pebble beach, smell of garlic, carnival … nice and beautiful

Have now found … a funny and exciting blogging sister, House Poulette , that married a French man and trying to be the perfect wife *smile

Personal have always have a soft spot for the French man – there is something very specially about them – the French way – through my Greek “boyfriend” living in Monte Carlo … I got experience – he where more French then Greek (I think) and then his French friends.

Told her that I never had a need or wish to get married, but I if would get married I love to marry a French man. *laughter
Any thing they say in French sounds like a declaration of love *laughter. And they are very romantic, but also very self-conscious – that sometime could be a bit annoying !!! Who is perfect ?????!!!!!! They are not very tall … and I need length on my man, so maybe a Frenchman isn’t my perfect match. Oh, I wish … still the famous French chef Eric Ripert – he has it all – plus he are very SEXY!!!!

So where do I want to come with all this drivel??? I want to come to Nice.

Nice a city that I once hated – I really mean it! It was dirty, unfriendly and arrogant.
The first time I visit France was during my holiday in Monte Carlo – September 1972.
Wanted to shop and there was no chance of me to be able to afford shopping in Monte Carlo, so Byron “boyfriend” he drove me in to Nice and left me there for a couple of hours. Terrible and after been into a couple of shops – I really despised the place. They didn’t want to speak English neither.

As our relationship progressed and I visit Monte Carlo quite few times during the 2 up coming years – and every visit I went to Nice in company of Byron … and then the picture very different – but still dirty and arrogant. A bit of a “Pretty Woman” shopping experience.

Last time I was in Nice was in October 1997 – went with a friend after our dear colleague and friend had sudden died – and we needed to go away. Glad I went back, because Nice had become a fantastic city … clean, English spoken, service minded and very pleasant. Had a fabulous holiday and that’s why I want to write and recommend this city. It’s not on my Top 10 list or Gem-list, but still a brilliant holiday destination.

The city is called Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Niçard), which means Nice the Beautiful, which is also the title of the unofficial anthem of Nice, written by Menica Rondelly in 1912. Nice is the capital of the Alpes Maritimes département and the second biggest city of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region after Marseille. 5th biggest city in France with an urban population of 955,000 and 360.000 of them lives in the city.

Nice airport – Aeroport Cote d’Azur – is the most beautiful situated airport in the world.
To fly into Nice gives a fantastic scenery of the whole Riveria – the only airport on the French Rivera.

If visiting Paris and with a couple of days left over … is there high speed trains to Nice. – it takes about 5hrs 40 min  – with TGV and cost €70-120/£57.00-98.00/$92.00-159.00 one way.  So maybe cheaper to fly and it takes 1.5 hrs – with the time it takes to get to the airport and the time needed for check in and security  – maybe you gain 2 hours. French trains are very comfortable. Personal I would go by train – because the country side scenery from Paris to Nice is fantastic. Train departure from Gare de Lyon. 

The city has a strong Russian influence – in their magnificent old buildings. The Russian Tsars knew what they were doing when the chose Nice as their favourite vacation spot. This town on the French Riviera boasts warm, blue ocean and clear, blue skies. It’s no wonder Nice is considered the captial of the Cote D’Azure (Blue Coast, in English.) The expanses of blue are interrupted only by the lush green grass and towering palm trees.
If going to Nice, I would recommend you hire a car – because there is so much to see around Nice – will come to that later.

If I would go back again – I would rent an apartment and not staying on hotel.
Stayed during my last visit and only time staying in Nice, at a great little hotel … with a beautiful garden where we had our breakfast every morning. Only 5 minutes walk away from the seafront and Promenade des Anglais, behind Hotel Negresco and 10 min walk to the Old town.

Hotel Windsor
11, Rue Dalpozzo,
06000 Nice
Phone: +33 (04) 93 88 59 35
3 stars – Ranked #6 of 215 – 57 rooms
Double room in beginning of October, €128.00-190.00 /£104.00-155.00/$170.00-251.00
Halfboard breakfast & dinner €196.00/£160.00/$260.00
Japanese SPA – Free WiFi
Cons: pool not heated and no parking – (we didn’t have problem to find parking on street)
The rooms has indv. painting made by hand of young French painters – not one room is the same. Very bare rooms in white – clean and comfortable – very helpful staff and the breakfast out in the garden is wonderful. Greek yogurt with runny French honey – Yummy! They serve all meals out there during the warm months. The SPA is fantastic and it was something so new in 1997 – very busy when I stayed there. This is a true gem of hotel.

If renting a apartment I will use “Nice Pebbles” – they have stunning apartments in great locations that are cheaper then hotel rooms. Beware when you book that the apartment is not on top floor and no lift – because not many of the old houses in Nice has lift and to run up 3-4 floors a couple of time per day … not funny.
This courtyard 1 bedroom apartment (sleeps 4) will cost £620/€760.00/1008.00 for 7 nights in beginning of October.

What to do in Nice – loads … and more loads .. walk along the Promenade des Anglais – the beach in Nice are not sand … it’s pebbles and it seams endless – walking along the promenade during daytime and the beach is full of sun umbrellas and sun chairs in every shade of the rainbow – one by one color, or visit the Vieux Port – the old port., loads of nice restaurants along the quay sides. Shopping … ????!!! To you drop – anything and everything. Exclusive boutiques and department stores and of course all the fashion houses has their boutiques. L’avenue Jean-Médecin is the main shopping street. 

Here is my list of MUST do while in Nice – not in any particulate order:

1. Vieille Ville
The old town area includes the Cours Saleya, a large flower market that turns into an antique market on Mondays. The area is full of cafes and bars, frequented by tourists, students, and locals. Wander the winding medieval streets for a real taste of France, and grab a bite to eat at one of the many seafood restaurants in the area. The buildings that separate the Cours Saleya from the Quai des Etats-Unis on the other side used to house local fishermen’s catches of the day, but most of these buildings have now been converted to restaurants and the fish restaurants serve fantastic Bouillabaisse. The cobblestone narrow pedestrian streets are a treasure trove of regional products, home wares, china and funky clothes. Antique lovers will enjoy the Monday morning antique market, on the Cours Saleya, to pick up grandma’s lace tablecloths, silver art deco platters, phonographs and vintage posters.

2. Le Chateau, a grassy park on the highest point in town. This is the birthplace of Nice, where the Greeks founded the city, then called Nikaia (derived from the word nike, which means victory). There is no chateau at Le Chateau, however. The Greeks originally built an acropolis here, and it has at various points held a cathedral, a military installation, and a castle. Since 1706, Le Chateau has been simply a park, with shady trees and grassy areas overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the medieval old town on the other.

3. Musee Matisse
The lovely and innovative art of Henri Matisse was inspired by the fresh colors and lines of Nice. Just take a look at any of his art peering out of balcony windows, and you will surely see the Riviera shoreline. This vast museum shows Matisse’s works from his more traditional early days to the end of his career. There are also some of his personal effects here. The museum gift shop features prints of the artist’s works.

4. Eze-Village the little medieval village  sitting on top of  this rock/mountain on the way to Monaco  – so pretty and the view are stunning. And you have to treat yourself with lunch at “Le Cafe du Jardin” –  Le Chateau de la Chevre D’or, 5 stars hotel  – with the terrace hanging over the mountain side – not cheap, but wrote it. Food Excellent! Just to look at their website and you will understand what I mean. 6 miles or 9.65 km away from Nice.

5. Gourdon
Take a day trip to this mountain villiage in the backcountry with one of the most spectacular coastal views. Also home to recently opened Decorative Arts Museum, situated in a medieval stone castle, whose 30’s furniture collection with rare pieces by Eileen Gray, Mallet-Stevens, Ruhlmann, and Chareau is un-missable for modern design buffs. Also famous for it’s glass. Distance to drive is 14,20miles or 23km.

6. St Paul de Vence
France’s most famous artist town, is beautifully situated on a hill surrounded by pine trees, cypresses and vineyards. Around the village weaves a wall that makes a visit to St Paul de Vence feel like making a trip back to medieval times. Here on the narrow streets crowded restaurants, cafes, galleries and small boutiques, my favourite spot on the French Rivera – and up there on the wooden hills of St Paul de Vence you have this spectacular Fondation Maeght, with seasonal modern art shows and a to-die-for sculpture garden . – same distance to drive as to Eze Village

7. Museum of Modern Art (MAMAC)
The sprawling marble buildings on the fringe of Old Town is the home of contemporary European and American works. Great seasonal shows along with an impressive permanent collection including members of the Nice school and the New Realists, from Arman and Cesar to Niki de Saint-Phalle and Yves Klein. Check out the works by Raymond Hains and Ben, both of whom designed rooms at the Hotel Windsor.

8. Monaco
The principality of Monaco and Monte-Carlo lies in between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by the French Riviera to the west and the Italian Riviera to the east. A fairy tale mini country – pretty, clean … and very expensive – and MUST is to sit on Le Café de Paris by at Place du Casino, just beside the Casino and opposite the beautiful Hotel de Paris – look at all the fancy cars and rich people – chic ladies with their small dogs .. and a mineral water cost about €6.50/£5,20/$8.60 – but worth it! Best seats in town. Have a look in all the exclusive shops on Avenue des Beaux Arts and  Avenue Monte Carlo – look down on the root top luxury home – A fantastic day out. To drive is about 20km (12,5miles), but there is also trains from Nice and the journey gives spectacular scenery (SNCF– 18 min journey and cost €3.00/£2.40/$4.00 one way and the trains depart from Nice Riquier).Will do a special post about Monaco and Monte-Carlo. 

9. Carnaval de Nice
The main winter event on the French Rivera is one of the largest carnivals in the world offering a programme of unforgettable entertainment. Next year it will be from 15th Febr to the 6th of March. The earliest records establish its existence in 1294. Have been once in 1973 and it’s spectacular.  So now to …. my favorite bits – food and more food. Nice is so much more then Niçoise salad and Bouillabaisse. What ever I felt about this city otherwise, I never ever had a bad meal in Nice. Great food everywhere.

1. Le Rotonde
Hotel Le Negresco
37, romenade des Anglais
06000 Nice
Phone . (04) 93 16 64 0
For me is the brassiere at Hotel Le Negresco a must, – go in the afternoon (1500-1700) they have a fantastic menu and suggestions menu for evening €34.00 & 48.00/£27.50 & 39.00/$45.00 & 63.50 – a place with beautiful wooden horses. Also to soak up the atmosphere of the world famous 5 star hotel

2. Le Tire Bouchon
19 rue de la Préfecture, Nice
Phone; (04) 93-92-63-64
Set in the heart of the old city, this is a cozy restaurant with a bordeaux-tinged color scheme, two dining rooms, an old-fashioned decor, and an allegiance to the rich and hearty cuisine of France’s southwest. 3 courses for €31,00/£25.50/$41.00.

3. Cafée de Turin
5 place Garibaldi, Nice
Phone: (04) 93-62-29-52
Fish and seafood since 1908 – Princess of Monaco, Caroline favourite fish restaurant – famous for it’s raw fish platter, coquillage. Very busy place and reservation necessary – website only in French.

4. Au Rendez-vous des Amis
176 av. Rimiez F
06100 Nice
Phone (04)93844966
Lovely, welcoming and beautiful setting in the hills above Nice – with a terrace under the shades of lime trees – menu small but so well prepared. Well worth a visit !!!! Guests can even enjoy a game of petanque! Local cuisine – not too expensive. 3 course set menu: €25.00 & 39.00/£21.00 & 32.00/$33.00 & 51.00

5. Restaurant APHRODITE
10 bd Dubouchage
06000 Nice
Phone; (04) 93 85 63 53
For the ultimate dinner experience … I would recommend this – David Faure’s place – just look his website and you will understand what I mean. Pricey – but outstanding – and I would say the dress code is jacket for the evening. Reservation necessary – website only in French – 3 course set menu: €27.00 & 69.00/£22.00 & 56.00/$36.00 & 91.00 plus he has a menu called, “Cuisine Techno-Emotinnelle” for €99.00/£80.50/€131.00 – something so beautiful – it’s like fine art on plates and of course it taste heavenly too.

6. Ferme Saint Michel
920, ave Condamine
06230 Villefranche Sur Mer
Phone: (04)93 01 77 40
It is many years since I was there, but a very special place up in the mountains above Nice and Villefrance Sur Mer. (1977 – I guess) Set menu and if it hasn’t changed … you’re in for a treat. First you get loads of different starters, the menu was childish drawings of main courses only – and loads of different desserts. When I was there, the wine was include and it must have been local. A unforgettable evening and my fiancé had to back up the Audi to the entrance – could hardly walk after all that food. Not a word of English, but no problems. Two brothers running the place, but they must be around 70-80 now. It’s says – budget .. we paid absolutely nothing for our dinner – around 400Fr for both of us. Would love to know if it’s still there. Hope it’s still there, no website or photos anywhere.

So Nice is a fantastic city – with so much to do and see – but as I said earlier .. you need to rent a car, because there is so many wonderful and exciting places all around the city.
Perfect destination for a long weekend – but there will be no problem keeping yourself busy for a week or two. For the price of 4 nights in Paris you can have a full week in Nice plus you have the ocean and the smell of garlic in the air every evening – and I rather go to Nice then Paris. Would like to leave today after written this post.

“Treat every frenchman as if he was the devil himself”
Lord Nelson

Photos provided by and thank you to all of you:

15 thoughts on “pebble beach, smell of garlic, carnival … nice and beautiful

  1. Hi,
    It looks like a beautiful place to visit, and the rooms do look very nice where you stayed, plenty to see and do as well as some history attached to this place, and obviously great food as well. 😀

    • It’s a really nice and pleasant holiday destination with all you need, and so much friendlier and pleasant then Paris. Really recommend it. Good food is never wrong.

  2. Reading through your post I could imagine myself and your experiences – beautiful written, so vivid 🙂
    There is something about France which has always enchanted me!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Thanks … yes I lived nearly a year in Dun Loaghaire – and 10 years in Belfast. Galway is a beautiful part of Ireland. Great seafood.

      • It was in Belfast that I saw a Victorian-era, brick municipal building completely covered, frpm chimney to pavement, in chain link fencing, so that any bombs thrown off it would roll off. If you were there for 10 years, you must have had some interesting encounters with the conflict.

      • Not really … couple of bomb threats in the city center per year, but nothing was every found. No problems where I lived, even if there where some shootings and killings.

  3. Hey, I came across your post while searching for some good place to visit in France. I see that you had a great time in Nice. Would love to go down there with my husband next summer. I would love to see Saint Paul de Vence and Gourdon. You said that you stayed in an apartment with Pebble Nice, I looked on their website but it is over our budget. I found another rental company called NiceRent – Have you heard of them?
    Also did you rent a car when you got there? Is it easy?
    Thanks for your reply and btw I love the way you write 😉

    • Hi there, you can pre-book your car with Avis or Hertz over internet and sometime airlines has really good deals with car rental companies, check the airlines website for links – we used Hertz and you pick up at the airport when you arrive and return it before departure. So easy … the only thing you have to ask if you are able to take the car to Italy if you are thinking about going there.
      Because otherwise it can be very expensive if something happens with the car while you are there.
      I have check their web-site, but never used them – but you also have very good … where you rent directly by the owner. Please let me know how you’re getting on. If you need more help – I’m here. Good luck. Viveka

      • Hello Viveka, thanks for your reply! I’ll probably use Avis. I checked today and I think they are the cheapest.
        Thanks also for VRBO, I didn’t know them, however I called the number on NiceRent website and spoke with the owner. Very nice guy from Nice!! He recommended me this one in the heart of the Old Town: – Do you think it’s a good idea? Not too noisy at night in the old town?
        I’m so excited!! I can’t wait to go!!

      • I visit Nice the first time in 1972 and I nearly hated the city … so arrogant – but it has changed so much and it’s now a true clean and pleasant gem, even if it’s a big city. Old town is busy both day and night … but it mostly around the main street.
        What you have to think about is parking … nightmare , especially on the narrow old town streets – and the lovely little flat you are looking at has no lift and on 4th floor. Stairs are killing in Nice – shopping and suitcases … Old town is very charming, but I would chose something just outside the old town – with lift and balcony … so nice to have a balcony for breakfast and nightly drinks. To sit and smell the Cote d’Azur.

      • Hey Viveka,
        Thanks again for your reply. I think I’m gonna follow your advices. The Harmonie looks very nice indeed. My husband and I will probably book it next week or so.
        Have you heard/been to Gourdon? I’ve been told their is an amazing view of the cost there… – looks easy to get there..
        Thank you very much again to take some time to reply 😉
        Have a great day

      • No, I haven’t been visiting Gourdon – never heard about it … so now I have something to look forward to.
        It looks fantastic – a bit like St Paul de Vence, even smaller.
        Don’t forget to visit Eze Village – that hangs over the ocean on a cliff. Beautiful setting – the most romantic place for an expensive dinner.

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