train in front of blue water

Day 13: Catcalls and a Lost Reservation in Nice

I had to walk the entire length of the train in order to find a seat. I was, of course, happy to have a seat at all, but I was dismayed to be sitting on the left side of the train. The sea would be on the right. And most of the people on the right side of the train had closed the window curtains.

My journey on this day was from Arles to Nice. Arles had been amazing. But this, finally seeing the South of France and the blue of the Cote D’Azur after dreaming of it for so long, had my heart pounding with anticipation.

Map showing Arles to Nice route

And then, at the first stop, someone on the right side of the train vacated their seat. I was able to gaze delightedly at the sea for the entire duration of the journey, with only a brief interruption in Marseilles to change trains.

I arrived in Nice at around 3 pm. It didn’t take long for me to notice a distinct trend.

The less provincial a place, the less I seem to enjoy it.

For whatever reason (self-awareness, perhaps?) I suspected after two weeks of near constant movement I would be ready to relax and do nothing for a few days. My stay in Nice would be three days long. Sadly, my attempts to book a tour of the region had not panned out, so I would be on my own in finding adventures. There were things I wanted to see, but I didn’t have any concrete plans.

Many folks recommend staying in hostels when traveling solo, but Nice was the only place I had intended to stay at one. In fact, staying in a hostel was one of the many reasons I looked forward to my time in Nice. I imagined I might meet people to dine and drink and wander with.

However, as I walked the short distance from the train station to the hostel I was struck by the same feelings of unease I experienced in Carcassonne. As was the case there, the streets were empty except for straggling groups of unfriendly looking men.

In Carcassonne, the men merely leered. Here, they catcalled and made clicking noises like one might when trying to lure an animal closer.

I arrived at the hostel safely, only to find the hostel had lost my reservation. They had changed their booking software a couple of months prior. Some reservations had been lost.

The room I’d reserved had been a double, and they didn’t have any available. They did, however, have a small room with two bunk beds that they were willing to offer at a slightly discounted rate. But, they warned me, it was on the first floor and there was street work planned right outside my window the entirety of the last night of my stay.

During this exchange, I asked if it was safe to walk around the area alone. “Oh yes,” they said. “I mean, not after dark, but otherwise, yes, absolutely!”

Oh my.

Between my lack of desire to stay in the neighborhood and the room not being to my liking, I decided the Fates didn’t want me to stay at the hostel. I opened the app on my phone to see what else was available.

It’s amazing the discounts one can find for a last minute hotel stay. Hotels are desperate to unload rooms rather than let them go unused.

Thus, I wound up in far superior accommodations, in a much nicer neighborhood, for around the same cost as the hostel.

As I made my way to my new, more luxurious hotel I entered a much more bustling area of the city. The crowds were a bit intense, but I felt much safer there.

Unfortunately, it was so well populated that it was difficult to take photos. The streets were teeming with humanity. Pausing, or even slowing down, was unthinkable.

It was not my desired pace, nor was the scenery to my liking. As a result, I decided to take on Nice as a personal challenge.

I pledged to find the areas of beauty. I pledged to seek out spots and moments in which I would want to take photographs.

Additionally, I pledged to not hesitate to capture the things I found displeasing. I am uncomfortable in busy cities. Would I be able to take photographs I was proud of even if my emotions weren’t positive?

I looked forward to finding out during my stay.

For that first evening, though, I sat and drafted this post while sitting outside a wine bar drinking a lovely red Sauternes. An acoustic duo played American classics and it was quite endearing.

When they played “Stand By Me,” everyone within earshot sang along with the chorus with a broad variety of accents and accuracy in word pronunciation.

I tried to capture video but it failed to pick up all the beauty of the moment. The duo was quite good, though. They moved on to Paint It Black, then went next to Norwegian Wood, and then Faith. It was a hilarious old-school mixtape roller coaster ride.

All told, maybe my stay in Nice wouldn’t be all that bad.

Series Navigation<< Day 12: Roman Ruins, Van Gogh, and Body Positivity in ArlesDay 13: There’s No Cerveza on this French Menu! >>

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