Our starting point is the city of Nice. The coast at Nice is bounded by a gorgeous stretch of beach which itself is bounded by the Promenade des Anglais a beachside walkway that gently sweeps along the coast for a distance of about 5km.
At one end are pebbly beaches sprinkled with blue umbrellas where the salty Mediterranean invites you in for a dip or at the least an hour or three of sunning.
At the other end of the Promenade flower gardens, palm trees, picturesque squares with fountains, and ponds create a setting for the area known as ‘Old Nice.’ If you ever make it to Nice it is most likely this is where you’ll spend a bit of time.
Luxury hotels like the Le Palais de la Mediterranee and our hotel, the ‘Hotel de Suede’, are somewhere between and both are just a short walk from the Promenade.
We set out to explore Nice and at every turn we experience pleasure and wonder at the ornate buildings with their red-tiled roofs and glowing facades in warm shades of sunny yellow, orange, greens and bright blues that trap and reflect the colours of the nearby landscape.
We move in and out of the tiny shops full of cotton fabrics of Provence or inexpensive sandals from who knows where and then linger in a footpath café observing the street life before we stroll on through to the flower and fruit markets of Old Nice.
We touch and smell the bountiful local produce including figs, olives, raspberries, and melons and for lunch have a fresh baguette, some ham, some cheese, a glass of wine, and there you have it, a ‘pic-nic’ for three. Nice is a real French city with a wonderful daily life that has its focus around the market place.
For great views of Nice, we head out onto the Promenade and on to the sizable hill that separates the Old Nice from the Port of Nice. It is known as Castle Hill and you’ll come to a Chateau where you have the choice to walk up the steps or take a lift. We chose to walk.
Castle Hill is a natural fortress where the Greeks first arrived when they founded the city and named it after the goddess of victory: Nike. There are even the ruins of Nike that can be visited and I think we are talking from the first century BC when its conquerors, the Romans, came to town.
The ‘Hill’ provides a panoramic view of Old Town, the Port of Nice, and the Mediterranean and is a great spot to relax in the afternoon.
We shared a ‘crepe chantelle’ which is a type of very thin pancake with an abundance of whipped cream that’s very popular in France ….just beautiful. This sliver of a view of Nice came to my attention as I was relaxing and enjoying my coffee.
We came back down from Castle Hill past the old cemetery and explored the winding narrow streets of the Old Town. Every corner uncovers a new treat.
Some interesting facts for comparison.
A population of 348,721 lives within its administrative limits on a land area of 71.92 km2 (28 sq miles). The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of over 955,000 in an area of 721 km2 (278 sq miles).
The 2006 census reported 4,119,190 residents in the Sydney statistical area of which 3,641,422 lived in Sydney’s urban area. Population was estimated to be 4,575,532 in 2010
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of 579 square miles (1,500 km)
The population of Denver was 600,158 according to the 2010 census. The 10-county Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated 2009 population of 2,552,195.
La Spezia, Italy
Area 51.39 km2 (19.8 sq miles) Population (1 July 2008) 95,335
Monterossa one of the Cinque Terre villages
Total Area11.25 km2 (4.3 sq miles) Population (30 September 2009) Total 1,522