Nice to Isola 2000 ski trip, day return by bus 750

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New for 2009: A few changes this year...the fare is now just 1 euro but your bus place must be booked in advance, the day before you travel, telephone 0805 402 606, the code for France is 00 33 and usually miss off the first 0 of the number. If you intend to return the same day, buy your return ticket from the machine in Isola 2000 before 1pm; to return the following day, buy before 16:30 hours. More information (in French) here.

Friday 21st December 2007

The three of us at the top of the Pelevos ski lift, Isola 2000 December 2007The three of us at the top of the Pelevos ski lift, Isola 2000 December 2007

According to the website, Isola 2000 opens today. The forecast is sunny and there is plenty of snow so we decided to take the 750 coach from Nice Gare Routière for a repeat trip we made in April, see here for details. This time with our daughter who was not looking forward to the long coach ride.

It IS a long trip for just 4 hours skiing but the conditions were perfect, plenty of sun and snow and almost completely empty. The schools in Nice break up today so from tomorrow, the resort would start to fill for Christmas. We took papers, books, PSP, iPods etc for the journey but quite honestly, the only part that dragged was getting out of Nice crawling via the train station and airport. After the airport, the journey speeds up and there is plenty to see out of the window. On the approach to Isola 2000, we saw eagles.

On the way back, it's dark but most people nod off after all the exercise. A few people get on at the airport, I expect they park for the day, then drive hone afterwards, it's quite handy this way and it cuts the dreary part of the journey.

I put all the details how to ski in Isola 2000 from Nice as a day trip using the 750 TAM coach on the April post: but we found a couple of easier options this time. When the coach stops, there is a building in front of you with a choice of two roads, one each side of the building.

Head off this side when you get off the coach - it takes you to the main entrance of the complex accessed directly from the road.

Take the higher road on the left as you face it and this takes you a short walk to the main entrance into the complex on the right hand side. Last time, we took the lower road and went indoors and had to schlep our way along gloomy passageways and up lots of steps. Going outside is much quicker. The main entrance has a car park and big sculpture outside. It takes you straight to the ski pass office, Ski 2000 ski hire, ESF and tourist office plus loos and café. We had to wait until 12:20 hours to buy the afternoon ski passes. They are tricky to attach neatly and they are so sticky, you only get one go so make sure you get it right, here's the sequence:

If you arrive too early to ski immediately, it's an opportunity to get the ski hire sorted and have a pre-lunch snack. There's a small kiosk just outside, opposite the Ski Pass office to buy a coffee and a bun:

hot chocolate and a muffina pre-ski hot chocolate and muffin

espresso and a piste mapJust an espresso for me while I work out the route

We hired skis and poles plus boots for the daughter from Ski 2000 again and they were kind enough to let us stash our bags for the afternoon. I remembered to bring a small rucksack for skiing this time.

We covered a bit more ground this time as my daughter is a good skier and keeps us all going. She also had a day's practice with my husband at our new ski dome in Manchester - the Chill Factor. It's all good practise for our weeks skiing in Feb in Méribel where she will be training for her gold star. We went up the Pelevos lift mostly and then tried a ski chair on the opposite side - the 'Combe Grosse' ski chair. The slopes here are very easy blues but had turned to ice in the bright sunshine, so you go rather fast as turning is difficult. We tried the red Sapins run, this was fine. the slopes on the Pelevos side were in shade but the snow was good for skiing. The runs are very short compared to Méribel and less difficult I think but the rush and buzz of skiing in the sunshine is unbeatable.

at the top of the Pelevos bubble lift
It's difficult to work out the best time to stop, we packed up at about 3:45pm which gave us enough time to offload the equipment and have a snack before getting the coach home.Schuss restaurant, Isola 2000
lunch on the mountain side, Isola 2000
We still managed to fit in lunch at a mountain side restaurant - the Schuss at the top of Pelevos. I don't expect we covered too many ski miles. A hard core skier could cover far more than us but we were there to enjoy the snow and sunshine as well as ski, a bit.

Serious skiers who don't want to hire a car and drive themselves to Isola 2000 would probably prefer the Ski-Bus which gives you closer to seven hours on the slopes. The Ski-Bus wasn't an option for us as the French school holidays hadn't started and it wasn't the weekend. Plus the 750 bus gives you a lie-in, leaving Nice at 9:15am. The cost is still 8 euros each way.

The Ski-Bus is 30 euros return (2007/08 prices) leaving Nice at 07:30 hours and returning at 17:00 hours and includes the price of the ski pass. When you arrive and exchange the ticket for a ski pass you will be asked if you want insurance, it's only a couple of euros extra and is essential.

The one and only time we used the Ski-Bus in Jan 2003, it dropped us off at the lower Car Park which is not really suitable for complete beginners as the ESF Ski School is on the main level so you would need to get straight on to several drag lifts to reach the ski school. I wrote a review in

Ski-Bus Information leaflet - front pageSki-Bus information leaflet - back page

Places must be reserved on the Ski-Bus. Call in or telephone the Gare Routière (Bus Station) in Nice on 04 93 85 92 60 or call in the Santa Azur Offices at 11 Ave Jean Médecin or telephone 04 97 03 60 00. International dialling code for France is 00 33.

The 750 leaves promptly at 4:30pm and it's important to tell the driver on arrival that you will be returning the same day. From the view in the bubble lift it looked as if the bus stays on site all day - it's probably possible to leave bags on the coach if you ask.

We returned home to the UK on Staurday for Christmas. We will be collecting all the ski gear in Feb when we return for our Méribel ski trip.

Isola 2000 is part of the Parc National du Mercantour and more information can be found at or directly at

trip to Monaco from Nice December 2007

19th December 2007

you can see the three of us reflected in the silver bauble - me clutching an orange Hermes bagThis is the large Christmas tree in the centre of Monaco's Christmas Village. You can see the three of us reflected in the silver bauble, the orange blob is an Hermès bag, Happy Christmas to me.

We had spent the morning in Cimiez at the Matisse museum and in the afternoon we decided suddenly to nip to Monaco on the new 100 xpress bus.

The 100 xpress is a new service this autumn and the fare is still only 1,30 euros. On the information leaflet, it says this will be reduced to 1 euro in the new year (2008) Not sure if that will be universal for all TAM routes or just for the xpress service. A leaflet can be downloaded here

bus stops on the xpress 100 Nice to Monaco route

There are a limited number of bus stops for the new 100 xpress bus route from Nice to Monaco

The regular 100 from Nice to Menton via Monaco is still in operation. The time difference is about 20 minutes - it's about a 35 minute trip via the 100 xpress and at least an hour via the 100.

new 100 xpress Bus from Nice to Monaco via the autorouteThe new 100 xpress from Nice to Mnoaco via the autoroute

It feels quicker on the xpress as there are only about 6 stops in total and it goes via the motorway for part of the journey so you feel you are on your way. It's every hour at 10 minutes to the hour from the Gare Routière or bus station, quai 19, pay the driver. It returns from Monaco at half past the hour up to 6:30pm.

xpress 100 timetable Nice to Monaco100 xpress timetable, click on the image to enlarge

We took the express to its last stop in Monaco by Place des Moulins, right outside Ladurée where we bought a couple of boxes of their famous macaroons. From there, a 5 minute stroll takes you to the Casino.

chocolat a lafeuille d or macaroons courtesy Laduree website

Macaroons from Laduree
Photo: Courtesy

outside Laduree clutching bag of macaroonsoutside Ladurée, bag of goodies in hand

If you wanted to start at the other end of Monaco, the bus first stops at Place d'Armes where you can take the lift or walk up to the Palace. We had great views of the Port and Christmas village and big wheel as the bus descended into Monaco.

Our plan was to walk from Ladurée all the way back to Place d'Armes at the foot of the Place hill to catch the last xpress bus back to Nice at 6:30pm. We had about 3 hours but if we missed the last xpress, we could always take the regular 100 and jump off at the Port. It's an easy walk from this far east end of Monte Carlo as the direction is always down hill. If you walk from the Palace end, it's up hill although there are regular local buses to get you you about. Our walk took us past the Casino and past Hermès, my favourite shop where I bought myself a new enamel bangle for Christmas.
Hermes in Monte Carlo
Outside Hermès, avenue de Monte Carlo
In general, the shops, streets and gardens were much more Christmassy than Nice - far more effort with lots of tasteful lights, displays and decorations. In Nice you have to hunt a bit to see any decorations part from somewhat dismal looking municipal Christmas trees in concrete planters each with a couple of strands of tinsel and about five large baubles.

Onwards and downwards towards the Port where the Christmas Village was set up. A similar format to Nice (and every other city in Europe) Wooden chalets, an ice rink and a big wheel. Generally, it was bigger and glitzier than Nice with better decorations, more stalls and a bigger ice rink - they had covered over the open-air swimming pool. There were also more fun things for children to do - snowshoe walking on real snow and motorised ski quads over mini courses of real snow.

There were also lots of stalls providing food and snacks plus picnic bench seating. Hot dogs, socca, waffles, pancakes, baked potatoes, sandwiches etc. We had hotdogs, pancakes and socca, watched the iceskating for a bit and continued on towards the big wheel. At this point time had gone by so we headed across the road and up the pedestrianised Princess Caroline Street, turn left at the top, cross over the your are at the Place d'Armes bus stop, on the north side of the road, headed for Nice. There's a convenient bar here for a coffee, beer and loo. One thing I've noticed about the bus stops in Monaco, they are reluctant to display the TAM 100 bus signs, you have to just trust that they will stop at the main stops and stick your thumb out just to make sure. It's all local bus information. There was a small poster for the xpress bus though, which was reassuring. A 100 bus turned up first and we were about to jump on, when the xpress appeared behind it.

It's the first time we had been to Monaco in December and I would go again, it was lovely and an interesting contrast to Nice.

A new Tramway for Nice

December 16th to 21st December 2007

Our usual week in Nice before Christmas back home in the UK

My dear husband took plenty of film clips of the new tramway in Nice and posted it on Here are his efforts:

The Tramway Line 1 is finally open after years of building works and disruption. Our studio near the Port is about 4 minutes walk from the nearest Tram stop -'Garibaldi' which is just past Place Garibaldi and at the beginning of rue de la Republique. From our studio in Residence 'Port Nicéa' you walk past Place du Pin and along rue Papon to reach it.

I think the biggest difference it will make to us will be easy access to the main train station in Nice - Nice Ville Gare SNCF. It's a long walk from the Port unless you take the 30 bus. We are close to local ter network train station, Riquier but for the fast trains to Cannes, Antibes, Monaco etc, you need the main train station on ave Thiers.

The tram is part of the ligne d'azur bus network - the local network for buses in Nice and all information about the buses and tram can be found on the lignedazur website. Tickets for the bus and tram are the same and are priced the same, 1,30 euros (reduced to only 1 euro since 2008) or a 'carnet' of 10 for 10 euros. There are other passes to buy, see the site for more details. If you need a trip to the airport, you need the day pass which is 4 euros and it lets you use the 98 and 99 express airport buses as well as the ligne dazur buses and trams for the rest of the day. When you get on the bus or tram you must validate or 'composté' your ticket in the machine by the driver.

Sometimes you need more than one bus to complete a journey or both the tram and a bus to complete a journey. If you make the connection with 74 minutes it is still only the cost of one journey provided it is not a return journey or a second onward journey on the same line but you must still validate your ticket each time you get on a bus or tram.

When you validate your ticket, a date and time is stamped on the back. There are plenty of inspectors about to check tickets. When you buy a carnet of 10 tickets, each time it is validated, the date and time is printed on a new line at the back of the ticket so that you can keep track of its usage.

You can buy single tickets and carnets directly from bus drivers or from ticket machines (coins and credit cards) by the Tram stops and from the main ligne dazur office at 3 Place Massena.

Nice Tram line 1 (line 2 in the next few years) loops a big 'U' shape from Las Planas in the north, down to Place Massena close to Nice Ville train station (stop: Gare Thiers) and along the main city centre road, ave Jean Médecin (stops: Jean Medecin and Massena) and turning east at Place Massena (stop: Massena) to the Acropolis via the Old Town and Gare Routière (stop: Cathédrale-Vielle Ville), then back up north to Pont Michel.

The trams are sleek and quiet but have a bell that dongs in a quaintly old fashioned way if they are about to run you over. The roads are widened and the pedestrianised areas are bigger and it's a great improvement if you don't have a car - the traffic and noise is much reduced. The area around Place Massena is just about finished and looks great. Place Garibaldi is still a mess, a complete building site, but there is great activity going on and I hope it will be ready for the summer.

Canyoning in Nice, La Bollène du Vesubie

August 2007

Canyoning in the La Bollène du Vesubie Valley, one hour from Nice

Just the thing to jolt yourself out of beach torpor but not for the faint-hearted. This day trip out from Nice was one of our best days but not at the time, only after the nausea from the adrenalin rush subsided, about two days later. My dear husband had gone back to the UK to work so it was just the two of us left to our own devices.

It seemed a good idea at the time. Definitely one for thrill-seekers and you need strong nerve and a reasonable level of fitness. We always try something new each year, sailing, scuba diving, rollerblading and this year, canyoning

This day out from Nice was organised by the Bureau des Moniteurs du Pays Niçois or Le BDM

They have an exhibition stand set up the Cour Saleya most days. The rep we spoke to was Angelique and she speaks excellent English. We examined the courses offered ie looked at the pretty photos on the posters 'ooh, canyoning, that looks fun' and signed up. It was 46 euros each. That included all equipment, guide and insurance. No transport though. Not a problem, we arranged to be collected in a minivan outside the Beau Rivage Hotel on rue St Francois de Paule. Pick up and drop off here for the two of us was 10 euros, good value.

You pay on the day and Angelique and I exchanged several phone calls to finalise arrangements with times, the name and contact number of our guide, the delectable Henri, and to check our sizes (height/weight/age) for the wetsuits. You need to bring old trainers that you don't mind getting wet. We didn't even have these but were able to borrow- you need to know your continental size - all we had to bring with us were a swim suit and a snack/water and the money of course.

We were on time, the minivan was on time and there were a couple more girls to collect in the west of Nice en route to the mountains. After about an hours drive climbing up into the hills behind Nice, we stopped just past the village of Lantosque in the Vesubie Valley. Time for a quick coffee in the local cafe while we waited for the final group to arrive which turned out to be a family of four with the youngest girl in our group a 7 year old, a comforting sight - surely I could cope with anything a 7 year old could be expected to face. My daughter, 12, was pleased to see more children. Our final group comprised out guide Henri, two young women, early twenties perhaps, the family of four and me and the daughter, so nine in total.

We abandoned the family car and all set off in the minivan, climbing very steeply which seemed strange as we were supposed to be canyoning, following the course of a river, it felt as though we should be driving downhill towards a river. At the side of the road in a small turn off, we parked and unloaded the van.

The idea was to strip down to your swimsuit and trainers and then carry all the equipment down to the river and then gear up for the trip. It felt most incongruous stripping off by the side of the road and at this altitude, it's not that hot in the shade. I have to say, choose your sturdiest swimsuit for this course - my bikini suffered several wardrobe malfunctions on the way down the mountainside to the river and there usually isn't a hand free to yank things back into place as you are usually too busy clinging to a rock. Henri showed us how to carry our stuff. We had to fill the wetsuit body with the wetsuit jacket and wet-suit boots and harness and then stuff the legs inside the arms to make shoulder straps, rucksack-style. Then clip on your helmet somewhere.

Everything else was left in the van but two waterproof tubs were coming with us so I decided to leave my clothes and food and water in the van and to take my money, camera, phone and a snack and small bottle of water with me safe in the waterproof tubs. There was no obvious path down but off we went, children first following Henri. It is a steep and perilous descent to the river with no obvious path for some of the route. For me, this was the worst part, it was steep, slippy and difficult and the height was giving me vertigo but I reckon if you can cope with the climb down, the canyoning bit will be easy. At one point, the path so narrow, about twelve inches across that a permanent hand line had been hammered into the mountain wall; it was a sheer drop for a while. You can't really tell from the photo how frightening it was. The children all seemed fine with this part of the day. By the time we got to the river, I was a bit of a nervous wreck but no time to dwell on past horrors. Now was the time to struggle into the wet suits, this takes some doing as we were hot and bothered and the suits were cold and wet and seemed about 2 sizes too small. This took place on a small bank of pebbles by a shallow river. The suits are very buoyant - you could float happily on your back in the shallows and feel them fill with water which felt fine, not cold at all. It's hard to try and stand up though. All valuables were put in the waterproof tubs.

Off we went. Canyoning is making your way along the course of a river and dealing with the various challenges that arise through the course of the river. You can walk, swim, crawl, slide, abseil and jump and along this river, we did everything. The first hazard we came across was invisible. The river stopped at the narrow gap between rock face and disappeared. You couldn't see where it went but Henri said it was a waterfall, only about 20 meters. We had to slide down into the plunge pool at the bottom. The sliding is done on your back with your arms crossed in front and head pressed back against the rock face. You are attached to a rope. Not seeing where you were going and waiting for the plunge at the end was very frightening but we did it and it was very exhilarating. Henri said that was about the worst one we would face so it was a baptism by fire.

I wear contact lenses so I was a bit worried about jumping into plunge pools but I managed. The course of the river took about 3 hours I think. Some of the waterfalls were too narrow for sliding so we abseiled. The 7 year old girl was too little to manage some of the challenges and at these times she was winched down with Henri. My daughter managed everything but she said it was the hardest thing she had ever done. At the end, no rest just yet. We had to strip off all our wetsuit gear and rinse it in the river then re-pack it all onto our backs again. It was a twenty minute walk, in your swim suit and trainers with your belongings on your back, to reach the original car park. Henri had a lift back to the minivan while we all sat at a picnic bench and had a snack and waited for his return. We were all very pleased with ourselves by now.

A few things would have made the day better - a sturdier swim suit was a definite. Next, a water-proof camera which I do have but it's no good in a drawer back in the UK. I was gutted not to have recorded some of the waterfalls and plunge pools etc. I have put the link to the BMN so that you can see some action shots. Here are a couple of photos I lifted from the site to show you the sort of challenges we faced:

One thing - make sure the guide checks the tubs, I put my camera and phone in a waterproof tub and it wasn't closed properly and everything got soaked, it took 5 days before the phone worked again and it never fully recovered, the camera's memory stick was saved but the camera is not quite perfect yet, luckily I decided to take the crappiest camera we had in case of accidents. We all managed without injury unless you count a couple of broken nails until the very end when I stood up ready to walk back and promptly fell over bruising my arm, sheer exhaustion I think and no harm done.

You definitely need a good snack afterwards, my daughter ate nearly a whole baguette stuffed with ham.

We saw Angelique the following week in the Cours Saleya and she was very keen to hear about our adventure, we will book another day out next summer, I would like the try the canyoning again but in in a different area for a change, there is one they do just over the border, in Italy, might try that one. I also quite fancy the 'via ferrata' the iron way. I'm determined my husband won't miss out this time.

This would be a great day out for teenagers or anyone fairly athletic with a reasonable level of fitness and nerve who fancies getting out of Nice for a day and seeing some spectacular scenary close up and getting some good exercise out in the fresh air.

The Conseil General des Alpes-Maritimes publish a series of guides (in French) on the great outdoors, part of a collection 'Guides RandOxygène' and details of this canyon and others as well as guides to walking, mountain biking, via ferrata etc, can be found here: and a Practical Guide can also be downloaded:

The booklets are freely available from tourist offices in Nice and from the new O6 Information Office on the Prom just opposite the carousel in the Albert 1er gardens. I would never recommend embarking upon a canyon without a fully qualified guide. For walks and hiking though, they are very useful.

There's no need to take your own map, you have a guide and a lift in a minibus but if you wanted to see where you were en route or later on, you need the IGN Map 3741 OT Carte de Randonéé Vallée de la Vésibue:

For more information or to book a day's course contact the BDM by phone: 04 93 72 89 54 or fax: 04 93 80 43 68 or go and find their information stand in the Cours Saleya in Old Nice on market days. As well as Canyoning, the BDM also offer courses in rock-climbing, Parcours, Via Ferrata, Rafting and various walking and hiking options.

Cocody Beach, Holiday Inn, St Laurant du Var - the daughter's favourite beach

Saturday 21st July

entrance to Cocody beach, St Laurant du VarHusband flew home last night so daughter and I are at a loose end for a few days until my sister flies out for a week. Under instructions not to shop so decided a private beach would be a good compromise; a controlled expense.

We found Cocody beach by chance a couple of years ago and we usually try and come once or twice each summer. Cocody Beach is part of the Holiday Inn Hotel in St Laurant du Var but you don't have to be a guest to use the beach.

It costs 17 euros for a lounger which comes with a head shade and 7 euros for a child giving them use of the three circular swimming pools. There are various other options for loungers from 12 euros for a basic mattress to 30 euros for a 'VIP Bain de Soleil' whatever that might be. If you are staying in the area with a young family there are also options for buying a season pass for unlimited entry.

swimming pool at Cocody BeachIt's the three circular grouped pools which are the big attraction for my daughter plus chance of meeting English children. Mostly French there today so she made friends with a young girl and practised her French. I like the loungers with the attached sun shades and the copious glasses of free water.
The loos/showers/changing rooms are fairly respectable too. Overall, it's a relaxed and peaceful place to spend a day, a change going to a real beach resort rather than Nice which is a busy city with a beach attached.

For a family with young children, here or maybe Cros de Cagnes, the next area along, would a be place to consider if you worry about the hustle and bustle of Nice. The children will love the pool, one is a toddler-sized and you are just a short bus trip away from Nice and the fully pedestrianised strip makes it very safe for strolling. The Holiday Inn has a free shuttle to the airport too.

The three pools are enclosed with a glass safety fence and if pool-side life doesn't appeal, then there are loungers, mattresses etc dotted around the rest of the area and uniquely to this beach, it is sandy and attractively laid out with tables/parasols and loungers. The rest of the public beach at St Laurant is pebbles but the Holiday Inn import the sand specially. There are two restaurants, one quite informal, the Transat Cafe, you can stay in swimwear if you like and the other a bit more formal - the Salon Maribou.

From the Transat Cafe, free beakers of ice cold water are available if you can catch the waiter's eye or just go to the bar. You can also buy ice creams etc. The cafe is fairly basic but the portions are generous and it's averagely priced, Nicoise Salads about 12 euros and ham baguettes about 7 euros. if you choose a pool side lounger you can have coffee but not food brought to your table. If you are out of the pool area, you can either eat in the open-air restaurant or have the food brought to your table.

Attached, and with direct access if you wish, to Cocody Beach is Glisse Paradise water sports, offering water skiing, inflatable donut rides, paragliding and Jet skiing.

We went to the restaurant for a late lunch but gave up waiting for even a menu to appear after 20 minutes so we went off and had a cheeseburger from a small fast food bar at the start of the promenade. large number of restaurants and cafes along the stripYou don't have to eat on Cocody beach. If you come off the beach, there is a pedestrianised strip with about 15 restaurants all along. You could even walk an extra 5 minutes and be in the food halls at Galerie Layfayettes in Cap3000. Due to our shopping ban, we were avoiding Cap3000 but we have plans when my sister is here...

St Laurant du Var is just the other side of Nice airport. It's like a small holiday resort, no cars, a line of restaurants, hotels and apartments and a strip of beaches and a wide prom for strolling. I think the generic name for the whole beach is Atoll Beach and Cocody is the small sandy part belonging to the Holiday Inn.There is an active sailing/windsurfing school at one end plus the huge indoor shopping mall, Cap 3000. Cocody Beach would be a good place to leave your husband or significant Other in charge of the children or off on a jet ski while you do a little shopping, particularly as the sales in Nice continue.

To get to St Laurant du Var and to Cocody Beach, take the 200 or 52 bus from the Gare Routiere in Nice, 1,30 euros and hop off at Cap 3000 shopping mall, walk towards the sea and turn right at the sailing school and along the prom until you reach the Holiday Inn and Cocody beach, it takes about 5-10 minutes from the bus stop.

Some of the 200 buses don't turn into Cap 3000, you can jump off on the road leading away from St Laurant and cut through the retail estate and approach the Holiday Inn from behind, it's trickier, best get a 200 that goes to Cap 3000, it will say so on the front or ask the driver. Check the time table to see bus times for going back to Nice. This summer, they were every 30 minutes at 16 minutes past and 14 minutes to each hour. We got to the stop with about 9 minutes to spare and managed to jump straight on a 52 on its way back to Nice, very handy.

Bastille Day on the Opera private beach in Nice

14th July 2007

Bastille Day in France.

Opera Plage - Nice Opera House is the building on the left at the back of the beach across the Promenade des Anglais

We had planned to go to Antibes for a day on a sandy beach but decided not to risk disruptions to train/bus transport on this French public holiday.

Decided instead to go to a private beach in Nice. There are two big advantages to using the private beaches, the first is sun loungers which keep you off the hard pebbles, it's bliss, plus there is matting to walk to the sea and to the restaurant etc. The second advantage is the lack of paraphanalia required for a day in relative comfort on the free public beaches. It's quite arm-toning, carrying parasols, fold-up chairs, picnics etc. The biggest disadvantage of the private beaches is the ban on bringing your own food and drink but it is understandable.

view from Opera Plage looking east, you can see the trees on the Chateau HillThe Opera Beach is close to us and one of the cheaper private beaches, 12 euros a day for a lounger and parasol. Bit of a swizz as we paid for 2 loungers but only got one parasol and we like the sun but only from the shade of a parasol. The loungers were all squeezed up next to each other. For 25 euros, you can get a main course and a drink included with your lounger and parasol. We have been to this beach before, it's not the best. The loos are not great, the floor is always soaking and the service is a bit haphazard but it is great to be off the pebbles. We usually take a couple of beach chairs to the public free beaches but it is a performance carrying them sometimes. Nice pebbles - jelly shoes essential even on the private beachesDaughter doesn't get her own lounger, she scooches up with me or husband or lies between us on her lilo, she's in the sea most of the time. I've written a bit about private beaches in Nice, the link is here:

Private beaches in Nice

It takes ages to catch the eye of a waiter. For lunch, husband and daughter shared a ham and cheese baguette and a plate of chips brought out to our loungers, there are small tables at hand. This is the cheapest option rather than moving to the restaurant area for a proper lunch. If you prefer to eat a light meal at your lounger you can choose any meal from the main menu or ask for a snack menu, they will usually oblige, it's mostly baguettes or chips. There is a sign by the entrance saying 'no picnic allowed' meaning you can't bring your own food and drink. It's OK to just leave the beach buy a sandwich or go to another restaurant, leave your towel on the lounger and you can return when you want. Once you are installed on a private beach though, it's an effort to get dressed again to go and find lunch and all around I could see people surreptitiously eating their own food and drinking from their own bottles of water.

We paid 4,50 euros for the baguette, 6 euros for the chips and 6 euros for a glass of beer. Lemonage was 3,50 euros and I had a coffee for 2,50 euros so we did it on the cheap really, plus I sneaked in my own picnic. The waiter was happy to bring us free carafes of water.

Opera beach is pretty crummy I have to admit, if you want more luxury and nicer surroundings then it is worth paying a bit more and going the Castel Plage on the left or Beau Rivage on the right. The Beau Rivage is about the best you're going to get in Nice.

Summer holiday in Nice 2007

Sunday 8th July 2007

Daughter finished school on Friday so we are off to Nice for a month. Daughter and I flew out of Liverpool Sunday evening. Dear husband had to stay behind to work but will fly out on Wednesday, no doubt expecting a clean studio and a fridge full of beer.

Flight delayed 30 minutes but fairly uneventful and arrived in Nice around 10pm, bags too heavy to cope with the express bus so we took a taxi, 28 euros, the cheapest fare in five years, no idea why. Found out a couple of days later that the 98 express bus continues on past the usual end stop, the Gare Routière, to the Port until September which we probably could have managed inspite of two large bags.

Monday 9th July 2007

Woke to no food in the house. I am determined to lose the 20 extra pounds I have gained over the last couple of years so I got up and went for a run. Very pleased that I kept going for 23 minutes without stopping. The rest of the day we unpacked and shopped. The sales 'soldes' are on everywhere in France. I bought two pairs of shoes from Arche, they are the only make of shoe I can wear as I get very sore feet. So comfortable I wore my new sandals out of the shop and for the rest of the day.

Stocked up on a couple of T shirts from Petit Bateau, 30% off the stock and dropped by at Hermès to look at scarves. Found a scarf I have been coveting but in a colourway I've not seen before, they will hold it until husband arrives to give the OK. There were a few sales things in the back, winter ready to wear and some lovely shoes if you were a size 36. Saw the new bag - the Victoria fourre tout I think it's called, big but it can be shouldered, not for me though. Unlined which makes it light, still over 2,000 euros. They had some white Picotin bags which are gorgeous plus a fairly rare Barenia leather Picotin in the smallest size. Daughter very fond of the Picotin in white but as it is about 2 years pocket money, she'll stick to the cheap bags from Aratto for 6 euros each. She did well in Arrato, lots of bling for about 17 euros.

Meeting friends in Juan les Pins tomorrow, knowing the French queues can be bad, we bought tickets in advance at Riquier train station - the closest stop to the Port, one stop east of the main train stop Nice Ville. Picked up a new train time table. For J les Pins, we need the slow stopping at all stations trains, it's about a 35 minute ride, a return ticket for me was about 9 euros and about 4 euros for my daughter. The bus 200 to J les P would have been 1,30 euros each way but it's very slow, over an hour.

For supper we had a take out pizza from Choix d'Anna on the corner of our residence, 5 euros a full size pizza, not worth cooking at that price.

Tuesday 10th July 2007

Legs and feet very sore from running. Went out an drank 24 minutes. Up and out to Juan les Pins by train to meet friends staying at the La Juana Hotel. It's lovely there and we spent the day on a private beach - Les Pecheurs, very nice indeed a little further away from the main beaches at J les P , just past the Port Gallice. Had a wonderful lunch there too. No idea of cost as we were guests of our generous friends but I expect it was fairly pricey. I took a card on the way out, there's a website :

If you are visting Juan les Pins and want a luxurious day on the beach with waiter service and a lovely restaurant, this is the place for you. When you want another bottle brought to your lounger, they have a great but very simple system to attract service - you merely clip a red ribbon onto the parasol and a waiter will come. I wish they had adopted this simple technique on the private beaches in Nice where trying to get a cup of coffee requires many minutes of neck-craning and trying in vain to catch the eye of a passing waiter.

Wednesday 11th July 2007

Woke up very sore from running but I am persevering. I haven't dared weigh myself yet, ran for 25 minutes but very slowly as my shins are hurting, no wonder, I am running with the equivalent of carrying 4 large bags of potatoes. Tidied and cleaned the studio and bought beer for the fridge at our favourite supermarket - Ed on rue Cassini it's the cheapest supermarket in Nice, particularly their own label 'dia'. Husband's plane arrived early and have just had a phone call to say he waiting for the 98 express bus. The Nice airport website is great for monitoring flights, lets you know exactly what's going on as it happens.

After 70 minutes another phone call to say he had nearly arrived at the Port, in spite of everything going well and ahead of time, the 98 express bus was a let down - 35 minutes waiting at the airport and a great palaver when it arrived with people struggling off for planes and a huge queue trying to board simultaneously. He got here ion the end and had a welcome cold beer from the fridge. Back to Eds for all the stuff I has forgotten.

We went to Hermès later on to check out a scarf I fancied, got the thumbs up and the sweet assistant brought out another scarf I had been asking about so husband kindly and generously bought both. They are 'In the Pocket':
and 'omnibus' the smaller scarf, one of the new vintage range, a smaller 70cm square compared to the large 90cm carrés. The 'Omnibus' is a re-issue of Hermès' very first scarf design:

Thursday 12th July 2007

Less sore today but ran carefully and slowly for about 25 minutes again. I have noticed for the last few days that the beaches are free from campers - last year there were always several groups sleeping on the beach in sleeping bags, out in the open. Either I'm setting off later or they have been shooed away to help spruce up Nice's image.

We went to the beach today, only half full, the free public one nearest us, next door to Castel Plage private beach. A cold wind made the sun feel deceptively mild. My daughter red her book under a parasol snug under a towel from the cold wind but husband fell asleep in his chair and burned his thighs a bit. I tend to hide away from the sun anyway so I just about escaped. Inspite of burning, it was too cold to swim and too cold to be in the shade so we packed up and headed home. Had an email offering me a job at the end of August so accepted that, phew, I can pay back for the scarves, and shot out to Agnes B which I had been avoiding as I had no money. Nothing left in the sales but bought a simple very plain cashmere/silk black dress for me and a white fleece with fluffy pompoms for my daughter who now fits the Lolita range of clothing at Agnes B - for teens-20s.

Spent the rest of the evening re-jigging flights so that we could all be back home in August in time for by job to start and to stay in Nice as long as possible beforehand. Meal on our balcony. Can't eat out and shop.

Friday 13th July 2007

Ran for about 25 minutes this morning, definitely less painful. After that, had a lazy day, wandered around the Old Town and bought some Nicoise Olive Oil to take home from the famous shop, Alziari, at 14 rue Saint Francois de Paule. It's one of the few, if not only olive oil in France that has Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), like French wine. 16 euros a litre.

Short holiday break in Nice, May 2007

Sunday 27th May 2007

Next trip July 2007


inside La Cambuse, Bolide on kneeLa Cambuse, 5, Cours Saleya, Old Nice Very brief trip this time but the highlight was lunch at La Cambuse, more info below, a restaurant recommended in Rick Steves' Provence & the French Riviera 2006 which turned out to be very good. Here's the link to see this book, the 2007 edition is also now available: Rick Steves' Provence and the French Riviera

We left the rain in Liverpool to arrive in Nice around 10pm for a 2-day quick visit. In spite of two heavy suitcases, more presents for the studio, we caught the express 98 bus as we are on an economy drive. A taxi at this time of night with luggage is likely to be about 35 euros as opposed to 4 euros each for the bus.

The 98 express bus came on time 22:23 hours, handy to know they run so late. People needing the the train route, the 99 express bus also need the 98 at this time of night and to tell the driver who will go on to the train station after the Gare Routiere. As we are so used to the bus terminating at the Gare Routiere (bus station) we forgot to ding the dinger and we were on our way to the train station before we noticed. In our defence, we thought the driver was taking a long route around because of all the tramworks. The driver pulled over reluctantly on Felix Faures to turf us out and we had even further to lug our stuff.

Apartment still looking smart with its new paint job. Very late so we just faffed about a bit, unpacked a bit and played on the computer, connection is working this time, no word from the daughter who is away on a school trip in Normandy. The main reason to coming here for such a short stay is to keep an appointment on Tuesday morning to have awning installed on our balcony.

Monday 28th May 2007

Warm sunny day but felt cold due to unpleasant cold blustery wind all day. It was enough to make you seek out the sunny side of the street, the shadowed Old Town was very cold. Had a long-sleeved top, long skirt, but not enough, had to add a jacket later on. Unpacked all the goodies for the studio.

bathroom makeover The bathroom looks much better with new towels, mat, shower curtain. We brought along a poster for the flat, it was meant to go in the main room but we decided it looked better in the loo. We have a large empty wall that need something pretty big to fill it, our little poster looked a bit lost there. I am considering buying this to fill the space.

We needed a frame, a simple clip frame, this proved hard to find but eventually hit the jackpot at Habitat in Nice Etoile. Bought a very smart frame, held together by magnets, paid about 30 euros, not too bad. Very heavy so we took the bus back to the Port.

Dufy's 'May in Nice' Here's a close-up of the poster, it's appropriately Raoul Dufy's 'Nice in May'. The actual location is at the back of the Old Town in a building called La Treille. La treille means 'climbing vine' and the vine is still there.

Since about October 2006, La Treille has been a centre of information about historic Old Nice, with guides to the churches, walks based around the Old Town etc. It's open most afternoons and you can pop in and pick up a couple of leaflets for self-guided tours and to find out information about guided tours for example, there is a tour that concentrate on Baroque churches in Nice. I think many of these will be French commentary only. The staff are very friendly and enthusiastic and were giving out free cherries when we went by.

The opening times are Monday to Friday 14:00 hrs to 19:00 hrs. This spot appears to be a favourite place to sit and sketch. Another artist painted La Treille, in a naive style:

naive painting of La Treille

I couldn't quite make out her name, Elizabeth something. I think it's popular with artists because it's off the main street and there's a small square to sit and work in relative peace and quiet.

Laverie Bea, rue Pairoliere, Old NiceAfter five years use, we decided it might just be time to wash our quilted bed throw before packing it away in our cave for the summer. It's large and padded and didn't fit in our washing machine so we risked the local launderette, Laverie Bea, in rue Parolière where they had extra large washers and driers. The launderette was clean and fresh and the machines looked new. There's a first time for everythingThe large machines are 8 euros a wash and the regular sized ones are 3.50 euros. It was empty so we had time to suss it all out in peace. All the machines and dryers and even the detergent (0.8 euros) and conditioner (0.8 euros) were paid for in the same pay machine, the centrale de paiement that took coins and notes. You just key in the number for the machine you wanted to use and paid the total, change is given. The washing machine or whatever comes to life and you programme it as normal. Instructions are mostly French with a bit in English, it's all fairly starighforward though.

During the wash, we set off for a walk to the sea. The private beach Castel Plage at the foot of the Chateau Hill was already set up for the summer. The beach near Castle Hill, Old NiceThe typical Niçoise style buildings you can see in the background are La Perouse Hotel and to the left is La Suisse hotel. As you can see, it's about the best location for a hotel in Nice, La Perouse is pricey with a pool but La Suisse next door is much better value and seems to get consistently great reviews on The blustery strong wind kept most people off the beach, we walked along the Prom for a little while but quickly sought the shelter of the Old Town where we froze in the sunless shadow. Monday is antiques and bric a brac day at the CoursForgot it was Monday and went to wander through the fruit and flower market of the Cour Saleya, Mondays are Antiques and bric a brac in the Cours, not really my thing, I always forget it's on a Monday. It was also a Bank Holiday in the UK and although not an official French holiday, many businesses and restaurants were closed.

After the wash, we used the dryer, you get about 8 minutes per 0.80 cents pay, we needed about three goes. We hung it out to finish off on our balcony. It was really quite painless using the laundrette and we would be even quicker and slicker next time. I am tempted to use it for the weekly bedsheets and towels wash which are a pain to dry in the studio and small balcony. It could easily be combined with a cheap lunch at any of the places along rue Paroliere, Rene Socca, Chez Christian, Bar de la Bourse, La Mama, you could nip in to feed the dryer very easily. At the least, you can buy an English paper from the Tabac opposite rene Socca or maybe crack on with your postcards. My only warning is that there was no-one about should things go wrong although sign suggested that someone is usually hanging around to help. If you are in Nice for a couple of weeks, this is ideal to have a quick launder of beach towels etc.

Tuesday 29th May 2007

fancy new awningmore room and privacyAwning installers arrived promptly and we had a sad moment as we threw out our yellow parasol that served us faithfully for the last 4 summers, seems such a long time since we brought it back from Ikea in Toulon. The awning is better though and makes the balcony feel bigger plus we must have been a source of irritation to our opposite neighbours; at least we now match everyone else.

To celebrate a good job done after five years, we went to La Cambuse restaurant in the Cours Saleya. The Cours Saleya is the heart of the Old Town and probably the most visited part of Nice. As a consequence of this the market is lined with restaurants either which spread out across the Cours once the market is over. This is a typical tourist hotspot and it's difficult to choose a restaurant that is good value, good service and good food. today's special, poisson rougée for meLa Cambuse looks a little self conscious amongst the tourist trap restaurants who have to compete cheek by jowl for custom. We have hardly noticed it as we don't really ever eat on the Cours, it never seems like it would make good sense. However, the recommendation in Rick Steves' book describes La Cambuse as a "small island of refinement, with cuisine for those who want to eat on cours Saleya without sacrificing quality" is spot on and we had a great lunch. Husband chose 'brochette de magret de canard et gambas sauce aigre-douce' and I had the day's special; 'rougets à la provençale' which is red mullet. Specials and main courses are around 18 euros, a half litre pichet of red wine is 9 euros. Bottles of wine start around 19,50 euros and a Bandol was 26 euros. Puddings are around 8 euros. Our bill for 2 mains, a half pichet of wine, one pudding and a coffee came to about 56 euros, about twice what we usually pay so a bit of a treat. We would definitely come back and it's nice to have a decent restaurant on the Cours to recommend. We noticed Theresa, another institution of the cours, Chez Theresa's fast food store in the market has sold Socca for years, recommend La Cambuse to a group of people and she brought them to the manager to arrange an evening meal. La Cambuse is found at 5, Cours Saleya, tel number 04 93 80 82 40.

Later on in Hermès, the assistant said that La Cambuse was very popular among the locals. homemade tarte tartin for puddingSo, if you want the atmosphere of the cours combined with excellent food and good service, you know where to come. It was too windy to eat outside although we did try for a few minutes. Inside with banquette seating along one side, we could both people-watch to our hearts' content.