After much internal anguish over Jose, our flight to Nice took off more or less on time. The winds shifted right after we boarded the plane, so we were forced to wait on the tarmac until new runway instructions were delivered to the pilot. Our departure was thus delayed about a half hour.
Surprisingly, our flight was less than half full, so most of the passengers in the main cabin filled into the three-seat middle section and laid out flat for the eight hours ahead. Being accustomed to sleeping on boats scrunched up in odd shapes around sail bags and deck hardware, I simply curled up across our two seats when Lynn went in search of another row.
Day dawned beautiful in Nice as we circled low over the Mediterranean and landed right past the bluest of blue water. Passport control was smooth and quick (we were the only international flight arriving), but our luggage was separated. My bag finally came out looking somewhat worse for wear, as something had chewed on the luggage tags pretty hard.
Our cab ride to our apartment took us right along the now-infamous Promenade des Anglais, site of last summer’s terrorist attack. Bollards now block vehicles from the broad walkway along the boulevard, a day late and some 80 lives short. Surprisingly, the cab was fairly expensive, 36 euros, for such a relatively short trip. Even more surprising was that our driver actually spoke some English; that in my experience is a rarity. I was down to a 50 euro note, because the airport ATM would not take my card for cash. No harm, no foul, but my habit of holding on to some international cash proved provident.
We walked the entire length of the Cours Saleyas flower and food market toward our apartment, too far, as it turned out. Our Pebbles Apartments representative, the lovely Grace from England, walked down to meet us and lead us back to our lodging, which was more in the middle of the market rather than the end, as I had thought.
In fact, although our apartment entrance is on the market side, it is actually almost directly across the street from our old place on rue Barillerie and Chat Noir restaurant. There is an entrance to our building from rue Barillerie, which we will likely use this week, rather than walk through the work and prep area of the restaurants on the market side.
The apartment itself is exquisite, if a bit odd. The shower/bath tub and sink are in the bedroom, and the toilet with another small sink is in the laundry closet with the washing machine. (I will write a treatise one day about European laundry and dishwashing appliances. As soon as I figure them out.)
After a brief orientation, Grace departed, leaving us welcoming gifts of lemon cookies and a bottle of Provencal rosé. As we entered, she was reminded how beautiful she is by one of the restaurant workers outside our main entrance. She really is beautiful, and probably did not need the validation from the hired help.
We chose to take a quick nap before venturing out, discretion before valor. But shortly thereafter, we were on the streets of Vielle Ville Nice, in search of basic groceries and a cash machine. On the way, we stopped at Bistro Antoine to make dinner reservations at the ungodly but so American time of 7 p.m., which was the only time they could accommodate us anyway. Antoine is one of the three restaurants owned by Armand Crespo, each one of them excellent and all among our favorites. Antoine is the most formal, but also the closest, so makes the perfect first night dinner. Tomorrow will be Chat Noir, when Giorgio the proprietor returns from visiting his son in Marseille. Later in our stay we will visit the other two Crespo establishments, along with a couple of our other favorites. There is no need to be adventurous in restaurant selection when you have experienced the best already.
Our first-day quest led us to Wayne’s, the English speaking bar where we had spent so much time last visit. Tom the Australian bartender was still there and remembered us after we re-introduced ourselves. We gulped down cold beers and an order of frites to carry us over until dinner. We will return to Wayne’s more than once, especially on Sunday for the obligatory Bloody Mary.