From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera

Tripoto
Photo of From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera by Unshod Rover

For the sculptor, there's the chisel and the block of wood or marble. For the poet, the pen and the paper. For the traveler, the wanderer, he has his footwear and the world.

Art always creates, expresses, presents and most of the time, generates a certain trace, produces a tangible “work of art”. Wandering, however, leaves only footprints. Not totally though as traveling permits the wanderer to discover cities, meet people, interact with strangers, and learn cultures. In the process, he takes notes of these experiences, the history, the stories attached to each city square or statue, a dish or a tradition, a legend or a saying.

Photo of Nice, France by Unshod Rover

These are notes that both the wanderer and the footwear pick up all throughout the journey, may it be through sandy or pebbled coasts, cobbled roads or dusty ruins, a puddle of water or a sheep's path. The foot directs, the footwear describes. The dialogue, the relationship between the two defines the experience. Designs.

(“Redfoot” is such dialogue, the relationship between the author and the footwear (a pair of red alpargatas bought from a street vendor in Florence). “Wandering Redfoot” documents the journey of the foot and the red alpargatas in various degrees of rest and reflection and re-creation.)

Photo of From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera by Unshod Rover

We were caught red-footed for the first time on a drizzly late April morning walking through the length of the Place Massena in Nice under the weight of the seven statues composing Jaume Plensa's Conversation a Nice. The statues represent the seven continents in dialogue, particularly at nighttime when they are lit in various, ever-changing colors. That day though, back in their original white, the statues were in deep contemplative mode as muted by the morning mist and the dark gray overcast.

Photo of Place Masséna, Nice, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Place Masséna, Nice, France by Unshod Rover

On one foot, we thought that with technology, this conversation among the continents is very much possible as facilitated especially by the internet and telecommunications, and the growth and spread of social networks. On the other, traveling and migration has also been a great part in weaving dialogues among peoples and cultures, creating a web of concrete relationships and deeper connections one step, one stranger, one city at a time.

As it continued raining, we took hurried strides and took refuge by the building behind the Fontaine du Soleil, where a statue of Apollo, god of all the arts and patron of poetry, is surrounded by allegorical sculptures of the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Saturn. Apollo, principally symbolized by the sun according to mythology, must have heard our unspoken plight as the skies started to clear up as we made our way through the souvenir shops, the open market riddled with stalls of flowers and plants and the fish market, a few steps away from the sea.

Photo of Nice Beach, Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Nice Beach, Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France by Unshod Rover

And for some law that perhaps only Thales could understand and fully explain, as soon as we reached the pebbled beach, the foot took off to meet the water, and left me to rest a few feet away from the waltzing waves. The sea must have been cold and the sun yet to wake up as the foot came back and sat beside me and started to narrate a summary of our very first night in Nice:

Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy by Unshod Rover

That night, after a rainy morning of traveling from Milan to Ventimiglia to Nice, and looking for the hotel, and an afternoon of scouring for lunch that led to an evening of scouring for dinner, the foot rested its tired sole by the window of the hotel, looking over the blinking lights of the restaurants, the sporadic reunions of compatriots, the rains that have washed the city clean, all vacuumed into bins of garbage collected by the city truck. The foot watched this scene, as if already a ritual, a tradition, some sort of gathering. Everything was almost silenced though by the glass that divided the room and the street. It had been a long three to four months of organizing the foot's eclectic thoughts into a master's thesis. The foot had somehow missed the chaos of the city, the spontaneity. And it was for the first time, that the foot took me out of the plastic bag still smelling of the Florence central market, and lined me by the ledge for airing out. And as he looked at the cars lined up along the avenue like arrows all leading toward the sea, he thought of the coming summer.

Photo of From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera by Unshod Rover
Photo of From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera by Unshod Rover
Photo of From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera by Unshod Rover

[While in Nice, we took some sidetrips to Cannes and Monaco.]

Photo of Cannes, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Cannes, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Cannes, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Cannes, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Cannes, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Cannes, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monte Carlo, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Musée océanographique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Musée océanographique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Musée océanographique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Musée océanographique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Musée océanographique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Prince's Palace of Monaco, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco-Ville, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco-Ville, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco-Ville, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco-Ville, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Place du Casino, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Place du Casino, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Place du Casino, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Place du Casino, Monaco-Ville, Monaco by Unshod Rover

We left the beach just as Apollo started to spread its arms over the city, there was a train to catch unfortunately. Passing by the cities along the northern Cote D'Azur stretch, by then all awash in sunlight, the foot had to take me off as it started to get uncomfortable. Finger slid in between the toes, as if to brush off sand, as if to send the continents, the universe some sort of communication, pulling all the remaining days of spring and re-arranging Apollo's schedule, an invitation for a midsummer walk and some good old conversation. The foot just couldn't wait to paint the northern coasts of the other side of the Mediterranean red.

Photo of From Nice to Cannes to Monaco: Coasting Redfoot along the French Riviera by Unshod Rover
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