Morning Train to Nice

In which we get up extremely early to travel very fast to the south of France and end up in Nice.

Neither of us are morning persons so it was with some reluctance that we hoisted ourselves out of bed around 4 am, and left our apartment and Montmartre for the last time.

Luckily we’d packed the night before and previously done a quick recce of Gare Lyon station which is where the TGV’s depart from to the south. After lugging our luggage up and down stairs and scrambling over gates that refused to cooperate we got to the platform with half an hour to spare, yay!

Oh yes it helps to have your tickets in hardcopy, which I’d gone and printed out while we were waiting in the cue for the catacombs. Ehem, guess who originally printed out the booking advice and not the tickets?

The TGV’s are great, smooth ride, good aircraft style seating table trays etc etc. And of course you don’t have to go through all that American paranoia driven security hoopla. Though you do need to get to your carriage quickly to score luggage space. We were lucky and got to stow ours in a small luggage rack that was halfway down the train.

Then kick back, relax (read sleep) and let the countryside roll past as we headed out of Paris and towards the Mediterranean. Lunch was rolls again, have I mentioned that Galina is very good on the Petit Pains front?

And then we arrived. Climbing out of the train to be hit by a wall of warmth like an Australian summer we wandered down the art deco concourse and out into the bright mediterranean sun.

We’d booked a room at the Kyriad Nice hotel which is just a stone throw from the station (And with a stop on the new tram service right outside) so after checking in we decided to go for a swim.

We got a map from the desk hopped on the tram and headed down to the promenade of the English, so named because it’s has always been a favourite stop on the english Grand Tour.

We negotiated our way amongst all the ‘private’ beaches and found a stretch of public. Alright I’m an Australian so cobble beaches don’t exactly thrill me but the water was warm and clear once we swam out. Guess I’m a little spoiled by beaches that have had waves breaking on them for a million years, sometimes it pays to live on the worlds oldest continent.

Anyway, we climbed out had a fresh water shower then headed back to the Kyriad to change and head out to see the sites. When you get to the Place Massena the statues on pillars are kind of hard to miss, there’s seven of them representing the seven continents.

The work is by Plensa and is titled, ‘Conversation á Nice’, more of that a little later. And if you’re into architecture checkout the italian style to of the buildings surrounding the Place.

The square’s the geographic centre of Nice and…OMG what the hell is a 10 metre tall anatomically correct statue of Apollo doing in the centre of the square?!

Did we but know it the statue had been deported from the Massena square in the late 70’s because it was considered well, too well endowed. Personally I think it’s the left knee that causes all the fuss. And yes, I know, who’d have thought that the french had that big a streak of puritanism running through them?. 🙂

As luck would have it Apollo had only just returned to the square before our arrival. I’m thinking the sun god’s looking a might smug.

The picture below is on the sea side of the Place Massena, looking from along the Rue Alexandre Mari at the wooded slopes of the Parc de Chateu in the distance.

And then there’s the Cours Saleya, lot’s of open air restaurants here open late into the night.
The Palace of Justice in the Place du Palais, where we found lot’s of kids hanging out, with none of that aimless slightly threatening drunkenness you’d get from an equivalent bunch of Australian kids.
Finally we circled back to the Place Massena and caught the tram back to our hotel, the statues were illuminated by now with their colours ebbing and flowing between them in a visual conversation. Tomorrow Monaco…

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