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Monday, January 28, 2019

Nice, France - A Walk On The Beachfront And Nice's Old Town

We boarded our cruise ship in Barcelona, Spain.  Barcelona was amazing, by the way!  (Read about our visit here.)  We were happy we decided to spend two days there while we waited for the ship that would take us on a vacation we have been looking forward to for many years, a cruise around Europe.  Now, it was time to get on the ship and get excited for our first stop, Nice, France.

The first port, on our cruise itinerary, was actually described as Nice (Villefranche) France.  Villefrance was actually our port but it is a very small town so I guess since Nice was so easy to get to, and more well-known, the port was listed as Nice.  Our ship couldn't dock near land in Villefranche, though, so we started off our adventure in France with a tender ride to the shore.  

Monaco was also pretty easy to get to from Villefrance but since Nice is the largest city in the French Riviera and the closest major city to Villefrance, we decided that's where we would spend our day.  We walked 10 minutes through the cute town of Villefrance to get to the train station.  If we would have decided to go to Monaco, mostly to see the famous Monte Carlo Casino, we would have wound up at this same train station going east instead of west.

We found out that finding your way around a foreign country without knowing the language and not being able to figure out how to use Google Maps (yet!) was not an easy task.  Somehow, we did make it to Old Town though.  

We were going to follow the walk that Rick Steves describes in his book, Mediterranean Cruise Ports.  His walk starts at Place Massena but before we even got there we got off course when I spotted a macaron bakery.  I found out that although macarons I have eaten in America are delicious, they are not as good as they are in France!  They are completely opposite of France's, as a matter of fact.  France's macaron has a much thinner cookie and double the filling.  I am dreaming about going back one day to try every flavor.  I can't believe I only tried one when we were there!

After enjoying that delicious macaroon, we found Place Massena.  We knew we were there when we saw the checkerboard pavement.  I was excited about finding men sitting on top of high pedestals here.  They were not hard to find!

In this same plaza, we were to look for Apollo holding his beach towel.  We would have to walk past him to get into Old Town or Vieux Nice.

Just past this amazing fountain, we found Rue St. Francois de Paule.  This street took us to the heart of Vieux Nice and on this street were shops that I was looking forward to shopping in.  The first shop on Rick Steves walk that we wanted to shop in was Alziari olive oil shop.  This shop has been in operation since 1868.  We knew we wanted to to try their olives but didn't know that there would be so many choices.  It took awhile to make a choice.

La Couqueto was also on this street and is where we bought our santon.  Santons are handpainted clay figurines that are usually used at Christmastime in nativities.  We found a shepherd boy here that we used to decorate our home this Christmas.

Next to find on Rick Steves walk, and still on Rue St. Francois de Paule, was Nice's opera house.  The facade was as incredible as we read it would be.

I was really excited about the building directly across the street from the opera house.  According to what we read in Steves book, Patisserie Auer's was where Queen Victoria would shop for chocolate.  I would definitely have bought plenty of chocolate here but the store was closed!

The next sight on our walking tour was Cours Saleya, Nice's main market square.  The flowers that are sold here are the flowers that are used to make perfume.  I couldn't wait to get a whiff of them.

After spending some time at the market, we looked for the next street on our tour, Rue de la Poissonerie.  We were looking for Adam and Eve on our right as we turned onto this street.  We were to look up toward the first floor of the first building here to see them.  Well...we searched and we searched and never found them.  At first we were on the wrong street, but couldn't find them when we found the right street!  But we didn't miss the small church, Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation.  This church is the most popular church in Nice as it is dedicated to St. Rita.  She is the patron saint of desperate causes and desperate people and she has a special place in the hearts of the locals here.

From here we were to look for Rue Droite.   On this street we would find Eglise St-Jacques le Majeur.  It is a Catholic church and a Baroque style building.  The definition I found for Baroque is "richly decorated with many ornaments, stucco, false marble, cherubs and medallions."  It was definitely richly decorated and beautiful.

Place Rossetti was where our walking tour ended.  Here we found the gorgeous Cathedral of St. Reparate.

One last stop before we left Old Town and headed to the beach.  Fenocchios and our first taste of gelato!  Looks like we saved the best for last!  I think half the population of Nice was here enjoying the deliciousness! 

Before starting our second Rick Steves walking tour, we made a stop at Castle Hill.  We had a choice of walking up the hill, to get to an ancient fort and great view, or taking an elevator.  We took the elevator!  We were so glad we went a out of our way to stop here.  The view we were treated to was well worth it!

Rick Steves' Promenade Des Anglais walk was next on our "must-see in Nice" list.  We didn't see most of the sights on this walking tour as we ran out of time to.  We mostly just wanted to stroll along the beach anyway.  If we had time, we might have took a peek inside the elegant Hotel Negresco and maybe checked out the Massena Museum to have a look at Josephine's cape and tiara and Napoleon's desk mask!

What we did see was a beach like we've never seen before.  We are used to seeing sandy beaches so seeing one as rocky as this one was a very unusual, but very cool sight to see.  I also couldn't believe how comfortable the sunbathers looked laying on top of these rocks on their thin beach blankets!

It took awhile, but we did find the tiny bronze Statue of Liberty that Rick Steves mentions as a sight to see on this walk.

It was time to head back to Villefranche.  On our way back to the train station, we passed this interesting monument, which I didn't know at the time, was erected in 1896 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Nice's annexation to France and...

this beautiful carousel.

We took one last picture in our port city, Villefranche, before boarding our cruise ship.  

One thing I wanted to do was to eat some French onion soup (see delicious recipe here) in France.  We looked all over but had no luck.  Do they eat it in France or is it like french fries that are not really French?  Well, anyway, lucky for me, the cruise ship had it on their dinner menu!

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  1. What a fun day! I did a short week tour of France in high school but we didn't get to Nice.

  2. Pictures and comments are tops (will pin)! Visiting you from Thurs. Favorite Things 374, where I shared Healing and Recovery through Self-compassion (#249). Please check it out and be well. Nancy Andres

  3. Thank you for your comments. Your post sounds very interesting. I am going to look at it now.

  4. Having never been to France, I find your pictures gorgeous and I love your stories. Your trip sounds so amazing, and I look forward to reading more! Thank you for sharing at Celebrate It!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you so much for your nice comments! I hope that you will have fun joining us on our adventure in Florence, Italy!

  5. I so enjoyed walking around with you in the lovely city of Nice. I have been there before and it is truly a wonderful place to visit!

    1. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed coming along on our visit to Nice! Do you want to go back as much as I do?

  6. Thanks for such an informative and interesting look around Nice. It looks amazing, I have never been to France.
    Blogger's Pit Stop

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for hosting your nice party every week!