Ever have one of those times when you can't decide whether you want to be in the mountains or at the beach? Whether you'd prefer to stroll among gazillion dollar resort houses or seventh century ruins? Boy have I got the spot for you. Just East of Nice lies the small town of Eze which displays its medieval heritage in one stunning cluster of buildings proudly atop a hill. Vieux Eze is home to an elegant menagerie of clothiers, perfumeries, suave cafes, private residences and one VERY exclusive hotel. (How exclusive is "very exclusive"? Well, they don't advertise, the bar menu offers a bottle of brandy for more than the cost of our stay in Nice, and if you drive yourself to to the hotel (how *common*) they will park, wash, and wax your Ferrari for you.) How much is it per night? You know the saying: If you have to ask...
Eze is also home to one big perfurmerie and a few hangers-on. We visited one and were treated to an *extended* ode to the benefits of "le bon sent" and gamely tried a few on. Men, particularly you manly men out there, take note: "cologne" is for boys, being mostly water with a bit of "essence" and some alcohol added as a mere afterthought. Even "eau de toilette" is a bit unassertive. A true man proudly wears "parfum" and caps his display of sensory savvy by opting for a floral jasmine or lily-of-the-sea fragrance rather than a compensatory musk.
We caught the bus to Cap d'Aile and picked our way down the meandering hill of this small seaside getaway. In addition to having many fewer residents than Nice it also has a much lower tourist to local ratio. The very air seemed more relaxed (and the postcards were noticably cheaper) as we found the 237 stairs down to Plage Mala, the town's public beach. It was MAGNIFICENT. They call this area the "Cote d'Azur", the Azure Coast, and for good reason. The dress code is "toptional" like most beaches on the Mediterranian coast. It would be a crime to not make time to swim while visiting the Riviera, and certianly made time. The water was surprisingly brisk (cold, for you killjoys out there) but it made up for it in sheer beauty. Plus, if you get too cold you can lay out on one of the areas few honest to God sand beaches and soak up some rays at near equatorial strength.
Getting outside touristy Nice also allows more opportunities to engage locals in conversation without exhausting their patience. I had a great conversation with the lifeguards Alain and Joel who complimented my french (nice) and then failed to guess where I was from (nicer!). We also spoke to several folks on the bus back to Nice cobbling together conversations out of French, English, en kleine Deutsch (<---That's spelled wrong.) and Italiano. Patrick talked to an Italian boy (via his mother, who translated for him) about Scouting and the differences between US scouting and international scouting.
Dinner began with a repeat of yesterdays regional transit experience. As WikiTravel notes, bus schedules in Nice rank somewhere between best guess and outright fiction. Consequently we were about 20 minutes late for our reservation. Fortunately the delay was made more bearable--and the dinner conversation more lively--by the presence of a new arrival that we Shanghaied into coming with us. Clea just arrived in Nice and was wondering what to do for the evening...aloud, much to her chagrin. We took her with us to try out Lu Fran-Calin which Patrick and I had noticed the day before on our walkabout in Vieux Nice. It's a GREAT little place, before you even taste the food. Spilling out into the middle of a non-descript back alley, Chef Daniel the master of his chaotic domain and the waiter (we'll call him Pierre, he might as well be) dashing around to cover the whole restaurant by himself. A 3 course dinner and a bottle of some MIGHTY bold Cote du Rhone later we're fat, happy, and ready to go home. But ice cream is so CLOSE. We ended up stopping at Fennoccio's (Pronunced like Pinnocio) for rose flavored ice cream. Sure, you can get chocolate and strawberry there, but that's missing the point.
Time to be shoving off now. Pictures will have to wait til morning; the common room packs to the gills in the late hours so I haven't long on the computer. Also we're shoving off tomorrow morning for Genova so we have to be stirring our stumps, if not early, then merely promptly.