A Riviera Beachdom
It would be ideal to be on the Riviera long enough to check out every single beach and make my own evaluation of what’s hot and what’s not in ‘beachdom’ along the chicest stretch of coastline in the world…but there simply isn’t enough time in one vacation period, or perhaps a lifetime.
We started off by walking two short blocks from “Le Matisse” to Ruhl Plage opposite the Casino Ruhl and Le Méridien Nice Hotel carrying just a couple of lightweight lounge chairs and a bag of towels and lotions, having an elegant lunch seaside at the restaurant, then camping on the chairs for a few hours. The Nice ‘pebbles’ (more like river rocks) were wall-to-wall sunbathers as this is clearly the height of the summer season.
There are plenty of “chaise longues” to be had for a price…if you reserve in advance…or you can come prepared as we did, as the pebbles aren’t too much fun on your back if what you want is a relaxing snooze. Still, the Nice beach is a ‘happenin” place to be in summer and the view of the “Baie des Anges” in a large arc lined by classic Niçois architecture makes one feel right with the world — especially knowing ‘home’ is just a short walk away.
As I was soaking up the sun, I realized I don’t do just that often enough. It seems that when I’m in Nice for just few days, there are too many things that must get done or that I want to do to take time to head to the beach, when in fact, it’s so easy, there should be no excuses.
It was simple to pick up a rental car yesterday morning at Europcar around the corner on avenue Gustave V (after waiting in line almost 45 minutes as this is their busiest season) then headed east toward the Italian border in our little Renault Clio?. Rain was predicted for the afternoon, so instead of making it an all-day-at-the-beach affair, we opted to have a seaside lunch…somewhere…and ‘play it by ear’ with our bathing suits and towels in the bag ready for action…or ‘inaction!’
It doesn’t matter how many times I have taken the coastal road past the Riviera “sur-Mer” towns of Villefranche, Beaulieu, Eze, Cap d’Ail, Monaco/Monte Carlo, Roquebrune, Cap Martin, Menton and the others…I am awestruck. This must be one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines and with all honesty, it feels like a huge privilege to be among those who can enjoy it. It’s total ‘eye candy’ that even a bit of cloud-cover or rain cannot do damage to its beauty. With the blue waters below, the sun glistening on the waters’ peaks juxtaposed against the warm colors of bougainvillea-planted Mediterranean villas along the edge…ah, what a sight to behold!
We trekked along slowly with heavier-than-usual traffic until we passed Menton and crossed the Italian border. It’s so easy — if you blink you’d miss the sign that welcomes you to Italy, but the road definitely changes. There is no doubt that the pristine care France takes of its roads and the manicured homes changes the moment you cross to Italy, where it’s every bit as charming, but not nearly as “well-tended.”
With hunger in our bellies we opted to find a seaside restaurant in the town of Bordighera before deciding if we’d continue exploring the coast or find a beach on which to plop, depending on the weather. One of many restaurants, opposite the Hôtel Parigi (Paris Hotel), smelled particularly inviting, so we chose to stop there, have pasta and seafood, then make the big decision.
At Bordighera, even though the sky was still bright with no rain clouds in sight, the waters were rough. No one was in them and almost no one was on the beach. There was one lone boat in the distance on the water and it seemed surrealistic at this time of year for it to be so deserted. Clearly we weren’t staying there for our afternoon sunning, so back toward France and Menton we went.
It was a totally different scene there. Barely was there a parking place to be had, but after a couple of turns we found one, and headed to Plage Napoléon (13, Promenade de la Mer, 06500 Menton, 04 92 10 92 60) — just one among many along this particular stretch of tiny pebbles (like large grains of sand and not like Nice’s river rocks) on the far eastern side of the town literally next to the Italian border.
The waters were calm and shallow and the beach awash with sunbathers and swimmers, but it wasn’t long after stretching out on the lounge chairs, feeling like heaven with the sun on our faces and ordering up a plate of juicy water melon, that the clouds rolled in ruining our quest for sun. What terrible timing — if we had only taken advantage of the morning, leaving the afternoon for exploration, but nothing so terrible as to ruin a good time.
Today the skies are blue and the air is warm. We’ve reserved a table for two and two lounge chairs for the whole day at La Réserve at Mala Plage in Cap d’Ail — one of the Riviera’s most beautiful. I am told it has a magnificent stretch of white sand and pebbles with Cap Mala on the eastern end and steeply rising cliffs on the western side. One Web site says “Lazing in this semicircle of Mediterranean greenery and gazing out over the rippling translucent water is the Côte d’Azur at its best. Couple the natural setting with two fine private beach-restaurants and you may never want to leave.”
I hope not!…Not at least until landing on the Corsican beaches on Saturday!
“A bientôt” until August 11th…as between now and then, you will not hear a peep from me. You can count on me being a ‘beach lizard’ every day of vacation…weather permitting.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group
(at Nice’s Ruhl Plage)
P.S. Hot off the press: read my article, “Do Parisians buy property outside of Paris’ Périférique?” in French Today’s blog post.
P.P.S. Photographer Michael Honegger entered a photo competition entitled, “Objects of Desire” that has a “People’s Choice” component. One of the three he submitted was a self-portrait of Michael taken IN MY OWN BATHTUB! so, please go to the following link and if you like it as much as I do, vote for “The Red Shoe.”
All you do is plug in my name and three photos will pop up…please vote for the bathtub!
Also, please share with anyone with a sense of humour and ask them to vote as well.
Your vote will ensure a place in my heart!