What a difference a day makes (sometimes).
Had I left Nice as planned after just one full day I think it would have been summarily dismissed as “not my sort of town”. That was probably my view before I arrived and neither the tacky area around the station, festooned with sex shops; nor the innumerable chic fashion emporia, festooned with overpriveliged, overdressed women did anything to change my mind. I got to the beach, but that was nothing earth-shattering either. No sand, just stones and significant sections fenced off for the overpriveliged and underdressed. Sure, there were some nice squares but in France that is surely a given.
But then I had to stay another day, and helped by haging around with a guy who was a big fan of the town, my eyes were opened to the glory of Nice – or at least its positives.
First I got my dose of culture at the Chagall Museum. Its not terribly big, 6 or 7 rooms, about 30 paintings, but the quality is consistently superb, and Chagall fits a lot of detail into his paintings. One girl at the hostel said she’d saved 7 euros by just visiting the shop and looking at the postcards. That might work with some artists, but here the postcards simply don’t do justice to his work. Another plus is that the museum was purpose built for his work andso has lots of personal touches – a mosaic, one room – containing the amazing Cantique des Cantique paintings – with a touching dedication to his wife, and an auditorium with some magnificent stained glass.
Highlights for me – L’Arche de Noel, La Traversée de la Mer Rouge (though obviously Chagall didn’t think I’d seen enough crucifixions this trip and stuck in a gratuitous one in the the top right). Overall favourite I think was Cantique des Cantiques IV.
Having fulfilled my cultural quota for the day I headed down to the beach. And, hey, stone beaches aren’t so bad, not actually uncomfortable to lie on, no sand getting everywhere and the water was beautiful. Then wandered through the old town (though not sure how “old” it is to justify that appelation, but narrow streets + no cars = win). Up the hill, past a gorgeous waterfall, to the castle ruins and a great view over the town and the sea. Back to the beach to drink some beers in the evening cool. I’ve had worse days.
So, is Nice actually my sort of town? I’m still not convinced, but I’d not be averse to spending some more time there trying to ascertain the matter.