Travelogue Côte d'Azur, France

> How it all began...

  May 2003: it should take still a few months for the summer holidays to start and the spring holidays were just over. But still we loved the idea of leaving the Netherlands, to go to a place where it should be slightly warmer and with some more sun. Peter never flew before then and maybe it was about time that this should finally happen. We quickly got ourselves some magazins from the travel agency and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the blue skies, nice buildings and cosy hotels.

> The Plan

Monaco We didn't have many days-off left, but the whitsun week-end still had to come. This meant we could leave for 3 days. So it would not be a far-distance-trip, but we still were looking forward to any unexpected trip to the sun. Eventually we booked a 3-day-trip to Nice, just a 90 minutes-flight, but still a great trip to the Mediteranian. From Nice it would also be easy to visit Monaco for one day, so we had 2 cities to visit in just one week-end.

> Journey to Côte d'Azur

As said before it will be Peter's first flight and when the day of departure comes closerNice he is no longer sure if this was such a good plan. We are lucky to have an early flight, at 08.00 AM. We have to leave the hotel where we spent the night, the Spaarnwouderesort, just a few minutes after 05.00 AM and after a 30 minutes drive to Schiphol Airport we are there to check-in. It is still possible to get ourselves a seat at the window and after another cup of tea and some more waiting and trying to get awake at last we can board the airplane. Unfortunately the take-off gives a few problems, so this makes Peter even more nervous than he was before. There is not enough air in one of the tires, but after a 30 minutes delay we can finally take-off. Eventually we both can relax and Peter admits that flying isn't that bad after all. For the rest we have a calm flight and at 10.30 AM we are at our destination at the French Riviera, where the sun is shining like never before. Temperature is 15 degrees higher than the one at the same moment back home.

> Nice

The hotel (Medicis) appears to be a nice and good hotel and it takes just 10 minutes to walk to the beach and the well-known boulevard. Despite it's only in the beginning of June there are plenty of people at the broad boulevard, next to the beach that is covered with pebbles. We go for a nice walk to the Nice harbour and lighthouse. At this part of the city there is a hill Houses Nicefrom where you have a splendid view over the entire beach, the harbour and the old city center. You can climb up if you want to, but we decide to be lazy and buy two tickets for the elevator to bring us up. Beautiful cactus plants grow all over the hill.
In the afternoon we visit the old city with all the coloreful houses and narrow streets with the nice boutiques. There are enough souvenir shops to bring a present for every inhabitant of our own country, but we just buy some nice things for ourselves. Many good restaurants are situated here and in the evening it is hard for us to pick the best one. In the end we choose a pizzeria where we can have dinner outside on the terrace. We even have live music to listen to as there are many musicians playing outside on the streets. After a great diner we go back to the boulevard at the beach for a nice evening-walk.

> Monaco

Our plan for the next day is to go to Monaco by train. It takes us quite some time to find the railway station, and when we ask someone they send us in various directions all the time. Eventually we manage to reach the entrance of the central station. What we see there is a big chaos and a very crowded square where the trains are supposed to leave. We are wondering if this is a normal day in a place like Nice, which is not such a giant city at all. But in a short conversation with a Dutch man we find out why it's such a chaos. All the employees of the French railway company decided that this day is just the perfect day for a strike. There won't be one train departing or arriving the entire day. But we also know that there is a bus to Monaco as well and we get pointed in the direction of the busstation. It takes us only 10 minutes to get there. A few minutes later we can hop on the bus heading to Monaco. After 45 minutes we are very glad that we didn't take the train, as we have a wonderful ride by bus. The road is right next to the coastline and is a garantee for excellent views over the Côte d'Azur. During the summermonths this "Basse Corniche" Palace Monaco seems to be extremely busy and it's better to take the "Haute Corniche", but when we're there in early June there is not a traffic problem yet. Within an hour we get off the bus at the Monaco harbour. Just a few days earlier the famous Formule 1 car-races were helt here and lots of materials are still all over the road. We have a quick view in the harbour where we see many beautiful and very luxurious yachts before we go up the hill to the National Palace. We are right on time to see the change of guards at noon.
A bus to the Jardin Exotiqueleaves close to the National Palace. The botanical gardens are situated almost on top of the hill that Monaco is built on, and you'd better not walk to it. The roads are very steep and it's still quite a distance.Botanical garden Monaco We reach the Jardin Exotique about 30 minutes and many curves later. The gardens have many species of cactus plants and they are wonderful to see, especially the colorful ones that are already blooming. Also the way the park is situated there on top of the hill and overlooking the city and the ocean is fabulous. Close to the exit there is another surprise for us: under the rocky hills of the park appears to be a stalactitic cave. We are right on time for the next tour through the cave. The tour takes 30 minutes, so that's long enough to enjoy all the beauty, but not too long to miss too much of the wonderful weather outside the cave.
After a visit to the casino and the presentation of the newest Bugatti on the square in front of it we decide it's time to return to Nice and have diner. The next morning we have just enough time to go for a walk to the Russian Cathedral just outside the city center, before we have to return to the airport. Unfortunately it is a sunday, so we can just take a look at the exterior of the church. We find a busstop close to this church and get to the Airport of Nice: it's time for Peter to get nervous again. But the flight back home is okay and this makes that we can conclude that we can fly more often now. It was a great week-end.

> More Info

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