Monday, September 27, 2010

Lune de Miel - Part III

* Note - if you're already tired of the honeymoon posts, we've got a long way to go... sorry

Day 2 began the way our best European vacations always do; with an expansive breakfast buffet filled with all manners of cold cuts, fruits, cheeses, breads and juices. Our breakfasts in Nice were no exception. Incredible lox and scrambled eggs which D. likened to his own plus wheels of chevre spread on crusty baguettes and plenty of pain au chocolat.

We were in a museum state of mind as we walked back to Place Massena to catch the bus up to the Musee National Marc Chagall.

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

Created and curated during his lifetime, Chagall is one of the few artists to oversee his own museum, and I think it shows in the careful placement of his biblical masterworks and the almost transcendent peacefulness of the space. Although the exterior of the building is an awesomely mod relic of the 60's, the inside is timeless, expansive and light-filled.

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

The museum focuses on his biblical cycle but also contains a handful of other well-known pieces including one of my favorites; a female acrobat created for a London theater, inverted (as are all things Chagall) next to a green horse. A moon and a cockerel provide musical accompaniment for the scene. I love his human-eyed animals and there are many of them here.

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

After Chagall, we continued up the hill to the Musee Matisse with a quick side venture to the Musee Archeologique and the Roman baths. This musee had a modest collection of Greco and Roman antiquities discovered in the region and the baths were fairly expansive but required greater explanation.
Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

The Matisse Museum was an unfortunate disappointment - although I am quite fond of his work, the limited offering and poor curation of this dusty rose maison does little to showcase who he was as an artist. The permanent collection was meager and made up mostly of sketches and preparatory drawings instead of the paintings, collages and most of all color he is known for.

The temporary exhibit showcasing Matisse's assistant and model of over 20 years, Lydia was the highlight, but still contained a disproportionate number of sketches during a period in which he created many of his best known paintings. My favorite part? Matisse's illustrated notes to Lydia, translated by D.

Leaving the Musee Matisse, we thought the church spires across the park belonged to the Russian church built by vacationers from the mother land in the early 20th century (the largest orthodox church outside of Russia) but as we walked in that direction we discovered the monastery instead. We skipped a tour of the interior and opted to poke around the cemetery grounds (home to Matisse's grave) which hung on the backside of a cliff providing excellent views of the city and port below.

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

Our bus returned us back to Place Massena where, famished we sought out a late lunch of Nicoise specialties in old town's Lou Pilha.

We ordered at the counter: calamari nicoise, farcis and a salade nicoise before grabbing a seat on one of the orange benches over-flowing the corner. The salad was unremarkable with what D. found to be too many onions, the calamari also, just ok cooked in a paella-like sauce and served over rice. The real stars of the meal were the farcis, onions tomatoes and zucchini stuffed with some sort of deliciousness and then broiled - our favorites by far.

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

We continued through old town after our late lunch, ducking into a petite palais for a quick walk through a few baroque rooms situated around two open staircases providing a cool (and necessary) cross-breeze. Highlights included the pink frescoed staircase, an eighteenth century pharmacy and an incredible glass and plaster screen separating the sleeping area off from the rest of the bedroom.

Our walk back to the hotel included one more detour a la Fenocchio where I opted for some of their more unusual offerings, tomate basilic and avocat. The former was almost a sorbet, icy fresh and full of flavor. The latter, incredibly rich and delicious, even slightly sweet - my absolute favorite. Obviously I was too consumed with my gelato choices to pay D.'s much attention, but if memory serves me he opted for two of his favorites: citron and pamplemousse.

Honeymoon - Day 2 Nice Musees

We took a break before dinner to enjoy our complimentary bottle of Cotes de Provence on our balcony overlooking the city, then departed for what was probably the most outlandish meal of our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Just the right amount of onions and the calamari looked AMAZING! Delish!

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