Our daily routine in Nice is much the same as it was in Paris. The sun rises a little earlier now that we are deeper into winter and a few degrees farther south on the planet (about 45 latitude). But rue de la Barillerie is a very narrow street lined by five-story buildings on both sides, so the sun never never shines directly into our apartment. Apparently, it’s been this way since the 16th or 17th century, when most of these buildings were constructed.
Unlike our Paris apartment tucked all the way back in the building and therefore completely insulated from street noise, here in Nice, we look out directly over the narrow street, where sounds reverberate. Next door to the little Chat Noir restaurant at the base of our building stands Delhi Behli, a popular Indian restaurant that is significantly larger. On the other side of our apartment is a small theater. Patrons of both the theater and Delhi Behli gather in the street at their respective doors to smoke and chat, frequently at fairly loud levels. This can go on until well past midnight.
The buildings across the street on the ground level seem to function as the kitchens or commissaries of the restaurants that face Cours Saleya in the next block. Every night we can hear the clatter of equipment, trash and bottles being hauled out about 1 a.m. The noise repeats itself about 5 a.m. if the restaurants are opening the next day, which most do.
And because the streets are so narrow, sounds can carry from around the corner. Crowds have fun on another street can sound like they are directly below our window. All this is to say that our little Nice neighborhood is lively.
We know it’s time to get up in the morning when the large street light in front of our apartment building turns off. The light in the apartment changes from a golden glow to the grayish look of dawn. The only way to tell if the sky is clear is to open the window, stick your head out and crane upward to the sky.
Our apartment itself is easily twice the size of our tiny garret in Paris. The bed is tucked into a loft that was installed in recent years, apparently a fairly common feature of so many of these old apartments with their 14-foot ceilings. The result is that our boudoir has about the same headroom as a Cal 25 sailboat–in other words, not enough for a normal sized person. At 5′ 3″, Lynn cannot stand completely upright. So we learned to crouch early on, after a couple of knocks to the noggin.
Even though our Nice apartment is much larger, it lacks some of the modern conveniences of our Paris apartment. We have no TV, dishwasher, microwave or washer/dryer in Nice. The only one we truly miss is the washer/dryer, because we have to tote our laundry a couple of blocks away to the laverie, which charges 4.50 a load for wash and a euro for every five minutes to dry. And dryer temperatures in France would be considered room temperature by American standards.
Most days, I run downstairs to the patisserie at the corner for a croissant or an apple tart for breakfast. If the patisserie is not open (and frequently it is not, although I can’t figure out their hours), I go over to the Cours Saleya market. If Cours Saleya is not active, then the croissant quest extends a couple of blocks past. It makes for a good walk.
Our daily goal is to be out of the house by 10 a.m. I know that sounds absolutely slothful, but, hey, it’s Europe and hardly anyone else is out any earlier either. (Except for the market vendors.) And we’re not so busy.