Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Cities of the French Riviera

Leave a comment

I had never heard of Menton, France before this trip, but that’s where we stayed the whole time. It was a great home base. Quieter than Nice, but still offering plenty of interesting shops, good restaurants, and attractive architecture, especially in its Old Town. Our hotel fronted right on the beach, though our view was of the other side, the mountain. Still not too shabby.

Small town charm on the French Riviera.

The sand is imported; naturally, beaches here are rocky

Menton, France

A look at the Old Town streets of Menton

I can’t say we did anything particularly notable in Menton, however. We kept intending to visit the nearby Jean Cocteau museum, but never made it past the gift shop. So I could see going back and giving the place a bit more focus sometime. I would recommend it as a place to stay when visiting that area.

Monaco

Monaco wasn’t far from Menton at all. It is theoretically its own country, though one very much dependent on France, that doesn’t require a passport to visit.

We had thought of spending part of our “free” day here, but ended up deciding against it. So we really spent only about a half hour, 45 minutes here, before one of the walks. It was enough time to climb up the central square and get a little bit of a sense of the place…

a very small principality on the French Riviera

… which is that it is very crowded, very dense, and completely paved over. There is no room left here to build anything else. Many people who work here have to live elsewhere.

(And I guess some might be interested to know that when we took the bus to the airport, it did drive on the famous race car track.)

Nice

Nice is where we did spend our free day, and where we finally visited a museum, one devoted to artist Marc Chagall. I enjoyed that more than Jean did. I like Chagall’s whimsical style and use of primary colors. I had no idea he’d done so many works based on the Old Testament, and was amused how many of those had a touch of eroticism. “That’s Jacob fighting the angel,” I told Jean. “I don’t think fighting is what they’re doing.” Unsurprisingly, I guess, Chagall did a whole series based on the Song of Songs (i.e. the “dirty book” of the Bible).

Other than that, we just walked around in Nice, down to the beach, and through its old section. It was more crowded and not quite as charming as Menton, but somewhat more appealing than Monaco.

Nice opera house

Nice opera house in Nice

Rothschild Gardens near Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer seemed a lovely little town:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
But we spent our time after our Thursday walk at Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens, one of those huge private homes that is now a heritage site that tourists can visit. Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild had ample time and money for decorating, and also pretty good taste:

Villa Ephryssi de Rothschild: Opulence now in public trust and still very impressive!

But most special and impressive were the extensive outdoor gardens, featuring many imported plants. Much of the house was designed to provide excellent views of these gardens.

Villa Ephryssi de Rothschild: Opulence now in public trust and still very impressive!

The gardens continue beyond what you can see here

Every 20 minutes, you had a chance to view the “musical fountain”, which means the water from various fountains gyrating in time to broadcast music. I’m not sure if that’s authentic to the time of the Rothschild’s, but it was interesting to watch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s