THE LITTLE SCOOP: [THE BULLET POINTS]
EAT & DRINK:
We had truly remarkable meals at Le Tire Bouchon Cafe (a.k.a. Cafe TB) in Old Town Nice (Vieille Ville.) Try local specialities – Niçoise salads, whole fish like sea bream, ratatouille, and I strongly recommend getting a burger – I had two! In Nice, they come with tartar sauce and pickles. To go light on your wallet – drink wine instead of beer, which tends to be more expensive. Enjoy one while overlooking these VIEWS!
We stayed at the AC Hotel (you know us and Marriott) along the Promenade des Anglais – a longer walk to Old Town, but for us it was a PERFECT location just steps from the ocean. There is a roofdeck pool as well if you want to mix it up between beach and pool.
Walk along the Promenade des Anglais, take the 20 minute hike up the historic hilltop park of Castle Hill for dramatic city & ocean views, a man-made waterfall & a cafe. Enjoy a walk through Old Town and the Place Masséna, and rent a chair and have an all day-hang at the WIP Beach! Absolutely take the cheap 25 minute train to the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco if you want to hit the tables or celeb-stalk, the latter being one of my time honored traditions.
THE BIG SCOOP: [THE WHOLE STORY]
I mentioned in my last two day trip posts that the heat wave has been tough in Europe, particularly with very limited air conditioning. So in surfing the Internet looking for reprieve, we scooped up some cheap 1 hour EasyJet flights to the South of France and decided to redeem some Marriott points! My husband had once briefly stopped in Nice on a cruise but I had never been to the French Riviera, or the Côte d’Azur (Blue Coast) before and wasn’t sure what to expect – would it be too uppity for our dive bar style?
Fortunately – it really wasn’t! I will post about Monaco shortly, which certainly falls more into that camp, but Nice was a delight. The beaches were full of young families soaking up the sun, and curious tourists poking around the Old Town without the frantic pace of most other European cities packed to the gills in August.
We of course walked the Promenade and couldn’t help but think of the horrific tragedy there just two years ago when a truck plowed down and killed nearly 90 innocent tourists enjoying their holiday for the July Bastille Day celebrations. As in other cities who have seen this kind of violence, there are now preventative barricades throughout the Promenade. It did make me a bit antsy anytime I hear a motorcycle rev up behind me. The city has rebounded and the fireworks returned to Nice for the first time this year!
On we shephereded to the famed “I love Nice” sign – though with a long line of visitors, we never got our turn!
From there we headed up a fairly substantial walk up Castle Hill for sensational city and ocean views, and a man made waterfall.
At the very top were musicians and wedding parties taking photos and it was a great place to hang in the shade, people watch, and completely gape at the wonders below.
We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the Old Town, the Plaza, drinking and wandering and pleasantly surprised at how charming it was!
Upon our wandering we stumbled on the fantastic Le Tire Bouchon Cafe for dinner. They had a three courses for 30 Euro dinner price, so we enjoyed a stunning Niçoise salad and beef stew (really a consommé with beef and a ravioli with a potato topping) a whole fish of sea bream, a perfectly cooked and seasoned burger with tartar, and to wrap it all up – a flourless chocolate tort with my favorite salted caramel sauce. It was truly a meal for the books and example 1A of how no one can cook quite like the French.
We stumbled home in food comas and were completely in awe of the most pastel perfect pink sunset. It has absolutely whet our appetites for our upcoming trip to Greece, said to have the best sunsets in the world.
We set out early the next day to reserve chairs at the beach. We struck gold at WIP Beach, near our hotel, who did 19€ per person all-day chairs and umbrellas with an impressive lunch and drink menu.
The clear personification of sea green water just sparkled. The swimming was so refreshing and we could have floated forever. The only catch in the South of France is that the beaches are not sand, they are a variety size of painful stones and pebbles – so you need the all-day chair to sit by the water, and I’d recommend those somewhat dorky water shoes to get in and out of the ocean! We scoffed at those who had them at 9AM, and by noon were very jealous! It’s very unlike us, but we hung at the beach all day (with lots of SPF, Moms) watched the perfectly pastel sunset and headed back to the hotel to spruce up for Monaco. Post coming soon!
On Sunday, we slept in and hung in the free chairs on the Promenade, going in the ocean for one long soak before an afternoon at our hotel pool, and before we knew it, the plane ride back to Geneva!
Nice was such a pleasant surprise and another great example of setting low expectations sometimes – it can open your eyes to something seriously divine. Stay tuned for my next post about our quick trip across the border to the land of Grace Kelly – Monaco!