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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday was Nice, but Antibes was Lunch

Promenade des Anglais (on left)
Monday was Nice, but lunch was Antibes! (I’ll explain.)

Mary Alice (MA) and I had Monday to ourselves so we elected to go to into Nice (“neese”), heart of the French Rivera and take a tour of the city on the hop-on, hop-off bus. These buses have a running narrative as you drive around pointing out the sights and sharing some of the history. We have been into Nice before but never really got a tour except on a previous trip with Nola when we went into the "old town".  We didn't see all that much from the bus tour but it was still enjoyable. I think one would have to stay there for longer than a half-day to really get to know the city!

The problem with Nice and a lot of other French cities is they are super crowded with cars and people.  It makes getting around very difficult, especially when you're driving a stick shift car. Another reason why I prefer not to drive around in the congestion is that parking can be a huge problem.  I've noticed a lot of "creative" parking, up on sidewalks for example. We checked the locations where the  "Open Tour” bus stops.  The Nice train station (Gare Nice-Villa) was the easiest stop for us to drive to and park, so we programmed the GPS and we were off at 9:30.  

Promenade des Anglais, Mary Alice, our hop-on hop-off bus

We found the parking garage near the train station, the same one where we rented the car, got parked and made our way to the street.  We couldn't see any signs indicating our hop-on hop-off bus stop but then this is France and finding out things on your own is half the fun.  

We came across the tourist office by the train station, and by the way, the French tourist offices are everywhere and very helpful. The young lady said we were in the right area but the next bus wouldn't come for another forty minutes. 

She pointed out another stop we could get to, along the Promenade des Anglais, if we wanted to walk about 12 blocks.   We elected to go there walking through some interesting neighborhoods with many folks drying their laundry outside the windows! Heard a lot of different languages being spoken.  France has a huge immigrant population. Anyhow, we found our tour bus (with a sign!).  There would be about a 20 minute wait so we went and got some ice cream.

The Promenade des Anglais is a huge sidewalk that accommodates pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, skateboards, but no cars.  It parallels the coast line along Nice. 

Nice Harbor
The bus tour was nothing spectacular but we did ride along around the port, then up a hilltop to the east and through a neighborhood with mega-million dollar villas. The stops included the Matisse Museum, and the Chagall Museum and back into Nice via the Train station.  

On the way we suddenly came to a screeching halt on a residential street where a delivery truck had double parked on the one side (more creative parking) and a big tour bus had parked on the other. The space looked too narrow for us.  The bus driver blew his horn, got out and tried to find the driver of the truck. No luck.  After about ten minutes, with cars behind us honking impatiently, someone came up and guided our driver through the narrow opening inch by inch. That was the biggest adventure of the tour! We probably should have gotten off at the Museums now that I think about it, although we're not really big museum folks. Still Matisse! Chagall! We'll do them another time. 

By the time the bus wound its way back to the train station, we were ready for new territory and, after all, it was lunch time! We decided on the Ville of Antibes, down a ways along the coast.
Excuse the focus, taken from a fast moving bus, this yacht
was big! No it was HUGE! 

Very French: Pedestrian, dog, sidewalk cafe

Arriving in Antibes we found a parking garage and began exploring this ancient old town.  Antibes is home to the Picasso Museum. (It too is on our bucket list for another time.) We found an outdoor restaurant and had a nice lunch followed by a short walking tour. Before we knew it it was time to head back to Vence before “rush hour”.  

Typical French cafe

Our apartment advertised internet access (a must for us) but come to find out after the fact, it was only via dial-up. Don't know about your computer but ours doesn't have the old-fashioned dial-up access port. MA found a pay as you go WiFi service online, which is so-so, kicks me off a lot!  

She also needed to know how many minutes she had left on her French cell phone, so we walked into Vence.  The local Orange cell phone store answered her questions. A few doors down is the local Tourist Office with free WiFi. We sat down by the plaza and MA signed on to her IPAD. Why is that important? That's how she plays Word with Friends with her son and a young friend (Dorothy) from church She also has a handy 5-day weather forecast app we like to check. MA was a happy camper and that made me a happy camper.  We "dined" in and enjoyed some creative French television shows. MA tries to keep me clued in on what's happening but they do talk pretty fast, even for her!  Later!!

Walk-up Bakery: Antibes

A great looking door knocker:  Antibes

Cool looking dress?

Antibes, Old Village

French architecture, Nice apartment building

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