23 November 2010

FRANCE: Day 4 - Nice

Whoops! Forgot to leave my cellphone in Bratislava for DM to use during his U.S. trip in December. CA and I manage to navigate the French Poste, buying a mailing folder for 9.50€ (prepaid postage) and sending it off to our friends in Crystal Lake for DM to retrieve.

Our drive into Nice is such a pleasure—the Maritime Alps, the snow capped Alps of Haut Provence, the azure sea, the sun, the architecture. How are we so blessed? When I compare the pervasive beauty of this landscape with what's normal in our suburban landscape and sprawl at home, I realize how my daily grind makes it easy to sink into lassitude and boredom—signs of an arid soul. Real people live here and drive these roads and experience this beauty as part of their everyday lives. They probably take it for granted most of the time, but some of it must seep into their hearts and minds, feeding their souls and gifting them with a spirit and appreciation of beauty—a life-view that I would like to claim.

We’ve planned lunch at Safari in the Flower Market, and it’s the perfect day for sitting outside in the 60+˚ sunshine. After thoroughly perusing the menu we can’t resist the Niçiose salade, which is comprised of mixed greens, Niçiose olives, tomato, hard-boiled egg, tuna, green pepper, anchovies (I eat one and bless CA with my second), artichoke, and radish. I add some balsamic to my salad, and we both savor the baguette. I ask for beurre, but the waiter says there is none—I should use olive oil. There is none! Ha! Right. The baguette is so fresh and crunchy that it requires nothing, and our server’s gratuity will reflect his attitude about my request for beurre. We share a half carafe of wonderful Provencal rosé—so lightly pink it’s almost peach.

I wisely ordered ½ portion of salad to save room for gelato. Mama Mia! This must be the finest gelato I’ve ever encountered—one scoop of chocolate and one of coffee of the richest most decandent iced cream ever. CA can’t resist a few licks.

We wander toward the main commercial area of Nice to Galleries Lafayette. This is a lovely store—expensive with designer merchandise and a few less high-end brands.We’ve bought grandchildren gifts at GLF in Paris a few times. If I find a scarf or gloves that I can’t resist, than so-be-it.

After awhile I’m interested in searching out the Du Pareil Au Même store, but with our unreliable Internet my directions are hidden in my Favorites “France” file and I had no access this morning. However, in a matter of minutes I stun CA by turning down just the right street and landing on the doorstep of DPAM. CA is as excited as I am to begin our Christmas shopping for JA and LE. We snag a few gifts—let’s just say that JE won’t need to worry about what LE will wear for Christmas. The boys clothing is a bit trickier, and JA is a bit particular,r so we may wait until Paris where there are 5 or 6 DPAMs. We do find a onesie and a pajama for the Ribeiro’s new baby girl.

Christmas Windows in Nice

We shop a bit more—finding some home interiors and housewares stores—but we don’t buy anything. About 3:45pm we decide to wind our way back to the parking garage. After more wrong turns than we’ll ever admit, we’re on the A8 and back to Mougins—about 15 miles as the crow flies. This is the first time that we’ve wished for the GPS. We’d planned for a GPS, but a last minute glitch with the car rental company meant that we’re left to navigate by signs, rental car maps, and trial and error.

CA is thinking leftover pasta for dinner tonight and I’m thinking of trying a restaurant in Haut Mougins, but since it’s only 5:30pm we end up stopping for a baguette and some pomme tart slices to go along with our pasta. We’re pretty sure that we can’t go anywhere for dinner before 6:30pm without embarrassing ourselves. American senior citizens.

We’re enjoying BBC TV—quiz shows and world news. We’ve also found an English language radio station out of Monaco that combines talk with “nostalgic” music. It’s funny hearing French news and traffic conditions narrated in English.

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