Nice, France....What the HELL happened?

1:15 AM AirplaneFoodCritic 1 Comments

I was so excited to come here for our first day of our trip because I recall being here when I was 10 years old and just like I still see in the photos, I recall azure waters, promenades full of people dressed to the nines, walking their little spoiled dogs. I remember lots of sunbathers on the pebbly beach that is lined with hopping bars and restaurants. I remember fancy hotels and fancier casinos. Now that I am here I can only wonder - WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

When we checked into our hotel we should have gotten our first clue. Actually, our first clue might have been as we were coming into town on the bus. We passed clusters of apartment buildings that looked like at one time they were well kept. I figured they had such wonderful views of the sea that people didn't care as much about the facade. I figured that we were just on the outskirts of town so it was more for the working class housing. The shabby look just never ended. We arrived at our hotel and the wonderful and charming proprietor, Gilles, asked us if we had visited before. I said, yes, 30 years ago. He kind of shook his head and said "Things have changed." And boy was he right. He explained that there was a mayor here for decades who just got older and older and further and further out of touch with the younger, vibrant people. For example, he had the nightclubs closing at midnight. Midnight! That is when you go OUT to the club, not come home! It appeared that as the mayor inched into his 90's the town, much like his body, was becoming weak and run down. That mayor is gone but now there is much to rebuild.

We rested then walked out to the Promenade d'Anglais which runs along the beach. It had beautiful views of the ice blue waters. We walked past some garbage and smelly spots but still assumed it mush have been late on a Sunday so it was just garbage not yet picked up. We made it to the beach and decided to walk along the water. It was a little difficult in my flats to walk across the rocky shore but it was so warm and pleasant. We noticed that no one was in the water. I figured it was because the waves were slightly big that day. A storm must have just moved through. As we walked along the beach we noticed odd bits of colored plastic and broken glass. We saw cigarette butts everywhere. Then we started seeing the syringes. That is plural, folks. There were what I can only assume are used syringes scattered along the beach. No wonder no one wants to go into the water! There was one daring old man we came across who had gone in but we were totally turned off of the idea by that point.

I did put my toes in to test the temperature. It was not easy though. I had to hang on to the husband as I ascended a berm of pebbles to where the waves were crashing. Of course right then a rogue wave came up and splashed me all the way up to my butt. It felt good but I was a little embarrassed because I was wearing a white skirt. Oh well, the air on the wet clothes felt nice.

We decided that we needed to eat despite the early hour. It was about 5:30pm and I know the locals usually eat much later but we needed sustenance. A friend had recommended a restaurant called Oliviers or something like that. I drew a map of how to get there back at the hotel. It was in Old Town. I figured we would walk around the general area and we would eventually find it. The website looked really good and it had lots of vegetarian options which is rare for France I have learned. We ended up walking and walking and walking. We started to argue a bit. We were hungry but I really wanted to go to this one place. We finally found that we had been passing it a few times. It was closed and barred up. Ooops. Why is there this whole nice website then?? Grrr. We got a gelato and that calmed us right down.

I got a double scoop, one of Grand Marnier and one of Orange Chocolate. The husband got one ball of Pistachio and one ball of something crazy that started with the letter A. It was white cream with bright red ribbons of fruity flavor. It was wonderful. We walked and ate and felt much happier. The gelato gave us the energy we needed to find a restaurant. The first time eating once we get to Europe is often difficult for me. I forget how to sit down (do we check in or just find an open seat?), how to tip (do we tip? is it included? are we dumb Americans who spend too much money?) and what to order. We circled and circled and finally settled on a place that had pizza that wasn't too expensive. The hubs got a quattro fromaggio (four cheese) pizza and a mojito. I got steak tartare, fries and a Campari and soda. It was all wonderful. We didn't tip. Luckily there was nowhere on the bill TO tip so that helped tremendously. At this point it was 8pm so we went to stroll the evening lit promenade back to our hotel. We passed some joke casinos. The attendants out front looked absolutely bored. The neon lights looked tacky, that is the ones that worked. We were stepping over homeless people as we made our way along. Not at all what I remember.

I likened it to a once famous old lady who is desparately clinging to her better years, wearing too much lipstick and letting her mustache grow out. Oh well. Nice, I hardly knew ye.

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1 comment:

  1. Campari and soda....your favorite, I remember!