Nice/St. Paul de Vence

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
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11
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Trip End May 15, 2011


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Where I stayed
Tahitian Princess

Flag of France  , Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur,
Thursday, April 23, 2009

We arrived on the French Rivera this morning. The Tahitian Princess dropped anchor in the Bay overlooking the beaches lining the city of Cannes, France. The weather today was decidedly warmer than yesterday when we visited Rome. Today the White Lady's Port Luck was in full control of the weather. It was a beautiful day in which the temperature was always in the mid 70's. The rain clouds that we had briefly seen in Sorrento and Rome had been in Cannes the day before we arrived, but that was history and beautiful weather with blue skies and white clouds was all that we would see during the day.

We were rested from our exhausting day in Italy. Now fully prepared and breakfasted, we were ready to take a ship's tour of Nice and St. Paul De Vence.  After a short smooth tender ride into the port of Cannes, we were boarded onto a large modern bus that would take us to the neighboring city of Nice. Nice is the largest city on the French Rivera and St. Paul De Vince is a medieval walled city in the hills overlooking the French Rivera. The bus will take us first to Nice for a special city tour on the Tourist Train that runs thru the streets of the city. Following the tour of Nice, we will be taken back up into the hills that overlook the French Rivera to the medieval city of St. Paul De Vence, a small compact walled city 
 
Nice is just beside the city of Cannes and has a beautiful beach that provides the city with a favorite tourist destination for those wishing to enjoy sand beaches and luxury hotels that line the beach. The city has a long history as it was once a part of the Greek Empire around 400 BC. Later it was taken over by the Romans and stayed in Italian control until the middle of the 18th century when the French wrested control of the area from the Italians. The city lies on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in front of the hills just inland from the sea. The weather is much like the weather of our home San Jose. It also suffers from a fire season much the same as California. It has even has named several areas of Nice after California locations. We stopped on the beach and loaded onto two small white tourist trains that would take us thru the old section of town and up on a hill that contained old Greek ruins and overlooks the city of Nice. Nice is a beautiful city of large hotels and a growing high tech infrastructure. It seems that everywhere in the world that has a High Tech area that area is referred to it as the Silicon Valley of ...  In this case it was the Silicon Valley of France. There are some new buildings inside of the city but most are approximately 50 years old. Although old, the city in general appears to be well maintained and loved as it is a favorite location for the wealthy of the world. Trash and graffiti were not evident in the areas of town the tour took us. There was a lack of vehicles in the city center for a city the size of Nice. This appears to be because of the modern efficient tram system that works its way thru out most of the city providing a good alternative to driving. The large city squares are mostly devoid of automobiles parked around them. Trees are being planted in areas that used to be parking lots. Larger sections of the city are now filled with people walking around and not just parked vehicles. It adds to the beauty of the city.  
 
We went by the local shops and then past a large building that was called the Palace of Justice, from the time that Dukes would hold court there. Today it is still involved in justice as it is the main police station of the town. Sidewalk cafes were on many of the streets that our little train passed. We rode out to the harbor area past many large and beautiful yachts but they were only a distraction because on the mountain above the harbor was a modernistic yellow house that stood out among the other homes forming the skyline of the city.. I was able to only get one photograph of the house as the train had turn and was proceeding up a different mountain. Up to the top of the mountain where some of the best views of Nice were spread out before our gaze. It was on this hill that in 400 BC, the Greeks had lived and watched over their sea port below them. They stayed there until the Romans and later the Italians and finally the French took over control of this large and beautiful city on the coast of France. Now it is a large park surrounded by villas of the local rich. At the very top is a small café with a lookout viewing area just above it on the summit of the mountain. From our just discovered vantage point we could see all of the city of Nice from the mountains, pass the buildings and out to the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. There we could see the French Rivera. We could even see the White Lady far in front of us. She was anchored off the city of Cannes. Looking back toward the mountains and the interior of France, we could see the beginning of the Alps and snow covered mountains. They were very white as this year they had received over twenty feet of snow. That was a large amount of snow for the mountains. Everything toward the interior of the country was still green from the heavy winter rains. Like California, these green mountains would soon change to light brown as the hot summer would come and dry out the greenery of the hills and mountains. Later this season they would be dry and the fire danger would be high. But not now, now they were green and beautiful. We stayed here for about half an hour so that all of the tourist could take that perfect picture worthy of a prized spot in National Geographic; but it would not be used because on the side of the picture would be a loved one. We left this sight and headed back down to the beaches of Nice where we would board our bus for the second part of the tour. We were headed into the mountains to the medieval town of St. Paul De Vence.
 
St. Paul De Vence was a special stop as it is a completely walled city from the middle ages that sits on the top of a mountain just outside of Nice. We have been to ruins of civilizations that were much older and more famous than this small medieval town, but this was a town that was still alive and functioning as a town. It was a small compact time capsule that had survived the modernization of man over  many centuries to give us a glimpse of life in Medieval Europe. Now it was the home of many artists and clothing shops; small cafes and small delis. The driver parked the bus on the steeply sloped parking lot about 2 blocks from the town and we walked up the mountain the last few blocks. Here on the top of the mountain there are mainly just walks up or down the mountain with very few level walks. But we were in good shape and the ups and downs added to dramatic look of the town built literally on a mountain top. So we walked past a large outdoor café with a larger dirt field in front. This was the local Bocce Ball area where men would gather in the afternoons and complete in a special form of Bocce Ball. In this version, the player would remain in a small circle with his feet together as he threw the ball underhanded at either his opponent's ball or a small ball that acted as a target. We watched awhile as the game progressed and the players mostly men in their 60's would discuss the merits of the throws in French. As we do not speak French we would just interpret the meanings from the lay of the balls and the movements of the arms of the speakers as they explained their points of view. This was a momentary stop as the gate for the entrance into the city was just beyond the Bocce Ball Field.
 
The City Gate was a short tunnel thru the city wall that opened into the inside of the city. There were a few vehicle but they were limited to the back edge of the town. The streets of the city consisted only of walkways up and down thru the small shops that make up the town. 
 
As with most medieval towns, the center was the location of its main church. Located on its highest point sat the town church with a tall bell tower. Like all of the buildings of this town, it was constructed in stone, the same stone that made up the walls. With the exception of the church all of the buildings in town appeared to be one long building that was wound around the mountain top. It was as if we were back in the middle ages. We stopped at one deli and I purchased a long ham sandwich on French bread along with a diet coke. This I carried to a little area by a fountain and had lunch in the heart of the town. All was quiet and serene as we sat there on the edge of one of the streets of town. We walked up and down the streets in which a unique special view was always just in front or beside of us. But thought we walked all of the afternoon we never seemed to be tired, just intrigued with the sights of the town. Small shops of fashion clothing and art works were tucked inside of the numerous stores that lined the pedestrian pathways of the city. The city appeared to have a plan for the maze of streets that made up it passageways; If you went up a hill you were walking toward the church and if you walled down a hill you were walking toward the wall with the lowest section of the wall containing the narrow little tunnel that was the gateway in and out of the city. It was thru this gateway that we would make our final exit of the city as we walked back down to the bus and eventually back to Cannes for our return to the White Lady.
 
It was a very enjoyable day and we returned feeling satisfied with our little sampling of the French Rivera. To paraphrase Forest Gump; "Travel is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get until you try one." Today we got a delicious taste of France that we will savor and enjoy for years.
 
We are now on a whirlwind of stops here on the Mediterranean Ocean. We will travel thru the night across the bumpy Bay of Lyons and along the Spanish Rivera to the city of Barcelona. Tomorrow at noon, we will dock in the city.
 
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Where is Harriet? Hunt 

Today, Harriet will be returning from the walled medieval town of St. Paul De Vence. You will see the walls of the city beside of her.

Linda  on April 23, 2009

Another difficult one. Looks like she might be behind the man in the white shirt, with his elbow up in the air and you can see part of her head behind his elbow behind him. walking towards us on the right side of the picture by the big tree.. She is in black.
Linda 
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