We’ve had a great couple of days exploring the French Riviera. On our first full day we put our bikes to good use, cycling to nearby Antibes. We used the main road which was pretty hectic and not particularly enjoyable but it was only for a short period of time before we dropped down into the port area.
Antibes is really beautiful spot and has enchanted the likes of Graham Greene and Picasso, who featured the town in many of his paintings. It boasts small sandy coves and a pretty town ringed by medieval walls, encasing boutiques and fancy restaurants. It also has a huge harbour with mega flash boats. There is a super yacht dock which hosts the massive, luxury boats which was fascinating to gawp at. These yachts were huge, lined up one by one in an immaculate parade. It was a hive of activity behind the security gate with deckhands polishing the brightwork, butlers whizzing back and forth and hostesses grabbing supplies.
Strolling around the dock brought back plenty of memories for Gary from his sailing days but it is nice to experience these towns under our own steam without having to work at the same time.
We walked into town, window shopping and people watching. Antibes has a really lovely vibe. It’s pretty laid back and has art installations around the sea front and cute independent food trucks like this juice bar.
We cycled around the headland to the next town called Juan Les Pins which was the home to F Scott Fitzgerald. This had a completely different feel to Antibes and not quite as classy. Dare I say more Brits abroad? There were more bars and shops and a long beach that was absolutely crammed with sunbathers. We were so hot from the cycle and the sea looked so inviting that we stopped for a quick dip in the refreshing water. On our way back we discovered a cycle lane that took us away from the noisy traffic and hugged the coastline the whole way which was much more enjoyable.
The next day we planned to go to Nice on the train. We had a fairly frustrating morning after attempting to use the campsite’s washing machine which took an hour and barely got our clothes wet. I put it in for another load and an hour later it had failed to clean the clothes or wash the powder out so we had to hand wash everything. We eventually made it to the station to find that that the next train wasn’t for an hour and then it ran 15mins late.
We got into Nice later than we’d have like but we had a great time to make up for it. We walked from the station, through the contemporary shopping area to the old town via an awesome set of fountains. They went off every 30mins to music and kids would go mad, running in and out of the fountains and getting absolutely soaked. There was also a lovely set of public gardens with gorgeous plants providing splashes of colour.
The old city is a warren of lanes and tight backstreets filled with shops and cafes. At every turn is a small square or pretty church or market. We found a cute place to eat lunch on the Cours Saleya which hosts a daily flower market in the morning. Disappointingly we missed the market but there was plenty of people watching on offer as tourists, street entertainers and locals buzzed around.
We walked off our lunch hiking up the Colline du Chateau hill for views across the bay. Nice has a huge amount to offer for a city break with good restaurants, a lovely cafe culture and a long stretch of beach just minutes from a historic and vibrant old town. They were setting up for their annual jazz festival which looked awesome.
Rather annoyingly we got back to find a problem with the gas flow on the van. We’d experienced a few niggles over the past couple of days with the gas failing on the fridge when we turned the hot water heater on or the the hob. Gary seemed to be able to fix it with a bit of jiggery pokery on the regulator or by switching our gas tanks but it was now officially dead. After testing both tanks with the BBQ we couldn’t diagnose an issue with them so could only assume that we weren’t getting any circulation because of the regulator. Whilst in a campsite this isn’t much of an issue because we are plugged into the mains and can use electricity to power the fridge, heat the water and use the facilities but it poses a problem when on the road or staying in Aires. We have no gas for cooking on the hob or heating water or powering the fridge which means we are at the mercy of expensive campsites until we can get it fixed.