Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Nice Diaries: Day 2 - Tuesday 16 September 2008

Following an authentic French buffet breakfast of deliciously decadent croissant, pain au chocolat and unlimited supplies of orange juice and strong coffee, sunshine and shopping were on the menu today.

Before that though, some reassuring stuff still around: There’s lots of French radio stations to listen to, all of whom still operating that wonderful quota system where they have to play so much French music in addition to the usual Rihanna/Pink/Pussycat Dolls/Katy Perry/Kid Rock etc etc. So it took me no time to compile my holiday hit list (see a previous post).

Another reassuring thing is that Starsix Music is still on M6 after our return from breakfast, still with that ‘guess the mystery face’ contest. It hadn’t been won by the end of our holiday, and as far as I know the big money prize still hasn’t been won: no one it seems can guess the identity of the mystery blonde with Paul Belmondo (pictured above). Oh, and although it’s called Starsix Music there’s not too much music, just the odd video or two. They seemed to particularly like Mathieu Edward’s new video. Oh, and the girl co-presenting the show is Karine Ferri, who was the girlfriend of the late Gregory Lemarchal.

Today: the pilgrimage to the Megastore and FNAC in search of some French music. I’d made up my mind that I was definitely buying Mylene Farmer’s "Point de Suture" and the soundtrack album to the new "Cleopatre" musical but eventually decided against getting Quentin Mosimann’s "Duel" as I wasn’t particularly keen on one of the albums being swing/big band style. Maybe he should have made just the one album, in electro/dance style. I did pick up a bargain though, Popstars winner Sheryfa Luna’s debut CD (pictured above) is now down to 9.99 euros, her music is a nice mix of r'n'b-pop and the new version includes "Comme Avant" which is rather lovely.

Nice Etoile is a better-than-average shopping mall on Avenue Jean Medecin with some quality restaurants rather than the usual standard food court. After a lunch stop there for a Nice speciality, gnocchi quatre fromages (pictured above) : it may not look too appealing but it's very tasty, so don't 'gnocc' it till you've tried it. (groan) it was then time for the Nice Tram Experience.

I had become a bit obsessed with the Nice Tramway over the past three years: from its construction to the end result, the introduction of an extensive tram route crucially stopping at all the places you need to be: from the railway station to Place Massena to Gare Routiere and Place Garibaldi and beyond. I watched all the YouTube video footage and had got rather desperate to finally take the tram journey. For only 1 euro you can travel as long or short a distance as you like, as long as it’s one journey. There are ticket machines at each tram stop and you must validate your ticket on entering the tram.

The reality is, prepare to be packed tightly and squashed like sardines. Just like the Paris Metro, the term ‘standing room only’ is, well, having a laugh, and you will get very up close and personal indeed with the Nicoise tram-travellers. We did get a seat on one very rare occasion during the evening later in the holiday. Surely some mistake :)))

A brief jaunt to the ever-fascinating Old Town which we’d explore in more detail on Wednesday.

Nice can be punishingly hot, which isn’t always an agreeable environment for your fair-skinned milk-bottle-white Factor 40-wearing blogger and her equally fair skinned boyfriend. It was hot today, but a few degrees less than what we’d experienced on previous trips to Nice. We're not sun-worshippers or beach fans, and Nice beach is pretty challenging as there's no sand, just pebbles. However I love being at the sea, it's just so special. Today the sky was a beautiful blue, the sea was sparkling like silver and it was just the best place on earth to be. If you are seeking some welcome shade in Nice then check out one of our favourite spots, the Albert I gardens just off the Promenade des Anglais, which has a lovely old carousel and some very exotic large palm trees.

After a packed day exploring it was back to the hotel and on with the telly. "Dance Floor" on TF1 was basically a "So You Think You Can Dance"-type show with members of the public in dancing duels, the winner proceeding to the grand final. This was followed by "Wheel of Fortune" which was always good fun, even if my French wasn’t up to the standard of forming catchphrases.
Tonight’s meal involved the biggest portion of onion soup ever, followed by the biggest pizza ever. Oh yes, and some red wine. Quelle surprise.

The seafront wasn’t too busy tonight, but is very striking on a dark September night, as the lights twinkle all the way from one end of the Baie des Anges to the other. One of Nice’s most famous landmarks, the Hotel Negresco, is also distinctively lit up at night. Ended the night at one of our favourite people-watching bars. A great day with no real departures from the holiday norm, but just doing things that make us happy.
There will be more photos to follow, had a few problems with uploading these so will do later. :)

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