I always do this thing when I travel. I ask myself “could I live here?” If so I try to imagine what it would be like day to day in this alternative reality. Inevitably I start talking about it out loud to whoever I’m with. And so some people around me worry that my love of travel has something to do with running away, escaping something. I don’t think so. When I fantasise about a life elsewhere its never escaping what I have, rather running towards more of what I want. But sometimes these little fantasies are an especially dangerous thing to do. Like in Nice last week where I found myself constructing pipe dreams of fleeing Paris for the south. I have totally fallen in love with the south. Actually I fell hard for it when I first discovered Provence at the age of 20, but Nice especially is like this convergence between my two homes, the beach, sun and palm trees of Southern California with the lush nature of France, its architecture, and people that I know so well in Paris. Some even call it The California of France, like the authors of this cute little guide book I got just before. And while I’m not going to do anything rash at the moment, I’m having a hard time shaking this one from my head. If I did live there I would walk the Promenade des Anglais everyday, sun tan on the private beaches each weekend, watch sunsets from atop the Parc du Chateau over the Bay of Angels every evening, and go to sleep in a pastel building each night complete with a lush little garden. Eventually I would buy a little boat and sail it all the time with friends, find great swimming spots outside the city beaches on the Mediterranean, and take early morning hikes in the Alpes Maritime just behind. When I needed to get out of town I’d take little jaunts to Cannes, Monaco, or Saint Remo. One of the many lives I would love to live…maybe this one will come true. It’s just a train ride away after all. It was an absolute pleasure to discover the city with the Visit Nice team at the local tourism office and Atout France as part of the Fall for France campaign. Fall in love I did, I hope you enjoy my souvenirs and tips for when you might find yourself in Nice…
Parc du Chateau
We spent the first afternoon at the Parc du Chateau just above the old town area of Nice. I think this is a spectacular way to begin exploring Nice as one can take in beautiful 360 degree views of the city and the sea. It’s a great way to get orientated. It’s lush with plenty of places to lounge, stroll, and look out over the city. We found some beautiful corners with trees blooming over Roman ruins, and of course the spectacular waterfall you can see from anywhere down below in Nice as you look up at this hill. There is an elevator that will take you to the top to reach the park if you don’t feel like walking up hill. But the stroll down was beautiful and pleasant and so I highly recommend to do at least one way by foot.
The Old City
As you descend from the Parc du Chateau you’ll most likely find yourself on the small charming streets of what is referred to as the old city of Nice, its most historic neighbourhood. Here you’ll find all the gorgeous clichés of a city in the South of France like cobblestones paths too narrow to call roads between brightly colored buildings with laundry hung out to dry and locals striking up conversations with one another from balcony to balcony. Nice’s proximity to Italy (just one hour down the road is the border) means there is a heavy influence of Italian culture and cuisine here. You’ll find it in the many gelato stands and tiny Italian restaurants tucked away in these tiny streets. I found a few little spots with the help of the tourism board and also just exploring on my own that are nice little stops in this neighbourhood. Should you find yourself there I’ve shared them below!
A Few Tips For Old Town
Fenocchio Glacier – Fenocchio is the master of ice cream in Nice. They have so many delicious flavors ranging from the usual favourites, to floral infusions like lavender and jasmin to unexpected citruses like cumquats. Definitely a very delicious stop for an afternoon treat. 6 Rue de la Poissonnerie, 06300 Nice
Maison Bestagno – I stumbled upon this little shop and just thought it was the absolute cutest. It sells only canes and old fashioned umbrellas and has been around since 1850, with the same owner and manager for the last 30 years. It was too cute not to share. 17 Rue de la Préfecture, 06300 Nice
Café de Turin – Being beside the sea, of course Nice is an amazing place to eat seafood. One of the best spots in the city is Café du Turin which has been around for over 100 years. Oysters, mussels, fish you name it, it’s a seafood lover’s paradise. 5 Place Garibaldi, 06300 Nice
Cours Saleya Market
The Cours Saleya is a great place to get a taste of Nice. The market here is daily, but on certain days of the week hosts a brocante and antiques market and other days is selling fresh produce and flowers. Around the square there are cute cafés to stop for lunch or a coffee. We went both days so I was able to see the brocante and on the other day early in the morning to see the market where it was fun to people watch the locals who were out early for their shopping. At the market you must try socca, a local speciality in Nice and the surrounding area made with a base of chic pea flour. You eat it with your hands fresh from the pan. Also something to try if you can find it at the market or the surrounding shops in this neighbourhood is Bellet wine. The grapes for this wine are actually grown within the city of Nice and it has a very unique taste. It comes in rosé, red, and white so no excuse not to try!
Maison Auer is another institution in Nice that has been around forever. This family candy and chocolate shop has another local speciality. Their candied fruits of many varieties are made with fresh fruits like mirabelles or pears or even nuts like pistachios dipped into their sugary syrups until they’re candied and ready for eating. The result is quite interesting where the fresh taste of fruit is actually very well preserved in the flavor at the same time as it’s a sweet dessert. All of their chocolates are delicious as well. 7 Rue Saint-François de Paule, 06300 Nice
La Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is perhaps the most celebrated part of Nice. The promenade stretches along the Mediterranean. Tourists and locals alike accumulate here to watch the sea from the benches, skateboard, bicycle, jog, etc. and of course there are the private beaches just below the promenade where you can rent chairs and umbrellas to sunbathe for the day or eat at their cafés. I spent my free afternoon on my own there and it was soooo lovely in spring because the weather was warm but mild and I had the whole place to myself…
Atout France for organising this beautiful trip and to the entire Fall For France photo team as we followed them around photographing the behind the scenes of the new Fall For France campaign (a later post to come!). Especially to Beth for being our Atout companion in Nice!
Nice Tourisme and all of their welcoming team for being our hosts and guides in the city and showing us the best it has to offer. They are the definition of hospitality and incredibly knowledgable and passionate about their home.
Rail Europe for getting us to and around the south safely and comfortably with the generosity of their Rail Pass which is a great way to travel in Europe by the way if you are moving around frequently and want to keep your travel affordable.