Day 52-55: Nice

There aren’t any campsites in Nice, so we stayed a few kilometers away in Villeneuve-Loubert, in the direction of Cannes. It had a train station though so handy for day trips because driving in to the cities is apparently a nightmare. 

The big event of this stop was that Grandad Geary finally got to visit! After the cancelled flight to Toulouse, we managed to co-ordinate flights for him to join us in Nice for a couple of days.

He joined us late on the first night so didn’t really get to see Evelyn until breakfast, when he was reintroduced to his now sitting, chuckling, eating granddaughter. When we left she was barely rolling, but was now seven months old and stuck in to weaning. We’ve been taking a baby led approach so she’s been eating what we eat, and grandad was amazed to watch her wolf down Weetabix and half a banana for breakfast, along with BBQ for dinner later on!

On our first full day we headed into Nice on the train. Based on the reputation, I was expecting full on glitz and glamour, but it’s just quite, well… nice. Yeah there’s some massive boats in the harbour and some lovely Art Deco buildings, but it’s not the all out glam I was expecting. And we were thoroughly underwhelmed by the “beach”. We’d heard about the private beaches where they charge 25e for a sun lounger, and I was expecting Ibiza style white sand and chaise lounge with billowing curtains. It’s actually just a narrow stretch of rough pebbles with loungers shoehorned nose to tail. Quite why people would chose to bathe there was beyond us.

When we got to the waterfront we found the road all fenced off, and it turned out that day was the Nice Ironman. Simon was especially chuffed to discover we’d arrived just as the bike/ run transitions were starting, and we got to cheer on the athletes and perv on some very beautiful road bikes.

After lunch in the old town, we wandered along the Promenade des Anglais around to the harbour to gawp at the mega yachts moored there, before looping back around the atmospheric narrow old town streets to the entrance to the Parc du Chateau.

We were obviously chuffed to discover there was a big hill in Nice, but on such a hot day, were grateful to find that not only was there a lift up to the top, but it was free! 

There was a nice park, some ruins and a waterfall at the top and we whiled away the afternoon wandering around them.

The next day we headed to Cannes, which was everything I thought Nice would be! Designer shop after designer shop. Vintage and sports cars. Coiffured ladies in linen and silk. An abundance of tiny dogs. 

The beach was much nicer here and we wandered down the seafront, checking out the hand prints of the dated movie stars set in the pavement, then on to the harbour to marvel at the excess of the yachts bigger than our whole terrace, never mind our house. 

Another town, another hill, and we wandered through the old town passing Les Murs Peints, a huge piece of street art featuring iconic movie characters.

We slogged it up to Musee de la Castre in the heat, and were afforded great views back over Cannes. 

After a misjudged lunch at a restaurant without aircon, we retired to a cocktail bar on the front to people watch. Not only was it 38c, but the wind was crazy, and even blew a hoarding off the theatre opposite. It turned out this weather had caused wild fires outside of Nice and in wider France and Corsica, which we hadn’t realised until the water planes flew over our head at the train station, landing in the sea to collect water before taking off in the direction of a huge cloud of smoke.

We later heard that some campsites had been evacuated to the beach because the fire was travelling so fast, so counted ourselves lucky we had a caravan to come home to still. 

Our final day was spent packing up camp and going for a lazy beachfront lunch. It was my birthday in a few days’ time, so we enjoyed a beautiful fish lunch gazing out at the azure sea.

Then it was time to drop Grandad Geary off at the airport and head to the port for our night ferry to Sardinia. We thought we had the route to the port planned having seen a huge ferry docked when we explored a couple of days previously, but as we pulled up to the entrance after battling our way through the Nice traffic, it appeared there was more than one entrance, and ours was on the other side of the harbour. Except the convoluted one way system of Nice won’t let you just drive around to the other side of the harbour, so we had a very stressful half hour of fighting through central Nice while our satnav tried to send us down tiny old town roads that the caravan would never get down. Oh, and Evelyn chose this point to have an absolute meltdown. Perfect.

We got to the port and joined the queue, watching other vehicles being waved ahead of us. It got to 10 mins before the ferry was due to leave and there was a handful of us larger vehicles still sat there. Someone official came over and looked at the vehicles with a perturbed look on their face, gesticulating to the loaders. 

As we were sent off down the other end of the ship to board, the issue became clear. We drove on to the ship, but were confronted with rows of cars facing us. When we docked we were going to have to reverse the caravan off the ferry before anyone else could drive off. Riiiight.

But at least we were on, and we scampered off to find our cabin. At this point I was looking for any distraction I could, as I’m easily seasick and hate boats. With a snoozing Evelyn strapped into the sling, we went off to explore.

The ferry had a swimming pool! Admittedly it wasn’t very big, and closed, but a swimming pool?! I’m easily impressed. There was a beach theme bar next to it and people were getting in a party spirit, but it was a bit fresh so we chose the inside cocktail lounge complete with a crooner on a piano. Again, easily pleased. 

We headed back to the cabin, ready to wake approaching the shores of Sardinia…

 

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