Sunday, March 07, 2010

Monaco ahoy!

Goal #1 of walking achieved - I have now walked the whole way around the coast from Nice to Monaco, plus a little detour down Cap Ferrat and from Eze village to the sea (more on that today). As far as I can tell, the official distance between Nice and Monaco is about 22 km, but I'm pretty sure that would be on the motorway, not via the coastal road, and so what with that and side-trips and backtracks and so on, I'm reasonably sure I covered more than 22 kms, but anyway, point being I set a goal and did it and it was fun and so so pretty! And here is the updated route map:



Yesterday I took the bus - what was meant to be a 1 hour trip took 2 hours because the first bus just didn't come and so I missed the connection for the once-an-hour second bus - to Eze village, another village perché. It was pretty much like the others I've been to - pretty, carved out of the rock in seemingly one fell swoop, entirely given over to tourist activities. There are still not many tourists about, but I'm getting the sense that the trickle will soon be turning into a deluge :( So good thing I'm doing these things now, at least when the weather permits, which despite the uniform sunniness of the photos on here, has not been often of late.

After about half an hour wandering around the streets of the old town, I found the path - Allée Friedrich Nietzsche - to take me down to the sea. Nietzsche apparently spent some time here philosophising, which makes me laugh - a less likely place to explore nihilism would be hard to imagine! Perhaps he was driven to despair by the path which bears his name, because it's hard going. The posted time for the descent is 45 minutes, which is exactly how long it took me. The village, according to its website, is 429m above sea level, so you're descending 100m every 10 minutes or so - I don't really have anything to compare that to, but instinct and the fact that I did it yesterday tells me that's steep. Add in the deplorable rocky, treacherous condition of the path and you'll probably end up like me, with legs that wouldn't stop shaking every time I stopped to take a photo, despite the walk itself not being at all strenuous. I was a little bit disappointed in the views - mostly empty sea and hills, the good views were on the other side, the way the bus came up.

Once I reached the bottom and the town of Eze-sur-Mer (nothing to it as far as I can see) I walked back in the direction of Nice in order to reach Beaulieu and thus connect the dots back to where I reached on my last walk. This was another 45 minutes, and included going through a section where there was a tunnel cut into the rock and then the road was just a narrow strip between the cliff face and the sea. This was incredibly windy - I had to turn off the podcast because I couldn't hear anything over the wind, my hair was flying everywhere and I had liquid streaming out of the major orifices on my face. This didn't stop a passing biker from using what apparently was a built-in wolf whistle on his bike!! Another one waved at me - wind-swept, snotty and crying, while wearing shorts and shoes and socks must be a good look for me.

From Beaulieu I took the bus back to Eze-sur-Mer and then started walking towards Monaco. I hadn't really intended to go the whole way, but I just kept going - can't remember how long this bit took, perhaps an hour and a half. I came in on the Monaco Ville side, also known as 'the Rock' i.e. the old town where the prince etc. hang out. I've only really been to Monte Carlo before, so thought I'd take advantage of this and went up the rock to check out the palace etc. I assumed you couldn't go in, but apparently you can tour it - I didn't. I did go in the cathedral where the Grimaldis and Princess Grace are buried, and a creepy old 17th century chapel. By this time, it was about 4 o'clock, I'd been walking around practically non-stop since 11 am and had been out of the house since 9, so decided to call it a day and head back to Nice. Good day :)

Next up I will walk from Monaco to Menton, the last major French town before the Italian border. Hopefully I can walk all the way to Italy, but I'm not sure any buses go past Menton, so may have to do some investigations cos I don't want to get stuck! I wish the weather was nice, I have tomorrow off as well, but no dice at the moment :( Oh well, my calves are aching this morning so maybe that's for the best!

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