Discovering the French Riviera, Part One: Nice, France

The holidays already seem like a distant dream. I was frolicking across the French Riviera just a week ago, but it feels like an eternity. Perhaps the freezing Washington, DC air is to blame…

At least I have fond and fresh memories to keep me afloat as I settle back into reality. This is the first post in a four-part series chronicling my escape to three cities visited during the holidays: Nice, Monte Carlo and Antibes. I hope you enjoy and learn from this brief adventure to one of the most dazzling and arresting places in Europe, in case you find yourself planning a trip of your own to the Côte D’azur.

Part One: Nice, France

It’s no wonder why several artists find refuge in Nice. Rich colors and scenes dot every corner in the French Riviera’s second-largest city (after Marseilles). You can sense the excitement below even while flying above the Bai des Anges, or Bay of Angels.

Upon landing at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, my family and I hopped on a taxi to drop off our luggage in our apartment rental on Rue de la Buffa. Palm tree after palm tree reminded me that I truly was vacationing on the French Riviera. Seagulls fluttered about, while the sea reflected warm, golden light from a splendorous sun.

After a few relaxing minutes to ourselves in the apartment, we sailed through a nearby Christmas market on our way to the Cours Saleya flower, fruit and vegetable market in Old Nice for olfactory and gastronomic inspiration.

An impressive ferris wheel set the scene for Nice’s Christmas market, which offered specialty goods like incense and sweet breads.

My senses tingled like never before when we finally reached Cours Saleya, the locals’ go-to destination for all things fresh. Countless flowers in vibrant shades of reds, pinks and oranges were proudly on display.

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Lavender soaps in an array of shapes – from the classic bar to the more amusing macaron – offered promises of scrumptious scrubs.

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But the true crown jewel? The fruit. Seemingly every orange, lemon, cherry and more boasted radiant glows. I felt as if I were in a jewelry store, except these gems cost much less than diamonds donned by the Riviera’s finest ladies. I was in heaven, and so was my wallet.

After stopping at La Fougasserie for a quick lunch (you must try the tartines), we continued tantalizing our taste buds with a lengthy stop at La Cure Gourmande (translation: “The Gourmand’s Cure”). Mounds of curiously gorgeous (yes, gorgeous) cookies filled with fruity jams and chocolates called my name.

My brother and I selected tins to fill with our choice of cookies to enjoy later. Several delectable biscuits sucrés in delightful flavors, from strawberry to apricot to almond, found their way into my little tin. I felt like a kid in a candy store, except these candies possessed a gourmet gene not found in M&Ms and Oreos.

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With cookies in hand, we sauntered over to Galeries Lafayette on Avenue Jean Médecin for a different kind of indulgence. Hailed as one of France’s most upscale department stores, the establishment exceeded its reputation. Luxury goods from Prada, Givenchy and Valentino abounded, and the shoe floor was nothing short of extraordinary.

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As always with (window) shopping, one becomes weary. Café crèmes cured our afternoon daze, and we returned to the apartment for a brief siesta before dinner.

After researching nearby restaurants, we decided on visiting L’Octopussy at 11 Rue Meyerbeer. The menu was as intriguing as the venue’s name, and every dish made our stomachs jump with joy. I selected the duck breast with figs and honey sauce (Magret de Canard aux figues et sa sauce au miel) in an attempt to broaden my culinary horizons.

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What a lovely plate. The sweetness from the delicate figs and honey sauce balanced the duck’s rich flavor, while the polenta below added comforting texture. Excellent service made it quite the enjoyable evening.

We fell asleep instantly when we arrived “home” and our heads hit the pillows, already anticipating our visit to Monte Carlo the next day…

À bientôt,
Jonathan Ochart

DESTINATIONS

La Cure Gourmande
2 Rue Sainte-Reparate, 06300
Nice, France

Galeries Lafayette 
6 Avenue Jean Médecin, 06000
Nice, France

RESTAURANTS

La Fougasserie
5 Rue de la Poissonnerie, 06300
Nice, France

L’Octopussy
11 Rue Meyerbeer, 06000
Nice, France

4 thoughts on “Discovering the French Riviera, Part One: Nice, France

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