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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend in Côte d’Azur

We just wrapped up an awesome few days with friends down on the other side of the country – here’s what we were up to!

1) Flew down to the French Riviera

Getting a slight head start on the weekend, we hopped the short 1hr flight from Paris to Nice on Thursday to begin a weekend exploring the warm southern coast of France, which sits on the Mediterranean.  By noon we were enjoying the beaches of Nice, which are more round rock than sand.

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We lucked out in that our hotel was across the street from an annual Italian market that’s on the waterfront.  It had all assortment of Italian edible goods – making it perfect for both lunch and then grabbing a bunch of smaller things for a pre-dinner appetizer later that evening.

After our lunch sampling we did a bunch of walking around the town, including checking out our future boat options:

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Do you think three masts is big enough? Four might be more appropriate.

Then it was eventually back to the man with the giant meat cylinder for more of his goods:

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We took a quick snack break on our little balcony. For reasons unknown the hotel actually freely upgraded our super-cheap room to a sea-view room. Boom!

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After that, it was time for an interval run along the waterfront to wrap up the night:

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Good times!

2) Openwater Swim

Friday morning before we checked out of our hotel seemed like a perfect time to get in an openwater swim.  It was still early enough that there was almost nobody on the beach, and even less boat traffic.

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I strapped on a bunch of devices as usual, though the prime candidate for testing was Epix.  So on that went, and off I went:

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I had only about 30-35 minutes before we had to get going, so it wasn’t a terribly long swim.  I decided both the safest and easiest route was to follow the swim/boat buoys out, and then the shoreline back.  The buoys kept the boats away, and were plenty far from shore to make a nice loop out of it:

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Somehow, I can’t find where on earth 95% of my photos from the swim went to. I think I’ve just got too many cameras these days…

Once I hit shore at the far end I took a photo, and then traced the shoreline back.  The water here gets deep very quickly, within probably 5 meters of shore it drops down to 10-15ft in depth, and then continues to plummet from there.  So I could swim semi-close to shore without having to worry about hitting bottom.

About 30 minutes later (including photo-stoppage time for photos I can no longer find) I wrapped things up, with distances roughly in the mile range.

From there The Girl met up and joined me.  Or rather, more specifically, Lucy joined me.

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This was the 2nd time she’d spent a bit of time getting her sea legs.  Which went a fair bit better than the first time.  It’s hilarious how anytime she’s overwater she starts doggy-paddling, even if not actually in the water.  Like an airplane carrying lifejackets under the seat, she’s always prepared in the event of an unexpected water landing.

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I was always within a foot or two of her just in case she couldn’t figure it out – but she did great.  After a short swim session – it was off to meet up with our friends and head out of town.

3) Heading to a small village/market

With our stay in Nice over for the time being, we met up with some friends and then headed for a bit of a drive along the coast for a few hours:

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Here’s the whole thing using the v360 action cam that we attached to the top of our car, condensed down to two minutes. Using the YouTube 360* player you can change the view by dragging around within player:

This would eventually take us across the border to Italy and up slightly into the mountains to a tiny town called Fanghetto.  It’s here that a friend of one of our group owns a little place in a super-old hillside village.  Here’s the entirety of the town:

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In the winter months, the population is about 10 people.  Though in the summer it might hit 100 people.

It’s a great little spot that even has a hiking trail directly through the town.  It also has easy access to a much larger food market about 25 minutes down the road near the coast.  It’s here we picked up supplies for lunch and dinner:

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Just tons of fresh pasta that was incredibly cheap compared to anywhere else you’d find it.  And of course great meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

We’d take all of these up to the top of the balcony above the home for rooftop meals:

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Doesn’t get much better than that!  Huge thanks to our friends for arranging access to this little gem of a spot away from the crowds!

4) A Hike to Wine

Saturday afternoon after lunch we grabbed the dogs to head out for a two part hike.  The first portion would have our furry friends, and then the second portion we’d go sans-canine.  The first chunk was along the slow-moving river, which was full of rocks to jump up and around:

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We’ve decided that Lucy is basically a miniature mountain goat.  She’s leaping up and jumping over rocks multiples of her height.  It’s really rather mind-boggling:

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And, she even checked out the water a bit more with her friend, Oliver.

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From there we headed back past our village to drop off the dogs and head down the other direction for a longer chunk of hiking.  The marked hiking trail runs directly through the villages, and right past our front door.

Our route was a few miles down to the next village. A few quick ascents and descents, but nothing too hard:

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Once we reached the town, there was only really one logical thing to do:

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Ok, maybe we did that more than once.

After some period of time, we decided we’d probably actually get back to our village before dark – so we headed on out.  Surprisingly with a bit of wine we made rather good time back, almost twice as fast as the way out.  Or, perhaps it was just thinking about dinner.  Either way, quite a nice little hike.

5) Rock jumping

Of course with all that water around us, we couldn’t just end a hike without a quick dip.  Thus we scurried below the town to an area where the water gets deep and the rocks make for a perfect jumping off spot.

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It was boy-girl rotations walking off the plank into the water.

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Afterwards, we did one large group jump:

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Of course, I may have setup 3 or so action cameras all sync’d together and controlled remotely (a variety of Sony AS-200 and FDR-X1000V’s).

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Good times!

With that it was a relaxing Sunday both in town and at the beach before catching a late night flight back home to Paris.  Not too shabby a way to kickoff enjoying some almost-summertime weather.

Have a great weekend all!

P.S:

A) You can view all my Epix GPS track comparisons here.
B) For photos, I was using the DJI Phantom3 for aeriel shots, the Sony 1000V action cam for the water shots (rocks/openwater), and iPhone 6 for most others. Details here.

Cheers!

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43 Comments

  1. You always vacation in the most interesting spots!

  2. fraser

    As a vegan the meat cylinder looks a bit irritating, I must say. I bet 4 fully grown up bigs rest in there. ;)
    But the veggis look good!

    Could you tell the name of the super-cheap hotel with the über-super service?

    Oh, great post as usual! :D

  3. Dan Lipsher

    Nice. Nice.

  4. THIERRY

    TU ES VENU nage et courir sur mon spot bienvenue l ami demain je cours vers 11h30 depart beau rivage ci tu es toujours sur Nice

  5. Richard Garrett

    “5 meters of shore it drops down to 10-15ft in depth” Metric and imperial references in the same sentence? A bit confused these days on which to use? LOL

  6. MattB

    Just think of all the gadget mounting possibilities of those masts… If it was anyone else I’d say three was plenty, but given it’s you there could just be a shortage of real-estate for garmin/go pro mounts!

  7. Matty

    You need a selfie stick!

  8. Tom

    Are most hotels dog friendly in France or was that hard to find?

    • Super-easy. Most everything in France (and much of Europe) is dog-friendly. I just about have an easier time taking a dog anywhere than a child. No problems in restaurants for example.

    • Bachoo

      Check France (and most of Europe) off my list.

    • Dan

      Is that because the dog belongs to you?? ;-)

    • Haha…no, just the norm here.

      It’s worth noting of course that dogs are in general far better behaved in Europe (or at least France) than what I see in the US.

      For example, I’ve NEVER had a dog run after/chase me in France while out on a run or ride. Not once in three years, be it in the city or out in the country – can’t say the same about the US of course. Obviously, much of that comes down to the individual owners, but much of it here is cultural.

  9. Melanie Ware

    Yay, thanks for the Lucy photos!

  10. Duncan Lally

    What I love about your posts is the sharing of great times without a whiff of showing off. Great post – thanks as usual.

  11. robin

    how would the road cycling be around Fanghetto?

    • Hmm, they seemed smooth, but the traffic on that specific road was pretty high speed and I didn’t see many (only one) cyclist. That said, I only travelled the single road to/from the village, so it’s possible (likely) other nearby roads are much better options.

  12. JulienBy

    It’s a very cool place and a great spot to do canyoning. If you going to return i advise the Maglia canyon (near Breil s/ Roya or the sunny Barbaira canyon in the italy side.

  13. Looks like an amazing time. So jealous.

  14. Ukexpat

    “Round rock” also known as “pebbles”!

    • Pebbles would imply something like that found in a fish tank. And also imply it didn’t hurt the feet. The rocks in Nice are miserable to walk on barefoot. It’s more or less a spectator sport watching people trying to get in and out of the water.

  15. Kyle Polansky

    I like the DC Rainmaker ‘in Paris’ in the header at the top of this page. Maybe it’s been there for a while on Paris-related posts, but I’ve just noticed it.

  16. Robin

    Well Fanghetto is now going on the place to visit list.

  17. Tim Clairs

    Great post as always. How did Lucy enjoy the flight?

    • Very good!

      She had a little carry bag that we had for her going down, but the Air France folks said it wasn’t quite the right bag, so we got a different one from them for the way back.

      On the way down she was curious, but just sat there quietly below the seat in her bag. Except when Air France handed out croissants, which Lucy wanted part of and pawed the front of the bag seemingly asking for one. After they disappeared she got bored and went to sleep.

      On the way back, she slept from the moment her carrying case went under the seat until we left the plane. She was likely pretty exhausted, as we kept her busy during the day.

      As usual, she still hasn’t ever barked, nor ever wimpers or whines. Perhaps someday she’ll learn how to, but for now we’re sorta happy she’s a bit of a mute. ;)

    • Tim Clairs

      Thanks Ray.
      Our Boston is almost 4 and rarely, if ever, barks. He snorts when he wants our attention!

  18. great post – thanks for sharing a great experience – you make my morning coffee memorable today :)

  19. PhilBoogie

    Oooh , Nice is nice! You were a bit more to the east. I have been enjoying Cagnes sur Mer for the past 15 years, a bit more to the west. You could’ve taken the Col de Vence, a great little mountain, some 975 meters high.

    My Top Tip: head back there again during Christmas; I’ve always enjoyed my skiing in Isola 2000 one day and cycled the other day. The weather is great then, around 16°C (62°F). Cycle around Lac Casien.

  20. Enrico

    Fanghetto is one of the 10+ villages perched on the rocks of the Roya valley, nowadays mostly French after having been Italian until 1945. Graffiti on the Monte Bego and the Notre Dame de la Fontaine frescos are amazing highlights for a long weekend.

    For train enthusiasts I advice to catch a train from Nice to Tende. The Italian branch to Ventimiglia would be even nicer but only has a couple of trains due to budget reasons.

    Hiking and all sorts of water sports are great, but I strongly advice NOT to go cycling there: the only road is a busy throughway between Piedmont and Liguria/France. Several tunnels and sharp turns make it seriously dangerous and also the tunnel to Italy is forbidden to bikes with no alternative paved road other than the couple of trains.

    Rides slightly more west (Nice, Sospel and co) I am told are more bike friendly, the landscape is very similar. Same applies to the east (Valle Argentina in Italy).

  21. stephen cauchi

    Ray, thanks for your very interesting blog. A question: how do you determine how far you are going to ride/bike/swim on any given workout? Are you following a program, do you do it by feel, are you going by a sports watch recovery/overtraining program, etc.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    What, Castel’s canopies are now green, not blue? Did you also trek out to Lou Castèu? ;)

  23. Tom

    Does the V360 support Youtube 360 now then? I had thought I had read previously that they had taken the decision (wrongly IMO) to try and develop their own proprietary site for uploading and sharing of videos, something which made me drop it as a potential 360 camera.

    If it does support Youtube 360 then I think ill look at it again, I remember you were less than impressed with the Kodak, is the v360 a significant improvement over that (other than the dodgy bike mount issue I remember reading you had!)

    • Hi Tom-

      Yup, they rolled out a beta upload last month – good stuff and helps solve things a bit. I’m not a huge fan of the black bars along the top/bottom, though somewhat understand their limitations there.

      I’d agree the quality on the V360 is a million times better than the Kodak (I see the Kodak quality as complete and total junk). I’ve got a bunch of other videos I’ve shot (non-timelapse), including driving up Alpe d’Huez on Monday. Getting those uploaded shortly.

    • milkywaye

      I love the fact that you can control the view angle using the mobile simply by moving the phone around in your hand.. way too cool!

  24. Reg S

    Now that’s a weekend!!

  25. hi! :-) awesome blog!
    do you mind if i ask the name of the hotel/place you stayed at in nice?
    thanks!

  26. DLinHenderson

    Ray, we are planning a Europe trip next summer, visiting Germany, Paris and Spain. Planning to come by the shop and say hello and enjoy some cupcakes.

    Keep up the great work and maybe see you at Interbike or around the Vegas area.

    Dennis

  27. Great trip- come up to St Andre next time — a ride round the Gorge du Verdon a must (Check out the Natureman Tri ) Must be one of the best venues ever .