Outstanding – that’s the way to describe our day yesterday. Leaving Callas was quite moving for me because I felt so relaxed and at home there, but we had to move on, and I am taking cherished memories with me.
The day dawned very warm again and as we left L’Etoile du Sud, we knew we were in for a very hot day! We headed off in the direction of Nice, but detoured via St Paul de Vence. What a stunner she is! The walled town sits high on a hilltop like so many other Provençal towns – majestic and proud. As we drove in, I spied the famous Fondation Maeght- the Museum of Modern Art, which friends have said is spectacular, but I knew we would not have time for that, nor for the dining terrace at the iconic Hotel Colombe D’or, which was setting up for lunch as we walked by. Parking was at a premium around 11am, and the tourist buses had just arrived, but luckily, we found an underground carpark, which kept the car cool until we returned.
The town itself is simply beautiful – the patterned cobblestones lead to tiny flower-laden streets, each one leading onto another hidden gem. Tiny boutiques place their wares in narrow doorways, some offering a welcome blast of cool air we passed by in the hot sun. The views offered from the ramparts are expansive – we could even see snow-capped mountains in the distance. This place is a must see!
In Nice, our base is Hotel Suisse, positioned facing the Baie des Anges, with the most incredible view across the city and the bay, right across to the airport. Recently upgraded to a four-star hotel, it is small, with a great bathrooms, air-conditioning, tasteful French furnishings and a very comfortable bed. For me though, the best thing on offer is the view – spectacular! As I am writing this, I am sitting on our gorgeous little balcony, looking out on the vista I have just described, it is 10pm and balmy! Last night, we sat in our bed with the French doors open, watching the night lights twinkling in the bay – it is truly story book stuff. Speaking of which, James Joyce stayed here, during which time, he began writing Finnegan’s Wake.
When we arrived in Nice, we renewed our acquaintance by strolling down towards Place Massena via the nearby the old town and daily flower market, which by night becomes a huge dining area in the Cours Saleya. We found Galeries Lafayette, which is similar to department stores like David Jones, Nordstroms and Smith and Caugheys. We also found Zara, which had the usual queues to both to try and to buy.
We returned to the Cours Saleya for dinner last night. It was still hot and as we cruised around looking for a shady spot, and we allowed a very suave Italian gentleman to entice us to eat in La Cambuse, assuring us that their pasta was excellent, and it was. It was also a great place to people-watch, glass of wine in hand – and oh the sights you see – odd couples, odd clothing, odd behaviour, and the occasional knock-out well dressed woman or elegant man- fascinating. Phil and I wandered further afield after dinner, and found tiny lanes and large squares packed to capacity with evening diners. This city has a very attractive vibe, and is imbued with colour and vitality. It is really engaging.
On our return to the hotel, we sat first on the balcony, cooling down as it was still very hot, and later we could see the lights twinkling in the Baie des Anges from our big comfy bed – magic!