June 4, 2014

Chemin de Nietzsche, France

"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking." 
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Or, How to Philosophize With the Hammer

Èze is the only locale in which we stayed during both 2013 and 2014 France trips.  We flew out of Nice both times, and ended up returning simply because our first stay there was so charmed... it felt too short.  The village is storybook, perched high above the Mediterranean.  The views are beyond amazing.  Plus, it is super convenient to the airport: a quick, easy, and scenic jaunt up the coast.  It was when researching the area before our first stay that Erwin read about the Nietzsche Trail.  The path is named for the German philosopher, of course.  Apparently he spent time in Èze-sur-Mer, frequenting the steep path up to Èze village, and perhaps even conceived some of Thus Spoke Zarathustra* on these hikes.  We saw the trailhead when staying in Èze the first time, but we did not attempt the hike.  The trail is approximately a mile and a half with roughly 1,400 feet in elevation change (each way).  Frankie was still 2, not yet ready to navigate such terrain independently, but too heavy to carry without the carrier.  

When planning our return visit, we decided not to let the opportunity pass by a second time.  Eight months is a long time at that age; by 3 and a half, Frankie had grown a lot and had become a much more capable hiker.  We'd had successes on hikes up Owls Head and Bald Mountain.  We felt certain he'd be up to the Nietzsche Trail.  To ensure a good time, we dedicated a full day to the pursuit; embracing "slow travel" is a necessity with a little one.  And we planned it as a one-way hike: we'd walk out the door of the Château and proceed all the way to the sea, then play at the beach before catching a bus that would take us most of the way back up again.  Finally, we'd to bring lollipops.

The plan worked like a charm.  At home, I commute to work by bus most days, but Frankie doesn't often get a chance to enjoy public transportation.  He loved it!  It probably  helped that the bus was crowded, and the road steep, winding, and bumpy.  He was literally squealing with joy.  "Whee!  Mama, this is fun!  Whee!"  Later, when I asked him what was his favorite part of the day, there was no hesitation - it was the bus. 

* In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have not read any Nietzsche.  I do read a fair amount, both fiction and non-fiction, but I've never so much as dabbled in philosophy (one of many failings, no doubt). 

the terraced gardens at La Chèvre d'Or
at the first overlook
the trail is marked with yellow blazes, which Frankie calls "clues"
there are a lot of stairs along the upper section - Frankie counted over 500 before getting distracted

le vallon du Duc
more stairs

rocky section approaching a switchback
Frankie was super excited about the clues - he is singing the theme song to Busytown Mysteries
(an animated television series based on Richard Scarry's Busytown books).

happy to have reached the sea!
the beach is rocky, with nice round cobblestones
Perfect for little hands to throw.  Frankie will happily throw stones into water essentially indefinitely. 

See the tiny red circle along the ridgeline, just left of center?  The peaked roof is our room - we started our hike there.

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