Bonjour from Nice
Nice is a large resort city on the Mediterranean in southern France, along the glamorous Cote d’Azur.
It’s warm! Okay, not as warm as Corsica but Nice has hot summers and mild winters. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but the coastline is lovely, the Old Town charming and the mountains are spectacular. The beaches are made from pebbles (no sand!), so best to hire a sunbed if you want to be comfortable.
Avoid the tourist tavernas along the Promenade de Anglaise. They look lovely – so chic, so Frenchy – but the food is often overpriced and tres ordinaire.
Olive oil, garlic, anchovies and hardy Mediterranean herbs like sage, thyme, marjoram and oregano are used liberally to infuse most dishes. Many soups de jour served in Nice are topped with pistou – a drizzle of crushed and blended garlic, basil and olive oil.
Pissaladière – and no the name is not taking the mickey out of a salad – is a kind of thick, doughy white pizza with an olive oil base (tomato passata is a no-no in this dish) topped with garlic, onions, anchovies (what else?) and sometimes olives and cheese. You can buy it by the slice or order a whole fresh one as a meal. Great cold, too.
Lastly, make sure you sample a triangle of warm, oozy socca, a flatbread made from chestnut flour.
As you’d expect from a coastal city, fresh fish is super popular. Expect a lot of grilled and stuffed vegetables in summer, especially zucchini, tomato and eggplant.
Rosé, of course! It’s the perfect quaffer for those long days in the sun. Most restaurants sell Provençal rosé by the carafe, but you can shop around and get some really good-quality rosés that are dry, avoiding the sweeter varieties (and perhaps a nasty hangover). For a real treat, try Domaines Ott for top-end rosé from just along the coast, or Château de Rouet Rosé on a budget.
Best food souvenir
A socca – the flat, round pan used to make the chestnut flour flatbread of the same name. The pans come in a variety of circumferences and can be pretty heavy. Don’t return to Australia with a pan too big for your oven!
Getting there and around
Catch the TGV Méditerranée high-speed train from Paris (about 5½ hours). A combined tram/bus ticket is the best way to get around Nice and the Riviera. Hourly bike hire is readily available.