From Nice to Antibes and Back
All week long in Nice there was music in the air, especially surrounding the Parc Albert 1er on which the Nice Jazz Festival took place. Even if you weren’t inside the temporary walls of the festival grounds, you could hear certain performers from the Place Masséna and bordering streets. People hung out just to hear the music, which on many occasions was loud enough without having to be too close.
We bought tickets for one special evening and spent five hours on the grounds to hear three performers and eat bad semi-junk food. The food didn’t matter, but the music did. Sir the Baptist (a.ka. William James Stokes) was up first on the biggest stage where the audience watched in what one might call “festival standing.” He’s an “American hip hop and R&B recording artist, producer, songwriter, and philanthropist from Chicago currently signed to Atlantic Records.” (Wikipedia.org) He was new to us, but the audience quite liked him, especially when he came down into the crowd to have a one-on-one experience with his fans. He came within inches from me.
Who we came for, however, was Mary J. Blige, who came on stage last at 11 p.m. She started as a back-up singer who released her first album in 1992 of the 13 studio albums she has made since. She blew away the anxious crowd who could not NOT dance throughout. She said her good-byes after a stellar performance and we left at 12:30 a.m. feeling totally sated. Have a taste of her opening song on Youtube, and see if you can spot me in the audience.
A local resident who experienced the terrorist attack first hand one year ago by running from the bus that mowed down hundreds of people told me that during the week of the 14th of July, the city was a ghost town. She left the city as did many other people to avoid the trauma of reliving that day. When President Macron and past Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande came to honor the memory of the victims, the security was so tight that no one was moving normally, in any case. The city was on lock down.
All that has changed since the Jazz Festival opened. Rue Masséna is thick with tourists, street vendors and musicians and other performers. Entertainment lasts until about 1 a.m., easy to be had from my balcony. The balcony has gotten a little face-lift with a new more comfortable table and chairs so that I can work on my computer outside (as I am doing right this moment) while watching and hearing the goings-on from afar. If inside with the air-conditioning, I can close the double-paned doors, and hear virtually nothing from outside, shutting it all out if I want. While many people say “I wouldn’t want to live on such a busy street,” I am loving every minute of having everything immediately accessible: Place Masséna, the Parc Albert 1er and the Promenade de Paillon, the beach and the Promenade des Anglais, the best shopping in Nice and a zillion and one restaurants within steps, literally. This neighborhood has it all.
At the Ruhl Plage just two short blocks from rue Masséna, as at many of the beachside restaurants, there are big comfy lounge chairs under big parasols on which to laze while watching the surf, offering WiFi and a view of the aqua water to put you in a state of euphoria. It is here I’ve come a couple of times to reflect, write and answer emails. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Even after just a few days, it’s clear that the next few weeks here in Nice will be both rewarding and reinvigorating — a summer that will be productive as well as rejuvenating. As the agenda fills with plans, it’s already obvious that the days will go faster than I expected, and I have a feeling that when the time comes to pack my bags and say “à bientôt,” I won’t want to leave.
Sunday, a friend from Paris who is considering moving here, and I, took the train to Antibes to spend the day on the sandy beach there and have a look at it as a possible place for him to set down roots. There are trains going to and from there every few minutes for only a few euros fare. The walk to the old part of the town is about 15 minutes from the station and we chose to take the route around the port to see the beautiful yachts. There’s an agency selling yachts along the way with photos and prices in the windows much like a real estate agency…one of which was almost 40 million euros! Clearly, owning a yacht is a luxury.
Before heading to the beach, we stopped for lunch in one of the restaurants offering up Provençal specialities along avenue de Verdun where there is every sort of fare from Mexican to Thai to Italian, too. There are several beaches in Antibes, but we chose to visit the one closest to the old town, Plage de la Gravette, a horseshoe-shaped beach below the medieval ramparts. SeeAntibes.com said “Plage de la Gravette is a great beach — great sand, great setting, great for kids. The only real drawback is the water quality in summer, but with such a central location this is a hard beach to beat.”
They were spot on. The setting is lovely. The sand is fine and soft. The water is shallow and calm and the beach is stone-wall-to-stone-wall filled with families. Kids are playing and screaming. Sadly, the water is dirty. What my friend thought was a jelly fish turned out to be a plastic cup. When we packed up to leave, the sand was everywhere and we felt grimy…I was actually semi-wishing we had stayed on the Nice pebbles where it’s clean! But we learned that Antibes was a lovely place to visit, but wouldn’t offer the daily urban life for which Nice is so nice.
When we returned to Nice by train early evening, the Ironman France Triathlon was not yet over. It was taking place along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice while we were whiling away our time in Antibes. Ironman Triathlon is a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation “consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.16 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.” (Wikipedia.org)
The Promenade des Anglais has recently gotten new anti-terror barriers — bollards that run two meters deep into the ground that can withstand up to 20 tons of power, costing more than 21 million dollars. Only authorized vehicles can get access, as a few of the bollards raise and lower. They look as if they have always been there — not too ugly or foreboding. Good job, Nice.
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. For those who keep up with Henri-le-Cactus’s progress, he’s taller than ever but hasn’t hit the high ceilings yet. For those who wish to visit Nice, my apartment, “Le Matisse,” is available to friends of Adrian Leeds and Parler Paris readers for the pleasure of visiting the the Côte d’Azur. Learn more by visiting Le Matisse or email [email protected] to book your stay.
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