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Nice Old Town (Vieux Nice)

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30 reviews of Nice Old Town (Vieux Nice)

1
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Tourism was born in nice

Some say that tourism was born in Nice on the French Riviera in the eighteenth century when British, Russian and American aristocrats came to visit. In this region you can enjoy mild winters and good food. Nice is very touristy but if you make your way a bit into the city center, the old town, you can still find small signs of life in traditional "Nice": full of colors, olive oil, bread and bagnat (a famous sandwich in Nice), accents of singers, etc. It feels a bit like Italy when you can walk down the narrow streets and alleys of old Nice, with clothes hanging on the aged windows and the elderly talking from one balcony to another. We can also see frescoes, trompe l'oeil (illusions painted onto the outside of buildings) and other artistic details on the walls of the center. There is a flower market and a fish market in the Saint François Plaza. It is a must!
malagasyasian
8
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Yellow

The bay of Nice smiles, the pebbled-filled beach its big, grinning teeth. She takes my hand. It is night and the beach sleeps. She prefers rocky beaches. I cannot agree to this.

“Pffft to your sand” she says, her lips vibrate, shooting anxious air.

Two fishing rods stand buried. Desolate and abandoned, as if two emaciated figures, monks perhaps, their lines drop submissively into the Mediterranean. We duck under them and collapse, laughing. The breeze feels soft as calming hand might. Her brown hair loosens from her pony-tail.

We hear cars on the English promenade; Castle Hill looms over us.

Her fingers polish a pebble. I watch her turn it over and over through her hands, expertly. She turns, her eyebrows raised in celebration, as if a precocious child ve had just out-witted her dull parent.

“You can’t do this with your sand.”

She springs up and I follow her white flip-flops to the water’s edge. The lights from the shore produce a translucent film on the water like skin on overcooked soup. A wave breaks over her feet and she jumps. In the turmoil, one flip-flop becomes unhinged and drops like an anchor into the churning water.

“My shoes,” she screams. I laugh.

Her arms plunge wildly into the water as if trying to spear fish. She manages to corral the fugitive flip-flop before unfastening the other and tossing them both onto the shore.

She relaxes and refocuses her attention on the pebble nestled in her hand. She settles the stone between her thumb and forefinger, angles her wrist and fires. The rock hits a crescent wave and disappears.

She lowers her head and walks further away. Not inevitable, but expected.

The lights stalk the shoreline around the bay. At the furthest part, the colors blur and blend into one inscrutable design – a chimera, bouncing and unfocused.

She has disappeared into the night.

On a patio, near the yacht-filled harbor, the sun-setting behind the rich man’s toy-chest, we drink. I practice my French and order our beer. The waiters tolerate my drunken efforts – oh the horrors of hosting tourists. I feel cosmopolitan and worldly. A global citizen, easily integrate-able into any foreign milieu. Yawn.

“Of course, Nice was not always this prosperous.” I say. She rolls her eyes.

“After the Second World War, the Old Town was a veritable rat’s den. Not always the Belle Époque. Not always Champagne or Cabarets or Marcel Proust.”

She sips her beer as the tables fill around us.

She speaks of her secrets. Her eyes enlarging like helium into a balloon. Torment that had long anguished within her bubbles up like a sputtering of lava from a teasing volcano. She swallows her mounting distaste. She had trusted me.

She knows everything I say before I say it. Her wristwatch provides a sweeter solace, more compassionate company. I offer the platitudes of a charming parrot.

We agree the beer is reasonably prices for such a swanky location.

Then a quiet comes swiftly, only noticed after it arrives like a fever or a daydream. I sense she has broken it, perhaps, travel’s splendid ideal: Renaissance. The place where the Golden Age lasts forever, where neither a war rages nor a building burns. The time when beginnings stretch-out into an infinite sunset and people whom you love may meet your needs.

In Plaza Gibraldi, the narrow yellow buildings with green shuttered windows and balconies filled with potted plants slant and slide into each other. Filled tables decorate the cute plaza. Children scurry by with ice-cream cones. Elderly men sit in front of their faded stores, the pastel colors decaying in the summer light, and watch tourists scuttle by like determined beetles through the cool alleyways dissecting Vieux Nice.

Poverty once blossomed here. Now expats and tourists wink at each other about the latest trendy bistro or the restaurant that marinates the best eel.

The colors intoxicate, everything new. The yellow is spectacular. I feel as if I walk through the sun.

Away from the plaza, the alleys quiet and we can hear the footsteps of families carrying on their mundane and extraordinary tasks – a reproachful mother’s cry followed by a father’s sullen admonishment. Afternoon rays fall lackadaisically; scooters sit silently outside of closed doors.
Across two green-shuttered windows, articles of wet clothing hang over a taut line. Dirty and prosaic life dries in the sun against rusted beauty, a city passed its prime.

I take a picture.

Life chugs-on.

For me, it is a beautiful amalgam of the transience and resilience of things.

She is not interested and now I understand.

She grows frustrated with me. She craves now. She feels it slipping through her fingers.

I take a picture.

“The architecture is more Italian given that it belonged to Italy until 1860.”

She does not care. She needs neither explanation nor evidence. Why go anywhere if such a rupture has already cracked the foundation. We are different in Nice. She knows that but needs to believe in the promise of candlelit dinners.

“We could be anywhere.” She says.

“But we are in Nice.” I reply.

We argue further still, carefully tip-toeing around the actual stakes, never revealing what would devastate us both.

And maybe in ten years we will think back on Nice and re-invent these three glorious days to suit whichever narrative we choose to believe. Nothing is concrete, everything interpretation. Or maybe we will wonder what lay behind that door left unopened and the scents of flowers left untouched

Or maybe Nice will remain unremarked upon forgotten forever somewhere in the irrelevant past.

I take a picture.
Jesse OC
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Information about Nice Old Town (Vieux Nice)

Nice Old Town (Vieux Nice) Phone Number
0 892 707 407
0 892 707 407
Nice Old Town (Vieux Nice) Address
Nice
Nice
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