07 September 2010

Ceci N'est Pas Normal

Despite la grève, I managed to catch a train to Nice today; three or four trains ran between the two towns throughout the course of the day, it seems. When you leave the train station in Nice, you reach avenue Jean Médecin, the main drag in the new town, fairly quickly.

Today, though, despite the sparse but heavy droplets of rain, there were more demonstrations/strikes going on, involving a huge march down Jean Médecin. There seemed to be assorted aggrieved people including EDF workers, GDF workers and the firemen. The firemen were on strike in Cannes last week and were, apparently, spending their time off at the beach. Not so in Nice where they seemed to be setting fire to stuff and throwing explosives around. Exciting! Luckily, the police were on their Segways (!), ready to step in to mediate if the need arose (assuming they weren't on strike too, of course).

I wandered around the shops for a while and almost even bought an item of clothing in H&M but because it is physically impossible for me to shop for pleasure in France, I changed my mind. I ate my lunch (crêpe jambon et fromage; when in France...) in the Place Masséna, a large square at the boundary between the old and new towns. I was sitting next to one of the vélib hire stations (or vélo bleus, as they call them here). Note the lock and decent-size basket. As it was still raining, I decided not to take one of the bikes for a spin and instead purveyed myself a chocolate macaroon from Le Nôtre (when in France...).

A second near-purchase came later on when I spotted a very Magrittesque book shelf in a shop in Vieux Nice. It's a clever idea and you can even choose your own cover design from a selection (although if the shelf is being used, you wouldn't really see the cover). I felt 45 euros was a little too surreal a price, however.

On the way back to the station, I spotted a cafe whose name embodies the French trend of picking one or two random English words and pairing it/them with another English word or a French name. Why Nice in this case. Why, indeed, you may well ask. As there wasn't a question mark, it may just have been an exclamation: "why Nice, you sexy little town!" Qui sait?

ETA: This may also have had something to do with the craziness in the streets of Nice today.

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