Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Nice Diaries: Day 4, Thursday 18th September 2008

Another in what is turning into an occasional series :( about my recent holiday in Nice.

Much as we love that wonderful city, it's also worth mentioning that it serves as a great base for exploring both ends of the Riviera. Today we headed west - to Cannes, home of the film festival, extra-posh hotels and the odd yacht or two. Once you work out the timetables and the ticket machine, local train travel is pretty straightforward. You'll get one of those fab double-decker trains which you only see on the continent, but the down side is that the class-system is still very much in operation. Who needs first class for a quick half hour jaunt down the coast anyway? Whatever class you travel in, you can't deny that the views are stunning as you pass various little towns and resorts along the way. With the coastline at one side, and the mountains at the other, this is one of the most memorable train journeys I can remember.

Arriving in Cannes, the main surprise is that you'll find reasonably priced places to eat within yards of leaving the gare. The prices are similar to Nice and we managed to get a very affordable lunch, with the ubiquitous Provence wine thrown in.

There's two sides to shopping in Cannes. The streets behind the seafront have some expensive shops but some 'normal' ones too: we spotted a Monoprix and a Galeries Lafayette. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping of all was the Boutique du Chien, yes, everything you ever needed to keep your pet pooch fashionable as you stroll down the Croisette. If ever there was a photo opportunity it was this one. This shop is a must if you need cool shades and Juicy Couture-style leisurewear for your petit chien.

It's not too far till you're on the Croisette, with the Palais des Festivals a few minutes walk away. This is the home of the Cannes Film Festival - and even more interesting for me, the annual NRJ Music Awards. It has its own Walk of Fame, and we took some time to look at all the handprints of the various French and international stars. Here's Johnny Hallyday: he's so big in France, he only needed the one handprint.

Took a stroll beyond the Palais des Festivals and straight into that wonderful French obsession - boules. There were several games going on, some being played very aggressively indeed! It's great fun to watch a bunch of predominantly old guys getting competitive at this game.

The weather today was cloudier and slightly cooler, but not sufficiently to remove my shades. Yes my big new prescription sunglasses saw lots of action on this holiday and I'm glad I got them, even if the guy in Specsavers did his best to put me off buying them.

Going off in the opposite direction along the "prom" it was time to check out those mega-hotels for which Cannes is famous: one of these had its own shopping mall, but don't expect New Look, Primark or Dorothy Perkins here - think Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Balenciaga and Jimmy Choo. It was like the Heat magazine had come to life with all those designer names. Sadly it was only window shopping today. :(

We spent five hours in Cannes before taking the train back to Nice, and very enjoyable it was too. We wouldn't want to take a holiday here though, as there is something rather surreal and over the top about this place compared to Nice, which manages to combine glitz and glamour with a harder and more gritty attitude. Dinner tonight at one of our old favourite restaurants. You can always get a great pizza in Nice, and tonight was no exception. Four days in, and the weight was creeping up, very rapidly indeed...but what an enjoyable way to gain it!! :))

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