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Trip Report French Riviera Overview

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I recently returned from a long dreamed of trip to the French Riviera. The trip was from May 7-13. I met up with a friend at the Philadelphia airport - I flew from Harrisburg, Pa and she from Richmond. this made things a bit hairy, especially with the ATC furloughs a couple weeks prior and weather concerns that day. I got to the airport early and was put on an earlier flight that had been delayed (I had emailed US Air to request this ahead of time and they'd told me I'd have to pay $75 at the airport to move it up). This was done without my asking and at no cost. Although delayed I still got to Philly an hour earlier than my scheduled flight (and it had rained in Philly and I don't know what time my original flight got in). My friend's flight was also delayed about 45 minutes but she made it and we met at our departure gate. The plane was SMALL for international - I have never flown on that small a plane overseas. Just a 3/3 configuration. And no personal enterainment

We boarded on time, taxied on time only to be 20th in line for departure. This took about an hour! (and we had a tight connection in Brussels to Nice). The 7 hour flight went quickly, however. My friend and I were across the aisle from one another and I sat with a Belgian lady. We had a seat between us so being tiny, I could stretch out using half of the extra seat. I was slap happy by then and entertained the lady and my friend's seatmates with stories till we were all hysterical laughing. After dinner when we settled down to sleep I was figety and the Belgian lady asked "Are you always this restless?" I said "Yes - I'm Italian." (In fact coming home I sat next to a lady who was Indian - no middle seat - and I was so restless that halfway thru the flight she picked up her laptop and MOVED - good for me I guess since I could really spread out!)

In Brussels we made our flight to Nice with about half an hour to spare. A 1 hour flight over snow capped mountains then over the Mediterranean. Very pretty. In Nice we got the Cannes Express bus to Cannes (50 minutes, about 17.50 euro) then a taxi to our hotel, the Renior.

The Renior is a small, 24 room hotel a few blocks from the Croissant. I actually preferred it to the Croissant large hotels which in early May were fairly reasonable in cost. However, I'd read they do not treat you that well if you are not wealthy and I did not want to pay 10-12 euro for a cup of coffee. The Renior was very sweet - small but pretty white room with a huge framed picture of Marilyn MOnroe with the sheets pulled up. there was a tiny lobby bar with tables for breakfast and reception was very helpful and friendly. In fact, our whole trip French people could not have bee nicer and more helpful to us. My friend speaks no French; I can read it and manage simple sentences. Cant' have a conversation but ok at ordering train/bus tickets, food and making myself understood even if it meant saying "Choo choo" to the bus driver who did not seem to understand we were asking if that bus went to the train/bus station.

We had great weather the whole trip - nice and warm although the water was still cold. Cannes was full even the week before the film festival; in fact the first day we wanted to chill at a beach club and the ones we went to, incuding the one associated with our hotel, were full. We made reservations for the following day. We just walked along the waterfront, eating ice cream and getting some sun and air. At 4 we passed out for 2 hours then hiked up to Le Suquet (old town), getting lost and climbing tons of steps (we called them Stairmasters) before finding out we should simply have turned right onto the street at the dead end instead of going up the stairs. Oh well, great views and we didnt' worry about eating. We ate at a creperie at the top of the hill. I was in caffeine withdrawal so had cappucino, a ham and cheese crepe and a sweet crepe for dessert.

We did a little browsing on Rue Meyenier which is the 'cheap shopping street' filled with little boutiques and cafes. We went to bed early and were up early. We were going to take the train to Grasse. To save time, we ended up having the hotel breakfast. Tho expensive 12 e, it was convenient; we were the only ones there, the atmosphere was pretty and quiet and I got enough coffee and hot milk for about 2 large cups plus a big basket of croissants, sourdough rolls, pain au chocolate and mini raisin danish, as well as juice, nutells, jams, etc.

The trains were not running to Grasse so we had to take a bus. Again we got lost as we attempted to walk from the train/bus station. An hour later we found civilization. Grasse is a cute town and I was interested in the perfume but I guess we were tired from the uphill walk because I didn't take any pictures! (did get a few postcards). We did go through the Fragonard museum quickly (for the antique bottles) and checked out the perfume at the shop but I wanted something small that would fit in my carry on and did not find anything there. We wandered the narrow streets, shared a quiche for lunch from a little stand (tables were provided) and then headed back to Cannes (taking a bus partway to the station and walking down steps the rest of the way).

We then changed and spent a few hours at the Beach C beach club (10 e for half day with hotel discount). I went in the water a couple times but not all the way in as it was pretty cold.

We had a nice dinner at Le Marais in Le Suquet - 3 course meal for 27e (choices) including complimentary kir. My friend does not drink due to medications so I got TWO glasses of kir which I like. I had warm goat cheese salad, risotto with king prawns and creme brulee. My friend is a vegetarian and had some kind of pasta and veggies, the goat cheese salad and a chocolate pate.

The next day Fri) we took the train to Antibes after another hotel breakfast. We got there early and it was quiet and very pretty walking along the water and then coming upon the covered food market. The market even had assorted varieties of sfogliatelle my favorite Sicilian pastry - I tried the lemon filled which I'd never had. Antibes also had the charming narrow streets with shops, lots of pastry, lots of gelato,creperies. And we climbed to an overlook and below was a perfect beach practically empty. At least antibes was flat so walking was no problem. We did some shopping, shared a baguette for lunch and got back to Cannes about 2 and did some shopping on Rue d'antibes and Rue Meyenier. on Rue d'Antibes is a Laduree but not the tea room just the shop. Throughout the trip I indulged in macarons. We also had ample gelato, crepes, gaufres (waffles).

Sat checked out and walked to the train station (only a few blocks) and took the train to Nice (about half an hour) and a taxi to our hotel the Messina. This hotel was well located and beautiful public rooms but our room was a bit shabby. Functional, however.
Both hotels in Cannes and Nice cost $200/night.

We went to the ATM, took a quick browse in Galeries Lafayette then a bus to the Chagall Museum. When we got back we stopped at a cafe for lunch, a Croque Monsieur for me. Then we went to the waterfront and just walked along the Promenade des Anglais - the water was the most beautiful aqua color and we walked far enough to be able to see the curve of the coastline and took lots of picture. Really a beautiful setting although the grey rocks/pebbles of the beach spoiled the scene somewhat.

To be continued

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