Nice. The Harbor Of Nice.
Occasionally, beyond the sapphire water and the wave-worn rocks, one can discern from the Riviera the shadowy profile of Corsica, the birthplace of that man, whose life began and ended on an island, and whose eventful history is bounded by the obscurity of Corsica, and the captivity of St.
Helena. At frequent intervals, the sea spreads out a lacelike net of creamy surf before some picturesque Italian village, where houses, churches, ruined towers, and convents rise tier above tier on the hillside, relieved against a wall of purple mountains and snow-covered peaks, and all magnificently dowered by the sun. It is true, much of the romance of these villages disappears on close inspection; but from a distance, especially at the hour of sunset, the impression they produce is indescribable, and the bells which then chime forth in liquid tones the Ave Maria, sound, I fancy, as sweetly as ever did the siren voices, which poets tell us used to echo over this same enchanting sea. At such a time one can well understand why the luxurious Greeks and Romans formerly loved to linger on this shore, forgetting even the marble palaces of Rome and the blue skies of Baiae and Surrentum.
Of all the pleasure-resorts along the Riviera Nice is the most frequented, since it has most to interest and amuse the winter resident.
Nice, is in fact, a city of nearly seventy thousand inhabitants, with hotels as expensive and luxurious as those of the largest European capitals, together with clubs, concert-halls, and an opera-house where have appeared many of the illustrious artists of the world. Its elegant promenades are, therefore, during the season, thronged with fashionable people, and life here for several months of the year is a perpetual round of pleasure. The climate of Nice, although colder in winter than in more sheltered portions of the Riviera, is usually called delightful, but those who come here thinking that winter is entirely unknown will make a serious mistake.
The Bay Of Angels, Nice.
Sunshine and a mild southern atmosphere are, it is true, its prevailing characteristics; but there are days in Nice and Cannes, and even in the sheltered amphitheatre of Mentone, where cold winds are trying to the invalid; for one must not forget that north of the Riviera are mountains, some of which are covered for months with ice and snow. When, therefore, the wind blows southward from these reservoirs of frost. the effect is very perceptible, and might be unhealthful, were not the coast so thoroughly heated by the sun, which rolls its waves of warmth upon this sheltered region through a dry atmosphere and an almost cloudless sky. As a rule, however, the benefit of the climate of the Riviera is due to the fact that it is rarely cold and wet here at the same time. Thus, when a north wind blows it may be cold at Nice, but the air is dry; and when, on the other hand, the wind comes from the south and the temperature is mild, the air is moist. From observation in different countries and climates, it is my opinion that Americans, and northern tourists in general, make too little difference, when in the south of Europe, between sun and shade and between the middle of the day and the evening. The direct solar heat is such, that they forget to guard themselves from the much colder air of the unheated galleries and churches, and from the rapid lowering of temperature caused by the disappearance of the sun.
A Sheltered Nook.
Moreover, accustomed as we are to warmer houses than foreigners generally possess, we often make the mistake of trying to accustom ourselves in Europe to chilly rooms, simply because the guests of other nationalities dispense with fires in theirs. To be comfortable in winter anywhere in southern Europe, one not only needs rooms with a southern exposure, but should indulge freely in the luxury of open fires. This is true at times even in Cairo, where I have known an apartment without fire to be miserably uncomfortable in the mornings and evenings.
One of the loveliest portions of the Riviera, and, in fact, one of the most exquisitely beautiful features on the face of Mother Earth, is the principality of Monaco. It lies in the very heart of the Riviera like the gorgeous buckle of some outstretched belt. The Maritime Alps rise tier on tier behind it, while before it is the Mediterranean, stretching away to Africa, peerlessly blue at midday, and in the glow of sunset glittering with iridescent colors like a vast expanse of molten opals.