Life’s a Beach
I can remember always crying in the taxi on the way to the airport when leaving Paris after a short stay. Now I can say that about leaving Nice. Boo hoo, I’m getting on the morning train tomorrow headed to Paris and will be leaving the blue waters of the Côte d’Azur behind. Boo hoo.
As I write these whiney words, I have to admit that I’m sitting on my little balcony listening to the sounds of the people dining in the restaurants below and watching the strollers looking tan and happy pass down rue Masséna. The sun is bouncing off the pink stucco walls of the arched buildings lining the Place Masséna and there’s a cool breeze flapping the linen of the “demi-lune” parasol I recently installed on the balcony.
Fondness for the pebble beaches has grown on me with more and more use. I’m more a “sandy” kind of gal, and until purchasing “water shoes” to protect my feet from the harshness of the stones, maneuvering the “pebbles” (really pretty big round rocks), was not my favorite sport. Thanks to the shoes and folding lightweight aluminum lounge chairs, all the unpleasantry of the stones disappeared. In fact, the lack of sand makes for a much “cleaner” experience and the apartment doesn’t get sandy like other beachside abodes might.
The color of the water is particularly beautiful. When the sun is bright, the aqua is a clear tone that changes from pale to dark as the depth of the water changes. It’s different than the color of the water on the beaches of Mallorca or Corsica for some reason — perhaps because the bottom is of rocks and the gray undertone adds a certain richness, even though the water is amazingly clear and clean. If it’s a bit cloudy, the aqua becomes silvery — it is forever beautiful.
Even though the stretch of the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is about seven kilometers long, the beaches are sectioned off and peppered with both private and public areas — 15 private and 20 public beaches. The beaches are supervised for safety. You can enter any of them via the staircases down, each beach with a different name, and either you choose to rent mats and parasols from the establishment (traditionally a restaurant also equipped with changing cubicles and showers) or take your own gear and head to any one of the public sections. Two of the beaches are especially equipped for easier access by the physically challenged: Centenaire and Carras (“Handiplages”).
Because each section is relatively small, each feels more intimate than if it were one long unstoppable shore. The pebbles get smaller as you venture west along the coast and the drop off from the beach to the water gets shallower, too. Everyone seems to have their favorite beaches for one reason or another.
I tend to land on the beach between the entrances of Galion and Ruhl descending at the Ruhl Plage staircase, simply because it’s the closest to my apartment — about a two-block walk, just opposite the Meridien Hotel and the Ruhl Casino. The access into the water is less steep than even one beach away at Galion. This is a block or so east of where the truck was finally stopped on the July 14th attack. There is a memorial remaining a little further east on the Promenade des Anglais at the entrance to Galion Beach. Otherwise there are no discernible signs of the attack left and everyone is out on the “Prom” and the beaches as if nothing happened just a little over one month ago.
This is not true for those who experienced it first hand. I sat on the Voilier Beach with Ann Sumwalt, a journalist, editor and translator who organizes the Riviera Readers Meetup. As we shared her fresh home-made Greek salad, I listened to her account of that night when she, her sister, brother-in-law and nephew heard and saw the truck and ran from it, escaping to the Hotel West End until the wee hours of the morning when it was safe to head home.
Traumatized by the event, it took her weeks to feel safe to leave her apartment or venture down to the beach, particularly any of those that were a morbid scene she could remember. I cannot bear to recount her tale of the evening, and it was difficult enough to even hear it, much less to have been a victim of it as she was. One of her neighbors died that night. I felt lucky to have been at that moment in Paris, because if I had been in Nice, I surely would have been there, too.
Little by little I am getting familiar with the beaches and their names, in order. I am discovering little by little which restaurants along the water’s edge are best, too. So far, all are coming up acceptable and some downright wonderful. Even if the food isn’t perfect, the atmosphere is. If you are there for dinner as the sun goes down, the water turns a silvery shimmer and the sky transitions from pink to dusty blue. The view is spectacular. We surmised that the wait staff in these restaurants are always so pleasant because they have such beauty surrounding them at all times and it wasn’t such a bad place to work. Expect the beachside restaurants to be a bit pricier than those inland, but you’re paying for the real estate and it’s well worth it!
Here’s what the Nice Bureau de Tourisme has to say about each, from east to west:
Le Castel is a beautiful private beach in Nice, but it is also a restaurant offering breakfast and dinner accompanied by the murmur of the waves. The view is spectacular in the evening and the Provençal cuisine is delicious.
The Opéra Plage, formerly the Opéra Pavillion, is the oldest private beach in Nice.
PLAGE BEAU RIVAGE
Beau Rivage beach: 1 beach, 2 moods: Zen and Fashionable. The beach offers a restaurant and lounge open all year round and mattresses and a bar lounge in summer.
Ruhl Plage welcomes you to our sun-drenched terraces, lounge and sea-view restaurant in the heart of the capital of the Côte d’Azur. We have a range of services, always to the highest standards. 80 private cabins with showers are available.
Lido Plage welcomes you to our prestigious beach on the Baie des Anges. We have a wonderful terrace, the only pontoon on the Promenade des Anglais and a sea-view restaurant. We have a wide range of high-quality services on offer, as well as water…
PLAGE BLUE BEACH
Open year round.
Playground with lifeguards. With the family or on your own, come and recharge your batteries, let yourself go… be waited on with cool drinks from the bar or delicious snacks from the restaurant… for a morning, a day… or longer! Start with a…
PLAGE HI BEACH
HI Beach, a lively beach for everyone. Play, Energy, Relax areas, Massages. Hi Beach is the beach for guests of the HI hotel, devised by designer Matali Crasset. Hi Beach: new look loungers, novel and entertaining beach services, a distinctive…
Private beach with bar and restaurant, the Voilier Plage is open from spring in a modern and refined setting. Restaurant open all year round.
Jacuzzi & lounge.
Private beach with “lounge” areas and comfortably spaced deckchairs for a more intimate holiday, as well as a VIP area. Mediterranean cuisine.
PLAGE MIAMI BEACH
A family beach located between the Lenval Hospital and the Hotel Radisson, the Miami Beach welcomes you in a relaxed atmosphere. Children’s play area and pétanque ground for parents.
RÉGENCE PLAGE BY RADISSON BLU
Aquagym, swimming lessons.
PLAGES DU CENTENAIRE & DE CARRAS
Two public beaches have adaptive facilities for easier access to the sea by the disabled: Plage du Centenaire and Plage de Carras beaches. (2-buoy handibeach label). “Audioplage” at Carras, a special beach for visually impaired persons. Four…
So-long Nice and the beach…Boo hoo.
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
(on Voilier Plage – by Ann Sumwalt)
P.S. I’ll be back in Nice in October when I am co-hosting the North American Financial Forum with Dunhill Financial on October 17th. Stay tuned for more information about this very informative event!