The weather this week was REALLY crappy. Rain, all day, every day, and that’s not an exaggeration. With no sunshine and little motivation to leave my apartment and brave the endless rain, this week left me feeling a little down in the dumps. So yesterday, when the sun finally came out, I decided to take full advantage of it with an adventure to la colline du Chateau.
La colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) is considered to be the birthplace of the town of Nice. Long ago it was called Nikaia by the Greeks, who set up a trading post near the coast in the 3rd century BC, but it was later occupied by the Celtic Ligurians and then conquered by the Romans. The defense system that had been built up to protect the castle and the lower part of the town (Old Nice) was dismantled in 1706 by Louis XIV and converted to a park at the end of the 19th century. Today, although the Chateau no longer exists, the park is a beautiful attraction and the site of the highest altitude in Nice at 92 meters above sea level.
It’s not hard to get to the bottom of the hill, but then you have to take either the Ascenseur du Chateau (elevator) or 213 stairs to get up to the park. I decided I could use the workout, so I took the stairs. There’s a lot to see at the top of the hill around the park.
The Chateau cemetery holds family tombs dating back to the early 1800’s, and the cemetery is separated into Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant sections. The tombs are absolutely gorgeous and well cared for, and most hold flowers, fresh from La Toussaint a few weeks ago. It’s a nice, quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of Nice, especially around this time of year.
As you keep walking up the hill, the view gets better and better.
All along the way there was a ton of mosaic artwork on the walls and on the ground. Most of it was Roman-themed (I’m assuming), with some weird sea creatures, ships, and gods.
At the very top is the park, which has a few cute cafés and brasseries, a playground, and some boutiques and souvenir shops.
It attracts people of all ages. I even saw some kids around my age slacklining (but I didn’t have the guts to go say hi…)
Here’s a few more pictures. It was a beautiful afternoon 🙂
When I got home, I decided to keep the good feeling going and do one of my favorite things: BAKE! I haven’t done any baking since I got to France, but since I’ve pretty much mastered the use of my convection oven and finally bought all the typical baking ingredients and hardware, I figured I’d give it a shot. I made what I like to call “loaded banana bread” with bananas, applesauce, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Here’s the recipe (adapted from here)!
2 c (220 g) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 overripe bananas
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c (115 g) apple sauce
3/4 c (170 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 c (80 g) hazelnuts
1+ c (100 g) chocolate chips
1) Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
2) In a large bowl, mix the dry (first four) ingredients together and set aside.
3) In another bowl, mash the bananas with the oil and applesauce.
4) Mix in the eggs and then sugar, vanilla, and spices (by hand).
5) Slowly incorporate the flour mixture.
6) Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet for 4-5 minutes or until they smell nice and nutty 🙂
7) Fold hazelnuts and chocolate chips into batter.
8) Grease and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans (or I just used one large round cake pan).
9) Bake for 40-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center.
Can’t forget our French word for today!
grande roue (grahn DROO)- ferris wheel
Il y a une grande roue et une patinoire à la place, près du marché du Noël!
There’s a ferris wheel and an ice rink in the square, near the Christmas market!