It's my last morning on the French Riviera. The weather's turned stormy, chasing me inside the nearest establishment, which happens to be the Pont Magnan Brasserie.
Trademark blue-and-white beach umbrellas line the Mediterranean under the morning sky in Nice, France. (2008).
Interesting décor. Decked out in mirrored ceilings and shiny things, the place is all Miami Vice and 1986. Helping the mood: "Careless Whisper" by Wham! is playing over the hi-fi, and the thirtysomething bartender is unabashedly crooning along to George Michael's honey-dripped lyrics.
I order an espresso in the broken, Québécois French that I never really learned as a Canadian schoolchild years ago.
The coffee is strong enough to jolt the memory of an elephant.
I reflect. One thing I can say about Nice: it feels like France. Depending on where you're coming from, I suppose this can either be a compliment or an insult. I lean toward the former. Sure, with gritty streets and faded façades, the Mediterranean city shows characteristics of being something past its prime. But a certain je ne sais quoi joie de vivre does exist in the people here, and this matters.
People ask me if the French are rude. No worse than anywhere else, I reply. In truth, there's plenty of kindness around. Like in the middle-aged woman who offered (in Mandarin, no less) to help me find my hotel when I looked lost ... or the chain-smoking hotel manager who helped me find my lost passport ... or in the happy, singing bartender who just served me my second espresso.
I look at my watch.
Time to go home to Sweden, for the life which awaits there. I down my espresso, leave a tip, and head back into the pouring rain.
PS- It's really difficult to write about Nice without resorting to obvious puns.
PPS- Me and the editor whole-heartedly wish you a Happy Leap Day!
Dreamy Place Masséna in the day. Nice, France. (2008).
"That's my train!" Only Canadians will get that one. Somebody at home please tell me that Bombardier has stopped airing those stupid TV commercials. Nice, France. (2008).
Place Masséna at night. I tried almost endlessly to get the right shot of the ferris wheel and never felt I really succeeded. The above photo is maybe the best of a mediocre bunch. Nice, France. (2008).
Nice's famous, seaside Promenade des Anglais at sunset. (2008).
The luxurious Hôtel Negresco at night. Nice, France. (2008).
In keeping with the tradition of art gallery hopping in foreign cities, I visited the Musée d'Art Modern et d'Art Contemporain in Nice. I have to say I was a bit disappointed (limited time meant I had to forgo the new Henri Matisse Museum). Nevertheless, "Nissa-Bella" by Martial Raysse was a definite highlight. (2008).
Important newsflash: felix's daily starfish and waffles reports that 7-Up's Fido Dido LIVES ... in southeastern France. Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. (2008).