Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead


This is the first in a series of articles about a boat trip along the Rhone River
By Charles N Stevens

Our first look at Nice from the airport is a shimmering vision of white houses, apartments and hotels lying in a vast belt around a circular blue bay, the Cote d’Azur. Behind the city rises low mountains with more pale houses and apartments tucked in canyons and perched on ridges.
With several other couples crowded in a van, we begin our trip into town, the road following the gentle curve of the bay. Handsome date palms and Mediterranean pines at its seaward edge give the scene a warm, southern look. Colorful beds of pansies bloom in small parks along the way. A promenade also follows the shoreline, and many of Nice’s citizens are enjoying a long stroll, breathing fresh air drifting in off the sea. Some stand and look out at the rocky beaches and the small tumbling waves while others relax on benches. We regret that we are to have only one night in Nice as we would have loved joining the French people for a good brisk walk here.
On the other side of the road modern apartment buildings are interspersed with  older ones that look more “French.” Unfortunately our driver only inches his way ahead in horrendous traffic, a problem that seems to be worldwide. But at least the cars are very small, unlike American traffic jams burdened with pickup trucks, large vans and SUVs. The only benefit is that moving slowly allows us to concentrate on what we are seeing. We finally arrive at our hotel, The Grand Hotel Ashton, in the old part of town.
Even though the March weather is crisp, Dolores and I slip into our jackets and explore a portion of the old town while there is still just enough light left in the day. The original part of Nice is like most long-established European towns with their special charms, centuries old architecture and narrow streets. During part of our walk we must negotiate a ragged construction site where tracks are being laid for Nice’s new light rail system. The restaurants are open, many with an array of tables outside. A few hearty souls sip coffee at some of them, but most are empty—but it is early in the evening, and the French eat late.
We pass the ornate Palais de Justice then walk three blocks to the beach, braving unending traffic to cross the street. The sea is now silver-gray in the twilight, small waves collapsing onto the stony beach. Used to sandy beaches, we think this one appears harsh and uncomfortable. A few young people walk on the pebbles, shadow-like, their bodies beginning to blend into the darkening day, their clothes rippling in the wind. One woman sits on the rocks hugging her knees, bundled up, bracing her body against the cold. At first I think she is a big black poodle dog.
We gaze at the sunset, now reddish with a few dark clouds slashing through it. It always takes us a while to realize we are in another country, but as we stand on the promenade facing the sea, we feel we have arrived. The trip from Los Angeles had been long and tiresome, without sleep. We are ready for a good night’s rest. We walk back to the hotel, passing brightly lighted cafes where young people, laughing and talking to one another, sit drinking glass mugs of beer and tiny white cups of coffee.
Tomorrow would be a long day. A bus would take us to Avignon where we would
board our small ship for our trip up the Rhone River.
Note: As we arrived rather late in Nice, no photographs were taken. Photos will appear in the articles that follow.

1 Comment

  1. Leaves me wanting to read more!

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