Nice, Pinocchio vs Fenocchio

A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Part II Chapter II
Nice, Pinocchio vs. Fenocchio

City: Nice
Country: France
Currency: Euro (€)
Dates of Travel: 5/9/2008

Caption: Baie des Anges

If you are travelling to a city named Nice, it would only be appropriate if you ensure a nice feeling throughout. And this rule shows no exemption to a three-hour train delay and missing information on the bus you have to catch to the airport the day after. Because by the end of the visit, you know you are going to get a nice icy and creamy ice-cream under the sizzling hot sun before diving into crystal clear cooling sea water.

I remember I was told to visit Nice when I was searching for a beautiful beach in Europe. Indeed, Baie des Anges was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in Europe by the time of visit, especially when an aerial view of the beach was caught from Parc de la Colline du Château, arguably the highest point of Nice.

Caption: Real palm trees in Nice (left), Old town of Nice (centre) and hill leading to Parc de la Colline du Château.

However, the creator of nature intended for a joke.

Here is the catch, the beach has no sand. It was amazing to learn that how an enclosed sea would have brought such immense amount of pebbles onto the beach which stretches for a few kilometres. But there they are, the pebbles, lying quietly on Baie des Anges, challenging the endurance of sun bathers under blistering hot weather.

To me, the hardest part was not the tanning session when one was lying on the rocks because a beach towel proved sufficient for a comfortable few hours nap. The most challenging activity however was the walk to the sea.

Caption: Old town of Nice.

The beach is gently flat, but when it approached the shoreline, it sloped down sharply. Combined with the extremely energetic waves constantly smoothing the pebbles on the shore face, it was barely possible for one to walk steadily, without feeling pain at the feet, without risking breaking an arm or leg after a fall caused by the slippery rocks.

However, once you have passed all the tests, the sea – lightly salted, comfortably cooling and lovely empty – is yours.

It was possible to find sections of the beach to be nicely padded with a layer of fine sand. However, unless you check in to one of the ridiculously expensively priced hotels along the beach, you will not be granted entry to these sections.

Caption: Baie des Anges from Parc de la Colline du Château (left) and Quay of Nice.

The infamous but popular pebbles beach was surely the major attraction of Nice. But during my week of visit, something even more exciting was in store for me, though as always, came with a little disappointment.

I was talking about ice-cream. There are two insanely sought-after ice-cream shops in Nice; the Pinocchio and the Fenocchio. These two shops are located right opposite to each other, contesting with the fiercest competition. But ask anyone from Nice, you will be recommended to Fenocchio and so I was there, spending my very first part of the fifty-euro ice-cream budget during my trip.

Other than the provision of absolutely bizarre flavours that caused hesitation during purchase, the number of flavours offered was also the causality of battle between the taste bud and the wallet.

Caption: Fenocchio and ice-cream bought at the shop.

Divided into three sections; the normal, the special and the weird, Fenocchio’s intention to dazzle you and your wallet was indeed successful. And most importantly, during the weekend of my visit, the store was producing a recurring annual special flavour utilising locally produced wine.

However, the disappointment was: I visited a day before the weekend, and the shop had not decided whether the special flavour would be produced this year. Secretly, I was hoping it was not produced but no confirmation was sought afterwards.

My visit to Nice was short, and became shorter after a train delay. However, I experienced the most desirable activities in the city – a swim in the sea, a pocket-burning for ice-cream, and a sunset walk along the Promenade des Anglais. If a relaxing vacation is what you are looking forward to, and if you have some money, Nice is for you.

Nice is simply nice.

Caption: Baie des Anges and its pebbles (left) and interesting transportation mode of police.