November 13 Villeneuve-Loubet (Nice)

Last night we were discussing what to do today, and as we often do when planning things we consulted the weather channel app.  It told us today was the last sunny day we should expect on this trip.  So we had to make a decision, we are positioned equidistant between Nice and Cannes so we had to decide which town would we spend our last sunny and relatively warm day on.  As with all of these type of decisions I left it up to Ton and went to sleep.  When I woke up in the morning she said Nice, and gave me an agenda.

We started off with our mile walk to the train station thru the massive condo’s.  This morning we discussed again the architectural merits of the buildings, and we both admitted that the buildings had grown on us.  Ton said she looked at her pictures last night and began to see some of the subtleties of the buildings that are hidden by their sheer size.  While we will not be purchasing a condo there anytime soon we can see ourselves living there if the opportunity arose.

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The condos that have grown on both of us as we spend more time around them.

When we arrived at the train station we found a representative of SNCF (the French National Train Company) posting a notice on the still broken ticket machine.  He said that the construction near the station had cut the power to the machine, and to his office so he could not issue tickets.  We asked him what we should do, and he said just get on the train and if the conductor comes by tell him you got on here and they will sell you a ticket on the train.  I said what if we do not see a conductor, he said the ride is on us!  On the platform I told Ton that we should take a picture of the notice on the ticket machine just to be safe, a lady on the platform overheard us and asked in accented English what was going on.  We told her and she said she would go with Ton to take a picture also.  When she returned  I noticed she had a Johns Hopkins University sweater and it turns out she works in their Washington DC office and was also a visitor to France for a couple of weeks.  She was taking advantage of the good weather to head to Monaco for the day.

Ton’s itinerary for the day consisted of visiting the Central Market, an ice cream shop, and another walk on the Promenade Anglais.  The first stop was the central market where we poked thru the vegetable stalls and souvenir stands.  Our only purchase was a couple of nice local themed shopping bags.  We were drawn to a stall selling a dish called Socca which looked a lot like a dish we had eaten in Lucca that we really enjoyed and never learned the name of.  

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Flowers for sale in the Market in Nice.

We were tempted but we had ice cream to eat so we set off to the ice cream shop.  We saw one branch of the shop and it was closed, but I told Ton not to worry as this was not the main one, and the main one would surely be open.  When we arrived there were several workers working cleaning the chairs and tables but they were not open.  I asked one of the workers when they were opening and he cheerfully replied “next year”!  It turns out they were cleaning up before their winter break.  So Ton’s luck with restaurants continues.

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The special bicycle used to deliver Socca to the market.  The cover goes over the pan of Socca as it is driven from the restaurant to the market.

We were unfazed because this put Socca back on the table.  We found the restaurant that produces the Socca for the market on a back ally in the old town.  Inside there were three generations of the family working.  The father was ferrying giant platters of Socca on a specially made bicycle to the market, the son was doing the cooking and serving in the restaurant, and the grandson (who Ton spent the meal wondering why he was not in school) served the customers outside.  Socca is a simple dish made of chickpea flour, water and olive oil poured onto a large shallow pan and cooked in a wood fired oven.  Like the dish we had in Lucca earlier (called Cecina in Tuscany) it was absolutely delicious and cheap.

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A pan of Socca going into the oven.

We spent the rest fo the day wandering the old town and along the Promenaid Anglais.  Ton really loved the Promenade and kept saying lets go just a bit further and we will stop.  At one point I sat in a chair and she went down on the beach and spent half an hour happily taking pictures in all directions.    

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The beach and Promenade Anglais in Nice.

After we had walked about 10 miles we decided to head back to François and take it easy for the rest of the day.  It was a simple day but the kind of day that makes great memories.

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An interesting statue in front of one of the grand hotels along the Promenade Anglais.

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