Dispatches from the Road: Cote d’ Azur Part II, Nice

City Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Extras, Food & Wine, France, Shopping & Style — By on July 28, 2009 at 5:00 am

NewsomeToday we have guest blogger Kelly M. Newsome back to share the second of a series of posts about traveling through Europe. A self-described “recovering business attorney,” Kelly took a career break to explore Asia, Australia, and, now Europe. She’s also a yoga teacher, freelance nonprofit consultant, community service devotee, and author of “Giving Back While You’re Gone,” an article on international volunteering from her new series, The Nonprofit Notes. You can read about this trip, and check out her volunteer activities and kids’ yoga classes on her blog. In her last post she shared why her visit to Cannes wasn’t love at first sight, and below she dishes on how Nice restored her faith in instant attraction.

Nice France“After visiting Cannes, my hopes were not terribly high. It’s not that I was jaded or struggling to stay optimistic, nothing that serious. I was just a bit…disengaged. A little “sure, whatever.” Overall, neutral. And then, just like that, I fell into Nice. I don’t know why; I wasn’t on the make. I expected it to be just like the others. But on Avenue de Jean Medicin, walking past buzzing cafes and trendy boutiques and, well, so much life, I felt something. It’s hard not to. Nice has an energy, an easy, poignant, honest, simple sense to it. It isn’t looking for recognition, it isn’t competing for customers, it just is.

I admit, part of the draw was clearly the flea market. Man, how I l-o-v-e a good market. This one takes up several blocks, offering tables lined with trinkets, figurines, silverware, tablecloths, kerchiefs, rings, handbags, shoes, doilies, crucifixes, books, buddhas, vinyl records, baby clothes, war medals, instruments, old coins, sheets, swimsuits, portraits, make up and other miscellaneous trash or treasures. There’s a glorious rustic quality to being there. I get the feeling that the people who run the market are sewn into the soul of the city.

French Riviera NiceWhat else won me over? An excellent beach, tons of cafes and watering holes, diverse back-alley restaurants, and eclectic shops. Majestic fountains, lively music, a nearby chateau, and nicely-packed port. A colorful palate of cultural diversity. An unassuming, girl-next-door sort of overall appeal. A wicked, quiet air of confidence and sun-colored, sun-aged buildings. Practicality without boredom. And the best tartines (sort of like toasts with toppings) I’ve found so far.

By all of that, I mean this: Nice does without the extra, the frills and excitement. It’s not pressed about entertaining you, even though it inevitably does. Instead, it just hangs out, sits back, maybe listens to a little jazz, while you figure out that it’s going to be your favorite amongst the other big-city contenders. That is, at least, it’s certainly mine.”

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    1 Comment

  • traceplace says:

    This description is spot on for all of my favorite places in our small world…
    "Nice does without the extra, the frills and excitement. It’s not pressed about entertaining you, even though it inevitably does. Instead, it just hangs out, sits back, maybe listens to a little jazz…" Replace "Nice" with any other impressionable local and "jazz" with an appropriate melody or genre and there you have it!
    Cuzco/acoustic guitar
    Tulum/lazy regae
    Kisumu/ Benga
    etc….

    Great post!