Provence Stories and Tips

Rainy Run

When I began thinking about this journal entry, my mind was moving towards focusing on a couple of central areas. The first was the magnificent effect that rain can have on the tourists that come to Nice. The majority of those coming to the South of France expect beautiful weather. Therefore, when we get the type of downpour that I experienced on a recent Sunday afternoon, they tend to disappear rather quickly. As anyone who lives in a city that attracts a lot of tourists will tell you, this can sometimes feel like a blessed relief. The empty streets give the city an air of normality.

I was also thinking about detailing just how wonderful it feels powering along the deserted promenade in the rain. When I did it, I had rock music blaring into my ear-phoned and my shirt was plastered to my chest with a combination of sweat and rainwater. If you had thrown in a beautiful girl waiting for me outside the Negresco Hotel, you would have had a pretty decent ending to a Hollywood movie. Sadly for me, there was no dramatic final kiss - just wet feet and sore calf muscles.

In truth, both of these takes would be accurate and would give an accurate glimpse into life on the Riviera. However, I have taken both approaches before in other journal entries Therefore, I thought it best to focus on something else that struck me on my run. As beautiful as the solitude I enjoyed was, there was one thing that detracted from it: the smell. My wonderful run and Hollywood ending were set against a backdrop of a rather unpleasant aroma.

If you were to peruse a map of Nice you would not think that is a city built on two or three rivers. The sea is easy to spot, but the rivers that flow down from the Alps into it are far less conspicuous. This is because much of the city is actually built across the top of them rendering them invisible. These rivers are not what you would describe as clear and wonderful. As they are beneath the city, they do not get the benefit of sun light and also collect any random refuse that falls into the city's drainage system. Finally because of their anonymity, there seems to be little effort made to actually keep them clean.

When the rains came, they had a dramatic effect. Rather than cleansing the city, the water seemed to flush everything out from beneath it. There are three rivers that come out into the Bay of Nice. Put of each of tbese burst a huge cascade of slurry and filthy black water. The sea in this area is normally a wonderful shade of blue - hence the name Cote d'Azur. But in the rain it became a mash of frothing brown sludge. It looked awful. However, the visual aspect was nothing compared to the smell. Oh, the smell. If I could have what hell smelled like, the water frothing into the sea was it.

I genuinely enjoyed my little jog in the rain, but the smells that came with it were less welcome.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip