We recently came back from holiday and, between loading seemingly endless piles of dirty laundry into the washing machine (despite the fact that we did quite a bit of washing on holiday--how does that always happen??), I found time to think for a few minutes about the place that we visited.
We stayed in an apartment overlooking Nice with a beautiful, clean pool that the kids loved. Nice wouldn't necessarily have been my top choice of holiday destination (it was just one of the destinations available to us using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers--see my earlier blog post), but in fact we had a great time and it's somewhere I'd thoroughly recommend.
For a start, the weather was comfortable in August--sunny and around 30 degrees. In the past we've had problems with extreme heat (almost 40 degrees one year in Malta, for example) which the kids didn't enjoy and which has been too much, even for us. But in Nice it was warm enough to really enjoy swimming in the (cold!) pool, but not so hot as to make sightseeing a chore rather than a pleasure.
We quickly settled into a pattern that suited everyone--mornings by the pool followed by afternoons visiting some kind of attraction. And there was a lot to see in and close to Nice. Again, a real bonus, as the kids tend not to enjoy long, hot car journeys when we're on holiday.
There's quite a bit of modern art to see in the area and, although we're not usually gallery buffs, we visited a number of exhibitions and all really enjoyed them. The kids were very interested in the abstract art and were so inspired, in fact, that they started creating their own modern art with paper and felt tips when we got back to our apartment. One art museum that I particularly enjoyed was the Musee Picasso in Antibes, where the building was probably even more stunning than the art--lovely light and airy rooms, and beautiful views over the sea.
Ancient walled towns tumbling down the hillside are common in this area, and two particularly beautiful ones that we visited were Eze and Vence. We also saw a fair few Romanesque churches boasting stunning paintings and altarpieces.
And a couple of the buildings that we visited really stick in my mind. First, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Cap Ferrat--a mansion built at the beginning of the twentieth century for Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild. The gardens are particularly beautiful, inspired by different kinds of gardens from across the globe and culminating, in front of the house, in a lake and musical fountains (the water 'dances' in time to various classical pieces). The second was the Villa Grecque at Beaulieu-sur-Mer--a faithful reconstruction of a 2nd century BC Greek noble house, which was the brainchild of archaeologist Theodore Reinach.
All in all, a busy but very enjoyable holiday!