Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Week on the French Riviera #2

The great thing about Villefranche is the access to all the towns along the coast (as well as inland) via bus or train. I had plans for going to several towns... however we both quickly became so enamored with our village that we only made two day trips. One was to Nice.

We took the #100 bus from Villefranche directly to Nice, about a 20 minute ride. We were deposited in a central location to explore Vieux Nice or old town area, a series of narrow, windy pedestrian streets with shops and vendors. 

One of many gulls gathered at the close of the fish market - they were quite a scene. 
How cute!
Socca is pizza made with chickpeas

I'd read about the Cours Saleya market and it was spectacular. The stands were filled with food and flowers ... lots of flowers.

We enjoyed a lovely meal at La Voglia. When the food was served, it became clear that we could have ordered half. However, we forged ahead and managed to eat most of what was in front of us!
Avocado, artichoke and shrimp
Veggie pizza - check out the egg!
So the walk to the famous Promenade de Anglais was required to digest our lunch. Unfortunately it was cloudy, very windy and very chilly and not very pleasant. I had mixed feelings - I was excited to be walking along the Mediterranean ... and unimpressed with how similar it was to Santa Monica, California or many other walks along the Pacific Ocean. But I had my photo taken on the beach (sorry ... George didn't zoom the lens!), which you can see was empty on this Tuesday afternoon.

Back at the bus stop ... we experienced a mob scene. The #100 bus runs every quarter hour. On this particular afternoon, it was not running as usual, and a very large crowd had gathered at the stop. When a bus finally arrived, there was a literal mob scene - pushing and shoving to get on. One man tried to remove another man who was on the bottom step of the bus, insisting he had the right to get on first. The problem was that the man's suitcase was on the step in front of him. He turns to the guy and shoves him off and there was almost a fight. We later saw this man and his wife in Villefranche - they had just arrived for their vacation. Not a pleasant welcome!

In the meantime, I was being shoved by people behind me. I kept saying "How rude!" quite loudly ... but of course I was saying that in English, but I somehow think it wouldn't have mattered what language I spoke ... these people were quite insistent on getting on this bus.  We got out of the mob and decided to wait for the next bus. Shortly there was a second bus and another mob. OK... we'll wait for #3. Sure enough, it arrived while #2 was still boarding and we got  the perfect seats to be able to see our stop to get off! We think there may have been an accident on the windy narrow streets that delayed the buses, since four arrived together.

Rick Steves says you need to be assertive when getting on the bus ... but this was aggressive behavior at it's best!

Anyway ... that was our exploration of Nice. We rode through the streets on our way from the train station and to the airport. It is, indeed, a large city. I'm sorry now we didn't visit the  museums ... however this trip wasn't about museums. The visit to Centre Pompidou and Museum of Modern Art was enough to satisfy my desire for museum art.

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