Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Day 20. The Sights and Sounds of Vieux Nice
No visit to the French Riviera is complete without a visit to Nice. On our last visit here we took in the magnificent artwork of Chagall and Matisse. Today we decided to explore Vieux Nice, the Old Town.
The modern bus from Villafranche dropped us right off in Garibaldi Square to begin our self-guided Rick Steves' walking tour. The cobblestone streets wind in and out of plazas much like they do in Italy. The narrow stucco buildings have little wooden shutters, often closed to keep out the midday sun. It is easy to guess which apartments are owned by locals and which are holiday rentals because the balconies of the latter are usually adorned with colorful beach towels.
Rounding the corner on our walk we saw a long line for a food stand serving local specialties and joined right in. We chose veggie socca which are chickpea fritters and a tart exploding with zucchini. The recommended Fenocchio gelateria did not disappoint, but one must not be passive here with line cutters galore.
In many of the winding lanes are spice shops with open containers of aromatic spices you can scoop into little glass test tubes with cork stoppers. I found them very appealing until I saw all the people taking big scoops just to sniff. We found a small art shop and bought a tiny watercolor to remind us of the area.
I love organ concerts and at one church we enjoyed a rehearsal. I'm not sure why I find church organs so spiritually moving, but I do.
Back in Villafranche we watched two cruise ships leave the harbor. I looked at the Costa website and saw that their "Nice on Your Own" tour which basically means a bus ride into town cost $40. This means $80 for a couple. Using a local bus cost us $10 total and our bus had a sign on it "Winner of best bus in France 2013."
For dinner we ate at a candlit outside cafe in Villafranche overlooking the water and strolled the stone seaside promenade back to our hotel with a full moon lighting the way.