This first week in Nice is slowly coming to an end. Ahead, D and I have the weekend to deal with. We decided that we wouldn’t do anything too strenuous or crazy because our furniture arrives on Monday. We’ll need all our energy and our wits about us come Monday morning. Sure, we won’t necessarily be moving stuff but it’ll be pretty exhausting have the apartment filled with strange people. Plus, I figure it will be a brain drain trying to come to terms with the fact that we have a whole lot of stuff — some of which didn’t fit in our 900 sq ft apartment — and now we’ve got to find a home in a 65 sq m apartment. Hmmm…
I refuse to let that minor detail impact me…although, as I type, it doesn’t seem so minor at all. Nope, I’ve decided: it’s a minor issue!
I take this issue and any other issues to the kitchen window. All I have to do is look out the kitchen window and everything else is forgotten. The kitchen is my second favourite room so far. Right now, the terrace, while not technically a room, is ahead. D and I have every meal on the terrasse and we love it. There’s something to be said about being in the middle of a city but surrounded by the calm and serenity of a wooded area. And so what if the occasional turtle-dove thinks it belongs on the railing on the terrace? We have a little strip of wood that we use to shoo it away. They’ll soon learn that we don’t share food unless it’s with invited guests…and they’re not invited. (No, we don’t hurt the little birdies.)
Back to the kitchen however. Our apartment has an east-west exposure with the kitchen, and the front of the apartment facing the east. There’s a coursive, an exterior walkway — or a front terrace as I call it — from the elevator to our door. (Our neighbour M is further along the coursive. He seems to be a nice enough guy; so far so good.) From my kitchen window I have a view of the Fort du Mont Alban (link is in French). The first stone was laid on 5 April 1557 by the architect and engineer Domenico Ponsello. Not to far from the Fort is the Nice Observatory. The architect of the Observatory was none other than Charles Garnier (yes the Charles Garnier, architect of the Palais Garnier). The designer of the main dome was Gustave Eiffel. Yup, good ol’ Gustave himself.
But the best time to be in the kitchen and looking out the window is after sunset. The lights from the houses and apartments in the neighbourhood and on the hill to the east are on as les niçois get ready for the evening. I truly love it. Another reason to love my kitchen window is that it serves as a lovely AC unit. Okay, the air isn’t “conditioned” but you can guarantee that a lovely and cooling breeze finds its way through the apartment because of this window. We figure we’ll have to invest in a few door stops to keep the kitchen door open.
The weather has been great this week; I have no complaints whatsoever. D says that this is as close to Jamaica as France can get. (He’s not including the DOM-TOMs of course.) On Friday morning we woke to the sound of rain and thunder. It was that gently falling rain that makes you wonder if it’s really raining. The raindrops were so fine you could hardly see them. The rain falling on the leaves of the trees didn’t reveal a thing; it sounded as though the wind was passing through the leaves. The only evidence of rain were the wet roof tops. During this little rain storm the sun continued to shine promising only big poufy clouds and bright blue skies. As a result, the temperature is a little cooler — I say this as we’re on a hill and it feels cooler up here than in the city — and there is enough of a breeze at the back of the apartment that the kitchen window has been closed all day.
And guess what? I got mail on Friday! I am someone in France now! Okay, okay, maybe it’s not that exciting to you but it’s great news to me. And to D. We didn’t know whether the mailman would put the mail in the right slot. (The fact that we don’t have the key to the mailbox is still an issue but that’s how it goes sometimes.) We had visited “our” bank on Wednesday to open a bank account for me. Two days later and I have a letter from “our” conseiller. (Never you mind that it’s a form letter. It still has his name at the bottom so there!)
Thursday was a work and play day. We decided that we would go to the beach as often as possible. Easier said than done, especially for D who could be called a workaholic. The plan is to work until 6 pm and then make the walk to the beach for a quick swim and a light dinner on the galettes. None of this was possible before Thursday. We were just too busy running around town, between Nice and Antibes, to even think of hitting the beach.
So, we left the apartment at 6:35 pm — D packed our little cooler with ham, pickles, a baguette, water, a bag of potato chips, and two peaches – and off we went. It took us about 25 mins to get to a nice little spot on the beach. After a quick swim — the water was 25 degrees they said — we relaxed on our mats and people watched while enjoying our dinner. Yeah, we said, we can definitely get used to this! We left the beach around 8:40 pm and arrived back in the apartment at 9 pm.
With all the walking, and especially with the uphill climb at the end, we’re sure to burn some calories! This means more wine and/or cheese and/or chocolate…! We realize that we may need a little vehicle — something old, small, and inexpensive (a beater as my brothers call it) – that we can use when we want to venture further afield or when the need warrants it.
We’ve noticed two things about this city: canons and bells. Wednesday was the first full day spent at the apartment. At noon a canon was fired and all the church bells started to ring. (They ring on the hour just so you know but this wasn’t a ‘hey, its noon’ kind of ringing.) Now, I’m well aware of the post-war Wednesday goings-on in various cities, villages, bourgs, communes in France. It’s not completely uncommon to hear bomb sirens going off at the noon hour. A canon? Umm, not that I can recall hearing.
So I was a little startled when I heard the canon on Wednesday. Then I remembered and thought ’oh yeah, it’s Wednesday’. Then came Thursday and a startling thunder-clap. Again? Friday too. It seems that this is a daily thing. Nice has quite a few canons lying around but I didn’t realize that they put them to use every single day. Interesting place Nice is.
D and I are heading to the bakery now — it’s almost 6:30 pm — and then it’s on to the beach again.
We spent about 1.5 hours at the beach on Friday. We took a different route to the beach — we had to stop at the boulangerie — but in all, it took us about 30 mins to get to the beach. Another quick swim followed by a light dinner and then it was back home.
This morning — it’s Saturday today — we went to the market at Cours Saleya. First stop en route was Place Saint François to get some fish. We bought mérou, which I learned later is grouper. Oh, it was delish. I seasoned it with some salt/seaweed mix we had bought and a little pepper and then grilled it. Yum, yum, yum for my tum, tum, tum!!! Anyway, we made our way to Cours Saleya and bought some apéro tomatoes, yellow peaches, cucumbers, corn, grapes, and apricots. We were tempted by the olives, the hams, and the melons — which came from Cavaillon, HELLO! — but we opted out this time around.
As it’s raining today, we really have no excuse not to finish putting stuff away for Monday’s big upheaval. So, it’s a quiet day for us here in Nice. And we’re loving it!