The market in Ventimiglia

Friday, August 13, 2010 at 13:23
Tonight is our last day in Nice. Tomorrow we pick up our car and start driving North. I've enjoyed the coast, but I'm done with being hot and definitely looking forward to some cooler weather and mountain vistas as we head up into Switzerland and Austria. Today we made a short trip to Ventimiglia in Italy to see their famous market there.

It's an odd beast - the market is huge and the goods for sale run the gamut from decent quality Italian leather belts, shoes and bags (10%) to meats, cheeses and fruit (10%) to loads of second-run clothing and shoes (35%) to boxes and boxes of Chinese-made fashion knockoffs (25%) and other assorted Chinese and Taiwanese crapware (20%). It's a bit like the San Jose flea market in CA but with a bit less mom-and-pop feel to it. Also, it stretches out for most of the length of the town on a road right next to the ocean. 

I did get a nice Italian belt made from a shop that let you choose the leather and buckle then assembled the belt to measure and found an interesting liqueurs store that seemed to have some good prices. I bought a bottle of Italian lemon liqueur (no idea what it tastes like, but it looks interesting) and a bottle of French Calvados (apple brandy). The kids bought some shoes and some clothes and enjoyed the day. 

Strangely, there seemed to be no bargaining to be done on the prices. We tried haggling on every purchase but got no deals and made a lot of people mad. Maybe that's part of their schtick and we're just suckers, but we were thoroughly unsuccessful at bartering for better prices. 

The return train ride to Nice was overcrowded, late, overcrowded, slow and overcrowded. Packed in like sardines with a couple hundred other sweaty shoppers returning from Ventimiglia, it was a most unpleasant ride back. I'm glad to be getting our own vehicle tomorrow. It's been fun trying out the trains and buses, but I've had all the public transportation I can take for now. 

Nice does have a public bike rental service, but it's significantly more difficult to use than the once in Paris. VeloBleu rentals can only be activated by SMS from a mobile phone and you have to pre-register your credit card and mobile # online first. I tried that and the registration web site didn't like my phone #, wouldn't let me change it, etc, etc. I gave up trying to make it work since the kids weren't that keen on cycling anyway.

Once back in Nice, we decided to stop at the "Pizza Van" that we've read about in the guest book for our apartment. It's supposed to be the best pizza in Nice, hand made and served from a van parked on the street in Place Franklin. Sure enough, it's great pizza. Bit of a wait, but there's always something going on around the area to keep you occupied. The pizza from "Chez Dominique" was one of our favorite and least expensive meals here. 

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