It was not only very narrow but also full of stones that made walking around pretty impossible or painful. And in the high season it was so crowded that sometimes at 10am we had problems with finding spots to put blankets on the ground… but we were in the fancy and glamourous French Riviera and that was the important thing. Ever since that trip (and passing the area by train couple of times) I wanted to return there, to see the famous towns properly but with not too many people around. So when I found cheap flights to Nice for January I didn’t hestitate too long and booked them right away!
Even if Nice welcomed me with sun and warm weather (no jacket in mid January was a bliss for me!) the next day was full of rain… But still I took a train to nearby Cannes, famous for the most luxury hotels and the Film Festival. I wandered narrow streets of the old town, climbed to the castle (the view was pretty amazing from up there, even in such a bad weather), visited the local farmers’ market, walked down the red carpet on the Festival Palace, compared my hand size with Sylvester Stalone’s, enjoyed the sandy beach, window-shoped in the fancy stores… Basically I did all the things that people do in Cannes but… with no one around! I had the whole town to myself! Ocassionaly I met some people but mostly locals who did their Saturday shopping. It was pretty amazing and even if it was raining cats and dogs I enjoyed Cannes a lot!
The same story was with every other place I visited that weekend – Antibes, Nice, Villefranche-sur-mer (my favourite one!) or Monaco. Since it wasn’t the touristic season but gloomy January I saw other tourists only in Monaco, and that’s probably because I happened to be there during the Monte Carlo Rally. Every other place was empty and beautiful. I could wander around as long as I wanted to and there was not a single person to disturb me. At some point I felt that Antibes and Villefranche-sur-mer are ghost, abandoned towns but it didn’t stop me from loving them.
I finally understood why people are crazy about this part of the world. It’s extremely charming and so beautiful. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of narrow street with laundry hanging above your head. There’s definitely an artsy and creative vibe in these places hence I’m not that surprised that so many artists (including Pablo Picasso) decided to settle down there. But the key to understand and fall for the French Rivera is to visit it off season, when there’re no people around. Only then you can fully enjoy it.
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And the funny thing from that visit: a friend of mine, Monika, who I haven’t seen since 2006 (or 2005?) happened to be in Nice at the same time – we stumbled into each other twice! The world is really small!!
You can see more pics from my January trip to France here
Do you like visiting places off season? Would you like to visit French Rivera?
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If you think of visiting France or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
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