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Ciao to Italy, Bonjour to France!

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We were very reluctant to leave the Cinque Terre, not only because it was so beautiful, but because it was our last stop in Italy. Too sad. We had an amazing time in Italy and will definitely be back sooner rather than later.

But we jumped in the car, and headed for the border. As we approached, we saw a sign saying France in 850m, and then a sign saying Bienvenue / Welcome! And that was it! No passport control, nothing other than a sign that if you blinked you missed! And suddenly everything was in French! So amazing.

Nice is very close to the Italian border, so we arrived shortly afterwards, and met up with Dan’s friend Pete who we were travelling with for about 10 days. This was the first time Dan or I had been anywhere in France except Paris, so we were both looking forward to seeing a different, more laid back side to the country.

Nice

The seaside town of Nice is really lovely, with wide avenues, a long waterfront to walk along, pebble beaches (not my favourite to walk on but it looks pretty), nice gardens and some beautiful architecture.

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The old town is a maze of little streets winding this way and that, and even though it’s a bit of a tourist trap, it’s still really beautiful and where all the great restaurants etc seem to be.

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There were a couple of water features in the parks that you could walk/run through, they were a great way to cool off.

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Aside from the beautiful, classical architecture, there were also some more modern pieces in the city. Right near the apartment we were staying in was this building, which is a big box built on top of a person’s chin! Apparently it houses the library staff – I really liked it but not sure if everyone would.

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There were also a bunch of statues perched up high on platforms scattered in one of the main squares that were so high up that if you didn’t look up you might not even have noticed the statues on top.

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We spent a day at the beach, it is quite strange trying to get comfy sitting on pebbles and rocks! Getting in and out of the water for me is like torture, but I managed anyway and once in the water it was beautiful.

While lying on the beach a very drunk guy wandered past with his pants slung very low and no top on, singing into a red rose and dancing away like a maniac. I didn’t get a photo of him unfortunately, but it was very funny! He seemed to just be in his own world and having a great time.

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Just behind the waterfront, a couple of streets back was a farmers market we walked through one day. Beautiful breads, vegetables, fruit, flowers and more.

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We were staying at an apartment we found on airb&b, which was great, and Pascal our host was lovely and very helpful.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/114907

The apartment is bizarrely in a school, and seeing as it was school holidays we were the only people in the building!! Was a bit eery at first, but we got used to it. The actual apartment was great, really spacious with a little balcony and our favourite feature – a switch next to the light switch that turned on the stereo set to a Jazz radio channel. We had that on pretty much non stop, it was great.

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We also met a very friendly pigeon that Pete named Hansel.

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Pascal our host recommended we try a restaurant called Acchiardo, in the old town. We went on our last night in Nice and had to wait an hour and a half to get a table, but it was worth it for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the food was really good and full of local specialties. Secondly, the waiter was ridiculously good looking. Pascal told us later on that there are two brothers who are the main waiters and they are famous in Nice because all the ladies love them!!

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Anyway, back to the food!! We tried quite a few things, but a fish carpaccio and stuffed vegetables (a Nice specialty) were both great starters, and the highlight of mains was a thick, rich beef stew called Daube, served with pasta. It was so rich I couldn’t eat a lot of it, but it was really delicious.

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And of course, we couldn’t go past a creme  brulee for dessert!

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Acchiardo was a lovely restaurant with great food.

We also did two day trips while we were in Nice, one to Antibes which is about halfway between Nice and Cannes, and one to Monaco.

Antibes

Antibes was an easy train ride away from Nice, and is a lovely town to visit for the afternoon. There are SO many mega yachts and other boats on the harbour, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even begin to estimate how much money was sitting there!

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The beach was beautiful and sandy, which was heaven after the pebble beaches we’ve been frequenting.

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We didn’t see a lot of the town, but what we did see was really lovely, with a high old city wall around the edge of it.

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Monaco

We headed out to Monaco to make our millions at the casino one evening. The area in front of the casino is ridiculous – I’ve never seen so many super cars, rolls royces etc in one place.

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The waterfront is really beautiful and you just see rich looking people, cars and boats everywhere. Money money money.

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We had a really nice dinner at Le Bouchon, and while we were eating, a fireworks show suddenly started in the harbour. Apparently every Sunday night a different country puts on a display, and that night was Spain’s turn. I swear there were more fireworks than at new years eve in Melbourne or Sydney. It was unbelievable and probably went on for about 15 minutes.

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We had french onion soup that was really delicious, nice and rich with yummy caramelised onion and soggy, cheesy bread.

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For dessert, Dan ordered a crepe suzette, which they flambe in front of you.

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Finally we made it inside the casino. You pay 10 euro’s to get in and you can’t take any photos inside but it is a really beautiful building. We could only go to a few rooms, and there were only a few tables going that were packed, so we ended up at the pokies/slot machines!! haha. But, Dan managed to win 400 euros so it worked out very well in the end!!

Sadly, we didn’t make our millions, but we had a great night in Monaco.

monacofb

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