Tuesday in Nice
This morning we left Avignon with our luggage to go to our next location. We were told to leave our big bags outside of our doors by 7 am, which I did. Then I saw the skinniest young man pushing a trolley with my bag on the very bottom, scrunched down by all of the weight of the other bags.
I’m happy to report that it doesn’t appear to have suffered any lasting damage- nor do the items within show any distress.
On the trip, which took over 2 hours, Dominique provided the following miscellaneous information in response to questions:
We have noticed that the speed limit is posted once and then again about a mile away, although that sign has the word “rappelles” under the speed limit. I may not have written the correct tense for the verb, but apparently the second sign is telling drivers to remember the speed limit! I love it!
Dominique converts temperatures from Centigrade to Fahrenheit with the following formula: F= (2 x C) + 32. The temperature today was 31 C, which is 94 F.
The first king of France was Clovis and 18 subsequent (not consecutive) kings were named Lovis or Louis. Pretty cool, eh?
I have proposed a drinking game to my Normandy peers: Dominique says “Voila!” almost every other sentence. Sue told me that it means: “So there you go!” Now if I was only a drinker! LaDonna, who likes her wine, said she would be under the table and comatose within the first hour…
This was really a day of misadventures in terms of traveling. Traffic out of Avignon was terrible and then the city of Aix had, according to Dominique, created new one way streets and restricted parking. We were trying to get to the atelier (workshop or studio) of Paul Cezanne, who is a famous local. After numerous passes, our driver was finally able to get us within walking distance.
A friend of Cezanne left his workshop untouched after Cezanne died. So you can see his hats, his smocks and coats, and most incredibly, the various objects that he painted. There was a video playing that projected his paintings and I could look around and see the items! His atelier is lovely, with an enormous window virtually the entire side of one room that obviously let in light. His workshop home is surrounded by lovely trees and flowers, so it is very charming. I really enjoyed this visit.
Aix is very proud of Cezanne, so there are streets, businesses, buildings, etc. with Paul Cezanne in their names! Aix is a very old city founded in 123 BC. You can learn more about it at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aix-en-Provence
Next, we had a short drive to Antibes, which is a resort town between Cannes and Nice on the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur). It’s known for its old town enclosed by 16th-century ramparts with the star-shaped Fort Carré. This overlooks luxury yachts moored at the Port Vauban marina. Our “short drive” got much longer because again we had terrible difficulty parking the bus, circling the city several times. Finally, we were able to get off. The Normandy group made a beeline to a museum that was showing a Turner exhibit (I love how Turner uses light in his paintings and have prints of two of them at home). There was a very long line- and across the street was a bookstore. I darted over there while the others waited in line and was able, with the help of the shop person, to find two books I wanted. The line had moved in my absence and just as we were about to get to the ticket counter, LaDonna pointed out that the entire museum was moving in a slow line. There were people there from a number of different tour buses as well as luxury liners. So we had to vacate those plans.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Antibes has enormous markets- for both edibles and wearables. We wandered from tent to tent looking at clothing, shoes, handbags, scarves, etc. etc. Finally, I had had enough of that and broke from the group to go do more sightseeing and get some lunch (pad thai from a street vendor), which I ate in a park while people watching.
Back on the bus to go to the Picasso Museum (formerly known as Chateau Grimaldi). This involved more driving around- and parking near the marina, where we saw a gazillion private yachts moored and, further out in the water, absolutely enormous private super yachts moored at the “Billionaires’ Wharf.”
Here is more information:
“Antibes is one of the biggest luxury yachting centres on earth, with a huge port that curves around the horseshoe-shaped bay between the medieval ramparts on one side and Fort Carre on the other.
Moorings & marinas
Antibes has been an important port since before the Middle Ages, when the Crusader ships stopped here on their way to the Holy Land, and, in the modern era, was the base of Louis XIV’s navy and was later bombed by the Germans due to its strategic importance during World War II.
Passing most of its life as a fishing port, Port Vauban of Antibes is today the largest yachting marina in Europe with 1700 berths ranging from 4.5m to 165m, and is logistically made up of two separate marinas, a professional fishing port and a shipyard.
There is also a small port at the base of the Cap d’Antibes called Port Salis, suited to small vessels, and the nearby ports of Juan les Pins, Port Crouton and Port Gallice, taking the total of Antibes-JLP berths to an enormous 2,800.
The IYCA (International Yacht Club of Antibes) Quay
The privately-owned IYCA on Quai Camille Rayon, or ‘Millionaire’s Quay’, is probably the most famous of them all- for this is where the huge superyachts gather. On the IYCA, a 60 metre yacht (near 200-foot) is a minnow, dwarfed beside the palatial megayachts of Roman Abramovich, Paul Allen and the Saudi princes.
The (well-sourced) story goes that the owner of superyacht Coral Island, an Arab gentleman, once said to his accountant upon returning to their berth in Antibes after a trip, ‘You know, maybe I should buy this berth’. The accountant replied, ‘Sir, I bought it a while ago on your behalf for 20 million euro, it’s saving you a lot of money.’ The even more laughable aspect to this astronomical purchase is that the ‘purchase’ in question was just for the lease, which will run out in 2021 when the IYCA returns to being council land rather than a private operation.
While there is a security guard posted at a boom gate on the IYCA to stop unauthorised vehicles, both tourists and visitors are welcome to walk along the IYCA, gawping at the huge shining yachts with their helicopters and swimming pools. And no, you can’t board ‘just for a look.’
If you do happen to have a spare €20 million+ to buy a berth lease, or fancy paying thousands a night to dock your 50metre+ superyacht, then you’ll be interested to know that the IYCA has plenty of room for the fuel trucks to dock, as well as waste services, electricity and water services and all the other things you’d expect from a luxury yacht marina. It also has a helicopter landing pad- that’s in case your yacht isn’t big enough for the helicopter to land straight onto its deck. (If not, you’ll be outclassed here and it’s probably time to buy a bigger yacht.)”
The Picasso Museum was interesting in that our guide was enthusiastic and able to point out useful information. However, the place was crowded and the rooms were small- and most annoying, a number of our group had no concept of moving out of the way to let others into a room or even onto a stair landing!
After that, we had just a little time to walk around Antibes. Some local artist had positioned figures of nude men (completely anatomically correct, by the way) in various poses throughout the city. Some were pole vaulting or wrestling or leaping from a building, etc. They were very graceful and very nicely done, but the dangly bits were somewhat off putting!
However, these were nothing in comparison to some wire sculptures being sold in a covered market. The focus again was on single naked men- with large corkscrew “penises” or simply large “penises.” More expensive, however, were two men positioned in various sexual poses. Good grief!
The city of Antibes is very lovely.
Then we boarded the bus once more to make our way to Nice, where again there was terrible difficulty getting to our hotel. We are going to have a bus tour of the city tomorrow, but I think we had plenty today. Poor Dominique was beside herself, because we had reservations at a restaurant for 7:45 pm and by the time we were able to pull our bags off of the bus and get into the hotel it was almost 7 pm- and 23 of us had to register and get our room key cards. Then there was the added difficulty of the one elevator that could only hold two people with luggage! Mary and I were on the 4th floor, but a porter said he could carry Mary’s carry-on bag and my huge suitcase up for us. So we all trudged up four flights of long curving stairs, with me carrying my heavy carry on! We were all breathing heavily by the time we got to our room.
This room is incredibly small (or not incredibly, because it is a constant occurrence). Our twin beds are two twin mattresses on the same bed, so our intimacy will be enforced.
As soon as we got into the room, I looked to see how to get my laundry cleaned by the hotel. However, when I added up what it would cost (over $100 Euros!!!) I decided that I’ll just have to find a laundromat tomorrow night. Because the heat and humidity have been high enough to leave us all soaking at the end of the day, I haven’t been able to use clothing more than once. The sink is too small to wash anything larger than underwear and there is no place to hang clothing to dry in the small bathroom, either.
Next, back down to the lobby to walk to a restaurant only a block and a half away. Again, the starter was very delicious- a small salad with great dressing and three meat/tomato sauce/vegetable concoctions. I didn’t care for the duck in mushroom sauce or the spiced diced potatoes – and even the mixed vegetables were limp and overcooked. However, the conversation with Suki (my age) and her daughter Amy (40) and Mary was fascinating.
It’s past 11:30 pm after a long day, so I’m not going to relate our conversation. But I enjoyed the dinner because of it. The desert was some soufflé with Grand Marnier and since I don’t drink and don’t like the taste of alcohol, I had a small bite and that was that.
The walk back to the hotel was brief but lovely, with comfortable temperatures and the ancient buildings lit in a way that they glowed. I took photos and will be interested to see if any turned out.