Travel Diaries – Nice

Welcome to Nice!

October 4, 2015
French Riviera – Part 1

We arrive at the Nice airport. Customs waves us through, so we were prepared for a smooth exit from the airport to our AirBNB rental.

Not quite.

The day before, there had been a torrential rainfall which wreaked havoc. Parts of the road and railway to Cannes had been washed away. With no option for people to get from the airport to Cannes, pandemonium set in as planefulls of people were stressed and furious. Good thing Nice was first on our (otherwise unplanned) itinerary! We were able to pick our way through the crowd to the bus 98 which took us to a stop near our rental at Place Garibaldi.

After meeting our wonderful AirBNB host and dropping off our bags, we set out in search of food. We stumble deliriously through the streets, all at once exhausted and hungry but enchanted by the beauty of Nice. We pick up a street sandwich, grab a coffee, and head to the ocean.

Word to the wise: the French drink their coffee black. Only bother to ask for cream or milk if you’re prepared to pay for steamed milk. Café au lait doesn’t come cheap here! I suck it up and drink my coffee black. It’s not so bad after the first few sips (probably because it’s killed the tastebuds by that point).

Sunday is a day of rest… in Nice

Nice tap water is supposedly fine if you’ve built up an immunity to it, but it does a week or so. It’s recommended to drink bottled water until you’ve had enough exposure. Mr S and I figured we’d easily pick up some water and a few other necessities from the grocery store. Not so. This is Sunday afternoon in France, baby – grocery stores? Closed. Convenience stores? Inconveniently closed.

A Google search and neighbourhood walk yielded 2 measly 500 ml bottles of water for the rich price of €5. Ugh, rude! But the only grocery store open in town is a 40 minute walk, and we’re on 27 hours without sleep, so we’ll pay the price to stave off dehydration. Struggling to balance the time change, jet lag, and circadian rhythm, we give in and head to our rental for some sleep.

Nice pizza

After an easy morning spent close to our apartment in Place Garibaldi, we set out to take in Nice’s famous view from Castle Hill.

Before we hiked up the nearly 300 stairs to the top, we stopped in the market for an obligatory piece of pizza. Though socca (a pancake made from chickpea batter) is this region’s famous food, pizza is definitely its unofficial cuisine. It’s easy to walk past 5 pizza places in a row! Fun fact: France is second only to the USA for the most pizza consumption per capita. Mais oui!

You could probably live off of pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month and never visit the same place twice. You can get pizza in any form (Thin crust! On focaccia! Sliced into finger-food perfect strips!) and it’s all delish. Nice was under Italian rule before it became part of France, and you can see Italy’s influence in Nice both in architectural details as well as the food (pasta places are also a dime a dozen).

A perfectly Nice afternoon

The view from the top of Castle Hill is incredible, and the rest of the park is just as lovely. It’s well worth walking around the park to take in the view over the port.

After spending a couple of hours there, we dropped into a (now open) grocery store to pick up some wine to complement our lunch. A classy (haha) €3.50 bottle is hard to beat! Paired with a street sandwich, you’ve got a perfect lunch.

In the evening we visited the lovely Place Masséna with its fountains, buskers, and gold star people watching. We capped the night off with a classic – a crepe!

Next we head to Monaco

Have you visited Nice?  Did you love the pizza (and everything else) as much as I did?  What else would you recommend doing next time?

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