More fun on the piste

We love playing pétanque and one of our favourite terrains when in Nice is among the olive trees at Cimiez. When in England we play pétanque in Brighton on the terrain at the Peace Statue, the home of Brighton and Hove Pétanque Club.

Back in 2009 we were very excited to discover that the final of the major pétanque competition  – the Euro Cup for Clubs –  was taking place in Nice! Trying to find exactly where it was going to be held needed dedicated detective work as amazingly no-one at the tourist information had heard anything about this major competition. We eventually discovered the venue from the local newspaper,  Nice Matin. It was to be held in the huge boulodrome near Palais Nikaia on Rue de Grenoble.

We found our way there from the city by bus. Fortunately the bus-stop was fairly close to the boulodrome – unfortunately in December 2009 it absolutely poured down so we arrived dripping wet – being English we were used to this, so no problem.

Naturally we supported le Duc from Nice and were very excited to see Philippe Quantais, Philippe Suchaud, Henri Lacroix, Pascal Milei and Simon Cortes playing – and winning the championship too!

Our luck continued the following year as the final was once again held in Nice – the venue being that of the previous year’s winning team. This time we were better prepared and arrived in time to have a very good meal at a restaurant over the road from the boulodrome.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn this occasion Pascal Milei wasn’t playing and his place was taken by Ludovic Montoro, son of le Duc’s coach Alain Montoro. The crowd being mostly from Nice were vociferous in their support and I loved hearing the woman next to me shouted “Allez Fi-Fi” whenever Philippe Suchaud was about to play.The whole team played well. It was great to see  Quintais pointing and shooting superbly – including shooting the jack on several occasions – and to know that Le Duc were the winners again!

Le Duc 2010winners of the Euro Cup for Clubs

Le Duc 
winners of the Euro Cup for Clubs 2010

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the Cours Saleya in photos

I love to wander along the  Cours Saleya in the old town among the stalls filled with flowers and local fruit and vegetables. On Mondays you’ll discover bric-a-brac and antique stalls instead – where you can find such useful items as glass droplets for your chandeliers! With the backdrop of the Colline du Chateau it’s a lovely place to enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants which line the open space.

the best ice-cream!

Go to Place Rosetti in the Old Town. It’s a lovely square with the beautiful church of Sainte Réparate on one side and several cafés and restaurants with outdoor and indoor seating.  Here you’ll find Fenocchio with its display of amazing ice-creams.

Fenocchio definitely has the best ice-cream in Nice! It’s my daughter’s favourite and she took these photos before she joined the queue. It’s probably a good idea to spend some time checking out all the flavours so that you have your (difficult) choice ready to go.

Nice April 2013 039My particular favourite  is réglisse (liquorice) though I’m the only one in our family to like this…which means I don’t have to share it… My husband loves vervaine which is a delicate green colour and usually adds lavande and rose to blend well visually.  My son is the most adventurous and is the one who went for the cactus option (fortunately not prickly), whereas my daughter found specculos, which we were all very pleased to discover, as it’s a spectacularly delicious ice-cream version of those little biscuits which often come with a coffee and which we love.

Nice April 2013 010I wonder what you will choose? Are you going for a cone or a little pot and how many scoops? Will you have sorbet or ice-cream? What about colour preferences…will you choose pastels such as violette, melon and rose (a beautiful combination visually and gustatorily – (if that’s a word?), or go for the more outlandish flavours of cactus, bière and olive? Do let me know your choices!

A long journey to happiness (part one)

In June 2007 we finally found the apartment we wanted to buy!

This had been a long process which at times had seemed a pipe dream destined to fail. We had a very precise budget with no room for manoeuvre. Our money came from our joint inheritances and we wanted to put this money into something our parents would have appreciated (and also to stop me gradually just spending it).

After a bleak and chilly winter in 2005 here in Brighton we longed to see some sunshine and blue skies and had spent a few days in Malaga city, which was brilliant and which we loved. So the first location in our search for a foreign pied a terre was this beautiful city. We even spent two terms going to Spanish evening classes in order that we could at least greet and thank people and order food and drink. However  try as we might we found our lack (to put it mildly) of fluency was a big drawback. We found that we could come up with French phrases from our school-days more readily than recently learned Spanish ones.

Early in December 2006 air fares to Malaga were really high and we discovered by chance that flights to Nice were much more reasonable and moreover there was a good deal on at the Hotel Beau Rivage which was where Matisse had lived and painted…surely a good sign! We booked 5 days.

I was completely amazed by the flight along the Esterel coast and descent into Nice airport. Over the glowing pink and red of the Esterel hills, ever lower and lower over the bright blue sea, hugging the bays and islands of the Mediterranean, we seemed to hover just above the waves until suddenly there was the airport looking like a pancake jutting out into the beautiful sea.

Through customs and onto the bus and we were once again close to the sparkling sea and palm trees of Nice. So exciting!

We dropped our bags off at the hotel and wandered down to the beach. Here we took our coats off and sat on the pebbles against the wall on Castel beach, feeling the warm sun relaxing our chilly English bodies.

Bliss.

For the next few days we delighted in the colours, tastes, smells and pace of life in Nice.

Over Christmas we discussed going back to Nice in order re-learn the French we’d forgotten from schooldays. After some research on the part of my husband in February 2007 we were on our way to Nice to study for 4 weeks at the Azur Lingua language school.

skies above Nice

Looking west from the Promenade des Anglais on a beautiful evening, my son took these stunning photos as planes headed towards the airport which spreads out into the sea like a large floating mat.

It’s funny how mesmerising it can be just to sit and watch these large noisy aircraft fly in, getting ever lower and lower till they merge with the airport in the distance.

view from a hill

From the Colline du Chateau, which rises above the easterly end of the Cours Saleya you can gaze down on Nice in a 360 degree arc. To the west the rooftops of the old town and the curve of the Baie des Anges are spread out below you.

 

Looking east from the Colline you have a brilliant view of the harbour and the spectacular boats tied up there – which one would you choose for your sea-trip? More realistically you could take a cruise to Corsica on one of the yellow striped ferries!

eastwards along the coast

Do you fancy a bus ride? Eastwards along the coast from Nice is Villefranche-sur-Mer, an attractive small town built on the slopes of the hill tumbling down to the sea.  The train can also take you there but you would miss the beautiful views of the sea and coastline – including a spectacular view of the port and the Baie des Anges as you head out of town. The ligne d’azur 100 and the smaller bus 81 both take the route along the Corniche Inférieure, or Basse-Corniche, the lowest and easiest to drive along of the three coastal routes. From Villefranche the 100  continues to Monaco and Menton, whereas the 81 calls in at Beaulieu and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat all well worth a visit.

The deep harbour means that Villefranche is a favourite stopping off point for cruise liners, so it can get very busy in the summer months but there are plenty of  cafés and restaurants both in the town near the bus stop and also down along the harbourside.

At one end of the harbour is a narrow beach with gravelly sand, perfect for young children and sunbathers.