I often talk about moving to Europe; specifically France. I'm a "bit" of a Francophile. This means I am constantly weighing the pros and cons of each French city I have visited and I usually end up with two cities in mind: Lyon and Nice. I've visited Nice twice and it is simply lovely. Here's a breakdown of the reasons I would love to move to Nice:
- Ease of Travel
- The beaches of the French Riviera
- Franco-Italian city
Ease of Travel: Nice is a hub for the TVG. That means that you can be in Cinqueterre (the best beaches in Italy) in 3 hours, Paris in about 5 hours, and Champagne for a lot of bubbly in a half day (although I would recommend you break up that trip into a few days). Besides all the great stuff in Nice, you can check out the surrounding towns by bus. I'd recommend: St. Paul de Vence (a must if you are a Marc Chagall fan), Villefranche (kind of a gorgeous place), and Antibes (check out the Picasso museum).
Transportation: (Click the image to get a larger view of the tram map) Traffic in Nice can be challenging. Luckily, their public transportation system is quick, easy, and fairly priced.
- Lignes d'azur: They are a very pleasant ride, since you get to take in all the sights of Nice. The city of Nice also has a great art program, and art pieces are installed throughout the route of the Ligne by artists. It is really a pleasure.
- Taxis: There are also plenty of taxi drivers around in Nice. I found that they were great at recommending restaurants (seriously, this is France...they taught me how to get cheap Michelin starred meals). You just need to find the designated Taxi stop, hail one, or call one to pick you up where you are.
- Vélo Bleu: Nice's bike share service boasts over 1200 self-service bicycles in 120 stations located around Nice. This is quite convenient since the city has 34 km (21 miles) of cycle-paths for you to enjoy. Just make sure to check your velo before hopping on to make sure it is in good working order.
Restaurants: Food in Nice is awesome. Seriously. The best part about dining in Nice is that there are tons of Michelin starred restaurants, and quite a lot of them offer some awesome lunch prix fixe deals. Skip the touristy restaurants, they will end up costing you the same as a nice Michelin starred lunch. Then at night, pick up something small and enjoy the nightlife. The list of 2013 Michelin recommended (and starred) restaurants is below.
- Chantecler - 2** at the Hotel Negresco at 37 Promenade des Anglais (33 4 93 16 64 00) - Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland
- Aphrodite - 1* at 10 Boulevard Dubouchage (033 04 93 85 63 53) - Chef David Faure. Closed on Mondays & Sundays.
- L'Aromate -1* at 20 Avenue Maréchal Foch (33 04 93 62 98 24) - Chef Mickaël Gracieux
- Le Bistrot Gourmand -1* at 3 Rue Desboutin (33 04 92 14 55 55) - Master Chef of France Chef David Vaqué
- Flaveur - 1* at 25 rue Gubernatis (33 4 93 62 53 95) -
- Keisuke Matsushima - 1* (Blanca recommended) at 22 T Rue de France (33 4 93 82 26 06) - Chef Keisuke Matsushima. 3 course lunch menu €28 Euros
- L'Univers Christian Plumail - 1* (Blanca recommended) at 54 Boulevard Jean Jaurès (33 4 93 62 32 22) - Chef Christian Plumail. 3 course lunch menu €23 Euros
- Au Rendez-vous des Amis - bib gourmand at 176 Avenue de Rimiez (33 04 93 84 49 66 ) - Isabelle and Thierry Bagni. 3 course lunch menu at €38 Euros
- Bistrot d'Antoine - bib gourmand at 27 rue de la Préfecture (33 4 93 85 29 57) - €3o Euros with wine.
You'll also want to hit up the Cafe de Turin. It's been there for over 100 years and for good reason. It's located in Place Garibaldi. Grab a seat outdoors and order yourself as much shellfish as you can. They serve it super fresh & super delicious. Make sure to try the crevettes grises. They are my favorites.
Food: You and I both know you're getting the Nicoise salad...but there are plenty of other treats for you to check out while in Nice. Make sure to pick up some socca, it is a chickpea pancake, baked over hot coals on steel platters. A great way to recharge as you walk the streets of Nice. Pissaladière is a great example of the Italian-French blend that exists in Nice. It is sort of a tart, sort of a pizza usually topped with anchovies, olives, and onions. Since you're right by the water, you should certainly get moules marinières. They are usually served in a large ‘marmite’. Ask the locals to show you the proper way t crevetto eat them.
Markets: Check out the flower market of Cours Saleya in the Vieille Ville (old town). I suggest you reach it from the water side, Old town can be quite touristy and crowded - worth a visit...but only one. The market obviously has flowers, but most importantly super fresh, super delicious fish and produce for you to take home and experiment. There is also a Marché aux Puces (antiques-flea market) on Mondays if you're into antiquing. When you go to the market, make sure to bring small bills, the vendors tend not to break large bills when you're buying just a tomato. Oh yeah, and a reusable shopping bag.
The beaches of the French Riviera: The beaches in Nice are gorgeous, and unlike Cannes, regular people like you and I can afford them (in Cannes the beaches are nicer, but one usually pays about 40 Euros per person per day). The beaches are rocky, so make sure to bring water shoes. There are showers at the public beaches so you can wash the salt off of you as well.
History: Nice is an amalgam of Italy and France (two of my favorite countries) In 1860, Nice was returned to France from Italy. This Franco-Italian city brings together the best of both cities, to bring to us ‘la vie Niçoise’.
Music: There is live music all over Nice. You can usually pick a restaurant and listen to some lovely live music. If you're into Jazz, Nice has an outstanding Jazz festival which usually takes place in July. You can also enjoy the Fete Du Port which takes place in September. They have lots of food, music, artists, and fireworks. You can check out the Yatchs while munching on 2 Euro escargot. The city's best restaurants set up booths and for a fixed price you can taste whatever you like.
How to get to Nice
Planes: Super easy, fly to Nice airport. It is a pretty busy airport and it should not be too hard to find flights.
- Airport Express Bus: Take the 98 to the Nice bus station - Gare Routiere or take the 99 to the Nice main railway station.
- Car: Should be around 20 Euros.
Where to Stay in Nice
As you know, I'm not a fan of hotels. I do long term travel. This means I require a kitchen, some space to work, and a washer dryer. I did add two hotel options, just in case you don't have luck with AirBnb.
- Airbnb Book early, since summer is quite popular. If you can't find a rental via Airbnb, then definitely check out the aparthotel below.
- Hipark Résidence Nice: Great hotel. You can get a suite with a living room, and kitchen. The hotel has a pool and a fitness center. It was clean and we saved money by cooking dinner at home.
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