Nice: Finding a Little Piece of Russia in the South of France

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What is it that makes us want to travel to certain places?

Thinking about this question, I’ve realized that for me, more often than not, it’s something small – some tiny detail, some specific place or thing, some little factor that’s probably not reason enough to plan an entire trip around, but that makes you want to do just that regardless. And for me, visiting Russia has long been high atop my travel wish list for one small reason: the colorful, iconic domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. I couldn’t even tell you when the first time I saw a picture of them was; I just know that the moment I did, I wanted to go to Russia. And now, as the years have gone by, I can come up with lots of other reasons I’d like to visit Russia – but I know that, at the end of the day, those domes would still be what I was most excited about.

Unfortunately, a trip to Russia isn’t in the cards for my immediate future. However, on my recent trip to Nice, I was delighted to discover a slice of Russia tucked away in France: Nice’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. As soon as I saw the cathedral listed in my guidebook, I knew I had to pay it a visit – and I’m so glad I did.

The Russian Cathedral, hidden away in a neighborhood about fifteen minutes on foot from the train station, isn’t near any of the major tourist spots in Nice, but it’s worth making the extra effort to seek this place out. Why, exactly? The Cathedral is fascinating and gorgeous. I’m so used to seeing the standard issue Christian church layouts wherever I travel in Europe, so it was neat to see something different inside this cathedral, and I found all the icons particularly interesting. But as intriguing as the cathedral’s interior was, the exterior was the real star. Though its domes might not be quite as grand or as colorful as those at St. Basil’s, they are beautiful in their own right. In the fading light of the early evening, they looked particularly magnificent:

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So while Russia may still be on my “someday” travel list, for now, I’m content to have found an unexpected piece of it to enjoy in my current travels.

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