I recently read Haruki Murakami's latest novel IQ84. In it, the two main characters are transported into an alternate reality in which there are two moons in the sky. Neither of them actually notices the change in the sky at first and only become aware at random points. It was not something that appeared to them instantly. The same was true here in Nice. I certainly do not mean that there are two moons, but that the sky in Nice does look slightly different and it is not something you notice immediately.
My moment of revelation, in terms of the night sky above Nice, came on my first date with girlfriend. I had been in Nice for about three months and, apparently, had really looked too much into the sky at night. We were sitting in a bar on the Promenade des Anglais enjoying a few beers looking out into the Mediterranean. It was all very pleasant. As I endeavoured to make the mood a little more romantic, I looked to heavens in preparation for a remake on the beauty of the stars (not particularly original, I know). However, I was shocked to find that the stars were not so beautiful. Or, not even so visible.
My girlfriend (or 'date' as she was then) looked up too and smiled.
"There are no stars." She said. "I always find it a little sad. Did you not notice before?"
I was flabbergasted by this. Firstly, I was shocked that it was impossible to see the stars. And, secondly, I could not believe I had not noticed the fact.
Straight away I began to ponder the massive paradox I was experiencing. The panorama in Nice during the day is truly magnificent. It takes in several different shades of blue in the sea and scores of sweeping palm trees. At sunset, it gets even more dramatic. The wonderful oranges off-set by the blue is truly wonderful. But, at night, all that goes away. I am not sure why, but the sky is a plain, unadorned dark grey with only a feint spattering of stars. It is possibly the most disappointing scene in all of Nice. It is something that has haunted me ever since I noticed. Now, in complete contrast to before, I cannot help but look into the night sky. Yet, alas, it never changes. There are no stars.