Other,  Travel

Spring in the South – Cannes & Nice

As with Aix, I only
spent an afternoon in Cannes, whilst I was staying in Nice. It’s not a big
town, and there’s a limited amount to see when the film festival isn’t on –
sadly my calendar meant I was there a couple of weeks too early for
celeb-spotting. Even when the festival isn’t on though, the town has an air of
glamour and wealth, with designer brands on the shop fronts and expensive
looking cars cruising along the streets. Definitely not the kind of place I’m
used to, but there’s plenty of tourist milling around too.
Cannes from Le Suquet
Notre Dame de l’Espérance
Le Suquet from below
Firstly, I climbed up
the hill into the old town of Cannes, the area known as Le Suquet. It covers a
small area, and there isn’t a lot to it, but I did climb narrow staircases up
the hillside and went into the church, Notre Dame de l’Espérance, which was
still pretty nice despite its small size. The hilltop also offers stunning
views over the rest of Cannes, including the port, beach and casino.

Vieux Port
Palais des Festivals
Meryl Streep’s handprint
After descending the
hill again, I walked around by the port, which is quite small but there are
certainly some expensive looking boats moored there. Beyond that, I passed the
casino and then the Palais des Festivals, the home of the Cannes Film Festival.
It’s only open to the public for guided tours on certain days, which are few
and far between, so I only saw it from the outside. I understand why it’s an
important venue, but it’s not all that exciting from outside. There is also the
collection of famous handprints cemented into the ground outside though, and it’s
fun to see who you can spot, if you can decipher the handwriting on some of
them! I did manage to find names such as Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson,
Julie Andrews and Meryl Streep, among others.

Plage de la Croisette
this point I’d covered the key points of interest in the town, and had no
desire to go shopping, so I lounged on the beach for a couple of hours. Much of
the Plage de la Croisette is privatised and costs to hire a sunbed, but there
are certain areas open to the public. I’ve spent so much time walking over the
past two weeks that it was nice just to unwind for a while. The only drawback
was the wind, which led to the sand getting absolutely everywhere.
I stayed in Nice for
four nights in total, to allow one day in Cannes and for the fact that I was
there on 1st May, which is a national holiday in France and almost
everything is closed. Nice is not a very large place, but it’s such an idyllic beach
town that I was more than happy to spend a little longer there. On my first
full day, 1st May, I started by walking down to the port, which,
like Cannes, is quite small, but had some rather fancy boats moored there. Next
to the port is the Colline du Château, a hill overlooking the town, which used
to have a château on top but has been replaced by a park, which was pretty busy
that day as no one was at work. There is a lift to the top, but I chose to walk
up instead, and at the top was rewarded by stunning views over the town and out
to sea.

Nice from Colline du Château
From the hill I could
see that it was possible to walk along the jetty, out to the lighthouse (Phare de Nice), so
after climbing back down the hill, I ventured along it. Many people were
sunbathing on the rocks accessible from it, but I just had a stroll along in
the sun, and got a different view of the port. After this, I walked around to
the other side of the Colline, to the beginning of the long beach that
stretches around the Baie des Anges. The beach at Nice is pebbles rather than
sand, so it can be a little awkward to get comfortable, but once I did, I was
again quite content to spend a while lazing in the sun.

Jetty leading to Phare de Nice
Plage de Nice
I walked back to my
hotel via the Promenade du Paillon, a long park stretching up the centre of two
main roads, resembling a large boulevard. The park includes two sections of
concrete, one of which is covered in a light mist and the other has rows of fountains,
and both are full of children playing in the water. There are also statues,
marine-inspired play parks and a carousel, so it was a much nicer walk than a
regular street would offer.

Promenade du Paillon
 The next day, I was
rather dismayed to wake up to cold, wet weather. However, it was my last day on
holiday, so I was still going to go find something to do – I just had to
forsake another lounge on the beach. I went exploring in the old town, Vieux
Nice. While it had the narrow streets characteristic of most old towns, I enjoyed
it more than any other I had been to on this trip. It’s easy to get lost in the
winding streets of candy-coloured buildings (a welcome change from the white
and grey of others), and there’s a plethora of tiny cafés, quirky art galleries
and shops selling all the weird and wonderful things you could possibly
imagine. Vieux Nice also has various important buildings, including the
cathedral, but I just went for a wander and waited to see which ones I came across,
rather than seeking them out.

Cathédrale Ste-Réparate
Vieux Nice
Once I had exhausted
the old town, and found myself going around in circles, I went along to the
Musée Massena. The museum is housed inside a villa, formerly belonging to the
Massena family, and is a rather grand building in its own right; the ground
floor in particular is full of glittering chandeliers and ornate gilded
decoration. Up the marble staircases, the upper levels hold a collection of
objects and paintings about the history of Nice, creating a nice mix of museum
and art gallery.

Musée Massena
Plage de Nice in the rain
I finished up with
one last walk along the seafront, the Promenade des Anglais. I had been along
it a couple of times during my stay in Nice, but the sunshine of my first few
days had been replaced by stormier looking seas and skies, offering a slightly
different version of the seascape. I wound up back in my hotel a little earlier
that day, as it was too cold and wet to sit out on the beach or the promenades.
However, I really enjoyed my time in Nice, and it was a nice, relaxing way to
end a fairly busy trip. I just wish I didn’t have to head back to the real
world now.