What a day! We started in Provence and worked out way down to Cote de Provence and then to the Cote D’Azur. We took the slow roads for most of the day to get as close to possible to the Mediterranean and we wound our way through miles of vineyards along the way.
We made it to Marseille around noon and walked around the very picturesque pier area and had a latte while looking at the fresh fish market just steps from the boats that caught them. We wished that we had a kitchen so we could have bought some of that beautiful seafood and eaten it. After our latte, we strolled up the hill to the old city and looked in some shops along the way. Jack bought a new hat that is a bit cooler than the one he has been wearing (its made of paper!) It was mid 80’s now and I had finally broken out the sandals that had been sitting in my luggage the whole trip so far.
Marseille, I was surprised to learn, is the 2d largest city in France after Paris. It has close to a million people there and you do feel it with the traffic. The most stressful parts of the road trip so far has been negotiating the traffic in the largest cities. Jack does pretty well with it because of his New York youth but it is more of a struggle for me. I consider myself a good driver however and I am certainly not tentative, which is crucial in city driving. If you can’t drive aggressively and if you are nervous driving around buses, motorcycle on all sides and in tiny streets packed with pedestrians, than this type of road trip in Europe is a poor choice for you.
After we extricated ourselves from Marseille, we did some more coast driving through Toulon and east towards Nice. We skipped St. Tropez opting instead for St. Maxime across the bay with less traffic and hassle. We sat on the seawall and looked at the beautiful Mediterranean peppered with sailboats and just enjoyed how beautiful it looked.
We got into Nice at about 6pm, we have a way of arriving right at rush hour. With only 350,000 or so inhabitants, it is much less crazy than Marseille but coming into the inner city right downtown to our hotel was another challenge. The parking garage alone is so tiny to drive in that all its wall are smudged where cars have hit them due to their narrowness. I am so glad we got a pretty small car!
Nice at night.
This building in Nice is completely flat with no windows. the windows and balconies are painted on in troupe l’oeil style. Amazing!
Tomorrow we are going to explore Nice and actually sleep in the same hotel again tomorrow night. Annecy and Nice are my favorites so far on the road trip but Jack is still going with Chamonix. We still have Italy to consider though…..