Cote d’Azur

Riviera is an Italian word for coastline. The French Riviera (Cote d’Azur) is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. It also means super yachts, villas of the rich and famous, Princess Grace, beautiful coastline, Monte Carlo Casino and Monaco.

We did it all.

We stayed outside the city of Antibes, 3 blocks from the Mediterranean and a half mile from a cycleway which runs next to the sea for over 15 miles. We rode through Nice on its famous Promedade des Anglais and said a prayer at the shrine to the people who lost their lives during the horrific terrorism attack that took place on Bastille Day 2016.

We used the regional train system to move us up and down the coast. One complete day was spent in Monaco. The Oceanographic Museum, a brainchild of Jacques Cousteau, is located there. Next to each water tank is an ipad which educates and shows videos of the animals found inside that tank – available in 7 languages. I figured if Jacques created the aquarium and Monaco funded the project, it would be the highest caliber. It was. Of course, you cannot visit Monaco without encountering the glamour of Princess Grace. Her oldest son, Albert, is the reigning monarch. The historical side of the palace (throne room, reception rooms, etc) is open to the public but no pictures. . . . . And finally, I was able to play black jack in the Monte Carlo Casino. What you cannot appreciate is all the Rolls Royce, Ferraris and Porsche parked outside, and the uniformed chauffeurs waiting for their charges. Again no pictures inside the casino, but you could wander wherever you want. (Karen lost 10€ and David lost 5€ — not large gamblers, and no Rolls Royce sitting outside). We did get our pictures taken in front of the Monte Carlo billboard, such movie stars we are!

The cycleways in France are just excellent. This particular cycle track allows you to follow the wide road for miles, alongside pastel-colored buildings, 30 beaches, endless palm trees and the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean. You get to soak in the beach bathers, the joggers, the sun shining on the super yachts just offshore and punctuate the ride with a stops for drinks at one of the many beach bars right on the Bay of Angels.

One day we took a boat tour of the bays and coastline of Nice. Saw the villas of kings and queens, Sean Connery and Elton John, and the “stone castle” next to the water is reportedly the most expensive house in the world by square foot, though it has been “in the family” for generations.

We visited the Musée Marc Chagall, a French national museum dedicated to the work of painter Marc Chagall – essentially his works inspired by religion – located in Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes. The permanent collection is the biggest public collection of works by Marc Chagall. It is organized around the set of works produced by the painter on the Old Testament themes, supplemented by a large number of works of secular or religious inspiration: over 400 painting, gouaches, drawings, wash drawings and pastels. The museum offers the visitor a first room containing twelve large-size paintings illustrating the first two books of the Old Testament, Genesis and Exodus. In a second, smaller hexagonal room are five compositions on the theme of the Song of Songs, another Old Testament book. Audio-guides in French, English, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.

Finally, we included a picture of what it is like to travel by train with the bikes. The TGV has 4 bike spaces: 2 each in 2 cars. When you reserve your bike, it comes with assigned seating nearby. It is really a convenient way to travel long distances, the worst part is hoisting 2 bikes and 3 bags in the 1 minute or so that the train is waiting in the station.

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