|Subject: Travelogue Cote D'Azur|
After a 7-hour train ride from Grenoble, I finally arrived in Nice. The highlight of the train trip was travelling along the coast and taking in some very impressive views of the red cliff sides as the sun went down. I checked in the Hotel de la Gare which is located on a quiet back street near the train station. I caught a quick meal at a restaurant around the corner and finished the evening off with some ice cream that was supposed to be Gelato.
The next morning I headed north of the train station to the Matisse Museum. I should have taken the bus as it was several kilometres up a rather steep hill. Still I did find the museum had a good collection of Matisse's paintings and sketches. After the museum I decided to walk towards the waterfront but as I was walking towards it I came across the Bistrot La Cournonne Danoise (10 rue Meyebeer). It had a very inviting porch that allowed me an excellent view of the street. As I ordered my lunch, I started talking with the owner who had moved from Denmark about 15 years ago to open a Danish restaurant. During our discussion I discovered that I had found a very good time of the year to come to The French Riveria. The first week in May is just before the Cannes Film Festival starts and also before the Monaco Grande Prix so while everything is ready for all the tourists there are still no crowds and the hotels are available and affordable. I ended my lunch with fresh strawberries with old-fashioned thick crème. As I was quite full after lunch I decided to walk up to Parc de Chateaux that is a hill on the east side of Nice. Once on top of this hill I had a beautiful view of the boardwalk of Nice and the beach. The main boardwalk of Nice has most of the luxury hotels such as the Negresso, which has a lovely piano bar in it. Also located right along the boardwalk are a lot of very comfortable chairs that you can sit at and read. While I had planned to spend the late afternoon and early evening reading I ended up just people watching. There always seemed to be somebody doing something interesting.
The next day about mid morning I caught the train to Cannes to visit some old classmates that is about 40 minutes from Nice. My first impression of Cannes after stepping out of the train station was disappointing, as most of the buildings had seen better days. I headed directly for the waterfront where I found absolutely everything decorated for the Film Festival that was starting on May 9. I started by having a conducted tour on the petite train which took me through the shopping district and some of the older quarters of Cannes. The highlights were the hotel Hilton and Martinez that were built in the 1920's. I had lunch with my classmates at small restaurant across from Planet Hollywood and then we checked out the Marina. The yachts were quite impressive as apparently everyone important had the boats moored for the Festival. (While I didn't see any stars there was a interesting report on Radio Monaco saying that the harbour master had to evict some yachts as they had just pulled up to the dock and moored without permission.) Later that evening after a good visit and a walk around Cannes I returned by train to Nice.
Early the next morning I caught one of the many trains heading to Monaco (there are actually 40 trains each day that head in either direction from Nice which makes it a great location). I wondered through the town following the race track for the Grand Prix and finally ended up at the Casino. I had only planned to spend 50 francs but it's that much to get into the European Room. Still the European room was very impressive and looking at the painted ceilings was well worth the money. After loosing a few francs at the Casino, I returned to the train station just as it began to rain. The next day I returned to Grenoble.
Tom Cobban, London, Canada