France and England: Part 1

Now I’m going to catch up to our trip over Christmas in France and England. For the next couple of weeks, I’ll discuss our many adventures with castles, art, and food.

Our first stop on the trip was to Nice, France. It’s a lovely city on the Mediterranean so it has much more temperate weather than Chicago (especially this time of year). However, it’s the off season for Nice so there’s not a lot of tourists and cheaper. It would be a nightmare if we were there in a summer. We had a hotel with a view of the beach and the sea, which was really a lovely thing to wake up to every morning. Palm trees line the boulevards. SInce it was near Christmas, some of them even had holiday lights!

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Christmas Palms!

The first day we arrived, we got into the city in time for dinner. We found a restaurant called Koudoo with African animal sculptures around. I decided that I wanted to eat as much seafood as I could whilst there. So that night, I dined on mussels in a tomato sauce that was incredible! Few things in life like fresh mussels!

The following day was spent wandering around Nice itself. We wandered up a walking street to the main square, passing the windows setup for Christmas. I love looking in the candy/chocolate shops in France because they have the best set ups. One candy shop had marzipan hot dogs, hamburgers, and even an iPhone! So much deliciousness!

We then wandered over to the Historic section of Nice, where there was an antique faire going on. Rows of vendors has all sorts of antique furniture, paintings, sculptures, etc. lined up for people to buy. Beautiful objects! Nearby, we found a very troubled Santa Claus. Looks like he might have indigestion!

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Santa with Indigestion

On the way back to the hotel, we saw a group offering pony rides to kids on the boardwalk. I was super jealous since I wanted a pony ride. But I sort of aged out a while ago.

Later on, we ended up back at the Christmas market. Most French cities and towns have some kind of Christmas market and faire. Nice did not disappoint. The main square had some rides including a ferris wheel, and a little Christmas market. One ride was a giant Christmas trees where you sat in the ornaments as it turned. We actually went on it; I’m fairly certain we were the only adults without kids who went on it. The ride itself was rather underwhelming but it was hard to pass up being part of a Christmas tree! I had my first Nutella crepe there, which was delicious! WHile it wasn’t quite the same as having it in Paris where it is colder, it was still nice to get it from a booth and wander around with it.

Afterwards, we decided to go on a bit of a tour. We hopped on one of the train lines that runs in the middle of streets to see what to see. On the train, we passed by what looked like a temporary petting zoo, another activity for the season. We also passed another carnival with rides and prizes. We also passed the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who is known for unifying Italy, who was actually born in Nice.

That evening, we decided to dine at the Hotel Negresco. This is a really fancy place. They actually have signs up asking tourists not to go in the lobby since it is reserved for their guests.  Also, in front of the hotel, Isadora Duncan, dancer and instructor, infamously strangled herself with her scarf when it got caught in the wheels of her car.

There’s a couple of restaurants, including a very fancy one. We went to the Carousel themed one, which is a lighter affair. There are actual carousel horses decorating the room. The last time we were in Nice, the horses could be turned on to sway gently. Sadly, that is a thing of the past. I had a seafood dish, which was okay. The real memorable part of the dinner was dessert. I was overruled… when we ordered a swiss chard pie. Yes, the leafy vegetable. It was strange. Like sugary spinach. It wasn’t terribly but I won’t order it again.

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Carousel Restaurant at Hotel Negresco

Since we were at the restaurant, it gave us an excuse to check out the lobby filled with contemporary art. Very cool. The bathrooms were also neat, themed like an English garden and a Circus tent. What an amazing place!

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Men’s Room at the Negresco

 

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Women’s Room at the Negresco (doesn’t quite do it justice but the figure kinda makes it)

We finished off the night with a ferris wheel ride back at the faire. It was wonderful to see the city laid out before us as we rose into the air. What a pretty place!

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Nice from Above

That’s all for now!

 

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