Friday, February 28, 2014

Les Trois Corniches

     Last weekend the stars all aligned perfectly. We had great weather, a day off, and nothing but time on our hands to explore. I got a little giddy when I checked the weather and saw low 60's and sunny but didn't want to get my hopes up since the weather is pretty unpredictable, or the forecasters suck…one or the other. Either way, there have been many bubbles burst in the Fein household when it comes to weather but lo and behold, it was a beautiful weekend. We decided on 1 thing, whatever we did, we would end up in Ventimiglia Italy for dinner at our favorite place, Pasta e Basta. So with the French Riviera our oyster, we headed out with a semi-plan of driving up the coast all the way to Italy (which sounds so far but is only around 40 miles). But this time we would do something different, we wouldn't take the highway which cuts inland, we would take our time and take 1 of the 3 Corniches along the coast the entire way and stop if and when we felt like it. Now let's back track a bit and describe the 3 Corniches. Each is a coastal road all at different altitudes running from Nice to Menton (the last French town before the Italian border), with the lowest being The Basse Corniche, then the Moyenne and last but not least, the highest/white knuckled drive being the Grande Corniche. Each has spectacular views that many consider to be some of the best in the world and I wholeheartedly agree and each has their perks. If you wish to visit all the seaside resorts on the way, then the Basse is the one for you. But if you would like to teeter on the top of the mountain and have a view of the Mediterranean on one side and a view of the snow capped French Alps on the other, then it's Grande all the way. Since we wanted to be able to stop and enjoy a more leisurely drive and had already done the Moyenne, we chose the Basse since both the others are a little more of a 'keep your eyes on the road and hands at 10 and 2' drive, which I don't find relaxing even though I wouldn't be the one driving. We made the mistake of letting our 'cravings' get the better of us and stopped in Nice for a Philly Cheese steak which itself wasn't the bad idea, but more the fact that the Carnival is going in Nice so traffic sucked. Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as we thought and were in and out in no time with full stomachs ready for the drive. We stopped in a few villages on the way, (Villefranche-sur-Mer, Eze, St. Jean Cap Ferrat) to take some pictures and have a few drinks. We rolled the windows down, turned the radio up and belted out tunes, which I'm sure humored Shaun's teammate that was in the back seat. Hell, I did notice a few cats running after our car so he must of been singing in the backseat too. We took a detour and weaved in and out of Cap Ferrat and could not believe the houses that had the most beautiful un-obstructed views of the sea. (After we got back, I googled it and saw that in '12 Cap Ferrat was the 2nd most expensive residential location in the world behind….Monaco, which is just a few miles down the road). It's so crazy that these little villages are sometimes over-looked for the more well 'known' places like Monaco, Cannes, and St. Tropez. While all those places are beautiful in their own right, I am very thankful to be able to have the time and the ability to discover these so called 'hidden gems' as well. We left Nice around noon and had reservations at 7:30 in Italy in which we just barely made. It's a shame to think of all those times in the past we took the highway and missed out a great experience. 2 Corniches down, 1 to go.

**The Grande Corniche has been featured in many films and is a very popular car commercial location. Both James Bond's 'Goldeneye' and 'To Catch a Thief' with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were filmed on the Grande Corniche and coincidentally, Grace Kelly died on a winding road connecting the Grande and the Moyenne in 1982, not far from where she had filmed the movie.

{Leaving Nice looking back towards Antibes}
{Villefranche with Cap Ferrat in the background}

{There were people in the water…in February}
{Little port in St. Jean Cap Ferrat} 

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