Friday, 12 August 2016


Matisse  Les Poissons rouges. 1911. Huile sur toile. 146X97 cm:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had a little holiday in Nice in late May just a week or so before the lunatic drove his truck along the Promenade des Anglaise in a <terrorist attack> when 85 people were murdered. I haven’t written about the holiday much because if you are a regular subscriber to this blog, you will know that I have been seriously ill for the last six weeks with peritonitis.

Originally, we were going to take the train down through France and stop off in Lyon, maybe Marseilles and then visit Arles but you can get low-cost fights direct to Nice from Newcastle so what we decided to do was spend the money we would have spent on train fares and hotels on a luxurious apartment in the Medicines area of Nice and given my health issues, that turned out to be a good idea. As it happened, in the week we went all the train personnel went on strike so if we had booked train tickets and hotels we would have had a difficult time. The roll of the dice.

Its decades since I visited the Cote d’Azur and I had forgotten how beautiful it is. Over-developed of course and as you fly in, low along the coast with Cannes, St Tropez and Antibes on your left all you can see are high rise apartments stretching from the coast all the way to the mountains, but the Mediterranean coast is beautiful in the sun with literally miles and miles of golden sand. The frontage is all hotels and cafes, the high-rises don’t start for several city blocks. Nice itself is not a huge city, the resident population is around 350000 but it is the second busiest airport after Paris and the third largest tourist destination with over 4m visitors in 2015. Public transport is cheap with trains buses and a city tram service that are easy to access even for non-French speakers like us. It is pretty flat and you can walk the city without wearing yourself out.
We took the 92 bus to Cap Ferrat to see the Rothschild garden [6 out of 10] and have lunch; terrific journey hugging the sea coast, winding its way through the unspoilt villages. Friendly people who gave up their seats without hesitation for older women. I was very impressed with the French, less so with the North Africans who form a substantial part of the population.
And some good galleries. Musee Nationale has more or less the entire output of Marc Chagall and the Musee Matisse has paintings and sculptures created by Matisse stretching back to his teenage years. I liked this collection and we bought the print shown at the top of the page from the gallery shop. It is now hanging in the dining room.
The guide-book infers that his best works are all in the Louvre but when we went to the Picasso gallery in Malaga couple of years ago, Trip Advisor said the same: the best works are in the Picasso Gallery in Barcelona but when subsequently in March this year, we went to the Picasso gallery in Barcelona, I didn’t think it had anything like the breadth of the Malaga collection.

Anyway, lovely holiday, lovely spacious apartment on the top [5th] floor with balcony views. So sad that the city suffered so catastrophically from a madman. A week earlier and it could have been us.

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