07 December 2010

FRANCE: Day 18 - Nice, all day

Nice is our destination today, and to get a good start we skip our morning at the café and brew some dandy French press in the Villa. We’re headed this morning to the Marche Aux Fleurs. Surprisingly, the sky clears as we travel eastward. By the time we’ve parked and ascended the stairs to street level on Cour Saleya, the sun is out! Oh, glorious sun. We’ve missed you.

Today’s market is about 1/3 of what we’ve experienced on a Friday or Saturday. There’s still a good selection of fruits, vegetables, and other products of Provence, but everything is more or less displayed in a utilitarian fashion rather than the stylistic presentations we expect. LFW has a great time, and I finally get to buy a large bouquet for me! Red roses, purple irises, baby’s breath… Lovely.

We spend about 1-1/2 hours roaming through the market and then walk down to the seaside to promenade. The sky is continuing to clear and the temperatures are close to 60˚. It’d be a nice day to sit on one of the benches facing out over the Mediterranean and lose myself in a good book.

Top, my Salade Niçoise
Bottom, CA's Moules y Frites

We re-enter the market and soon realize that Safari is not open today, so we read a few menus and decide on La Cambuse. We’re able to sit comfortably outside under the canopy, enjoying the warming rays of the sun. It takes us no time to decide what we’ll eat—CA will finally have his moules y frites (mussels and fries), LFW orders Petit Farcis Niçoise (eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini stuffed with a meatball-like mixture), and I’m having the Salade Niçoise. And, of course we order the house rosé which is the palest peachy-pink you can imagine.

We dawdle over lunch, enjoying the sun, food, and wine—and, each others company. Everything is so good; the entire market experience has been superb. And, we soon discover that the toilettes at La Cambuse are quite lovely.

After lunch we take another few minutes in the market and then walk across to Espace Messena, where a large Christmas market, ice skating rink, and snow-flocked trees have been added to the already outstanding space. I love the salmon-colored stucco buildings—their architecture is stately and very Mediterranean. There are fountains and benches, and lots of open area where people gather—tourists and the locals. France’s largest department store chain, Galleries Lafayette, is situated on a prominent corner. After quite awhile in GL, we walk on up Rue Messena in and out of shops until we HAVE to take a café break. Wonderful coffee and a welcome respite.

We’re appreciating the Christmas lights and decorations strung high across the streets and decide that we’ll definitely stay until dark so that we can get the full Christmas experience in Nice.

CA is the best when it comes to tolerating our shopping today. We eventually land back at DPAM to check out grandchildren clothes—to make sure we didn’t miss anything the last time we were here. We have some good shopping luck at Zara—I find a new scarf and LFW buys a couple of gifts. By the time we’re back on the streets it’s dark and we’re almost back to Espace Messena.

The Christmas lights are lit, and the air is charged with a holiday vibe. We’re all smiling and taking photos and being thankful that we’ve come to Nice during the holiday season.

We end up back in Mougins at Carrefour—LFW buying a few food items to take back to New Orleans, and I’m getting some pork tenderloin to combine with the vegetables we bought in Nice in a stir fry. CA makes a last-minute (almost 7:00pm) trip to our boulangerie. The freshest baguettes will be out of the oven in 10 minutes, so he decides to join the locals as they gather in and out of the store to wait it out.

I’m not cooking tonight—there’s plenty of cheeses and salad makings already in the frig and no one is hungry or energetic enough to require more. We have a pear and an apple tart left from last night, so dinner is “on-your-own” and casual tonight.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing how LFW wants to spend her last day in Provence, and so far reached no conclusion. We will go to the café early tomorrow, and after coffee CA will take LFW for a walk through Mougins’ Vieux Village (old village) which is nestled into and on top of the hillside behind our villa.

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