I (Chris) was exhausted by the time I got to bed on Saturday night, which is a normal experience after a day at a conference with nonstop talking, presenting and listening. I awoke about 8:30am on Sunday and went to breakfast, where I was joined by Pierre Jannin. He and I had a very nice conversation the day before, and he is my host for the workshop in Nice tomorrow.

After breakfast I rented a bike from the hotel and went for a great bike ride into the hills to the west and north of town. The women who worked at the front desk handed Chris a helmet – much appreciated in an area where it seems that few people wear them! It tried it on but it was nowhere near large enough. I glanced inside it and noticed it was an L/XL, then I looked up and noticed the concern on the women’s faces. They searched in back for an even larger helmet which still didn’t fit but I was able to squeeze it onto my head. Because I wanted to bike for as long as possible there was no time to shower. I returned to the hotel, packed my bags and raced downstairs to meet the taxi to the train station. I should also note that at breakfast they had many kinds of cheese, including individually wrapped Roquefort wedges, and I couldn’t resist putting a few pieces in my pocket for a train picnic later in the day. The only problem was that as the cheese warmed it started oozing into my only pair of shorts. I could change into jeans, but this is unlikely because it’s about 70 degrees outside and the heat is on in train. So I am now unshowered and smell like sweat and Roquefort. This feels appropriate for a train ride through France. I am riding from Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon, where I switch to the Very Large Speed (TGV) train to Nice.

I arrived in Nice about 7:15pm and walked to the hotel. I liked Nice but I didn’t love it. The train station in Nice is one place that does make a good first impression. It obviously has a lot going for it in terms of climate, location and sophistication. It’s just that I prefer places like Clermont-Ferrand and Salzburg. I note that potable water in Nice costs about 3 Euros per pint; at these prices the debt crisis in Europe could be solved by simply bottling a modest amount of the Mediterranean Sea. Also, taxis cost about 10 Euros per mile, so a ride to the airport could easily cost more than an international flight. When I wasn’t at the conference workshop I did have some time to walk around the old part of the city and see the remains of the castle.

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