Nice and Eze, Cote d’Azur, France

Nice is as different from Marseille as night and day – a town that seems almost universally devoted to leisure. Being of a puritan, Midwestern temperament, as well as origin, this makes me distinctly uncomfortable and I have compensated accordingly by excessive walking – both days I’ve been here have included long and rigorous hikes up into the hills surrounding the city. Its been delightful actually, resulting in both some much needed green-space time and some spectacular views.

The Cote d’Azur is well named. The first thing I did after checking in and dropping off my backpack was head for the water and walking along the esplanade was overwhelmingly beautiful, conjuring images of 30’s era decadence and turn of the century culture. Because Nice is also a cultural capitol. It has drawn as many artists as socialites over its lifespan (the part of town I’m staying in has every street named for a different famous composer who worked here). There are some truly lovely buildings and some still lovelier views.

The architectural element ascendant in Nice is the balcony. Since the whole point of the place is the ocean view, every building and maybe every room must have its viewpoint. I’ve seen everything from lacy wrought iron to modernist concrete. Here’s a smattering:

This afternoon I hopped on a bus (the entire coast is connected by a great network of buses you can ride for one Euro both around town and as far away as Monaco and beyond) to the scenic medieval village of Eze, a few hilltops away from Nice.  The place is an excellent location for a fortified town because you’d have to be mad to attack up those incredibly steep slopes.  Of course, you might also need to be crazy to build up there and haul all your necessary resources up to it.  I wandered around the town in the fading light and admired its labyrinthine passage ways, then started down the steeply sloping footpath from Eze to Eze-sur-mare, its sea level sister city.  The path I walked is known as Nietzsche’s Footpath because he apparently used to walk it often when he stayed on the Riveria.  All I can say is that he should be as well regarded for his athletic pursuits as for his intellectual ones because it was a very steep path and even though I only went DOWN it my legs were feeling quite rubbery by the time I reached the bottom.

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