More Nice

(written by Dave)

Nice is becoming more and more comfortable. Class is going well. At the end of one week we both feel like French is sticking a little at least. This proves that old people can learn a new language – all of the other students in our class could be our children, without doing any weird “theoretical” maths. I’m sure that next week things will get harder as we move into topics we’ve not learned in our previous 4 times through beginner French (yes, we’ve tried this French thing 4 other times in Sydney).

Yesterday Nancy’s mom arrived for a visit. She brought many gifts from brothers and sisters at home – a bit of a delayed Christmas for us, which was fun. She got onto our time zone pretty easy so we took her on a guided group tour of old town Nice this morning. Our group was small (7 people) but the others did not speak English so our guide had to switch back and forth. For Nancy and me it was like being in class as we tried to decrypt the French dialogue as well. By mid-tour I was ready for a coffee but it was good practice.

We learned a lot more about Nice. I previously reported that Nice was part of Italy but that is not strictly correct. Italy as we know it today only came into existence in 1861. Nice was part of a region called Savoy which came into existence in 1388. Savoy covered part of what today is Italy and France. Nice became French in 1861 as well. So technically, Nice was part of Savoy for much longer than it was Italy or France. Whatever the origins, old town Nice has been in existence for 400-500 years. This means lots of narrow laneways and streets that follow the contours of the side-hill. The old buildings, painted mostly muted earthtones make for some interesting photos. It would be an interesting place to live as well.

We learned that in the old days people paid more for city view and got a discount on sea view as it was thought that a sea view was less desirable. It is cold here now and seaview apartments have full southern sun. Both Nancy and I caught ourselves looking fondly at the sundrenched balconies. Our apartment is in the Musician’s Quarter which has lots of 5 story buildings. We are on the 1st floor and have front and back windows, but we only about 30 minutes of direct sunshine in one little corner of the living room, when the sun is at just the right angle mid-morning. Sitting on a balcony in the sun while looking out over the very blue sea water would be very nice.

As mentioned in our last post, Nancy’s mom helped us pick out our galette de rois cake (epiphany cake). Nancy was in charge of cutting and passing around the pieces of cake. In case you are wondering, yes, it was her piece that had the prize and she got to be king. I’m not sure that the cake did not have some form of special marking, the video referee is still reviewing pre-dinner tapes to identify any cake scanning infringements. Meanwhile Nancy is provisionally wearing the crown. [Editor’s note – all’s fair in love and war, as they say. No really, there was no cheating, I got the prize fair and square….]

Tomorrow we are off to a museum. I can’t remember which one it was. There are a number here in Nice, which are free (except for one, for which I can’t remember the name of either). There a lot of museums in Nice and for that matter the whole of France. The one we are seeing tomorrow is only 3 blocks from our house so we may have to go easy on the croissant stops in route. I don’t think we’ll burn enough calories for two stops.

We are on our second bottle of wine since we’ve arrived in France. Some people may gasp in disbelief that we should be well up on that total but we do have an excuse. Having spent the last 6 months in SE Asia we have lost a bit of our tolerance for alcohol. In SE Asia, they generally only served wine chilled from a box (yes, they even served red wine this way) so we stopped drinking. For readers looking for insight into the subtleties of regional French wines, that post may be a ways off. We may have to take a wine course along with our language course as our rate of consumption is not going to make us experts any time soon.

We are enjoying the food though – I think we are maintaining at least a one-baguette-per-day average, and Nancy is trying hard to up the chocolate-per-day average. We are going to have to build in some kind of early morning power walk or something into our schedule or we will be carrying a few too many extra kgs on our bodies in additional to all the extra kgs on the bikes when we hit the road again.

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15 thoughts on “More Nice

  1. This reminds me of when I first started watching the tour de france and Miguel Indurain was in the spotlight, he came in heavy and had planned on losing weight before the hills, unfortunately for him things didn’t work out as planned. Good thing you guys aren’t on a race, especially after spending 2 months in France with lots of amazing bread and chocolate!

    Wow, I am getting old, Jan Ullrich was the young rider that year…

    • We are currently on the Jan Ullrich winter training diet/program. Final report on it’s success will be reported from the first hilltop in Turkey.

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    • We’ll be posting every 3-4 days, or so, while in France. Depending on interesting things happening, or perhaps some interesting photos… And of course, should we discover any wine secrets.

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  2. Thanks for the update. We are hoping for a lesson on French wines when we meet up again so please work on your consumption! Wonderful pictures. I now hope to visit there someday…

  3. Hi dear cycling friends.
    Finally had a good look at the blog updates.
    What a change!
    It seems you both have settled in well.
    Loved the Nice photo session!
    Greetings from Ban Lung, Cambodia.
    Our meeting now seems so far away.
    Enjoy the time in France.
    Au revoir.
    Michael.

  4. Just looking at those photos…… “I want to live there”…..!!!!!, but please 2 bottles of red….Cabernet Sauvinon, Merlot, Pinot Noir,Syrah,Zinfandel,Sangioves,Malbec,Chianti,Cabernet Franc………….. 🙂

    • This wine thing is harder than you think. There are so many different types that we’ve not seen before. Everyone says, “get a nice Bordeaux” but there are heaps of them. And they all now call themselves some sort of Chateau. So, who knows. I’ve resorted to taking photos of the bottle, if it’s good we’ll buy more. If not, we’ll avoid it… Life is hard!

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  5. In my visit to Nice in Feb 2003 I remember seeing a lot of club bike rides along the road that follows the coast line(Côte d’Azur), see if you can get a picture of that while or better still catch a ride on the back (or the front!).

    • Ok – we’ll try. We saw several bunches this past Sunday but were not ready with the camera. Bikes are just about back together, ridingbehinda bunch may still be possible 🙂

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