Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nice without Puns

Rather than stay in a hotel in Monaco like the rich person I'm not, I elected for a hostel in Nice, France while I attended the World Policy Conference.

Southern France is beautiful, and the last time I was in the Côte d'Azur I had a very similar impression. I flew into France a day before the conference so I had a bit of time to wander Nice. I imagine that this city is bustling in the summer with full beaches and full restaurants. A chilly winter night on the Promenade des Anglais suited me, but apparently not many of Nice's inhabitants.

Colline du Chateau at night.

Friday morning I wandered up to the castle that once defended Nice. An interesting fact about Nice is that it was once part of the Kingdom of Savoy, which went on to unite Italy in the nineteenth century. The local dialect of the area, Niçard, seemed to be a cross between Italian and French - super fascinating. I didn't hear any of it.

Unfortunately for Nice, its strong fortress didn't protect it in the end. It was betrayed by its own countrymen. In 1860, Cavour gave Nice to Napoleon III in exchange for French military support against Austria. Nice has been French ever since.

While wandering the fortress, I ran into a girl from the hostel, an Australian named Sophie. We chatted about France and wandered the streets of Nice, which had started to pick up with Christmas season traffic.

The rest of the weekend I didn't have much time to do anything in the city except sleep*, but I'd like to return to Nice some summer, walk the Promenade des Anglais and experience the city in its full summer glory.

*After the conference ended on Sunday, Sebastian, Ben and I had a short city adventure with an American girl we met at the hostel in which we visited a dubious-looking establishment where a woman asked me to buy her a drink and was incredulous when I told her that I didn't have any money. For additional stories about Niçois hi-jinks you'll need to ask yours truly.