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Day A3 - Nice arrival
February 28, 2013            Beaulieu-sur-Mer to Nice                              11 miles
Villefranche 2
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a picturesque port nicely separated from the busy city of Nice which lies beyond the peninsula that juts into the sea to the left. My route followed the three-mile periphery of the peninsula on a road named boulevard Princesse Grâce du Monaco.
Rounding the peninsula, a to-the-horizon panorama of Nice is revealed
Villefranche 1
Villefranche detour
Approaching Nice

It was forecast to be PHW (perfect hiking weather) today, with clear skies, light winds, and a high of about 55 degF. And that's exactly how it turned out so I didn't regret consigning my sweater to my backpack. This left me with mostly thin layers of clothing that culminated in a dayglo orange vest. This is a pedestrian safety device intended to wake even an elderly French driver from his aprés-dejeuner nap spent driving on the sidewalk.

I exited the Select Hotel in Beaulieu-sur-Mer at 7.45 am, with my route so well-studied and so simple that I didn't need a map all day. The only deviation from plan was a pedestrian detour in Villefranche-sur-Mer, enforced by barricades due to construction. I feared it would reverse my earlier, hard-won 200 ft climb, but the downward detour soon turned upward, and brought me back to boulevard Princesse Grâce de Monaco, which swept around the perimeter of the southern end of Villefranche with a shining sea on my left and 650 ft Mount Boron on my right. Two-thirds of the way around the peninsula, Nice sprawled for miles to my left, famously bordering the Mediterranean, today aptly the Côte d'Azur (azure coast) that it's called. According to the weather report, the Côte d'Azur was the warmest spot in France today.

If you're seeing anything different in my approach to this hike, compared to those previous . . .well, so am I. But what? I think perhaps I'm more relaxed about it. For example, I'm not listening to my aches and and pains as much. Beyond this, I'll reserve judgment. There is plenty more time for aches and pains to overwhelm relaxation. And plenty of time for much else besides.

After about 11 miles, which ended with a 3-mile stretch of beach, I arrived in the vicinity of Côte d'Azur airport on Nice's western edge, and found my accommodation. I mention a stretch of beach, but it's actually more than that. There's the blue sea, of course, and then the cleanest of beaches, followed by a built-up walkway edged by occasional restaurants on one side and bike tracks on the other, and then the handsomely wide and famous Promenade des Anglais with an unending row of hotels and longer-stay residences. These buildings are consistently 7-stories high, and absolutely all of them are on the inland side of the street. Behind those buildings and largely obscured by them is the rest of the city.

They've made such a fine job of this, and maintained it impeccably for so many years, that one wants to overlook the regimented uniformity of it all. The successive stretches of beach each bear a different, but similarly-styled name tag, and most have a restaurant nestled on the edge of the beach next to identical steps down from the promenade. Nothing has been allowed to interrupt the relentless linearity of the frontage - neither curving pathways nor clumps of vegetation, nor pergolas of different styles, and certainly no jazz-stands or piers. You can walk for three miles, as I did, without finding a new feature after the first hundred yards. It's done very nicely, for sure, and kept the city the commercial and tourist hub of the Côte d'Azur for generations, and that's Nice.

Nice, the old port; and a section of the beach promenade which runs for some miles  
Nice old port
Nice promenade
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© 2013 Daryl May