Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Primavera Travels - Cote d'Azur (Part 1)


Our trip started last Thursday with our flight from Heathrow into Nice. A French air traffic controllers strike meant that we didn't touch down in France until almost midday - two hours late.

On our arrival, we dropped off our bike bags in left luggage at the airport, and then set up our bikes ready to ride. Two great things about Nice airport - they have a special bike assembly area for people to set up their bikes, complete with a Tacx stand ; the other thing is the cycle path that leads straight out of the airport around the Baie des Anges and onto the Promenade des Anglais. In no time at all you are cycling along the beach.

That's the path we took which led us to Nice old town (Vieux Nice). We had lunch at a brasserie right opposite the flower market. The lady of the house said they were celebrating 30 years of the being in business, and they were offering aperitifs. Sounded a good plan to us, so we started our lunch with a Kir, before setting about carbo-loading.

Around 2.30pm we bade farewell to the staff and were on our way Eastwards. Snapped quick photos of the beautiful bay and the promenade, zoomed past the port, then we began to climb towards the Observatory. I'd seen this road from my table while having lunch earlier. This should have been a hint not to overstuff myself. But the hearty plate of ravioli they'd prepared was delicious and I don't regret scoffing all of it down.
So I had to haul my somewhat heavier frame up and over the town. First we passed the Observatory, then we were onto the Grande Corniche itself. La Grande Corniche - one of the most famous drives - not just because it was where Grace Kelly was killed, but also because that road was used in lots of old films with romantic couples, all looking chic, driving off into the sunset in vintage sports cars through the French riviera.

And here were the two of us waddling up the hill with our panniers in the afternoon sun. We did not look chic. I can't say there was much romance in the air either. It felt more like I was getting heartburn! Fred kept bugging me asking me to speak in French. I was not ready to speak in English, let alone a foreign language!

After the col d'Eze, we got some great views of the sea. There were lots of pine trees, olive groves and citrus trees. The road was so peaceful. There was hardly a soul around - very few cars and even fewer people. It was great to just be able to pedal freely and peacefully while contemplating the spectacular views over the cote d'azur.
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