As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
Carol’s smile had that special illumination that appears whenever she is walking along a beach. I noticed it first when we walked the Pacific beaches near our new home in southern California. And it was out in force here along the French Riviera, where for me my beaming grin came from how the citizens of Nice handle the sand.
First off, much of the beachfront along the main promenade was populated by smooth ocean stones and not sand at all. I noted many blankets strewn across these stones, suggesting that beachcombers here prefer stretching out on rocks to accumulating a kilo or two of sand in the cracks of their butts during the course of a day at the beach.
Where there was sand, a string of oceanside cafes had staked out inviting claims to spend the day kicked back with an adult beverage complemented with full wait service. But here’s what made these establishments so inviting: they’d covered the sand with roll up walkways that kept the sand from ever creeping onto your sandals or between your toes. This was beach paradise, and along with a chilled pitcher of a cheery rose, it made for an eternal paradise.
In addition to the beach, the inner sanctum of this resort mecca was surprisingly built for wandering on foot. The old city was a warren of narrow, twisting streets of cafes and avant garde art studios, anchored by a hilltop chateau that overlooked Nice’s harbor as it had done from Greek and Roman times. Thanks to a handy and free elevator, we enthusiastically scaled the summit and were treated to a huge car ferry from either Sardinia or Corsica emptying its contents into a snarl of gridlocked traffic that was fun to watch get worse as the cars poured forth from the belly of the ferry like an alien giving birth.
We enjoyed a delightful happy hour and sunset on the beach one night, followed by a walk home without a grain of sand lurking in our sandals. We ended the evening with cocktails and cheese on our spacious second floor patio that came with a view of Niceans working overtime across the street. Sucks to be them. (It would have really sucked to be them had they also been early rising go getters as well, and caught me having my morning coffee in my skivvies.)
Nice had by far the most touristy and resort feel to the trip to date. I fought an urge to fork over the 30 euros to rent a chaise lounge and umbrella and deliver our carcasses to a sand-free layabout, just spending the entire day with an e-book, watching the waves roll in and the waiters attentively keeping our stemware chilled and filled.
As it happens, this is exactly the opposite of how Carol prefers to spend a leisurely day at the beach. I think we did a total of eight miles on foot during our stay, until Carol apparently caught that hankering look in my eye. We collapsed into a cafe featuring a cooling mist and even cooler carafes of rose to soothe a couple pair of throbbing but grit-free feet.
I told Carol I could definitely see us coming back here for a week, as long as a couple of those days included those lounge chairs and umbrellas. Her “no moss” expression didn’t exactly inspire hope that that would be the case.