The French Riviera

April 1-6, 2015

I flew from Barcelona to Nice on a short one-hour flight. The airport is small and as you approach, the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean catches your eye and all of a sudden you can’t wait to be on the ground, ‘does it really look like that up close?’ you ask yourself.IMG_9474 IMG_9436

I took the 91 bus which leisures its way along the promenade providing a full view of the water as you make your way to the center of the city. As soon as I stepped off the bus I snapped a picture. I was in paradise, and even though it wasn’t 80°, the beauty of the city had already won me over.

Nice {kneez} is lovely because it feels like a town. It’s roughly the width of the bay it borders, as far as the eye can tell (not geographically speaking), and extends inland giving it the essence of a tiny coastal town lined with colorful and historic buildings.

I think the next language I learn will be French, if, for the sole purpose, to live in Nice. 

I arrived on a Tuesday night and enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal at Oliviera with friends from Madrid. Delicious olive oils, each unique, were poured upon our different dishes.

It was my friends’ last night in the city and so they shared with me all of their best finds, the most important of which, was Fennochio’s. After our dinner we walked the few minutes to the famous Gelato shop and laid our eyes on the 100-varying flavor display.

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It was then that I fell in love with Gelato and made it my mission to return each day of the five that I would be there. I am happy to report; mission accomplished.

I tried their most famous flavor and one I was sure would become my favorite, Speculous (aka Trader Joe’s Cookie-Butter, um, yeah), Pistachio, Peanut M&M, and two of their more non-traditional flavors, Lavender and Vanilla Rose Pepper.

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You see, Nice is in France, but it is so close to Italy that there is a large Italian influence here. I think I’ve determined that this is the reason it is so perfect; French wine and landscapes + Italian foods. Perfection.

I ate nothing but amazing pastas here, so if you’re coming to the French Riveria expecting to try French food, well, maybe try somewhere else or do some research first.

I made the short and fairly easy climb up the steps to Colline du Château, the manmade waterfall, at the top of the most eastern part of the Promenade des Anglais. This is also where you can get spectacular photos of the beach and mountains in the distance or take a seat and gaze upon all that is below you. I climbed it three times during my stay. IMG_9506

IMG_9531There is also a war memorial you should see if you continue along the promenade, around to the port side, as it’s quite impressive.

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While there’s not much to see on the port side I did enjoy the walk and as I made my way back I stopped and took a seat on the built in benches around the bend and enjoyed the sun and a good book.

Later that afternoon I was able to catch the end of the daily flower and product market. I purchased a small bottle of lavender oil for just a few euros!

IMG_9571I came across one of the wine shops in town. Rosé is the most widely drank wine in Nice and it’s pretty yummy!

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Strolling around Nice is something you can easily spend a few days doing. There are quite a few things to see, and more importantly, quite a few places you’ll want to eat at! There are several restaurants I didn’t make it to that I had hoped I would.

In addition to the waterfront, there are a few parks spread around the city, namely, the Promenade du Paillon which is an urban park in the heart of the City. My favorite part of this park are the fountains that go off in varying intervals.

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My first evening there I was lucky enough to stumble upon a unique art exhibit being displayed! I somehow seemed appropriately dressed for said exhibit and almost blended right in with the bubbles filled with colorful fish.

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I spent the next day with three different friends from Madrid who had arrived the night before. We revisited a lot of the gems I had found the previous day, took a short bus ride to Monaco, and finally lunched near the secret Coco Beach.

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The weather wasn’t as agreeable this day, but the sights were still lovely. Monaco wasn’t much to see but it was nice to walk around the famous city and awe at all of the gorgeous luxury cars being driven around.

Coco Beach and the small street lined with restaurants nearby is a great place to stop for lunch and get away from the larger crowds in Nice and Monaco. You can take the train or bus here, but be warned, if taking the bus you will have to trek down a pretty large hill. I partricularly liked this area because it was so secluded but had plenty of options for eating and the beach is just big enough.IMG_9658 IMG_9638

The next day we would leave Nice after failing to extend our reservations. It was Easter weekend and everything was completely booked, so we made our way to Cannes as we had originally planned.

We arrived in Cannes so late in the evening we didn’t have the opportunity to see much. We had a rather mediocre meal and saw the bay, but that’s about it. I’ll definitely have to go back and do some of the tours and island trips available from Cannes.

The next day we opted to take the 10 minute train ride to Antibes which was recommended to us by my previous hostel staff in Nice. Antibes is amazing! It is another perfect little town like Nice but filled with yachts. Here is where we saw one of the top 10 biggest yachts in world.

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The old town of Antibes is adorable, filled with antique shops, wine shops, and shops you want to browse in for hours.

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It also has a small beach and on this day there was a healthy amount of sun so locals and tourists alike had flocked to it to soak up the rays. The great thing about Antibes is everything is in walking distance. You can go from beach, to pub, to macaroon shop all within a 10 minute walk.

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 You can also walk on top of the old castle walls to view some of the yachts from a higher vantage point and admire this piece of art!

After a late night with friends and running home in the pouring rain, we awoke before the sunrise the next day to catch our train to Marseilles. We had been told many times that there is nothing to see in this city, but since return flights were cheaper from there, that’s where we were headed.

I had just enough time to transfer from the train to an airport shuttle and jump on my plane with 5 minutes to spare – you could say I like to use my time *efficiently*. 🙂

The French Riviera was an amazing trip and I hope I am lucky enough to visit again one day. I now understand why all of the wealthy people summer here.IMG_7326

 Things to do next time!

  • Eat Socca, a chickpea crepe
  • Mount Broom and Terra Amata
  • A trip on the Chemins de Fer de Provence
  • Visit the medieval village of Eze
  • Cinema tour in Cannes
  • Day trip to St. Tropez

 

xoxo, C

What are your thoughts? I hope you enjoyed catching up with me!

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