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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday & Thursday: Driving in the mountains


Wednesday & Thursday

I got lazy yesterday or maybe a little tired from the mountain driving the last two days and so this is a two-day report.  Our rental car is a 4dr Opel diesel, manual transmission, 5 forward gears.  I noticed today that on most of these mountain roads I’m in 1st, 2nd or 3rd, rarely in 4th and never in 5th gear.  Today I counted 14 hairpin turns on one narrow mountain road going up to a small village named Falicon. 
Saint Jeannett

There are “rules of the road”, even on these mountain routes.  For example, it’s always best to pull over as far as you can and stop to let a bus pass from the opposite direction. If it’s safe and you’re being tailgated, put on your right blinker, slow down, and this tells the car behind to go ahead and pass you.  Sometimes they “wink” back with their tail lights. And last but most important, if you ever decide to rent a car in a foreign country, DO NOT DRIVE WITHOUT a GPS!!
Today MA and I started from Vence and headed toward the “medieval village” of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.  We drove along the planned route which took us through Nice in heavy traffic, and up to a beautiful hilltop community that overlooked the port of Nice on one side and Monaco on the other.  It wasn’t our idea of a medieval village but the multi-million dollar homes were amazing. We later found out that Elton John has a home in that neighborhood as does Tina Turner.  We were not invited into to either place however!
So we decided to head back to Nice because MA wanted to get her feet wet in the Mediterranean Sea. We first maneuvered through town, only went the wrong way once on a one-way street (!) and found a parking garage close to the market and the beach.  After breakfast at a sidewalk café we crossed the Promenade de Anglais and joined hundreds of others enjoying the sun, the view and the water. 

Scenes from the Nice market

The beaches here are not sandy. Instead they are covered with millions of flat gray rocks.  We gingerly made our way close to the water, spread out two towels and walked down to the water.  It was way too cold for me so I just got my feet wet and that was it. 
I could not walk on the rocks barefooted and needed MA to get my sandals so I could get back to the towels.  She wanted to stay there a while and I decided to walk along the Promenade and photograph a famous hotel called Le Negresco, and also a beautiful carousel in a nearby park.  After this, I got back to MA and she was ready to leave so we packed up and headed out of Nice. 
medieval village Cagnes sur Mur

We decided to try and find some other perched villages but we were spoiled by earlier day trips and while these were nice to drive by we didn’t stop at any.  Lunch was at a roadside café in a small village called Gairaut. The only thing they served was the “plat du jour” - pork tenderloin, baked potato, salad and bread. Did I mention it was great!
Our travels then took us back toward Vence and we decided to stop at a place Nola suggested, the medieval village of Cagnes sur Mer.  This little village has a huge fortress on the top of the hill and attracts a lot of visitors.  The pay-to-park lot is something else.  It is sixteen floors below the entrance with room for 160 cars and it’s all automated.  You pull into the entrance slot, remove the antenna, set your brake, get out, and the doors close.  The car is automatically moved to its numbered slot down below.  DO NOT lose your ticket! It has your car’s location number on it!  
We walked around the village and I got some great pictures of medieval architecture.  On the way back we stopped at McDonald’s so MA could take advantage of the WiFi and get her Apps on the IPAD up to date and play Word with Friends with her granddaughter Jillian and daughter-in-law Sue.
Tomorrow (Friday) is market day in the Vence village square and we’ll check all that out, meet Nola and Randy for coffee at Henri’s and then did I mention lunch!! Nola is spending the night again tomorrow and we will have one more day-trip with her on our agenda for Saturday.
Sunday we are bringing all the lunch fixings to Nola and Randy’s.  Randy has a neat grill and I miss my grill at home so I get to be chef of the day!    J 
View from Cagnes

Monday it’s off to Copenhagen where the weather report is predicting rain.  We only have one day there and then we board the Emerald Princess for the Baltic Sea ports and St. Petersburg, Russia.  Then it’s home sweet home!  Don’t touch that dial, there’s more coming later so stay tuned!  


  1. Wayne,

    Great shots and information again. Sounds like you and MA are making every minute count - looks like a great time. You and MA are truly blessed to have these great travel opportunities. Keep the updates coming!!!

    HAVE A GOD BLESSED DAY - dave b.

  2. This part of France is another world away from Houston and Los Angeles. Once you've been here, our big US cities by comparison hold little charm. When I'm here in France 6 months every year, I drink it all in. It enriches my life tremendously. To anyone out there who has never been to France, put it on your Bucket List.
    Nola, WW's Sister-in-Law


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