Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sunbathing at the Baie des Anges, and other stories.

Just got back from my very quick trip to Nice, and once again I'm inclined to blog rather than do anything responsible. Sometimes responsibility is overrated.

I arrived Tuesday evening, and immediately checked into my hostel. I think I'm getting too old for hostels. It's not so much the dorm situation that bothers me, but rather the repetitive locking and unlocking of the storage cabinets, the dragging of toiletries to the bathroom and back again, the constant vigilance to make sure you haven't left your things anywhere. Also, the young English girls in my dorm were discussing how much they wanted to meet Justin Bieber in an entirely unironic way. Hostels are just so much cheaper, though. Sometimes one must simply put up with general discomfort and Beliebers in order to do awesome things.

That night I explored the old town, and I hiked up to the top of Le Château, otherwise known as Castle Hill, to get some panoramic views of the city. As the name suggests, one can scurry through the ruins of an old castle up there. And you know how I love ruins. When I say I hiked to the top, I mean the tippy-top, the highest point atop the ruins, and what was the first thing I encountered? An entirely naked man. Not a statue, a real one. In his defense, it was extremely hot outside, with about 70% humidity. He wasn't bugging people, so I went and took some pictures of the view anyway.

Fact: when I walked back down the hill, I discovered a pair of pants, leather belt still through the loops. Lower still, an empty pair of leather shoes...

Later I had some dinner at an adorable restaurant called Chez Mêmêre, which I would highly recommend if you're ever traveling in Nice. I ordered the "small" menu, which featured about nine different local dishes, tapas-style. Very tasty. I knew I had to walk off that meal, of course, so I trekked along the coast. I ventured down the Promenade des Anglais until I was a little ways past Le Negresco hotel, and then I turned around and walked all the way to Pointe de Rauba-Capeu. Took some lovely pictures of the bay at night, like this one:

I dedicated my Wednesday to art. In the morning I took the bus to the Chagall Museum. It's funny--I love bright colors, so you'd think I would adore Chagall, but it's simply not the case. I'm not a huge fan of the way he painted humans. But I am a fan of the way he painted plants, so I enjoyed that aspect. His mosaics are impressive as well, and I liked the design of the museum itself. It was peaceful. I then took the bus to the Matisse Museum, which is situated in an old villa next to some ancient ruins and an old monastery. Yes, I walked through the ruins first and the monastery after. I'm partial to Matisse's later work, so that was my favorite part of the museum. They had a bunch of the paper cutouts that he didn't end up using in his pieces, and you could sort of flip through them like posters. They also had the architectural models for his chapel in Vence, and several of his original palettes, which was great.

The whole reason I decided to travel to Nice in the first place--aside from the fact that I want to travel pretty much everywhere--was to attend the Nice Jazz Festival. Specifically, I wanted to see two of the artists playing Wednesday night. Earlier this summer, a friend brought the Israeli artist Asaf Avidan to my attention. His vocals sound sort of like Tallest Man on Earth, but with a twinge of Freddie Mercury. Some of his songs sound like Tallest Man on Earth, too, but others have a jazzy vibe, or a rock vibe, or a blues vibe, or a just plain weird vibe. I was immediately obsessed, so I looked at his website; lo and behold, he was touring France this summer! He wasn't passing through Toulouse, but Nice sounded like a beautiful place to visit, and when I saw that the band Jungle was playing on the same night, I knew it was meant to be.

His set was absolutely phenomenal--one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. His vocal range is stunning, and he knows how to work a crowd. I cannot understand why he hasn't caught on in the United States. He's absurdly talented, and he's headlining festivals in Europe. Seriously, United States, get your shit together. Here's a sampling of some live stuff. WHY ARE YOU NOT LISTENING TO THIS ALL THE TIME? Don't you want to be happy?

Sorry. I'll stop ranting now. Back to Nice.

Today was my last day, so I spent the morning doing what you're actually supposed to do in Nice: sunbathing. My hostel was a mere 5-minute walk from the water, so I just popped down there and unrolled my towel at the nearest public beach. I unfortunately couldn't go swimming, as there wasn't anyone to watch my things (the perils of traveling solo), but I did walk in the surf for a while. And I looked like a total babe while doing it, too. Evidence:

I'm honestly not much of a beach person, but I have to say, the Côte D'Azur is pretty impressive. The pebbles were far superior to sand--nice and warm, did not encrust my body--and the water is so gorgeous it looks fake. The pictures don't do it justice. That first blue, before it gets to the deeper blue, it's so perfect and clear. It's the color they try and fail to achieve by painting the bottoms of swimming pools, and it's bizarre to see the real version.

Now that I'm back in Toulouse, I'm already thinking of where I'd like to go next. I have only a few weeks left in France, but I think I can squeeze one more side trip in there...

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