THE FRENCH RIVIERA

THE FRENCH RIVIERA.

There were some things we have known about the French Riviera. The main towns are Nice and Cannes. They became popular as resorts in the early 19th century, when a British lord had a villa built there. Both places cater for the rich and famous. In Cannes, the celebrated annual film festival is held. Some hotels are unimaginably expensive; understandably, the security is tight. Nice, the center of the Alpine-Maritimes region, has the population of about 400,000. It has a large airport; one can take direct trains or buses to many places on the seaside, including Cannes and Monaco. Most beaches in Nice have pebbles and stone, while in Cannes, the beaches are very fine sand.

There were quite a number of things we did not know, and all of them came as pleasant surprises. If you start in advance, you will be able to find an affordable hotel in Cannes, within easy walking distance to and from the beach, close the famous Promenade. You can stay in a nice quiet little place, where you can have an early breakfast before you embark on the many fascinating activities that the town offers. There is a huge market nearby where you can buy fresh fruits and veggies, as well as whatever clothes you might need. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, where you can sit outside at any time of day or night, have a good meal, and stare at passers-by. There is a post-office in a side-street. The railway station is five minutes away.

The red carpet in front of the Grand Auditorium is always there. I suspect that it is not the same one on which all the stars stop to be photographed, but it looks fine, and there are always tourists snapping pictures of themselves on it. There are funny cardboard figures, where you can insert your own face and have someone take a photo of you as Johnny Depp in his Pirates of the Caribbean persona. There are posh hotels along the Promenade, various monuments, designer boutiques, excursion buses, sea-gulls, and incredible Mediterranean colors. Amazingly, one can find places to suit every taste and budget, be it a shop or a place to eat.

 One goes to the beach in the morning, to swim and to relax in the sun. But as nobody wants to look like a lobster, or get sunburn, one has to take a break in the middle of the day and do something else. It is easy to go places by train. A trip to Monaco and Monte Carlo with its famous Casino takes less than an hour. One emerges high above the town, among rocks and crags; the train station is sort of fused into the surrounding rocky landscape. One takes elevators up and down. We thought Cannes was mostly for the rich, but when we came toMonaco, we realized that we simply had no idea what “rich” means. There are lots of banks and magnificent villas, expensive shops and restaurants at every corner. The large Casino building is beautifully situated and surrounded by jewelry stores and multi-star hotels. If you are feeling adventurous, you can buy a token for just 10 euros to go inside the Casino to try your luck. It is almost certain that you will lose your money, but think of the fun you’ll have! Afterwards, enjoy a leisurely walk along the embankment, have lunch or dinner at an affordable café, take a lot of pictures, and go back full of impressions to share with everyone you know!

©gretag2012

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