I am ready to move to the French Riviera for good. I really am.
Arriving on a harsh 7-hour midnight train from Toulose, Nice (pronounced ‘Niece’) made my journey a non-matter, immediately brightened up my day with its cheerful composition of wonderfully coloured streets and trendy beaches. Situated in the South-East part of the France, bordering Italy; this marvellous Mediterranean city rubs off visitors with its unique blend of French elegance and Italy’s laidback attitude to life. Locals and tourists roam the streets of Nice alike, the latter seemingly welcomed with open arms, as if taunted to envy the brilliance of a city the former calls home.
The adage that ‘Nice is nice’ is competent, yet terribly inadequate.
The old town of Nice, as is the case with many European cities, is worth a visit just for. The scent of life that exists in the local marche forms an interesting contrast to some of the narrow alleys round the unexplored corners. Forget the cafés, explorers are always reminded that the 4-mile beach is just a pebble (quite literally) throw away for resting their tired feet, with the sun and gentle Mediterranean sea breeze being their worthy hosts.
I especially enjoyed the colours its streets exhibit. From bright pink to yellow, splashes of paint colour the buildings with no apparent logic, a fantastic testament to the life these lucky folks lead. Nice is perhaps most beautiful when the sun is about to set, when the golden globe casts its gentle shine onto these quirky buildings, as if eager to expose the inadequacy of the underlying paint jobs.
The appeal of Nice does not lie solely in this city alone. As the capital city of the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera), Nice offers fantastic access to nearby areas. I had the opportunity to visit some.
Monaco needs no elaboration. If a comparison to Nice is called for, this glamorous country tunes up the glitz volume, and consequently lowers the casualness. Visitors are invited to gorge at the beauty of this famous rags-to-riches story, but without the depth of their wallets, never seemed especially welcomed. The rhetoric of “What will happen if I am rich” is well answered within the columns of multi-million yachts so unashamedly on display at the docks of Monaco.
It is tempting to describe Villefranche-sur-mer as the poorer cousin of Nice and Monaco, but such a statement would be of tremendous discredit to this town that is so unreasonably placed between the route of Nice and Monaco. Far less touristy, this quaint little town offers a peak of Mediterranean life without the glitz and glamour this region is so known for. As the local fishermen cast their last nets amidst sun’s final rays, I had to envisage the appeal of retiring in a town like this.
I left Côte d’Azur with a heavy tinge of regret, but was made to wonder how long is ever enough in a marvellous place like this. It is remarkable how life’s simplest pleasure, when broken down to its bare basics, can be substantially described by so few a word- Sun, beach and people.