Going to Nice

Nice is a city that glitters. Maybe it?s the light reflected off the Mediterranean, maybe it?s the colour of the buildings themselves, but it almost hurts the eyes it is so dazzling. It is one of the most gorgeous cities I?ve ever been in.?

To get there is a short bus ride and it?s a wild and crazy one at that. I like to sit in the suicide seat up by the driver with a panoramic views of the road and the sights. A stomach churner but thrilling.

I went into Nice the other day on the perfect day:? insanely bright and clear—a Nice day if there ever was one. The bus now costs 1euro which is down from when we arrived because the theory is that if it?s cheap enough more people will use it. Very smart.

This bus runs from Menton at the border with Italy into Nice. It takes 45 minutes and when we have people visit I urge them to take this bus ride if they want to learn the coast and get views that are way better than from a car.

Nice itself has been torn to shreds for the past few years:? hopelessly dirty, disorganized with businesses in the downtown disappearing under the rubble. Et voila, this year the tram which caused all this destruction has been completed. Place Massena, at Nice?s heart, is now a gorgeous piazza with everything you could want:? benches, glorious fountains, palm trees, the crazy ferris wheel and every so often the tram whispers by.

The main drag, Rue Jean Medecin, is now almost closed to all but deliveries. What a concept a downtown that is for people not cars. I used to love going into Nice and following the areas of the pietons special streets designated for those on foot. Now the whole main part of the city seems to be one huge pieton.

It?s a wonderful place to shop.? The Place Massena has Italianate architecture all around with Galeries Lafayette at its centre.? Up the street heading north are all the shops that have become familiar over the years.

The old town, is also in the best condition I?ve ever seen it in. Cleaned up, in spots just a little too squeaky clean and touristy but it’s easy to avoid these streets.

I arrived at 9:30 before many shops had opened but each one had a person lounging in the door, having a caf? and a cigarette before the commerce of the day starts.

Nice is one of my favourite places in the whole of the world as I know it. Humane in scale, a mix of architecture including the truly dreadful examples of contemporary styles which are all jumbled together. But nothing is over six storeys high so there is no blocking of light, no feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by big ugly?highrises. This is a city with a soul.

And, of course, the ride back home on the bus is one long visual adventure. Past Mont Boron, around the curve to see Cap Ferrat and Villefranche and then be to be deposited a few blocks from the apartment feeling like I?d been somewhere and done something brave and wonderful.