The Côte d’Azur has always been a favourite destination of many tourists world wide.
It is famous for being one of the most luxurious places in France, crowded by tourists and the French bourgeosie – so at first sight, this was definetely not one of my most wanted destinations, but boy, was I wrong.
There is so much more about Nice – this gorgeous mix of Mediterranean food, the talkative locals with their “Nissard” dialect of French, the winding alleys with houses painted in heartwarming colours are only the first few things that pop up on my mind.
Obviously, this place is not cheap, especially not in the summer months. Lucky me to have a scientist dad who has to participate in congresses in such places once in a while 🙂 So I just jumped on the figural boat (or airplane, to be more precise) and decided to take the chance to discover this little city now that I wouldn’t have to splurge on accomodation.
Upon my arrival I wasn’t that impressed by the city. Being the first days of July, the city was quite crowded with tourists, and the boiling 39ºC temperatures weren’t a great plus neither. Since I had to wait for my Dad to be done with his congress, I spent about an hour and a half on the pebble beach, feeling like a sausage on the barbecue and finding absolutely no refreshment in the lukewarm water. Just before my boiling point was reached, I decided that the beach was a complete suicide with this temperatures, and retreated into the shadowy streets of the old city, on a terrace with a book.
And it was sitting there, that I relaxed and opened myself up to let the energy and beauty of this city soak into me. Slowly, but surely the soft atmosphere that is pending in the air of this city crawled inside me, and I couldn’t help but smile and be grateful to be here and now, in this moment. It made me realize how lucky I was to be sitting in such a wonderful place,between the orange painted houses, browsing through a Lonely Planet guide, planning my next big trip to Chile.
Anyway, enough talk about nothing – check out what this city looks like and what you should surely put on your to-do list!
1. Eat ice cream!
Surely, with the exotic temperature I won’t have to repeat this twice, and also the incredible amount of ice cream shops kind of helps you to check this off your list.
Don’t miss Fenocchio, the most popular ice cream shop in town with a crazy assortment of more than 50 flavours – but also try some smaller, artisanal venues to have a full spectrum of different sorts and flavours. If you like special stuff, try the “weird” choices like lavender, tomato and beer in Fenocchio.
The wide range of ice cream shops might have something to do with the tropical temperatures that Nice offers all summer, obviously – but I found that most of the ice cream shops were highly innovative with the flavours.
2. Climb the castle hill
This is basically the only place from which you see the “azure” colour of the coast. It’s a nice viewpoint, and a good spot to have a lovely picknick accompanied by city sights! If you’re looking for signs in the city, follow the ones for “Parc de la Colline du Château” – and you’ll be on your way. From the hill you also have a view on the Lympia port, located on the other side of the hill.
3. Get lost in the streets of Nice
No explanation needed…. getting lost is a talent almost everyone masters quite well!
Let your soul wander, and who knows what you may discover in this pittoresque city.
4. Take a walk on the Promenade des Anglais
To most of the people it will seem a sea promenade like an other, but actually, it hides an interesting story under your feet.
Nice wasn’t a big or a popular city at all a couple of centuries ago. The beachstrip was deserted, and most houses were built on higher ground, on a distance from the sea. It wasn’t ’till the 18th century, when many English people discovered the possibility to flee rainy winters in England and spend them in sunny Nice, that the city started to gain its popularity. In 1820, the winter was extremely harsh, and the English people decided to use the big affluence of homeless people to do something useful, and earn some money meanwhile – the construction of the Promenade des Anglais (or the English Promenade) has started!
The promenade is like a city symbol for its inhabitants – everything important happens here, or close to it – the beach to catch some sun or to gather at night to share some drinks, eat an ice cream on one of the benches, the best hotels and the casino, street artist and merchants, restaurants, … This is the place to be!
5. Try the fresh catch of the day in one of the local restaurants
Its obvious seaside location gives you the chance to savour some of the freshest fish, caught directly from the azure waters onto your plate. The most typical place to taste some of the fresh fish is right near the Promenade des Anglais, on the Cours Saleya, and in the Old Town in one of the winding streets near the Cathedral.
An other great dish is the bouillabaisse – a fish soup that is originally from Marseille, but is freshly prepared every day in almost every French restaurant in the Côte d’Azur.
Talking about food – one of the most famous salads finds its origin in Nice – the Salade Niçoise, made (generally) from fresh tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, green beans, black olives and anchovies.
Other typical plates served in Nice are the Tarte Tropezienne, Farcis Niçoises (grilled veggies filled with minced meat and herbs) and Ratatouille.
Bon Appetit 🙂