A day in Nice, France
Arriving late Saturday and flying out Monday at noon realistically left us with one good day to explore the city. I know of a few people that have visited in the past, and even one blogger than lives there (though she was on her own vacation at the time), but I have never put much thought into Nice. It was just one of those cities I didn’t care to explore. Boy was I wrong!
After spending the day at Marineland in the next town over, we made our way over to Nice to check into our hotel and grab some dinner before it was too late. We stayed at the Ibis Style Vieux Port; the location was awesome – close enough to everything that we could walk but far enough away that we didn’t hear the nightlife outside. There is also a few great pizza places around the corner, since we were too tired to eat out the next night.
As an avid Hard Rock Cafe fan, we went straight for their location along the Promenade des Anglais. We took the 2 km scenic route instead of taking the bus, mostly because we wanted to look around but also because we had no idea where the bus stop was. Google maps was taking us all the wrong stops, so walking became easier.
It was 5ish, so it was nice and quiet we actually had the whole upstairs to ourselves. This is a smaller location, and they ran out of pint glasses, so disappointing. But the food was good.
We walked across the street to check out the Promenade properly, as well as step in the water for a little bit. It was cooling down but still warm. Turns out, Nice only has rocky beaches. I never would have thought it, considering the amount of people in the water and others sunbathing, but not a speck of sand to be seen. We took the stroller down the stairs to the beach and took off our shoes at the waters edge, this part had a little dip before getting into the water so getting down was ok, but climbing back up was a challenge – baby in one arm, holding the toddlers hand in the other and hubby off to the side taking pictures. My feet hurt.
This idea was to go home after this, but we got distracted by some more sites. There were Bouncy Castles beside the Carousel at the Monument du Centenaire, so I bought enough tickets for all. Turns out they are not related and needed two different tickets. I found a guy in line and sold him my unused ones, slight lose but better than nothing. He mentioned my accent sounded Canadian, I told him I was, so he tried to give me Canadian currency. No thanks buds, I need Euros, good try though. Baby girl did have a good time, but her smile disappeared every time the camera came out, of course.
Like any other day, these little monsters had trouble sleeping in the same room, especially after having napped on the way from Marineland to the hotel. They were also up nice and early. I don’t understand how they can run off so little sleep, and so little food. Click here for our hotel routine and our vain attempts to survive time change. I find they never have much appetite when the hotel offers free breakfast. We took a few pieces for the road and made our way to the Vieux Port. We were under the impression that a cruise was leaving for Monte Carlo at 930. Turns out, it was a few days ago. Oh well, we were already there. We found Le Phare de Nice to walk to, a few monuments along the way and the view was pleasant.
As we are walking towards the Promenade to find the splash pad from yesterday, we came across these beautiful stairs. We didn’t know what they were for, or where they lead, so we looked around for some information or plaques. A big sign said it was for a castle. Perfect. Hubby and munchkin went up the stairs.
I did see a small white sign that said “ascenseurs” and I know that means elevator but I was probably too tired to register, because it took me a good 5 minutes to realize I, too, could visit the castle. I don’t even know what I was planning on doing while the boys were climbing up and down, I just knew that the baby’s harness was in the car and I was not going to climb those stairs.
At the entrance of the tunnel to the elevator is a nice guard that waves at you when you enter. Follow the corridor to the elevator. Signs everywhere say not to touch anything. The guard can see you through their not-so-hidden cameras and they are in control of the two elevators. So I went in, and was released at the main viewing platform at the top of the hill. As a person that is terrified of heights, I was not prepared to the landing. The doors opened and Bam! there was the city. The only thing between it and me was a metal railing and just enough floor space to maneuver my beast of a stroller around the corner. At the back of the elevator, I needed to walk over a bridge to get to “main land”. As far as irrational fears go, I am much better at facing them when I am alone, or at least not faced with the possibility of judgement or ridicule. When I walked up the Arc du Triomphe in Paris, it was just the kids and I so I managed to hold it together since my freaking out would only make the kids do something stupid instead of behave – this is what I need them to do when climbing epic amounts of stairs. Today was the same’ it was just me and the baby. I kept my mouth shut and just did it. She didn’t say a word, no one was around so I could take as long as I wanted, and make as many strange faces, scared noises and turn red-faced as I needed to get the job done. When I say I am afraid of heights, I’m not kidding. Climbing a step stool makes me nervous. Looking at the city from the “best advantage point” made my heart jump out of my chest.
According to the signs around the castle, the elevator shaft is the remodeled well for the castle, once called the “Devil’s well”, around 85 yards deep and dug in the 16th century.
Anyways, once I was at the base of the castle, it was much better. I met up with the boys, we climbed the castle, played in the park and had some (over priced) Ice Cream at the little cafe before climbing back down. The Petit Train de Nice drove by us while we were walking around. I would like to say that if I had known, we would have taken that instead but they are 15 euro per person, and only stop for 20 minutes at the castle – this isn’t a Hop on Hop off style either, miss your train and good luck finding a seat on the next one that rolls by.
We had been promising them the splash pad since our failed attempt at a cruise this morning so we made our way in that general direction. Again, we got distracted and found ourselves at the Flower Market. The actual flowers were at the end of the market, the rest was a healthy mix of produce, dried meats and lavender soaps. Munchkin insisted on a soap shaped like a macaroon, such a boy. Sadly, no photos were taken. Too much fun exploring and keeping his hands off the food.
Finally found the splash pad. Baby was asleep so hubby went to play with him. It was nice. I got to sit in the shade and read a little while they played.
While I was relaxing and reading, I found the directions to the Russian Orthodox Church. I don’t imagine myself ever visiting Russia, mainly because the Baltic Cruise is so expensive, so I really wanted to visit this. We stopped for food and made our way to the bus stop. Baby woke up during lunch, which is great, and munchkin started to get bossy and rude, which meant he was tired. I don’t blame him, I was exhausted just watching him play, I couldn’t imagine what he felt like. Grabbed a bus, walked a pinch and found the church. There were signs everywhere so we didn’t even need our map once we found the right stop. There wasn’t a visible handi-ramp so we took turns sitting with him and baby girl got to visit twice. She was such a good girl too, her big brother taught her well about behaviour in a church.
There was nothing else in the area that I wanted to see so we started to head back to our hotel and grab food along the way. Of course, we got distracted. Again. This time the baby wanted the splash pad. We let her play for a bit, woke up the munchkin, let him play.
Here is a little bit of politics for you; feel free to skip this part. There is a burkini ban in place in most of France, specifically the French Riviera resorts. There are actual “Fashion Police” that walk the beaches to make sure we are all wearing beach appropriate clothing. My travel book said I can’t breastfeed, but there were women swimming topless. 12 year old girls were topless, 4 year old boys were naked and these women aren’t allowed to wear a Burkini. Ok. Whatever. As I’m playing with my kids in the splash pad, I have a pair of shorts and my bikini top; its hot and I also don’t want my shirt to get wet. Police man tells me to cover up. Excuse me? I didn’t fight cause I’m not even a local, but not 5 min later I see a woman down the other end in her strapless bikini top and bottoms. I was not amused. You try explaining to your 4 year old why you are no longer allowed to wear a bathing suit while playing in the water.
Anyways, moving on. We left the Place Massena for the 2nd time today and started to walk back to the hotel. We snacked on crepes and slushies and wanted to see if we could find anything to eat along the way. We didn’t find anything that the kids would like to eat, in a setting that they would be welcomed in, but we did manage to find the old city. I say find; we were walking along the sidewalk next to the highway and we see stairs leading down, under beautiful archways and wonder where does this lead… wonder no more, we have no where to be at the moment.
Amazing streets of filled with shops. People everywhere. The centre square had yet another church and munchkin loves to explore churches. I love to indulge him. Église Saint Augustin
Finally, we were back at the hotel. Found a pizza place across the street and ate in our air conditioned room. It was late, and we had a plane to catch in the morning. Despite the extra naps from both kids, they happily went to sleep when we asked.
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