A Long Weekend in Nice: The Place to Be for Gourmets
The beach stretches for kilometres under the Promenade des Anglais, where top restaurants and luxury hotels are lined up side by side.
© Getty Images
Nice can offer both: big glamour and a relaxed, natural flair. The best thing to do is to simply let yourself drift: through the alleys of the old town during the day, along the Promenade des Anglais in the afternoon and from one culinary experience to the next in the evening.
Of the many cities in the south of France, we have already explored quite a few, but Nice, situated directly by the sea and blessed with an incredibly picturesque backdrop, never fails to cast its spell on us. The sensuality of the Côte d'Azur, the light and the local joie de vivre have inspired a multitude of artists, including Matisse, Renoir or Niki de Saint Phalle.
We also appreciate the culinary delights. At “Chez Maître Pierre”, we treat ourselves to a sweet starter of almond croissants, eclairs and a café noisette. This revitalizes us after the early flight and awakens the desire for a little shopping tour at Rue Paradis and Avenue de Verdun with its numerous exclusive fashion boutiques; a quick stroll through the Galeries Lafayette Nice Masséna is also part of this obligatory programme.
Afterwards, our senses may find rest in the vastness and beauty of Place Masséna and its surrounding gardens. The stately buildings with red façades and arcaded arches were built in the 17th century and exude Venetian flair. Nice's proximity to Italy is also reflected in many small details. A popular snack here is Socca de Nice, a chickpea pancake that is originally from Genoa. The best place to try it is “Chez Thérésa” on Cours Saleya and to continue on a stroll along the Marché aux Fleurs. The market offers all kinds of specialities from the region in addition to flowers and is open every day 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m, except on Mondays. The best place for a proper lunch: “La Merenda” is known for its down-to-earth and authentic cuisine.
We continue on an extended afternoon walk to the castle hill, past the Cimetière du Château, which is rewarded with a fabulous view of the city's rooftops and the waterfront. We then return to the city via the Quai des États-Unis, passing the “I Love Nice” sculpture. Our evening programme: first some drinks at “Babel Babel”, then dinner at the restaurant “Pure & V”, whose mix of elegant bistro flair, avant-garde cuisine and exceptional wines we really enjoy.
Small junk shops can be found all over the city, but the best place to rummage through old things is the antiques and book market at the Place du Palais de Justice. Held every first, third and fourth Saturday of the month, it is one of the most beautiful markets at the Côte d'Azur. The second Saturday of the month is devoted to arts and crafts, where one can find small carvings, hand-crocheted blankets and other pretty trinkets, suitable as souvenirs.
Unfortunately, the goods on sale at the fish market at Place Jacques Toja can not be taken home in a suitcase. Nevertheless, it is fun to visit this popular institution of everyday life in Nice.
At “Epiro”, a charming restaurant run by an Italian woman at the old harbour in Port Lympia, we enjoy a plate of homemade pasta with fresh seafood and a glass of wine midday. This city has quite a few exciting places to go to for wine enthusiasts in general, so we find ourselves in the city's “caves à vin” a bit later. At “La Pêche à la Vigne”, we buy a few liquid souvenirs; at “La Part des Anges”, we treat ourselves to a small afternoon snack in the form of a cheese platter and a bottle of champagne for later. The idea of sitting on the beach with a few oysters as an aperitif also evolves there. The “Café de Turin” knows how to fulfill our wish for takeaway seafood without any problems. With a large platter of “huîtres” (oysters) and two quickly organised wine glasses, we finally sit on the beach below the Promenade des Anglais and watch a fascinatingly nuanced sunset. Can a day in Nice be any better? It actually can: At the restaurant “Peixes” we are getting spoiled with delicious and creative seafood, such as a ceviche of scallops or tajine with pulpo.
A lazy morning followed by a dip in the sea is the perfect start to Sunday - the private beach of “Hôtel Amour” makes it possible. Not only did we have a good night's sleep here, but we also stayed up until two in the morning the night prior at their lively bar. That's what they call savoir-vivre. We spent the first part of the day relaxing and enjoying lots of art later that day. First at the “Mamac”, the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, located on the Promenade des Arts, then at the Musée Matisse and the Musée Marc Chagall, the latter being only a few minutes' walk from each other. In the district of Cimiez, you find much to marvel at anyway: stately villas; the Église et Monastère de Cimiez, a 16th-century Franciscan monastery with a triptych by the painter Louis Bréa; the magnificent Palais Régina, once the winter residence of Queen Victoria; as well as a Roman amphitheatre, which is home to the annual jazz festival in July.
For the evening we made a reservation at the restaurant “Les Agitateurs”, which had just been given a new lease of life during our visit. We are very excited: Chef Samuel Victori was trained by the well-known Michel Troisgros. And indeed, we are not disappointed: his creations are both playful and pure, with many minor textural and aromatic tensions, but above all, they are original, free from dusty taboos and incredibly fresh and delicious, prepared with the best local products.
Tips & addresses: Hotels
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée*****
The elegant hotel on the Promenade des Anglais has a panoramic view of the Baie des Anges. It offers a luxurious all-inclusive package, including a hammam, gym, restaurant, bar and casino.
Promenade des Anglais 13, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 93271234, hyatt.com
Centrally located four-star hotel with sea view, spa and roof terrace.
Promenade des Anglais 1, 06046 Nice
T: +33 4 97034444, marriott.com
Hôtel Le Grimaldi by Happyculture****
Charming boutique hotel with individually decorated rooms within walking distance of the Cours Saleya and the park Promenade du Paillon.
Rue Grimaldi 15, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 93160024, le-grimaldi.com
Hôtel Amour à la plage
Lovely hotel with a rooftop terrace, a nice bar, a private beach, and a restaurant.
Promenade des Anglais 47, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 65271010, hotelamournice.fr
The two-Michelin-starred restaurant owned by the brothers Gaël and Mickaël Tourteaux impresses with elegance and brilliant creations.
Rue Gubernatis 25, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 93625395, restaurant-flaveur.com
Pleasantly unpretentious star restaurant by Troisgros student Samuel Victori. Subtle combinations of flavours, cooking times and textures define his style.
Rue Bonaparte 24, 06300 Nice
T: +33 9 87330203, lesagitateurs.com
Not far from Jardin Albert 1er, Armand Crespo's fish restaurant with Portuguese-Mediterranean dishes and a wine list focused on France.
Rue Jaques Médecin 4, 06300 Nice
T: +33 4 93859615, peixes.fr
Pure & V
The restaurant of sommelière Vanessa Massé and chef Christian Kanstrup Pedersen is characterised by Scandinavian clarity and has been showered with awards within just a few years. There are two menus to choose from.
Rue Bottero 15, 06000 Nice
T: +33 6 19886890, facebook.com/restaurantpurev
Small restaurant with a homely atmosphere and a menu based on daily specials. The dishes are simple but delicious.
Rue Meyerbeer 23, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 93790924, lecanon.fr
Virginie Basselot combines tradition and modernity most elegantly. The Michelin-starred restaurant is located at the equally impressive Hotel Negresco.
Promenade des Anglais 37, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 93166410, hotel-negresco-nice.com
Cult restaurant by former Michelin-starred chef Dominique Le Stanc serving rustic, Provençal home-style cooking. No telephone, no website, reservations on-site only.
Rue Raoul Bosio 4, 06300 Nice; lamerenda.net
This small restaurant is one of the few that make a detour to the somewhat secluded side of the old harbour worthwhile. The homemade pasta is especially recommendable.
Boulevard Stalingrad 53, 06300 Nice
T: +33 4 83395189; facebook.com/epironice
Le Grand Café de Turin
Over a century old, traditional seafood restaurant on Place Garibaldi. Large platters of oysters, crevettes and mussels are part of their daily business.
Place Garibaldi 5, 06300 Nice
T: +33 4 93622952; cafedeturin.fr
Wine bars & more
La Part des Anges
A paradise for wine enthusiasts. At lunchtime, you can enjoy an excellent "plat du jour" here; in the evening, the place is filled with vinophile locals.
Rue Gubernatis 17, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 93626980, lapartdesanges-nice.com
La Cave du Cours
This wine bar is located behind the Cours Sally, offering authentic Italian aperitivi and French by-the-glass wines.
Rue Barillerie 24, 06300 Nice
T: +33 4 92145603
A unique mix of cocktail bar, relaxed daytime bistro and trendy hangout at the far end of the Promenade des Anglais.
Cours Jacques Chirac 2, 06300 Nice
T: +33 4 93557419, babelbabel.fr
La Pêche à la Vigne
Wine bar-shop-bistro not far from Port Lympia with an authentic local flair.
Rue Cassini 13, 06300 Nice
T: +33 6 24882504, lapechealavigne.com
Galeries Lafayette Nice Masséna
Multi-storey, high-end shopping centre with a wide range of exclusive luxury brands and designers.
Avenue Jean Médecin 6, 06000 Nice
T: +33 4 92173636, galerieslafayette.com
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