exoticism and make Nice exude that 'tropical' atmosphere. And given the moderate climate here, I'm sure it was no problem growing them. It's neither hot nor humid, the weather has been referred to as "perpetual spring", with the temperature dipping below freezing only 5 days a year! No wonder the houses do not have airconditioning.

Clearly, 3-4 days is not enough to see everything here, especially if you're traveling on business, which I was. There is still the Marc Chagall Musem, and the biggest Matisse collection to see. There's also San Remo in the East and Cannes in the West to visit. So, I will be happy to come back here again someday, perhaps to create a lovely Mediterranean memory with the family. As one author warned about Nice:

"You will come back - because this sky, this sea, this sun, these mountains, exert an allure whose force you will feel when you are away. You will come back" - Leon Pilatte
Accordion music or iPod? I prefer the former.

I found a red pebble.

Matisse apartment can't be missed when you jog along the Promenade des Anglais.

View of Vieux Nice

The French Alps

Bread and pastries

Marzipans and chocolates

No comments:

Post a Comment