Posted on August 22, 2008 by rodney
Tags: tour

Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera. It sounds nice, but it’s just a centuries old surfers paradise. My first impression of the coast was as a sparkling sunny seaside sprawl. Tiny boats zipping along the water, leaving white wakes. Silent jets soaring out from the city, others circling then gliding in. This was looking through the haze from the relative serenity of the mountain at Col de Vence.

So, aglow with the accomplishment of having crossed the alps and reached the mediterranean, and setting eyes on it for the first time, I rolled down, around the switchbacks, past the bright green foliage of the occasional tree on the dusty brown hill. Bathing in the hot wind, I reached the outskirts of Vence and stopped to refold my map.

The noise was horrible. This came from expensive cars and SUVs coming and going from the disgustingly expensive houses perched on the hill, speeding removal trucks and furniture trucks, motorbikes, and – worst of all – scooters. Then into Vence, another historic and picturesque walled town built for the medieval tourism industry, and still continuing the tradition. The traffic was crazy, and all the drivers were in a hurry, flooring it, beeping horns. This is August, so high tourist season, and the carnival is at its worst.

Nice is pretty much the same. I came in on the 4-lane palm-lined boulevard, along the sea, past the airport with f. loud jets landing every 2 minutes, endless traffic lights, exhaust fumes, scooter drivers always with fully open throttles. This is actually worse than I remember L.A. being.

Then to centre ville which is just a lot of old hotels, villas as everywhere, and one measly strip of public space in the middle of a road.

The whole idea of this place is to get sunburnt on the beach, then stuff your face with expensive food and drink, then maybe drive somewhere in the car.

I went to the hostel, which is up the hill a bit, where it’s not as busy. The streets smell of either dog poo or urine. There is dog poo everywhere because this is France, and the urine I suppose because the public toilets are expensive, or maybe it’s the dogs again.

Nice is an assault on the senses and sensibility. This is not a holiday. I’m here at the wrong time, and doesn’t fit in with my bike tour. I have to get to somewhere quieter and not as stupid.