Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nice Old Town's 'Vieille Ville' is N-I-C-E

The city of Nice, the capital of the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur region) is big and is strategically located along the coastline of La Baie des Anges. Hotels from a simple 3 stars to distinguished 5 stars line up the Promenade des Anglais, the famous boulevard of the city facing the pristine Baie des Anges. This stretch is filled with rows of palm trees, and in the evening the tall foliages glitter with lights setting the right mood for the holiday season’s festivities.

Speaking of palm trees, and back tracking to the day I arrived in Nice, I was with 2 colleagues in a cab en-route from the airport to the hotel. As we sped through the highway, my colleague who was sitting in front of the car and talking to the cab driver in French – he just happens to speak 4 languages by the way, was complimenting the balmy weather and the green palm trees decorating the city. We felt like we were whisked into a new and different world... a warm paradise. Such a big contrast to cold and gloomy Holland with bald, dull, and lifeless looking trees we were used to just 2 hours ago.

It’s nice indeed to be transported to a warmer place during winter where green is still the order of the day, and more importantly, when it’s just less than 2 hours flight! Outside the temperate registers 18C on the thermometer which is a laugh really for winter season in the South of France where I see women on the streets clad in fur coats and leather gloves! WTF haha! 18C in the Netherlands could mean a bad summer day.

Anyway, what struck me most with Nice is its enigmatic old town they call ‘Vieille Ville’.

The old neighbourhood is very French in character I believe and it has this touch of a mysterious edge. I love the narrow winding lanes, they are very attractive. The coloured wooden window shutters and flower pots on the windowsill adds a cosy tone too. Distinctive and vibrant yet light colours of the buildings in a variation of hues in peach orange, turquoise blue, bright yellow, lavender, and apple green, they fuse with each other harmoniously in such a way that this gentle mix of effervescent shades boost up a special aura to the place – old yet trendy. That’s more like it. Through its adaptation of colours the past caught up with time, but managing to preserve the old charisma and ambiance by keeping its old architecture intact and the French character.

On the other hand, Nice has this somewhat seedy look, yet at the same time she is friendly and inviting. I think narrow alleys can easily be perceived as seedy to a certain degree, but I must say, emphatically in an artistic way.

I liked my time spent in Nice. Even though it was for business, I, rather we (my colleagues) managed to go out a bit to explore the city and taste the local cuisine.

Police busy with something but what caught my eye are the beautiful details on the facade of the church.

Palais des Justice.

Lovely charming leaning building.

Nice's Veille Ville has many of these charming and pretty pockets and alleys.

This is one of the cool entrances to the old town.

Oh, I would not mind coming back to Nice. With its balmy temperatures during the winter months, this city is definitely a great place to crash for a weekend of recovering from the cold windy winter in the Netherlands.

Travel Period: November-December 2007
Destination: Nice (Alpes Cote d'Azur - Provence-Alpes), France

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