We drove on to Cannes where, again, we saw unbelievably huge yachts. Cannes was lovely and the weather was perfect and we enjoyed a beer and a snack for lunch. We continued driving on to Nice, where we engaged an especially nice hotel, the Hotel Busby. The buildings are very beautiful in Nice, as was our hotel. Dinner at the Charolius was monkfish terrine, canard (duck, again) and floating island.
The next morning we started at the Chagall Museum. There were at least 18 large canvasses, then scores of etchings, a number of stained glass windows, many drawings and a whole room of watercolors and pastels. What riches! We could hardly tear ourselves away from this magnificence but there was much more to see!
We went on to the Matisse museum, which was pleasant, but not as great a collection as the Chagall. It was located right next to Roman ruins, and to a Franciscan monastery, which we visited. There was a wedding couple having pictures taken on the grounds; their car was decorated with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers on the hood, and another in the back window.
We stopped for a French beer (Kronenbourger) and then took a bus back down to the Place Massena, which displayed an enormous ferris wheel, apparently for festivities related to Carnival. Jan and I took a ride—it was really high—about seven or eight stories, judging by the surrounding buildings. The whole town was decorated in preparation for Carnival.
That night after dinner (smoked salmon, shrimp tagliatelle, fish with artichoke hearts and a beautiful fruit tart) we went to see the 1997 Carnival of Nice Parade.
We drove over to Monte Carlo casino and had a marvelous lunch at the Café de Paris. Spiffy!! We saw no tourists there, and all of the (local) women were wearing Ferragamo shoes (which Jan could recognize,) alligator bags and mink coats! Need I say we weren’t!! After lunch we paid 50 francs to enter the Casino, with the cigar-smoking women painted on the ceiling. There were a few people playing roulette. We put a few francs into the slot machines but didn’t win. Shucks!
Following Monaco, we drove a bit further east to St.
Paul de Vance, and then drove back to Nice. That evening we walked to the Hotel Negresco for dessert and coffee (Peach Melba) in La Rotonde, which has a merry-go-round theme. We saw the Baccarett crystal chandeliers made with 16,000 pieces of crystal. This is the hotel where Isadora Duncan was killed when her scarf became entangled in the wheel of her car.
Monday we left Nice after breakfast and stopped off at Dragurgan to see the Pierre de la Fee, a prehistoric dolman. Then we drove on to Avignon. This, of course, was the site of the Papacy in the 1300’s when the Pope moved it to Avignon. Our hotel was right on the street leading to the Palace of the Popes, which we visited the next day.
The Palace was built in 1350, along with a bridge across the Rhone River called the St. Benezet Bridge. The bridge was knocked down several times and finally was left to stretch only half way across the river.
In the afternoon we were reading a menu posted outside a restaurant when a young man tried to grab the strap of Jan’s purse. She screamed and whirled around and luckily the strap came loose from the purse, and so he didn’t get it. He ran away and we stood shaken to the core. I saw almost nothing of what happened, it happened so fast. We had to go and sit down and calm ourselves. One feels so assaulted! A little later we walked around the area looking for him. I saw nothing when it happened but Jan had glimpsed his bluejeans, and his blue and white jacket with a red stripe. We saw some young men with jackets like that but Jan said they weren’t the ones.
The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast: pate, egg, baked apple, tangerine, baguettes and a croissant with café au lait! We went to look for a picture that Jan had seen but had not bought earlier. We found it and she bought it. On coming back to the hotel, Jan spotted her purse snatcher, for sure—a young man about 18-20 with the accurate blue and white jacket with the red stripe. We followed him and snapped his picture several times. He knew we were following him as he kept looking back over his shoulder! Somehow it made us feel better to have his picture even if we weren’t going to go to the police as we had to drive immediately to Paris and catch our flight.
France, especially Provence, was wonderful, especially the food and the art.