First Stop – Nice, France
We have arrived! 23hrs flying, and 4 airports later – we were in France. We landed at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport around 2pm, and it was lovely and warm. We went straight to our hotel and checked in before setting off to explore our new ‘home’ for the next 5 nights.
Our hotel was very central, walking distance to Vieux Nice, the ocean and public transport. As we know we needed to stay awake as long as possible in order to try and overcome jetlag, we decided to walk around and see some sights!
We headed straight for the Promenade des Anglais. The Promenade des Anglais (“Promenade of the English”) is a promenade along the Baie des Anges (“Bay of the Angels”), which is a bay of the Mediterranean. This runs along the foreshore and stretches as far as the eye can see. Many people are often out running and it is filled with tourists while we are there.
The ocean here is very different to home. NO waves, and therefore no sand.
There are only a few “free” sections of the beach, the rest are sections devoted to bars and restaurants which provide deck chairs and towels for a fee. Personally this seems like a much better option, as I’d rather not be lying on my towel on a pile of pebbles!
Here in Nice, bikes are very popular.
They can be hired for minimal amounts and dropped off at many of the locations around the city. Cycling along the promenade is something we want to do if we are ever lucky enough to return!
Another place worth mentioning is the small street parallel to the Promenade des Anglais, leading from Nice’s downtown, beginning at Place Masséna and running parallel to the promenade in the direction of the airport for a short distance of about 4 blocks. This section of the city is referred to as the “Zone Pietonne”, or “Pedestrian Zone”. Cars are not allowed (with exception to delivery trucks), making this avenue a popular walkway. Here, you can find a fine selection of restaurants, specializing in various types of cuisine, including Niçoise, Italian, and Spanish. There is also a large selection of cafés where one can sit and enjoy an apéritif, as well as several bakeries with coffee, cake, and a terrace. It began to rain while we were out walking, so we opted to take shelter here in a cute little wine bar called Love.
And here we began our love affair with French wines!
The next morning we woke early (stupid jet lag) so we headed out to wander the early morning empty streets of Vieux Nice.
It was such a peaceful and calm part of the day, with only a few people out and about getting their days underway. Dinner isn’t usually eaten until 9 or 10pm, so I guess that is why things are a bit slow to start in the mornings.
We spent the majority of the morning alone, wandering through alleys and many a Place. We discovered many colours of blues and yellow throughout the buildings, with streets barely wide enough to fit a car.
We saw locals out early for church and enjoying their early morning breakfasts.
It is hard to believe the bustling nature of this city, although it isn’t very metropolitan. It is both expensive and cheap in the same breath. Produce and alcohol are very cheap, yet accommodation and tourist attractions are not.
We noticed too, that most of the tourists were actually French – so this is where they come to spend their summer holidays.
Small electric cars are very common here in Nice. They are parked all around town, charging in the ports provided – a great solution in these tiny narrow streets.
Once the morning was well and truly underway, we got a chance to stop at the local produce markets, which were unlike anything we had seen before.
So colourful and containing almost every fruit and vegetable that was in season. It was here I ate and enjoyed my first raspberries. The flowers were also exceptional, and very cheap. We could have wandered around admiring the produce for hours.
The amazing produce led us to create our own picnic lunch for the day. This also let Ryan practice his French skills with the locals, and ordered everything we would need to complete the feast!
No picnic would complete without some French Champagne! So we found a local wine store, and he even provided us with some cups to drink from!
With our goods in tow, we set off to our ideal picnic location – climbing to the top of Coline du Chateau with breathtaking views over Nice.
This picnic was divine – Jambon de Paris, fresh cheese, crusty baguette, beautifully marinated fresh olives, delicious juicy grapes, all topped off with a half bottle of Louis Roderer. This is exactly what we had in mind for our whole trip, fresh seasonal produce, local wines and breathtaking scenery! We couldn’t have been happier!
Although it was a little windy, the views overlooking Port de Nice were spectacular, and enjoying life amognst the locals on a Sunday afternoon was exactly what we felt like after a morning exploring Vieux Nice.
With full stomachs, we needed to walk off all of that delicious food we had just devoured – so we set off for Port de Nice, to admire the expensive motor yachts. Suprisingly they were mostly from London. There was a 70ft boat that was the smallest.
It was here, we also had our very first gelato!
After a tiring day of much sight-seeing around Nice, we felt we had deserved a break! Stopping in Place Garibaldi for a refreshing carafe of rose – it was delicious!
While we relaxing and taking in the sights around us over out rose, we were treated to a performance of some type of Capoira. They were very athletic, and we even managed to capture the final moments!
There is so much to see throughout the streets of Nice, we very much enjoyed strolling around, and taking in the local life while we stayed here.
Our body clocks never really quite adjusted to the new timezone while we were in France, so we didn’t venture out too late at night while we were there. It was always so lively and bustling when we did, but unfortunately for us, we were eating dinner at the unacceptable hour of 7pm!
We instantly fell in love with Nice, and we’re very happy we made the decision to spend some time in the South of France on this trip.
Our last experience with France wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, so we both know that one day – we would love to return to this beautiful part of the world.