20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Housesitting in Nice

We arrived mid January to begin a month long house and parrot sit in Nice, France.

L to R: Jake, Petra

After getting waylaid in a snowstorm a few years ago while on our way to an Ontario housesit we have since made a point of arriving one or two days earlier than the actual housesit begins. This gives us a little leeway should flight delays or other unforeseen events happen, and it also puts homeowners at ease as I always contact them to say 'Hello. We're here and will see you shortly'.

It didn't take us long to be awed by this region of southern France. Ten minutes after our arrival at the Nice Cote d'Azur Airport we spotted the palm trees and Mediterranean Sea and were smitten. We took the airport shuttle into town (6 euros/person) and checked into the Albert Hotel. Recently renovated and located a few yards from the boardwalk and medieval old town we could't have chosen a better hotel. Even with the low value of the loonie the room was affordable at a cost of $90 Cdn. Then we strolled along the promenade just as the sun set.

Promenade des Anglais
Nice became popular with Victorian Brits who found it to be a perfect winter destination due to its mild climate and 3000 hours of sunshine per year. They also enjoyed taking a stroll along the boardwalk and it eventually was named in their honour.  The Promenade des Anglais stretches for almost six kilometres from old town to the airport and on weekends it is the place to be. Everyone from young to old finds a comfy bench to sit and watch life pass by or if the mood strikes to stroll, roller skate, bike, jog or run next to the Mediterranean.

Since we arrived we've seen a few people swimming in the sea, while others enjoy a drink or snack on the stoney beach. How civilized!

Day 2 in Nice we met homeowners Katherine and Paul who welcomed us with hugs, champagne and hot d'oeuvres. (I know, TOTAL decadence, right?!) We first met them in Jacou last March 2015 and were thrilled to have been invited back for a second housesit.

Throughout the past year we've told countless friends and family tales of Jake and Petra's antics and unless you've had the joy of spending time with these parrots it's difficult to understand how incredibly soothing and social they can be. Their chirps and squawks are a delight and with their distinctive personalities (Jake's love of red pepper and Goldfish crackers for instance versus Petra's current obsession to sit on John's shoulder while they watch Youtube videos of other birds) means our time with them is never boring! 

The day before Katherine and Paul left on vacation they showed us around their neighbourhood. Their apartment is conveniently located in the port that provides ever changing views and is within walking distance to old and modern Nice and the Promenade des Anglais.

The apartment is actually a group of buildings that offers us two entrances. The one on the port side is the large arched doorway seen below on the right.

It opens to an equally impressive marble foyer and grand staircase that leads into a lovely courtyard.

Everything we need (grocery stores, ATM, bus stops, etc.) is within a five minute walk. There is also an endless supply of cafes and restaurants.

A rule of thumb in Nice for cafes or restaurants is a patron's choice of table. If you wish a coffee or a drink only select a table without a tablecloth - those with the added extras are reserved for patrons wishing a full meal. 

We stopped for pizza at one cafe close to the Port bus stop, but by the time we thought about taking a photo we'd finished our delicious lunch and drained the last of our carafe of wine. (Sorry!)

This bistro is across the harbour from our apartment and when I noticed the name of the owners on the outside as we walked by (famille Orsini) I just had to take a photo for Flo. :) It's worth mentioning that until 1860 Nice was part of Italy which explains its abundance of Italian restaurants.

One local dish we particularly enjoy is socca. It's similar to a pancake, but made of chick pea flour and cooked in a stone oven. This Youtube video shows how it's made, and while we have not yet eaten at Chez Pipo we plan to before we leave Nice.

Socca is served piping hot and the only adornment is pepper - although I did try a dash of salt and quite liked it. It's eaten with your fingers and just savoured - with a little wine, of course. Such a great treat at one of Nice's many outdoor cafes. Mmm!

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