IMG_0192 - Copy - CopyWandering the streets of Èze (July 2006).

Summer is fully here, and although the situation these days (*ahem COVID-19) is still restricting much of international travel, I can feel that things are definitely looking up compared with last year and to expect it to keep going up from here. Until things resume complete normalcy, however, I would like to share some of my summer travels from the past to engage the adventurous spirit– in you, me, and everyone else.

Since starting this blog almost five years ago, I’ve dedicated every summer to a multi-post kind of “series” of current and previous trips I’ve done around this time of year. From my Japan/Taiwan series to my Scandinavia and China ones, I get to reflect on the different experiences I had visiting these various parts of the world, and to compare field notes with my past and present self. Even after I’ve graduated from school and no longer have summer breaks, I have still found summer to have an “eternal” charm to it. As Ann Brashares puts it:

“Summer feels like a blank slate, a perfect place to begin a new story…summer has a timeless feel, where the more particular rhythms of [school and work] fix you in time and space.”

That said, this summer’s “Travel Series” will be dedicated to my time in Europe, specifically along the Mediterranean. The year is 2006, and I am a teenager who has yet to hit her stride in identity and confidence. This trip was my first to Europe, where I experienced a lot of other firsts: first time in France, first time trying alcohol, and first time almost missing my flight back home. More on all of that to come soon…

My summer 2006 trip was a 14-day cruise, in which my family and I hopped from city to city, country to country, for a taste of each place– whether for a couple of hours or a full day. We started in Barcelona and ended in Venice, with multiple stops in France, Greece, and even Croatia. For the sake of this series, I will not be including the destinations which I ended up revisiting later as an adult, including Barcelona, Rome, Naples, Venice, and Dubrovnik. Rather, I will focus on the ones which I had gone to on this particular trip, but have not returned to since then. Of course, I do hope to revisit them someday, once the world stabilizes.

Contrary to popular belief, Nice (pronounced “neese”) was actually the very first city that I visited in France– not Paris. In fact, my family and I didn’t even fly into Paris to start the trip, as we’d flown into London, then Madrid, then Barcelona to commence the cruise. That said, my introduction to France wasn’t the classic Eiffel Tower grandeur, but rather the south of France/Mediterranean vibe. It was a unique start, to say the least.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to retrieve my journal entries from my time then; I scoured everywhere, but for the life of me, I could not find them. Therefore, I will have to rely on my scant memory from 15 years ago, and I will do my best to fill in the holes based on the low-quality photos I took.

After leaving Barcelona, our cruise ship docked in Nice the following morning. It was pretty early when it docked, and the July dawn was surprisingly cool and comforting from our room’s balcony. My first impression of viewing Nice’s harbor was that it was very “pink,” especially with the reddish rooftops that are characteristic of the southern France-Mediterranean charm. We would have a brief day of sightseeing not only in the town center, but also in the neighboring village of Èze, about 7.5 miles (12 km) away.

Our guided tour picked us up and took us to the Promenade des Anglais, where we got dropped off and had some time to stroll the 4-mile (7-km) strand, perhaps to grab an ice cream or a souvenir. It was around 11:00 or noon by then, and the weather was already heating up, well over 80°F (27°C). I recall the heat being rather humid as we took our time checking out the sunny walkway that is iconic to the city.

IMG_0188 - CopyMe with my sister and cousin on la Promenade des Anglais (we look happy, trust me)!

That was pretty much our only time in Nice, as we soon hopped on the tour bus and were shuttled over to Èze for the afternoon. It took some time to get there, as it was peak tourist season and traffic wasn’t exactly the greatest on the road. I believe we also had to climb up the hillside to reach the Old Town, and from there, we had the afternoon to wander the medieval walls of the village.

IMG_0192 - CopyWandering Èze.

The streets and alleyways were narrow and thick with cobblestone, from floor to wall. Most of the places were merely souvenir shops, which didn’t interest me. But what did interest me was an adorable Pekingese puppy lounging around one of the stores– I pointed it out (“look, a Pekingese!”), and the French shop lady smiled and clapped her hands in joy. Despite her not knowing English and me not knowing French back then, having a mutual love for dogs was the universal language between us.

We came across the Chapelle de la Sainte-Croix, a 14th-century chapel and the oldest building in Èze. Its yellow façade is bright and sunny like the Mediterranean climate, despite the weather turning rather overcast that afternoon. Nevertheless, it was still a wondrous structure to admire and lighten our spirits.

IMG_0190 - CopyMe and my mom at the Chapelle de la Sainte-Croix. 

Our visit culmulated at the top of the jardin botanique d’Èze, located on ruins of the village’s château. It’s home to a unique collection of cacti and succulents, which had been cultivated at the end of the Second World War. From the summit, it offers panoramic views of the village from below, as well as the cerulean-blue Mediterranean. Apparently, American mogul Walt Disney spent lots of time in this part of Èze whenever he visited France, and one can see why he loved it so much!

IMG_0197 - CopyViews from the top.

It was already late afternoon when we concluded our self-guided tour, and our bus brought us back to the Nice harbor, where we returned to our ship to leave for our next destination. Our time in Nice and Èze was very short, but it provided a lovely taste of the French Riviera. I had not been able to revisit in the years afterwards, despite living in France for four years after university– I even passed through by train just two summers ago on my way to Menton! If I were to return to France someday, I would consider giving Nice another chance, to spend a bit more time seeing what else there is– all the while to soak up that good, Mediterranean sun.

Thanks for reading. More to come this summer!

— Rebecca

49 thoughts on “Destination: Nice & Èze, France

  1. I’ve never been to Èze and only once to Nice, so far. All I remember about Nice was that the beach didn’t have any sand, only little pebbles, which didn’t even fit my definition of a beach at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve visited Nice a couple of times both summer and winter and our second visit was memorable Rebecca as we’d booked an apartment for a week and ended up staying two as we couldn’t get home because of the 2010 Iceland volcano! That meant more time for exploring so we visited Eze one day which we really enjoyed. Thanks for bringing back the memories. Marion

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Looks like the volcanic eruption in Iceland was a blessing in disguise, as you got to enjoy more time in Nice! Always “nice” to stay a bit longer in Nice, haha! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sounds like it was a lovely introductory trip to France! I also visited another part of France before going to Paris when I was a teen. I still haven’t been to the Riviera, but this post is making me want to head over there soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How coincidental! Which part of France did you check out before Paris? The French Riviera is certainly a stunning part of the country, and I’d be keen on exploring more of its smaller towns and villages someday. Hope you can go there soon!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You have a good memory to remember all the steps of this visit. But I think that cruises are not for travellers like you who like to know the places beyond the postcard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not the biggest fan of cruises (although I’ll make an exception for Viking Cruises), but they’re an economical way to see many destinations in a limited amount of time. Especially when Americans like myself are limited to two weeks paid vacation, cruises are advantageous for that reason! I do hope, however, to take enough time off in order to take my time and visit future destinations in depth. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We did visit French Riviera, some years ago, we stayed in Cannes for several days, just haven’t had the opportunity to go to Nice. So much to see, so little time LOL

        Liked by 2 people

      2. To be fair, I’ve never gone to Cannes before. I have a friend who lives there, and I’ll have to visit her in order to visit Cannes! I can imagine you must’ve had a lovely time there. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  5. With its sunny weather and stunning seaside scenery, this picturesque city resembles a pastel painting, and I am glad to see you enjoyed your trip to Nice and neighbouring villages. Surrounded by the serene blue waters of the Baie des Anges and sheltered by the foothills of the Maritime Alps, Nice has a mild climate year-round which was a much welcomed change for us as we left rainy Ireland behind and visited Nice a few years ago. I was surprised to discover that the city has a distinctive Italian character that’s especially visible in the Old Town. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said it really well! I was surprised at just how similar Nice felt to what I grew up with in sunny Los Angeles. Given that Italy is just around the corner, it’s no wonder that Nice has some Italian influence. Take care of yourself, Aiva!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great to read about some of your earliest travels Rebecca. I have never been on a cruise, perhaps one day…. always interested to read about France, a country I have seen very little of. Èze looks really quaint.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t been to Èze, but the photos look alluring and historic. My son and I, years ago, stopped in Nice for a day on a train trip from Spain to Italy. We had an ice cream in a little outdoor cafe, and an older couple sat next to us. Their little pampered dog was perched on his own chair. They fed him an ice cream and then patted his mouth with a napkin! We told that story for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you had a brief, but pleasant time in Nice! I always thought that Americans spoiled their pets, but the French take that to a whole new level! Nice, along with the rest of the French Riviera, is definitely a place to relax and soak up that Mediterranean sun; I hope you can visit Èze sometime, as it’s a lovely little gem!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m surprised that I remembered so much of what happened 15 years ago! Then again, there may be parts of the visit that I had to piece together, so who knows…but this is generally what happened on my trip to Nice and Èze!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Ah, France calls. I would love to explore other cities in France next time. It’s definitely my top country to go to when all these restrictions get lifted. I hope my Duolingo lessons will pay off

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s