Summer 2009

Saturday 4th July

Arrived in Nice late at night following a 2-hour delay in Liverpool. Lot of luggage so took a taxi. It's very warm and humid. Studio same as ever but dustier. It's a priorty to find a plumber as there are bubbling noises and fine spray coming out of the water cylinder. Great.

(7.6.09 - update) We found a great plumber who speaks a little English. I have his card should anyone need a contact, email me for details. He charged 100 euros, no idea if this was good or bad but at least the problem is resolved, better than a flood from the third floor of a Residence and mercifully my water cylinder is quiet after 5 years of gurgling.

Sunday 5th July

Very hot and humid. The Tour de France passes through Nice today at lunchtime on Day 2 of the race, having started in Monaco the day before. From mid-morning, promotional floats, vans, bikes and cars go by the Port and up the

closed to traffic Promenade des Anglais. There are over 5,000 of them and they are very popular with the crowds as they fling freebies randomly into the crowd, less randomly if they spot a pretty face. Sweets, water, hats, bags, all sorts of crap. The French seem to love this.

When the cyclists finally arrive, it is all over very quickly. The flatness of the Prom means it is a fast sprint of a race. I put my camera on 'burst' and captured the yellow jersey in 6th place by the Port.

It's still hotter than hot so we retreat to the studio and crank up the air conditioning, seldom used but occasionally indispensible.

Down to the Cours Saleya in the late afternoon and share a bottle of rosé at the new American bar, Blast.

So what's new in Nice

Place Garibaldi is looking better than ever. The new trees are in blossom, extra seating is dotted about and several cafés have edged into the new pedestrianised parts. The fountain wasn't working - wonder if the constant soaking on the surrounding seating area has meant a re-think.

The other major change is the introduction this year of free bike hire like the vélib system in Paris. In Nice, it is called vélobleu. The tourist office have no information about it and the website is still at front-page status only. It's supposed to be up and running by mid-July. the idea is you can grab or park a bike from any of many stands dotted around Nice and for the first 30 minutes it's free. There are subscriptions, registrations, tourist options etc but no details yet. If you go over the 30 minutes (trying to find a free space at a bike stand?) you are charged from 1 euro and more for every hour breached. It looks as though there are only about 15 bikes at each stand. They are serviced and replaced and sorted by a private company. I know Paris bikes have turned up in Africa but it's nice to hope that it will be a success here. There are a few bike lanes around Nice but the Prom is a great place to cycle and generally French drivers are very careful near cyclists.

New Vélobleu bike stand by Castel Plage at the foot of the Castle Hill

Location of bike stands throughout Nice

Instructions for resistration and use

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