Friday, June 1, 2007

Nice/ Eze (France)

Having travelled to Monaco, we decided it would be irresponsible if we didn't take an extra couple of days in the South of France!!! So we spent a couple of days wondering the streets of Nice and made a day trip to the medieval village of Eze.

The scenery is breathtaking, the old streets are a labriynth of colourful buildings exploding with flower filled window boxes, and the food is a savoury fat filled mix of French and Italian cuisine. How could anyone say the French riviera isn't one of the most magical places on earth??? I guess if it inspired Picasso, Monet and Chagall, why wouldn't it take our breath away?

The pictures just don't do it justice, but here is a look down the beach around Nice and a look at the coastline heading from Monaco to Nice. The beach took a little getting used to, given that it is rock versus sand, but the picturesque background more than made up for it. Plus no pesky sand in your suit at the end of the day! Although, I have to say I still prefer the soft white Cayman sand to the rocks.

Wandering through the streets in Nice was a treat in itself. Looking at the buildings and alleyways, stopping off at a cafe for a glass of wine or a crepe, poking about in a chocolaterie or a gelato shop...this is how to live life. The French certainly don't seem to be in hurry and rather savour every moment. It would be pretty easy to lose yourself in this lifestyle.

A typical building in Nice.

...and a typical street in the "Old Town" of Nice.

We popped accross the flower market one morning. Much to our surprise the flower market didn't just sell flowers. Flowers, pottery, olives, candied fruit, were all a part of it. I've never seen so many different kinds of olives as when we were in Nice. I don't even like olives, but became absolutely addicted to them in France. I'm not sure what they do to them, but they don't taste like the ones in the jars from the grocery store at home. Lucky for me, I've found a specialist grocery store in London that carries Provencal Olives. Here is a look at these lovelies.

But even better than the olives is the gelato !!!!! I ate it at least once a day, but I only discovered the mother of all gelato shops on our last day. 96 flavours of gelato...I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I disovered that my new favourite flavour is Chile Chocolate...sounds gross but so yummmmmmy. There were some other weird ones like cactus, corona beer, tomato, olive...not the typical gelato/ ice cream fare.

And after all that, ravioli (by the way ravioli was invented in Nice so you can imagine how good it is) crepes, chocolate, gelato, olives, wine...need I go on? Oh yes, right...we decided we needed to walk off some of those calories. So off it was on the train to Eze...a medieval village in the alps.

The hour hike up to Eze was part of the beauty. We hiked through the lower village which eventually gave way to a narrow stoney path with fabulous views of the Med below. Here are a few pictures of the village below....

and the first view of Eze looming from the side of a cliff after a hike through the forest.

Eze is a real medieval village, although it has been "Disneyfied" for all of us tourists. The village now includes an exclusive hotel and is full of boutique shops, but it is still fun to meander through and get lost in the maze of cobblestone streets. And when I say maze, I mean maze. That was apparently one of the defence tactics of this old city. If the attackers ever did find it, since it was tucked away in the alps, once they did they would get lost in the city streets and even worse while they would be confused and lost they would get pots of boiling oil poured over them from the windows above. Yikes, I think I would have left that village alone! Here is a picture of Wade (oil free).

France was short but sweet and we'll definitely be back. Au revoir!