If my inability to read a simple map (one that helpfully included little, but obvious pictures of things you are looking for….) had taught me anything, it was this. If in doubt, just like a homesick Haddock, my homing device has an innate ability to find the coast, the big blue wobbly thing, whether I liked it or not. In end, I gave in to the inevitable and allowed the this instinct to kick in and there, large as life before me was the glory that was the Mediterranean, the Cote D’Azur, the Reviera. The playground of the rich, the famous and the plasticised lay before me, but there was just one thing troubling me. The colour of the sea on this particular occasion had much more of a reasonance to Blackpool than the pristine, calm, azure film of loveliness that has made so many bad films look much better.
However, be this as it was, I was in Nice! I wandered along the prom, dressed in jeans and t-shirt whilst those more French, local and conscious of appearance dressed in full Puffa jackets, long trousers, hats and scarves as they allowed the rest of the world to see and marvel at them. With the half-hearted Med to my right and a veritable smorgasbord of architecture to my left, I did as the rest of the world was seemingly doing, I promendaded. With several eyes out for a good photo I crouched, I sat, I pointed and I stalked, in a nice way. I was dive bombed by a higher class of seagull, I was buffeted by hugely well dressed and slow moving joggers and glared at by old women in fur coats who did not care for the cut of lens. I loved it all.
I wandered through markets, in to the old town, became lost at least three more times, though by this time had come to accept this as normal and allowed my brain to see it is “creative wandering”. Seeing others more lost than I was gave me heart. I took questions from Japenese tourist that I could not answer, I took questions from English tourists that I could not answer either, and learnt that if you smile as you shrug, people generally accept you as simple and leave you alone. I climbed slowly through the pinks, yellows and green high shuttered, buildings of the old town, every now and then sneaking a peek of a green and golden dome before it disappeared. And then I found what I was sort of looking for.
The Cemetery Colline du Chateau is unlike anywhere I have been before. For starters it is on top of a hill with superb views of the city and the bay, and then it is a well ordered jumble of glorious melodrama, stupendous vulgarity and the curiously gothic. As though the dead are trying to outdo each other with their family plots, trying to generate grave-envy, there are monuments to men with huge moustaches resting on their pillars and all to real depictions of 10 year old dead girls looking right at you. There is little or no restraint in this place and that is what makes it so wonderful.
For the time being, I was quite happy to stay with the views, the dead and the vulgar!