Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Ten years ago today - Nice

What I remember most about Nice? Rain. Very cool olive trees, and rain.

8:23 pm, 17 August 1995
Nice, France

Wow, is it really the 17th of August already? The summer is almost over!

Made a slight error in judgement this morning. When I checked into this hotel, I told her I'd only be staying the one night, figuring to spend the next night (tonight) at a cheaper and "funner" sounding place I saw in the guidebook. Much to my chagrin, the cheaper/funner hotel ended up being non-existent (the first time Let's Go has let me down). So I hustled my butt back here, but my bed had already been taken. She did, however, offer me a cot in the TV room, an open room off the reception with a TV and access to the showers and kitchen. Not exactly the lap of luxury, but it's a place to stay for the night. It's kind of funny, actually.

So that got my day off to a good start. It was pretty cloudy, and there are a couple of good museums in town, so I packed my bathing suit into my day pack (you never know...) and set off to do some museum wandering.

The first place I went was the Musée des Beaux Arts de Nice. I was a little disappointed because I expected it to be much larger. It was a good collection, though, and I found a new artist I like called Marie Bashkirtseff from the Ukraine.

I was done there by noon, so I decided to take the train to nearby Cagnes-Sur-Mer to the residence/museum of Auguste Renoir, about a 20 minute train ride. I still had about an hour to kill before the museum opened when I got into Cagnes-Sur-Mer so I called Mom and (Beloved) and had an expensive but good lunch (I tried the famous salade niciose with black olives, anchovies, boiled egg, tomato, greens and tuna). The entire time I was on the phone and having lunch, it was pouring rain - thunder, lightening, torrents of rain. I had hoped that it would let up, but it just poured and poured.

So, in the rain, I set off for the museum with only the vaguest idea of where I was going. I found the museum at the top of a winding boulevard and the grounds were spectacular, even in the pouring rain. Aside from the lovely view of Cagnes-Sur-Mer and the sea, the grounds are dotted with ancient (i.e. 1000 year old) olive trees. The olives must come into season in the next few weeks, because they're on the trees but don't look ripe yet. The trees are very knarled and twisted, quite different from the stately maples back home.
The museum itself was a bit of a disappointment in that it didn't have much of Renoir's better-known works on display. There were a lot of lithographs, and many pieces by friends and associates of Renoir who had stayed at Cagnes-Sur-Mer. The lithographs were, of course, beautiful - it amazes me that such a severe and stern-looking man painted such gentle, compassionate paintings - but they didn't have any of my 'favourites.'

The really cool part was Renoir's workshop, supposedly restored as it was during his final years, including his old-fashioned wheelchair. Seeing the many black-and-white photographs of him late in his life is very sad when you can see how badly knarled his hands are from rheumatism. Looking at how painful his hands must have been seems almost on the same level of tradgedy as Beethoven's deafness.