Yesterday I travelled back from Nice on Easyjet.
It made me think how much air travel has changed in my lifetime.
When I first took a plane in the 1960s there were no budget airlines and the choice was Air France or British European Airways.
There was a first class and standard. Nice only had one terminal and most travellers went from it to Cannes, St. Tropez or Monte Carlo
Polly – Bob Tickler’s P/A – flew out British Airways and said the flight was as cheap as Easyjet.
I saw on the flight to Nice two well-dressed elderly passengers who were ‘Old School’, putting on their best for travel.
The rest were younger, getting round the obtuse Easyjet baggage limitations as best they could.
You can bring on a small cabin-sized bag as long as it fits below the seat. However most store these in the overhead locker and have a kitbag that they put under the seat.
Bob had purchased the seat next to his. He used “special assistance” and said that, not only was he whisked through security and passport control, the officials there were kinder.
On boarding the plane I noted a chatty fellow.
You always get a joker and a chatterbox and I feared he would be sitting next to me.
In fact he and his wife took the 3 seats ahead and immediately engaged in conversation the passenger on the third seat.
There were whoops of delight as they had friends in common.
I could not blot the conversation out as some people mentioned and hotels visited were known to me.
The lady passenger next to me engaged them in conversation when the plane landed to the extent I had to say “Excuse me” brusquely to get out.
For some folk conversation gets you through the journey, but for me – as the flight is less than two hours – I would prefer to read and get on with stuff.
We ought to start a Rust debate of apartment versus hotel.
The advantages of an apartment are that it’s cheaper, has greater space, you can access the city better in terms of buying food and drink and – in our case – you probably have the best views over Nice from the balcony.
Against this, a hotel has a concierge and laundry service and more comfort.
For travellers to Nice I would recommend the Hotel Suisse adjacent to our block but which faces Nice and the bay. The Negresco is the best known.
Supposedly Bill Gates tried to buy it with an empty cheque asking the owner – 92 year-old Me Aurier – to put in the figures, but she refused to sell.
I prefer the location of the Suisse and our block in the Old Town to the flashier Promenade des Anglais.
As for France, the strikes over pension reform are crippling. French people hang on tenaciously to their enshrined rights.
However we all agreed that – in terms of food, wine and lifestyle – the French are ahead of us.
Some resorts come and go. Marbella, Miami Beach with its ocean and palm trees similar to Nice and Dubai have all been popular but none of these places can offer such a variety of resorts as the Côte d’Azur.
We were sad to leave it and make that last car ride along the Promenade des Anglais to the airport but like General Macarthur we shall return …