By Josh Gladstone January 07, 2019
As a Canadian, the winter months of December to March bring a weary kind of dread. While most Canucks flee to Florida or Mexico when the biting cold starts to bite, I am currently enjoying the unfortunate privilege of living in Europe, a continent that shares a remarkably similar climate to my homeland.
Still, with coastal cities having the warming benefits of the ocean by their side, I knew I could find a bit of respite by traveling south. After a quick Google search, I came across a wonderful homestay opportunity in Nice, France. Fast forward a few weeks later, and here I am in the spectacularly moderate climate of the French Riviera, not wearing a jacket for the first time in months (despite keeping one on hand, just in case).
Whenever I head to a new city, I always spend my first few days exploring. Luckily, Nice has a comprehensive bike sharing program that makes getting around a cinch. With my KLOS guitar strung around my back, I cycled along the Promenade des Anglais, a 7 mile path that lines the breathtaking coast. It is the gathering place of both tourists and locals, a mecca for runners and cyclists and a hotbed for those in hunt of a solid tan. Biking into town, the vast Mediterranean Ocean flanks your right while palm trees and casinos sprawl to your left. The cool breeze gently whips through your hair and you can’t help but smile in this paradise.
After strolling through the old town for a few hours, I decided to buy some fruits from the farmers market and head to the beach for some sun, relaxation and jams. Now, the beach in Nice is not filled sand that trickles into every crevice of your being. Instead, it’s filled with medium-sized pebbles, called galets in French. While not the most comfortable to lie on, with a bit of MacGyvering you can create a little nook to melt into.
A ritual on this beach ofgalet is to find uniquely shaped rocks and stack them in a way that finds perfect balance. I found the activity to be mesmerizing, harmonious, and I tried to play some tunes that would complement the zen-like nature of the project.
One man, Jacques, was particularly fond of my strumming, and allowed me to snap a photo of my beautiful KLOS guitar with his beautiful, ephemeral art.
After watching and playing for a few hours, my glutes had started to numb from the rocks. I decided to pack things up and head to a more comfortable spot where I could read a book. Another staple of Nice are these blue public folding chairs that line the Promenade, a warm invitation to simply sit and take in the wonderful sights. I perched my guitar along the railing, kicked my feet up and tilted my head back, gratitude washing over me along with the sun’s rays.
And while I’m savoring this 20˚C (68˚F) jacket-less weather, my fellow Canadians are probably at home shoveling their driveway.
Safe to say, life is pretty good along the French Riviera and the Côte D’Azure.
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