Life’s a Beach in the Heart of Nice
I know it gets old and stupid to say “Nice is Nice,” but it’s true. The sun doesn’t quit. It’s warm, but not overly hot with temperatures in the high 70s, low 80s. Out came the sun dresses and sandals, in went the sweaters and scarves and boots. Yeah! Summer is finally here.
Meanwhile, The Local reported that “Paris has wettest May since 1873 (but Brittany stays dry).” No wonder Nice is so, so nice!
Along with a new search consultant-in-training, a woman from the U.S. East Coast with a legal and property background, and our West Coast clients seeking to purchase a property along the Riviera, we spent two full days visiting about 15 properties in the Nice areas of Mont Boron, Cimiez, Carré d’Or, Musiciens and Fleurs.
Today we head east toward Villefranche-sur-Mer to see what the Greek and Roman port town has to offer. Our clients want some sort of outdoor space for themselves and their dog in which they can spend many lazy days, but of course, want access to the amenities without necessarily needing a car. In addition, they are hoping to be able to rent the property when they are not here to offset the costs.
At the end of four solid days of search (including today and tomorrow), they are sure to have a firmer idea of what area of Nice or the Côte d’Azur suits their fancy. So far, the older, more charming apartments in central Nice with real character, which inevitably need complete renovation, seem to be ringing their bells more than the contemporary slick apartments, many of which have incredible views, but are a bit remote from the center of activity.
As an ‘urbanite’ myself who knows the advantages of being dead center of it all, I am encouraging them to opt for central Nice where they will not need a car, where they will have immediate access to the beach and all that Nice has to offer, as well as the ability to make many friends with whom they can easily meet up at the drop of a hat.
My Niçois apartment (Le Matisse) on rue Masséna is on what I call “the Parade Route” — a pedestrian street (no traffic noise) awash with restaurants and boutiques, along with street vendors and tourists, two short blocks from the beach and from Place Masséna…and I LOVE IT. I can sit on my balcony (now outfitted with a brand new “demi-lune” parasol) and watch the world go by in full sun or not.
For those of you who have followed the growth of my beloved “Henri-le-Cactus,” you may want to know that he is doing well and taller than ever. One of these days, he’ll hit the ceiling and I’ll have to put him on the balcony or cut a hole in my neighbor’s floor! I’ve never seen a cactus grow so fast and furiously.
Nice is in full revelry with the 2016 UEFA European Championship, a.k.a. “UEFA Euro 2016,” having kicked off June 10th and running through July 10th. It is a soccer fan’s paradise with matches being played in ten stadiums in ten cities: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille Metropole, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Étienne, Toulouse…and yes, Nice. Fans from all over the world have landed here — mostly young men wearing colored shirts that represent their favorite teams, living it up on the Riviera.
Where there is young men, there is young women. I have never seen so many “cagoles” on the streets of Nice. (A “cagole” is a Marseille term for a kind of “bimbo” or “slut” and there is also a beer by this name.) There is also lots of noise…as this group of soccer fans are partying like there is no tomorrow.
On the Parc Albert 1er at Place Masséna, a giant screen has been erected on which anyone can watch the matches. The security to enter the “fan zone” is tight as a drum — they are searching your bags, patting you down and you must pass through a metal detector. I hate to confess that their “belt-and-suspenders” security system broke down when I entered, as they were focused on looking in my shoulder sac and failed to even notice I was wearing a back pack. (It happens to me almost every time.)
Leaving the soccer to the fans, I grabbed one of the lightweight folding lounge chairs I keep in the closet, a big towel, a few key necessities and walked over to the beach both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. That’s just one advantage to being dead center. Yes, the beach is made of ‘pebbles’ although BIG ones, so while you need a chair or pad to be comfortable, you can go home clean, void of sand in your pants. (Be sure to wear water or swim shoes as the pebbles are pretty tough on your feet.)
The water on the Côte d’Azur is exactly that — “azur” meaning blue. Not like the green of Lake Michigan, the gray of an ocean, or the aqua of most seas, here the water is blue, blue, blue, like the famous blue chairs of Nice that line the Promenade des Anglais. The water is not yet warm like it will be by August, but is tolerable enough for a refreshing swim and is getting its fair share of attention.
The beach is my idea of heaven. Perhaps I was a lizard in another life as in this life, this is where I would choose to be from dawn until dusk. On the beach is every sort of human being from the very young to the very old, from the very thin to the very fat. The non-French women are evident by their toplessness.
French women stopped sunbathing topless a long time ago — a fad begun by Brigitte Bardo in the 1960s. Then, it was a sign of women’s freedom, but in today’s world, with fear of skin cancer and ending up topless on a Facebook wall, it’s no longer cool.
In addition, some say the real reason French women have gone back to covering up is that the mystery is more interesting and sexy than the real thing! From what I saw on the beach bigger than life, I can attest to that.
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
P.S. Le Matisse is available for rental all during the year, when I’m not using it, so be sure to book now as Summer is high season in Nice…naturally! Henri will be happy to welcome you.