Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Nice Diaries - Day 3, Wednesday 17 September 2008

Today, a trip to the Old Town via yet another packed tram. There's a tram stop just past the big open space of Place Garibaldi (above), and that's a good enough place to start. The Old Town is a sprawling maze of shaded streets from Garibaldi all the way down to Place Massena in one direction, and the Cours Saleya in the other. Place Garibaldi has also been done up since 2005, a lovely stately square but a bit concrete-y in places.

The Old Town (Vieille Ville in French) is where the real people of Nice do their shopping in the butchers and the bakers, then they'll stop off to grab a quick bite of socca I guess. No socca for me today though, as we lunched at a Turkish kebab restaurant. If the Old Town is the place to find the most traditional Nicoise specialities, you'll also discover an interesting international selection too...Turkish, Tunisian and Afghan, and even a tapas bar along the way.

It's full of shopping opportunities for the tourists - lots of bright yellow Provencal souvenirs from traditional skirts to the ubiquitous olive oil bottles. Here's a typical souvenir shop display.

On previous holidays we spent quite a bit of time in the Cours Saleya, an area just behind the seafront which is basically two long lines of restaurants/bars with a market in the middle during the daytime and then the restaurants spill outside at night. Decided to make a brief return although strangely enough on this holiday we didn't go back there at night. Too many other eating/drinking options I guess. I mentioned the Albert I gardens in Day 2's post and it will always be special to us, mainly because of its proximity to the seafront and it's one of the rare opportunities to get out of the sun for a while. I also like these palm trees which give it a kind of exotic feel.

Another thing we love about Nice is the 'shelters' (I'm sure they have a proper name) on the seafront, in the vicinity of the Palais de la Mediterranee and the Hotel Negresco. These provide a good opportunity to sit down check out what's happening on the beach, or just do a little people-watching if you can't get a sea view. It was fun checking out the 'beautiful people' on the beach: certainly much more fun for faithful travelling companion than for me: he got to see the beautiful girls and all I got were old men with varying degrees of sunburn.
After heading back to the hotel we were back off to the Old Town for our evening meal in a very traditional Nicoise establishment - and what else but soupe au pistou, followed by gnocchi!!

Lots of sellers out on the street tonight with the usual handbags and watches. They never give up do they? However I manage to resist some retail therapy for a change. An earlier night as a very busy day ahead on Thursday.

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