Day 127 – 23.09.2016
Andorra to Beziers (France)

After meeting Mr. & Mrs. Singh in Andorra, we had 264 kms drive to reach to our hotel in Beziers, France.

We reached Beziers after almost 4 hours of driving, part of which we were driving close to the sea. Once we reached the city driving to the hotel was so difficult with the roads under repairs. With great difficulty, we managed to find Hotel Concorde where we were supposed to stay for the night. We got our car through the narrow parking garage entrance with a lot of struggle and then moved to the room. The room was okay, the receptionist was good and very helpful. She gave us a map and gave us directions, so we went out to explore Beziers.

Beziers is an attractive town which rises up a hill from the many spanned old stone bridge across the River Orb, towards the Saint-Nazaire cathedral above the town. It is famous for both its wine and its bullfights. It is one of the oldest cities in France, dating back from 575 B.C. In 1209 the town was burnt down and its 20,000 inhabitants put to death in the Catholic crusade against the Cathars.

Beziers is a lovely town where one can simply wander through the old streets, admiring the architecture, browsing in the shops and stopping at a café to watch the world go by. The moment we got out on the street we spotted this Theatre on the square.

We followed the map to Saint Nazaire Cathedral, a Roman Catholic Cathedral which dominates the view of Beziers. This Cathedral occupies a picturesque site and was visible from afar when approaching Béziers on the road from Narbonne. It was built in the 12-15th centuries and has quite an unusual appearance.

We then walked north-east of the cathedral to Place de la Madeleine and there was the St Madeleine’s Church. Unfortunately the church was closed so we could see it only from the outside.

We understand that the crusaders showed no mercy even to their fellow Catholics and had torched the church and burnt it all within when the town of Beziers fell to the Albigeois Crusaders.

We then walked into a lovely park and came across a memorial. Then, we walked back to the hotel after picking up Kebabs for dinner.

Day 128 – 24.09.2016
Beziers to Cannes to Nice

Cannes

Cannes is a city located on the French Riviera, hosting the annual Cannes Film Festival, Midem, and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. It is known for its association with the rich and famous.

We drove through the Promenade de la Croisette a waterfront avenue with palm trees, lovely beaches, restaurants, cafés and boutiques. We could not find any parking so we kept driving around.

We then drove up the hill to Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea d’Antibes, a Roman Catholic cathedral, and national monument of France. It is said that St Paul was arrested here on a journey to Spain in 63 AD. The transept chapel represents The Virgin with Rosary. We hurriedly visited the Church as a bridal group was awaiting outside to enter in for the nuptials.

We then left through the narrow lanes of Cannes and headed towards Nice another beautiful town.

Days 128 & 129 – 24.09.2016 & 25.09.2016
Nice

Our host, Magsud had promised to keep a parking space for our car, but when we got there a little late there was absolutely no place. People had done double parking on the streets. Magsud, after showing us around the house went with Louis and got the car parked at the railway station parking at Euro 20 per day. Magsud’s house was a nice studio apartment with a small pantry, washing machine etc. I happily did the laundry while Louis relaxed and then we went to the city centre with Magsud. He showed us around and then dropped us to explore the city on our own.

Magsud first took us to visit the St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, recognized as a national monument of France, belonging to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. The cathedral was opened in 1912. The architecture of the Cathedral was very beautiful and similar to the ones we saw in Russia.

He then dropped us near the park in the Centre. There were a lot of people in the park. We then walked towards a lovely fountain while enjoying the architecture of various buildings around, photographing. We come across two couples from Mumbai who were on a vacation. We had a long chat and they were very happy to meet us and also know about our journey.

We may have spent more than half an hour and by then it got dark so we could not visit any more places. We walked over to the old town where we found an Indian restaurant by the name Taj Mahal so we decided to have some simple Indian meal. On entering, we found it to be some Nepalis running the place again under disguise of being Indian. Anyway we had some dal and rice and left. Masgud had mentioned that we should try ….. Ice cream the best local made ice cream so Louis was looking for this place and we found it. They really had such lovely natural flavoured ice creams. We took a tram and left for our apartment.

The next day morning, we had breakfast and left for sight seeing the lovely places in Nice, the fifth most populous city located in the French Riviera, on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Alps, with its natural beauty attracts a lot of visitors.

We walked to the tram station and took a tram and got off at the Centre. We walked through the old town, and came across Nice Cathedral built between 1650 and 1699, the year of its consecration dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saint Reparata. It has been classed as a monument historique since 9 August 1906.

Since it was Sunday, and the priests were getting ready for mass, we decided to attend the Mass.

After mass, we got out of the Church and walked further through the lanes of the old town.

In the square was also the Opéra de Nice which offers three types of performances: operas, ballets and classical concerts. If also housed the Ballet Nice Méditerrannée and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra.

Then we walked uphill and came across some steps, which we climbed on and reached a fortress. There was this Cimetière du Château at the old citadel. The graveyard at Cimetière du Château, was founded in 1783, with 2,800 graves, where some of Nice’s most famous people lie buried.

From there we walked to the Castle and we could hear the sound of waterfall. It is the most interesting sight on top of the hill itself, a man-made artifice. The water is pumped over the side of a hill with no apparent source. It is a glorified fountain but it was apparently built in the late 19th century where the medieval keep once stood.

Although it is called “Castle Hill” there is nearly nothing of the castle remaining. A few walls remain standing and an occasional gate or half tower, but the castle that once loomed over this seaside town is gone. However there are signs about the park which point out pieces of the history. The hill was the original site of a Greek-Phoenician fortified town in 3rd Century BC. In the 19th century the site became a park which it still is today.

Here again we met a mother and daughter from India visiting Nice on the weekend. The girl is working in Madrid and mother was visiting her in Madrid. We spent some time with them and then went our own ways, as they had to take a return flight back to Madrid.

In the evening, we walked through Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean which extends from the airport on the west to the Quai des États-Unis on the east, a distance of approximately 7 km. As we all know on 14 July 2016, a truck was deliberately driven at revellers celebrating Bastille Day on this Promenade. The driver, 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, also shot at others before crossing the road in the vehicle to continue the assault. 86 were killed, and many others injured. It was very heartening to read through the letters and notes pasted at the memorial by family, friends and visitors. A place has been set aside where people pay their visits in memory of those killed.

We spent a lot of time on the promenade admiring the beautiful luxury hotels, sculptures, the beach and the flights landing and taking off every minute.

It was a nice beautiful city and we loved it. Tomorrow we leave for Pisa after a short stopover at Monaco to admire another beautiful country on the coast. So we walked back to the tram and got off at the station close to the apartment. There we meet another young couple from Bangalore but staying and working at Luxembourg. So we walked together telling them about our adventurous trip and they were so happy to meet us. At the end of the long street, we went our separate ways and they assured us that they will follow us on Facebook and keep in touch, may be someday they may do a similar journey.

Day 130 – 26.09.2016
Nice to Pisa via Monaco

We were ready around 9.00 am. Magsud had kindly obliged to drop us to the station to pick our car. We loaded our luggage in Magsud’s car and went to the Railway station. After paying Euro 40.- we took our car and left for Pisa. On the way we were to stop at Monaco.

Monaco a sovereign city-state and microstate, is also located on the French Riviera. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 2.02 km2 and a population of about 37,800; it is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world. We drove through the highest point of the country, a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, 528 feet above sea level. We passed through Monte Carlo a city in Monaco.

Monaco has no income tax, low business taxes and is well known for being a tax haven.

Besides, it’s known for its upscale casinos, yacht-lined harbor and prestigious Grand Prix motor race, which runs through Monaco’s streets once a year.

We then proceeded on our journey to Pisa in Italy.