177 Photos - Aug 2, 2008
Photo: After a busy Christmas day of travel, we arrive the following morning at our hotel in Nice. The Windsor came recommended and was a pleasant choice for our stay.Photo: We walk a few blocks down to the beach, and the Promenade des Anglaises – the English Promenade. It’s actually the roadway, funded by British expatriates, but now usually refers to the broad pedestrian walkway. The famous Hotel Negresco, a Nice landmark, can be seen.Photo: This somewhat overcast morning was the least sun we had during our stay.Photo: There are several private beach areas, where you can pay $10-20 for a chair and a choice spot – more for food and drinks.Photo: There are several classical buildings housing casinos right on the Promenade.Photo: Nice has several pedestrian streets outside of the old city, like here on Rue Massena.Photo: A very rococo Italian seafood restaurant.Photo: Now on the fringes of the old city, on the Place du Palais.Photo: Now in the hearty of the old city, La Vielle Ville, with shops and restaurants crowding the narrow, twisting lanes.Photo: We stop for a midday snack at a city landmark, Lou Pilha Leva, which in local dialect means “take and go.” You sit at a table, and a waiter comes for drink orders; then, you order food from one of the windows. We are especially taken by a local favorite, pissaladiere, a pizza bread covered with olive oil-simmered sweet onions and anchovies.Photo: An old city church has this unusual crèche, with real goats and sheep in the foreground, but some non-Biblical dress near the manger.Photo: The Cathedrale Ste-Reparte, named for the 15 year old Palestinian martyr who body washed ashore to become the city’s patron saint.Photo: A view up the façade.Photo: The Cours Saleya, a market street considered the center of the old city. Uniquely on Monday, it is home to an antique and flea market.Photo: At the far end, this yellow stone building was home to Henri Matisse from 1921 to 1938; the balcony has magnificent views over the Mediterranean.Photo: Another old city church.Photo: And farther up the façade.Photo: Another typical old city shopping street.Photo: The mural on our hotel room wall. The Windsor is well known for such art and unusual décor in its rooms.Photo: Late afternoon along the beach, looking east towards the buildings on Mont Boron.Photo: Nearing sunset.Photo: A view across the smooth-stone beach to the Negresco, a symbol of the Cote d’Azur tradition of luxury.Photo: American tourists on the beach! The temperature begins to drop as the sun get low.Photo: And it is getting low.Photo: A few swimmers can be found even at this time; the water is cool, but not cold.Photo: The pieces of day-old baguette being tossed by a woman just off-camera to the left are guaranteed to draw seagulls.Photo: Kim getting ready to invade the Negresco.Photo: The hotel’s famous Salon Royal, a historic landmark. The leaded glass dome is by Gustav Eiffel, and the chandelier of Baccarat crystal.Photo: Sunset glinting off Mont Boron buildings.Photo: Almost sunset!Photo: And the end of daylight on our first day.Photo: Back from dinner, and our hotel at night.Photo: The next morning finds us departing on this narrow-gauge railroad which runs in about 3 hours to Dignes-les-Bains, but which we are taking about halfway to the old town on Entrevaux, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence region.Photo: It’s not long before the scenery changes from city to country, and we steadily climb to the 1600 foot elevation of our destination.Photo: The view from the Entrevaux station, looking up 500 feet to the fortress above the old town. The road up can be seen zig-zagging along the white posts, which are actually the sides of the gates along the way.Photo: The medieval village dates from the 11th century.Photo: The village was fortified more thoroughly around 1542, when King François 1st declared Entrevaux a Royal Town in the Kingdom of France.Photo: The entrance to the old village, across what was once a drawbridge.Photo: In the old village.Photo: Holiday lights are still up!Photo: Lots of nooks and crannies here.Photo: The bell tower, described as “a crenelated structure of fortified appearance.”Photo: Kim in front of the old church, which was consecrated in 1627.Photo: Rob and I looking at the route up we will take, while the ladies relax over tea in a local café.Photo: Starting up, and looking back at the old village.Photo: There are a total of 9 switchback ramps leading up, and 19 fortified gates.Photo: The old village directly below, and the newer part of town across the road, where the ladies are relaxing. The town has less than 1000 residents.Photo: The citadel was constructed between 1693 and 1705 on the ruins of the ancient fort of Glandevès. It was Vauban (commissioned by Louis XIV) who devised the complex defensive system, from the Petit Châtelet half-way up the slope to the Commander's House at the summit of the outcrop.Photo: Farther up, and looking back the way we came, traveling alongside the Var river.Photo: A small, simple chapel in the citadel.Photo: The French flag flies at the very top.Photo: Heading back down, with Rob looking out over the countryside.Photo: The EC flag flies at the Petit Châtelet.Photo: Back to ground level, and the Var river separating old from new.Photo: The train station is typical of small-town France. The hanging Santa is very popular, and we see them in many places.Photo: More scenery on the way back to Nice.Photo: These are just foothills to the Alps, but impressive nevertheless.Photo: Back in the city, and passing this picturesque courtyard in the old city, on the way to La Colline du Chateau (Chateau Hill), where Nice was founded.Photo: Climbing the hill, with the red roofs of the old city below.Photo: The full extent of the city becomes more apparent here.Photo: Some mosaics at the top are a reminder of the Greek origin of the city (as Nikaia) in the 3rd century BC.Photo: Games of boules can be seen through the trees, although here it is called petanque, after the word tanqué, which is the closed, flat-footed throwing position favored by veteran players.Photo: Looking down over the length of the beach and the promenade.Photo: A summary of the area’s history.Photo: On the opposite side of the hill is the Port de Nice.Photo: The port digging was commissioned by the Duke of Savoy in 1750.Photo: More petanque at the base of the hill.Photo: The city extends back into the hills from the port.Photo: The stronghold on the hill was dismantled in 1706, but some ruins remain of earlier structures.Photo: Here are the cathedral remains.Photo: Now descending the hill on the beachfront side.Photo: The start of some evening views of Nice, here on the Rue Massena pedestrian area.Photo: The holiday decorations are attractive but not garish.Photo: The large Ferris Wheel on the large open Espace Massena.Photo: Jet lagged American tourists?Photo: Now on La Place du Palais.Photo: The city’s Mediterranean colors are evident even at night.Photo: Along the Promenade, looking towards Chateau Hill.Photo: Holiday lights in the trees along the promenade.Photo: Another view of Chateau Hill.Photo: We’re on our way the next morning to the bus station for a day trip, and we pass through the Cours Saleya on its usual flower-market day.Photo: The local farmer’s market is also in full swing.Photo: We have arrived in Vence, where the bus drops us off in a newer part of town, but some nice scenery not far away.Photo: On the way to the Old Town, we pass by the market square, which is busy even on this unseasonably chilly day.Photo: Now on the outskirts of the 15th century Old Town.Photo: The 15th century bell tower of the Cathedral on Place Godeau.Photo: The hanging Santas are everywhere, even on the ancient arched streets.Photo: There are a number of historical plaques in the area, showing in this case the history of the arched street.Photo: Looking out into the newer part of town.Photo: Stone construction in the Old Town.Photo: The entrance to the Cathedral of the Birth of the Virgin, built on the ancient Roman military drilling field. It is mainly from the 11th century, but has been altered over the years in a mixture of Romanesque and Baroque styles.Photo: An unusual crucifix sculpture in the Cathedral.Photo: We move on 5 minutes by bus to St. Paul de Vence – one of the two most-visited villages in France, along with Mt. St. Michel. The 16th century ramparts surrounding the city date from its time as an independent city-state.Photo: The main road through town is filled with galleries and other tourist attractions.Photo: A manger scene holds a model of the walled town.Photo: More of the fortifications.Photo: Looking out of the old town to the newer area nearby.Photo: Picturesque squares and nooks are everywhere.Photo: From a high point on the south ramparts, the Mediterranean can be seen in the distance. In the small cemetery below is buried artist Marc Chagall.Photo: Looking out over the surrounding countryside.Photo: St. Paul was an impoverished and run-down village until discovered by tourists in the 1930’s.Photo: Now, many of the homes in the new area are a testament to the tourist dollars (or euros) flowing in.Photo: On the bus back to Nice, we get a quick glimpse of the whole walled village.Photo: Back in Nice, and now seeing the port area at ground level.Photo: The 19th century buildings along the port are reminiscent of Honfleur.Photo: Every city, town, and village in France has war memorials, especially of WW I. This one in Nice is carved in the Chateau Hill, and faces directly out to sea.Photo: The sea color which gives the Cote d’Azur its name.Photo: Looking up to the peak of Chateau Hill.Photo: Looking down the beach and Promenade, and more of the famous sea color.Photo: The next day, we are on the Monaco bus, which runs right along the cliffs, giving excellent views of seaside towns, like the fishing port of Villefranches-sur-Mer.Photo: Farther along in Beaulieu, typical homes on the hillside.Photo: Now in Monaco, the bus drops us off at La Place d’Armes, looking up at Le Rocher (The Rock), where we are headed.Photo: American tourists on the way up.Photo: Part way up, we can look out over the port, and to the Casino area beyond.Photo: An example of the crowded buildings in many parts of the area.Photo: Nearing the top, and our first glimpse of the Grimaldi family home, Le Palais Princier.Photo: This gateway along the ramp dates from 1533.Photo: At the top, and this statue commemorating the taking of Monaco in 1297 by family members disguised as monks.Photo: The flag flying above the palace indicates that the family is in residence.Photo: A full view of the port area.Photo: More on the monk statue.Photo: The ceremonial guard at the palace.Photo: Palace construction began in the 13th century, with many additions and expansions since then.Photo: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which our guidebook calls an uninspired 19th century Romanesque church.Photo: But the view inside looks pretty good by our standards. It is the resting place of both Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (Kelly).Photo: Basketball everywhere! (Taken at Diane’s request for Wesley.)Photo: The massive Oceanographic Museum and Oceanographic Institute, which was led by Jacques Cousteau from 1957 to 1988.Photo: A bit of the old medieval town survives near the palace.Photo: A rare quiet spot on The Rock.Photo: Crowds begin to gather for the just-before-noon ceremonial changing of the guard.Photo: It all starts at the guardhouse of the palace.Photo: A small group of guards comes out.Photo: They wait for the next event.Photo: Which is the appearance of a military band from a building on the opposite side of the square.Photo: Everyone ready for the exchange.Photo: The guards forming.Photo: The exchange takes place.Photo: And the military band departs – the whole thing taking 5 minutes, and ending as the tower clock chimes noon.Photo: Back at ground level, heading for the Casino area.Photo: Outdoor rinks are popular at this time of year in Europe. (We’ll see several in Paris.)Photo: Looking back at the high-density living below the port.Photo: The Opera House near the Casino was designed by Charles Garnier, who also built the Paris Opera.Photo: We have bumped into a pair of amiable Scandinavian women travelers in both Nice and Entrevaux, and here they take our picture on the Opera steps.Photo: The Belle Epoque Hotel de Paris just opposite the Casino dates from 1864.Photo: The famous Casino – but no pictures allowed inside.Photo: Looking out towards La Place du Casino.Photo: The square from the other end, looking back on the Casino and Opera House.Photo: On the polished stone beach along Nice’s Promenade, the incoming waves make a conventional sound.Photo: However, on the way out, they make a most unusual ‘click-clacking’ as the pebbles rattle against each other. With a particularly large wave, it rises to a ‘whooshing’. For me, this will always be the unique and quintessential sound of the city.Photo: A change of scenery – and weather! We arrive in Paris to slushy snow, and there is  a light covering at dusk on the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. You can see a bit of my umbrella at the top, keeping the falling precipitation off the camera.Photo: Our hotel is on the Rue Cler, one of the city’s lively market streets.Photo: The next day is New Year’s Eve (often referred to here as St. Sylvestre, after the day’s patron saint) and there is a big crowd shopping on the Rue Mouffetard – La Mouffe to locals.Photo: And a little street music. Always hard to resist a Parisian woman playing an accordion. The songs must be well-known, since a number of people were singing along.Photo: The weather is cool but clearing, and there is a good crowd in the Tuileries, and toy boats in the fountain which children steer with large sticks when they reach the edge.Photo: The Rue St-Dominique near our hotel is decorated with Eiffel Tower lights, with the real thing in the background.Photo: Last minute shoppers in late afternoon at a high end deli-type place – the French name sounds so much better than its translation: The House Of Ham.Photo: Midnight approaches at the Eiffel Tower. Because of the recent unrest, the large public fireworks display has been cancelled, but some of the locals have smaller ones to share.Photo: And at midnight, the light show begins. The crowd is festive but trouble-free.Photo: The next morning we are at The American Cathedral in Paris for an Anglican service.Photo: We tour the Ile St.-Louis, the smaller of the two islands in the Seine, where the city was founded. Most of the great homes are from the 17th century under the designs of Louis le Vau, whose works included the Louvre and Versailles. The first house on the Quai D’Anjou (only three streets run the island’s length) is the Hotel Lambert, with its unusual circular turret. Voltaire lived here when the building was owned by his mistress.Photo: This gilded balcony is typical of the fine architecture, which served by design to be enjoyed by the public as examples of the city’s splendor.Photo: The central street, the Rue St-Louis-en-L’Ile, is the shopping area for the island.Photo: The Hotel Chenizot, with its impressive post-Baroque façade.Photo: The Eglise St-Louis-en-L’Ile is unassuming from outside on the narrow street, but inside is a fine example of the French religious Baroque style.Photo: Organ pipes dominate the rear of the church.Photo: On the third principal street, the Quai de Bethune, almost every one of the 1640’s buildings has wrought iron balconies from Le Vau’s architectural plans.Photo: We cross over briefly to the Ile de la Cite, and Notre Dame as seen from the back.Photo: On this tiny street (with buildings from the 14th century), is a line showing the high water mark of the great Paris flood of 1910, when fully half the city was accessible only by boat.Photo: The chalkboard menus for a local café.Photo: A final look back at La Conciergerie, a massive structure which has been built and rebuilt over the centuries – since the 10th, in fact.Photo: On the way back, we find this large classical string orchestra playing in the Metro.Photo: The next day starts cool, but now very clear.Photo: Since New Year’s Eve was a Saturday night, there are still remnants – soon to be gone – of the celebration on Monday morning, even on the elegant Pont D’Alma.Photo: An unusual tour of Paris is Les Egouts, the underground sewer system. The system now houses water and electrical lines, as well as newer developments like cable and fiber optics. Thus, Paris above ground is spared the poles and lines common in US cities.Photo: There are boats which travel the larger channels, keeping them from sedimenting and clogging.Photo: The are working waterways in the city other than the Seine, exemplified by this lock on the Canal St. Martin.Photo: On our final night, and a look at our hotel.