Life’s a Beach
I thought I was going to have a lot of time to think, write and contemplate my navel here in Nice, but it’s turning out to be just the opposite of “boring.” In fact, there is more to do than 24 hours a day can handle, what with trying to fit in answering emails, doing a bit of administrative responsibilities, taking care of a few household chores, meeting up with friends, clients and colleagues for lunch and dinner, taking luxurious baths in my big oval tub, and trying to fit in a bit of sun and surf on the beach. I can see I won’t be getting in quite as much writing time as I had hoped!
I am not complaining, mind you. None of this is what one would call “stressful.” In fact, while I’m pretty good at “living in the now,” I’m already thinking how disagreeable it will be to return to Paris at the end of August when I have to say “so-long” to the sunny south and dig into all the things I’m putting off doing until then. This is more similar to a European summer vacation than I have ever taken — and I’m starting to understand the European’s habit (and pleasure) to take a month off to rejuvenate so that they are ready to brave the world again in September for “La Rentée.”
It’s funny how I’ve come to really appreciate the Nice pebbles vs sandy beach. Sunday, after the beach in Antibes on the fine sand, I hated that it was in every nook and cranny and was loathe to drag the gritty grains into the apartment. The clean-up was a lot more work than usual. One American friend living here in Nice with whom I dined at Le Galet Monday night, remarked that if the beach were sandy, then people might come here solely for the beach and not take advantage of all the other cultural things the city offers. Nice would be more just a resort town instead of an important and thriving city; a real hub for the entire region.
I couldn’t help but agree with her logic, yet the beaches in Nice are packed with sun worshippers. People-watching is my favorite beach activity, outside of plugging in earphones to listen to music, reading some new book about France (you absolutely MUST read “The Bonjour Effect“) and taking a float every now and then in the aqua blue water. You hear every language you can imagine and many that you won’t even know what they are. Even if scantily dressed, it’s not too hard to tell where people come from as they show off their cultural selves in a myriad of ways.
These are broad generalizations based on behavior I’ve witnessed, so take it as surface observation, passing no judgement whatsoever. For example, young women who are topless are not usually French. For the French, toplessness is passé. “Topless sunbathing was seen by women as a new freedom in Saint-Tropez in the 1960s,” says Elle Magazine. But, now there are too many good reasons to cover up, including the dangers of skin cancer and the “pornified” perception of topless women. Some of the older women do go topless, but there are times I wished they hadn’t! The Germans don’t care what their bodies look like and go topless regardless. I have witnessed some young English women who seem to love to let loose on the beach by going topless and then get drunk on cheap wine ( suppose that helps to loosen their inhibitions), then they get awfully loud in the process. (It’s amusing, but not necessarily a pleasure to be lying next to them.)
The Italians don’t seem to want to sun bathe and swim in the same bathing suits. This is a never-ending enigma for me. I have watched them change on the beach (without any privacy) from one suit to another and back again dozens of times during the day in order to tan in one and swim in another. This goes for both men and women, although it’s mostly the young who are unabashedly going suited and then nude and then suited all day long. It’s quite comical and I don’t get it. Why not just choose one suit that works for both or does that take all the fun out of it? (Sorry that I don’t have any photos of this in action!)
Young German men on the beach are particularly tall, well-built, clean-cut, good looking and well behaved. They seem to travel in small groups of three or four. You can spot them because they line up their towels or mats in perfect order next to one another. I can’t take my eyes off them, for good reason…I love their organization skills best. (Wink)
The Japanese come to the beach in full dress from head to toe and it’s clear their outfits were pricey. They are very often carrying umbrellas to guard them from the sun, wearing sun hats and carrying cameras around their necks. They will take dozens of photos of each other. Yesterday I missed a photo op as a group of four stood in a row with their backs to the sea while their friend shot a photo of them, all fully dressed in long sleeve shirts and the likes. I watched one man roll up his pants, take off his shoes and socks and actually stick his feet in the water, but when he came out, he dried off his feet with his socks — did he not realize his feet would dry in about two seconds in the sun?
The Russians tend to wear a lot of bling-bling to the beach. Their earrings are long and shiny to go with their big bracelets. Their bathing suits are trimmed in gold and their sandals are often gold with shiny glass beads. When they come out in the evenings after their day in the sun, they are dressed to the nines. Their idea of “casual” is my idea of “formal wear.” They are total eye-candy.
There aren’t as many kids on the Nice beaches as you might think, perhaps because of the pebbles which simply aren’t fun to play in. And it’s surprising how many people are there without special water shoes or mats to protect them from the harshness of the pebbles…which are really rocks, not “pebbles.” The size of the pebbles reduces as you go west along the beach, as does the steepness of the shore, but the density of sunbathers gets thinner, too.
Renting a “transat” (beach lounge chair) and parasol at one of the private beaches is, of course, the most luxurious way of beaching in Nice, but that gets expensive if you’re doing it daily. For me, a good lightweight folding chair or thick mat works well on the pebbles, along with good water shoes and I’m happy.
If you’re in Paris this year and hoping to stick your feet in the sand at Paris Plage, think again. This year’s 16th edition is “boasting” of a new concept: a beach without a single grain of sand. The 3,500 tons of sand normally transported to the banks of the Seine have been replaced by grassy beaches, woods and cobblestones.
The city officials are touting the decision was made for “ethical reasons,” as the former sand supplier, Lafarge Group, made a bid to build Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border and had business relations with Daesh, the Islamic State Group. Is Lafarge the only sand supplier? Maybe they just want to be more like Nice?
If I were Paris, I’d want to be more like Nice, too!
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Friend of Parler Nice and jazz/blues musician, Freddie Hall, will be performing here in Nice this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 3rd, 4th and 5th, at the Shapko Jazz Club beginning at 10 p.m. I’m planning on being there one of Thursday night, so feel free to join me!