Nice & Marseille

Oh Nice, could you possibly be the most beautiful city on Earth? But Marseille, you totally suprised me…

Hello from the Cote D’Azur. Pignans is so centrally located that we’ve been heading out in both directions (east and west) to see the treasures of the Riviera.

I’ve always loved Nice with its pink, yellow and orange buildings (pretty much every colour on that spectrum). And the turquoise ocean – what more could you ask for?

Non-potable water? Mabogini should be so lucky...

Non-potable water? Mabogini should be so lucky…

Although I have to admit that I can never look at fountains the same after being in Africa. When I think of our students back in Mabogini who get their water from a stand pipe that flows into a waste-deep ditch, you can never look at the world the same. It’s just not fair.

Some people might say, so what? But we have to remember our roots. The British and French Empires (and the Portuguese, Germans and others) were able to modernize and develop because of the riches of their colonies. The indigenous people rarely benefited. That, and the impacts of the Cold War conflict are major sources of the inequalities we see today.

In a globalized world, the repercussions of inequality run deep.

We walked down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The seaside walkway was built in the 19th century when an Anglican priest decided a make-work project was needed for the increasing number of homeless people.

Two poor harvests had created an excess of people begging for money from English tourists, which went against the sensibilities of the day that saw handouts as simply leading to laziness.

The priest gathered money from the rich, and then paid the poor to construct a walkway over the rocky coastline for English tourists to promenade along. The walkway has been improved many times over the years and now includes lanes for pedestrians, bikes and cars.

Nice has one of the best playgrounds for kids along the Prom du Paillon. It goes on for blocks and blocks (and was where we came across the fountains). It has a lot of equipment that promotes climbing and fitness, with soft fall surfaces and signage outlining rules and emergency contact numbers (nope, we are definitely not in Africa). My girls were drawn to the playground as soon as they saw it.

Chateau D'If, the location of the jail in the Count of Monte Cristo

Chateau D’If, the location of the jail in the Count of Monte Cristo

A few days later after watching the Count of Monte Cristo, we decided to head to Marseille. We thought we would take a boat to Chateau D’If to visit the island that is the setting for the jail where the fictional count was imprisoned.

Due to rough waters the sailing was cancelled, so we hopped on a bus tour instead. I had heard that Marseille was a rough town so I didn’t expect much, but the tourist areas along the shore were incredibly beautiful.

We’ve now learned to ask whether the bus includes an open roof, because ours unfortunately did not. We couldn’t take good pictures through the windows, so this tour will remain in our memories. But we have a couple of great photos from our stop at the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde high above Marseille, including a couple of Chateau D’If!

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