Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Bucket List

The day started out a scorcher. Breakfast was on the waterfront of Nice and consisted of Pain au Chocolat, a strawberry juice and a hot chocolate to set me up for a lot more walking. I caught a bus to Eze from the Gare Routiere but I had to wait an hour first. I had expected them to be more frequent and the bus was over-subscribed. I hate travelling backwards but I've been having to do that quite a bit lately. Nice is really growing on me. It's grand, quaint, noisy, always interesting, great shopping and a lot more relaxed, even for the suits, than Paris. The playboys seem long gone. Nice is just getting on with it. People dress well here, the buildings are beautiful.

The bus rumbles along the Cote d'Azur and the view is spectacular. It's what I imagined but I'm doing it as a bus passenger instead of driving a red Ferrari, as I'd imagined 11 years ago. Oh well, I'm doing it and I feel a million euros just breathing the air, feeling the breeze and the sun, seeing the hedges of bougainvillea and the towns clinging to the mountains.

Azur water, yes the cote deserves it's name and the light really is different. It's Mediterranean- blue and white.

Eze requires a climb again but it's worth it. This town is spectacularly beautiful and just reeks quality in everything. Yes some things are expensive but they are unique and the design is astounding, but budget-minded visitors are catered for too.

My advice if you have little time is skip Monaco and visit Eze. I hope I can come back and explore more at leisure one day and maybe buy myself something. The weather was rather warm but I persisted and found the Chateau de la Chevre d'Or. It is part of the Chateau et Relais chain so you know it's first rate.

I sought it out because I had been told it was the restaurant that featured in the movie The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It turns out it isn't really though the film crew visited the establishment and took ideas. The staff have no idea where it was actually filmed and think it was a pastiche of ideas with a lot of set dressing. But the dinner restaurant which was not open for business certainly looked remarkably like the location. Never mind, the location was on MY bucket list.

Thanks to Stephen's generosity I was able to actually have lunch there. How incredible to sit there on the terrace like a wealthy woman, enjoying the hospitality, the colours of the Mediterranean and relax. For the first time in France to really sit and be waited on in such a fabulous place. It was totally cool. I had an apricot juice and they brought out some tiny dried fruit and other things as munchies until the restaurant opened. I had to wait 45 mins and I thought perhaps my skin had had enough sun so the waiter pulled over a parasol for me.

I didn't need a full meal, after all, it was just lunch and the impression of being a member of the rich and famous that I was looking for. A glass of rose champagne to celebrate my stay in France and possibility of moving here later this year, a salad with too much goat cheese that was of a type I was less keen on and a rather yummy desert.

Walking down to the bus was easy but waiting an hour again was not. So many people ended up waiting for the bus I knew the bus wouldn't be able to take us all so I formed a strategy with an old English lady-we got on.

Off to Menton which is right near the border, with Italy being only a few kms away. I couldn't see the town stuck down in the middle of it. I needed to be able to look back at it. It was late afternoon by the time I got there but I knew there were several hours of daylight left. I started walking towards Italy.

Menton is a pretty place with less tourists. I suspect many of them don't come this far. Half the busload had disembarked at Monaco. That suited me. The city council has a whimsical sense it seems, with some original ideas for garden plantings. I loved the artiness of the town and the weather was perfect, not too hot, definitely not cold.

A German tourist pounced on me and seemed to want a conversation so I sat down on a park bench at his request. He's retired and living in Munich. I think he enjoyed practising his English. I found my way back to the Gare Routiere and off I went for 1hr 25 mins in the bus for only 1 euro. I'll bet the Supercity Auckland won't match that!

Yes, I've seen a bit of topless sunbathing but most women prefer not to. Looking at what was on show really wasn't worth a glance.

Opposite me in the bus was a nice French lady with a bag dog. She clearly loved her dog like a child and was happy for me to photograph them.

Menton-Cap Martin-Beausoleil-Monaco-Cap d'Ail-Eze-St jean Cap FCerrat-Villefranche sur Mer-Nice; my Cote d'Azur experience this time around. Next time I'd like to add in Vence and Biot.

Here I am, after a busy day, writing and trying to watch the TV series House in French. Nah, too hard for me still, words and phrases only, can't fill in those important gaps. But this is just the start of Frances's French adventure.


Defogger said...

Ms Frances, I love the descriptions, feel like I am there because of the vivid nature and clarity with which you depict everything. I am pleased you could toff it with the aristocrats, though my wallet may groan :-) More than happy to have offered the gift and had it accepted. See you soon.

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