The charms of Provence

Updated: 2013-10-02 00:33

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

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The charms of Provence

A bird's-eye view of the Monte Carlo harbor.[Photos by Xun Lin / China Daily]

Near the seaside is Castle Hill, which has the ruins of a medieval castle with crumbling walls. You can take the free elevator or stairs to the top to overlook the city's old town, the sea and the Bay of Angels, about 90 meters high.

Besides having museums and old architecture, Nice is a heaven for shopaholics due to various shopping centers, including Galeries Lafayette, especially the discount seasons in January and July. On the old Cours Saleya Market, there are antiques, flowers, fruits, and seafood markets, depending on the day.

I was lucky to be in the city on Bastille Day, or French National Day, July 14. At 10 pm, crowds of people, together with their dogs, gathered on the English Walkway, the famous promenade of the Mediterranean Sea, to enjoy the annual fireworks celebration.

The 30-minute show was impressive. Beautiful fireworks burst in the sky above the sea, with shining and colorful sparks. In Paris, there was a firework display near the Eiffel Tower at the same time.

It's convenient to take a bus or train to have a one-day trip in the surrounding cities and towns, such as Antibes, Cannes, and Grasse, and even the principality of Monaco.

On the Number 100 bus to Monaco, I sat on the right side so I could enjoy the beautiful sea views. It's better to arrive early, to see the changing of the guard in front of the Prince's Palace at 11:55 am.

There are ancient batteries on the palace square, where you can have a bird's-eye view of the Monte Carlo harbor. Rows of buildings dwarf the white ships at the port, with their reflections on the sea.

After that, I visited the magnificent palace and Museum of Napoleon Souvenirs. In the museum is former property of French Emperor Napoleon I, including documents and letters, and clothing and toys of his son, Napoleon II.

Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, after Vatican City. You can take a sightseeing train to see the scenic spots, such as its Formula One circuit, the Monte Carlo Casino, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, and the Prince of Monaco's private vintage car collection.

Provence and the Cote d'Azur are places that you'll never got tired of. Although the journey ended, my willingness to make a second visit has never faded.

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