Nice … my highlights

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If you only have a few days to spare, here is my selection of experiences and top sights. Make sure you check opening times for the restaurants as they close on different days of the week.

  • Farmer’s Market in Cours Saleya – a large market full of wonderful fresh seasonal local produce. Try the socca (chick pea pancake) with a glass of local rosé. Get there about 9am to avoid big crowds. We found a reasonable coffee at Les Ponchettes on the corner of Place de la Poissonnerie and Cours Saleya.  Daily except Mondays. From 8am to approximately 2pm.
  • Brocante Market in Cours Saleya – around 200 dealers congregate every Monday to sell antiques.  Includes kitchen paraphernalia, artworks, fabrics and nick nacks. Prices are a bit high but you can usually negotiate.  Roughly the same hours as the Farmer’s Market.
  • Walk to Le Chateau – for fabulous views of the city.  Take the free ascenseur (lift) to the top and walk down the hill ending up in Rue Rosetti in the old town.  Then wander around the narrow streets of the Vieille Ville (old town).  The ascenseur is at the eastern end of Promenade des Anglais – set slightly back from the seafront.  Look for the signs.
  • Palais Lascaris – a small baroque palace in the heart of the Vieille Ville. Beautiful architecture, musical instruments and paintings. Combine this with your walk down from Le Chateau (above). 13 Rue Droite. Daily 10am to 4pm except Tuesdays.
  • Hotel Negresco – walk along the Promenade des Anglais at night and stop off at the fabulous belle époque style Hotel Negresco for a cocktail or a glass of champagne in Le Relais bar. Rather expensive but worth it for the experience.  The hotel looks particularly beautiful at night.
  • Train trip to Villefranche sur Mer – a pretty seaside village with steep winding streets and plenty of cafes and restaurants for crowd watching. There is a Sunday Brocante market which gets going at about 10am.  The train trip takes less than 10 minutes from the central railway station.
  • Dinner in the Vieille Ville – at night the Cours Saleya converts from a market to a dinner venue. We had a great Soupe de Poissons at Le Safari – sit outside for people-watching.  If you don’t find anything to your liking here, then venture further into the vieille ville.  We liked L’Escalinada for typical Nicoise food and Oliviera for fresh local produce matched with provencal olive oils.

If you have more time, consider a market tour and cooking class with Rosa Jackson of Les Petits Farcis – a wonderful day and worth every Euro !!

Les Petits Farcis …

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With Kate in Rosa’s kitchen

Eating out is a way of life in Nice, France’s fifth largest city located on the Cote D’Azur. For years it was an Italian dominion, and only became part of France in 1860.  Eager to learn about its unique style of food, we booked a market tour and cooking class with Rosa Jackson of Les Petits Farcis.
We met Rosa in La Civette du Cours – a busy local café and bar located in the Cours Saleya.  Over coffee, Rosa filled us in on the history of Nice and its food, and then guided us around the market pointing out the local specialities and buying fresh produce for our cooking class.

A short walk took us to Rosa’s charming renovated 17th century apartment located up four flights of stairs in the Rue du Jesus, a narrow street in the Vielle Ville (old town). There we donned aprons, nibbled on tiny black Nyon olives and fougasse, and with Rosa’s guidance prepared a delicious four course Nicoise lunch.  The menu varies according to participants food preferences and seasonal produce, today it was:

Baked zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and parmesan
Duck breasts with chestnut honey
Panisse (chick pea fritters)
Local cheeses
Tart aux fraises (strawberry tart)
Plus a few glasses of Provencal rose and red wines

We stumbled out of Rosa’s apartment late in the afternoon and headed straight back to Rue Dalpozzo for a long nap …

Our first day in Nice …

Our first breakfast

Finally … after years of planning I have arrived in Nice with my friend Kate.  The trip was pretty exhausting – thirty six hours of flying, waiting in airports and then walking around the city to try and get our body-clocks back on track.  This morning we awoke in our chic little apartment in Rue Dalpozzo after twelve hours sleep feeling almost normal.

Naturally, the first thing on the agenda is breakfast, and a quick trip to the local boulangerie on the corner to buy un escargot and une demi-baguette. I can’t tell you how good a fresh baguette tastes when spread with thick provencal butter and vegemite !!!

By the time we had finished breakfast, the food and flower market in the Cours Saleya was well underway, and we returned loaded down with provisions – quiche, pissaladiere, olives, sardines, cheeses and the most fragrant and delicious strawberries I have ever tasted. Already we are like the French and planning several meals ahead.

We finished the day with champagne and cocktails in Le Relais bar at the iconic belle époque Hotel Negresco. Tomorrow we have a market tour and cooking lesson in a four hundred year old apartment in the old part of Nice… more on that in my next post. Bonne Nuit.