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NICE IN NICE: Thursday 16 May 2013: A TALE OF TWO CHURCHES?

The Russian Orthodox Church, Nice

The Russian Orthodox Church, Nice

We have abandoned the idea of visiting Cannes today and joining all the other ‘famous people’ on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. We just don’t think that Leonardo Di Caprio could cope with our presence. We gather that his version of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is in enough trouble without us adding to it?! At least, that’s what his text message suggested this morning?  Well, it’s either that, or we didn’t get up early enough to catch the train to Cannes? Not that we mind … yesterday was such a brilliant day, and last night was such a brilliant night, that we are far too shattered to do anything really strenuous today – our last day here in Nice in what has been a fabulous holiday! We don’t even wake up until 10.00 a.m. This great little studio apartment has electric window shutters, and blackout curtains to boot!

We enjoy a leisurely breakfast – the first time we have actually eaten inside the apartment rather than on the balcony, because of the rain – and then spend a quiet morning relaxing and writing. About lunch time the weather has improved, so we venture out to explore some more of Nice. It has been impossible to see all that we have wanted to see, even though we will have been here for 10 days by the time we leave tomorrow.  It will be a good excuse for us to have to come back again! We want to go and visit two churches today. We want to go back to the Baptist Church we went to last Sunday evening. We were in such a hurry to ‘escape’ that I quite forgot to take any photographs? We also want to visit the Russian Orthodox Church here in Nice – apparently it is the largest Russian religious building outside Russia?!

We walk up to the station again, and pause to watch the police towing away a rather posh car that has been parked somewhat inappropriately outside the station building. They are rather scary, these French Gendarmes?! They all look as though they have been in the French Foreign Legion! Well, the men do, that is … the female officers always manage to look ‘chic’ as most of the French woman of all ages seem to do! We find a nice café to stop for a coffee – the French are so civilised in this respect and the coffee is so cheap compared with Costa (#costalotforyourcoffee) back in the UK. In fact we are very impressed with the way the French spend their money. France may be hopelessly in debt … but at least they spend their money on things that are aesthetically beautiful!

We find our way back to the French Baptist Church building. All signs of the ‘International Baptist Church of Nice’ have been removed and replaced by notices about the French Baptists celebrating their 100th anniversary. Now we understand why there were all those placards all round the sanctuary about the history of this church? The building is all locked up, and the windows all shuttered, apart from one window where there are some badly hand written verses from the Bible on show, together with a rather dog-eared copy of the Bible?  Given that Nice is such an international city, why oh why can’t the French Baptists and the International Baptists work together as part of the same church in order to reach the thousands of people who live here? Sometimes, I almost despair?!

We take our photographs and then move on in search of the Russian Orthodox Church that is not too far from here. It is actually further than we have been led to believe but eventually we find it. In stark contrast to the Baptist Church, the Russian Orthodox Church is magnificent outside and inside! The outside of the building is spectacular, and the inside of the building is fascinating … full of icons and candles … everything makes you want to ask questions?  Whereas the Baptist Church is clearly shut … the door locked, the window shutters down, the only open window containing badly written Bible texts and a dog-eared Bible, and nobody present to either offer visitors a coffee or answer any questions as to what Baptist-Christians believe … the Russian Orthodox Church is open, and intriguing, with everything on show and someone constantly present to explain what Russian Orthodox Christians believe?!

We walk home to our wonderful studio apartment – just right for the two of us – situated in the Musicians Quarter of Nice, near to both the sea front and the railway station. We have time for a rest before a final dinner on our wonderful terrace! Tomorrow we will have to pack up, tidy the apartment, and leave to catch the bus to Nice airport for our flight home. This has been the most wonderful holiday. Every day has been filled with good things. We have experienced so much, and learned so much, during our time in this wonderful city. It truly has been nice in Nice!

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