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Phespirit goes to France
Nice     November 2005

Since the turn of the century Phespirit has demonstrated a consistent, uncanny knack for making travel arrangements that in some way manage to coincide with global death and destruction:

Phespirit had confined his travels to Europe since his return from India in March 2005. Visits to Slovenia, Formentera, Montenegro, and Croatia all passed off without any noteworthy apocalyptic incidents. His last trip of the year, to Nice in the south of France, appeared to be the safest destination of all, but this reckoned without a three week period of nationwide Civil Unrest, Rioting and Curfews, kicking off on the 27th October. Phespirit arrived in Nice on the Saturday night that followed the worst week of destruction and mayhem. Mercifully he was able to spend a week in the city without seeing so much as a broken bottle on the pavement. No roaming gangs, no intimidating police presence, no burnt-out vehicles, no smashed windows, not so much as a voice raised in anger or a scuffle in a pub.

Having been denied the opportunity of seeing France engulfed in flames, what alternative entertainment could Phespirit find? The primary attraction of Nice is its usefulness as a gateway to Monaco, without having to pay the hugely inflated prices demanded by Monégasque hoteliers. It is possible to catch a train from Nice Ville to Monaco-Monte Carlo (20-30 minutes, depending on the number of stops) on a return ticket that costs just €6.20. So Phespirit headed east by train along the Côte d'Azur to Monaco. He also headed west by train to Antibes and Cannes, and ventured inland by train to Digne-les-Baines. Convenient things, trains.

Whilst in Nice he passed the time by sightseeing such places as:

Henri Matisse moved to Nice in 1916 and remained a fan of the city until his death in 1954. Phespirit had always thought his output was laughably poor, even by the experimental standards of the day, and that at best he could be considered a fair line drawer, an interesting sculptor and a rotten painter. However, the Musée Matisse shows that prior to the 20th century he had a talent with oils - he just chose not to use it thereafter. The Musée d'Archéologique is next door, accompanied by the Parc des Antiquités with its fine spread of Roman ruins ..... always more reliable than fickle French Fauvists.

The restaurants of Nice are many in number. Phespirit recommends La Féniéra, 4 Rue du Pont Vieux, where he was served a pizza so perfect it left him wondering whether he'd ever had a true pizza before in his life. And to think he only went there because it was cheap.

Much like Nice: he only went there because it was cheap. But now he can recommend it.

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