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Eating My Way Through Nice

View from Le Meridien Hotel in Nice France
View from La Terrasse at Le Meridien Hotel in Nice

La Chaise Bleue, Nice FranceJust for the hell of it, click on nice-is-nice.com and see what you get!

Now you know how I really feel about Nice. The skies have been blue, the sun warming whatever skin is exposed and the aqua color of the Mediterranean is still as lusciously inviting as ever — in fact we spotted a few swimmers, in spite of the cold December air. Unfortunately, by the time you read this, I’ll be on the train back to cold, gray Paris.

Christmas Decorations in Nice, FranceWhile I am no longer a tourist in Nice, I still feel as if I’m on vacation when I’m here as the pace is slower, the ambiance more relaxed and the people friendlier…than Paris. The holiday decorations all over the city are beautiful — and everywhere you turn. From my third floor balcony, one can see the white-lit rhinestone motif pine cone decorations that line rue Masséna…with a view from their own height. Just down the street at Place Masséna, rockets in white lights are strewn all over the Place — based on this year’s theme: “Noël à la conquête de l’espace.” (“Christmas conquering space”) (there’s something a bit “phallic” going on with these rockets and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but have you seen the joke online about why palm trees should not be lit for Christmas!? See the photo from Civitanova Marche in Italy.)

Christmas Decorations in Place Massena        Christnmas on Palm Trees in Nice, France

Christmas Tree in the Promenade de PaillonOn the Promenade de Paillon, the spotlight is on a lighted conical fir tree 20 meters high that changes colors and patterns, reflected in the shallow pool at its feet. The fountains do their dance and change colors: red, white and blue. (See a one-minute video) The facade of Galeries Lafayette is lit with festive images. The Ferris Wheel mirrors the fir tree on the opposite end on the Parc Albert 1er, as part of the Christmas village with its sixty cottages installed on the garden grounds. For security reasons, the Christmas Market is gated and entry is allowed only after a search. (I simply hate that we are caging ourselves in because of our fear of terrorist attack.)

 

 

Jean Gilletta's photosMeanwhile, there’s an exhibit at the Musée Masséna (on until March 5, 2018) well worth a visit, of Jean Gilletta’s photos taken from 1870 through 1930 of the Côte d’Azur. He was THE photographer of the Riviera, having opened a photography studio in 1880 and in 1897 founded a postcard publishing company. His photos of Nice and environs have toured the world — this is a small glimpse into the 10,000+ that he took.

If you love Nice, you will love this exhibition, reminiscent of a Nice past…and you will equally fall in love with the beautiful Villa Masséna, “an architectural gem of the Promenade des Anglais.” Built on the Promenade des Anglais between 1898 and 1901, it was the winter residence of Prince Victor of Essling (1836-1910), grandson of Nice André Masséna. His son, André, heir to the estate at the death of his father, donated it to the city of Nice in 1919, and the Masséna Museum was inaugurated in 1921.

For five days, as I usually do, I “ate my way through the city,” using “La Fourchette” (The Fork) as a great way to easily make reservations, often at a discount, making it even more worthwhile to try new restaurants. I find the cuisine in Nice to be generally better than Paris and less expensive. Here’s what was on my agenda this past week — and I can assure you, you will not be disappointed (alphabetical order)!:

Meal from Bistrot Antoine

Grilled Calamari at Bistrot Antoine

Bistrot Antoine

Top of my list, I go there every time I’m in Nice if I can. One of Armand Crespo’s four restaurants in Vieux Nice — a serious bargain for the quality. Reserve well in advance to get in and if you can’t, then you’ll be happy in any one of his others: Le Comptoir du Marché (see below), Le Bar des Oiseaux (5, rue Saint Vincent, +33 4 93 80 27 33) and the brand new Peixes (4, rue de la Opera, +33 4 93 85 96 15).

 

Bistrot de l’École de Nice

Excellent and overwhelmingly friendly and accommodating — the owner went out, bought fruit, just to make me a fresh fruit plate for dessert, even though we were enjoying a big discount!

Il Vicoletto

When I land in Nice, I head here first. Very authentically Italian, very accommodating and the best lunch deals of all the restaurants. I love these guys for always treating me like family.

Cafe Le Meridien Nice, FranceLa Terrasse, Le Méridien Nice

(or thefork.com/restaurant/)
Food is very good and the view is FABULOUS, but it’s pricey. Book with the discount to make it seriously worth it!

Le Bistro Dalpozzo

There is usually a musician or singer making it a romantic venue and the food is excellent.

Le Boudoir

Pricey-ish unless you have the discount, but worth it.

Meal at Le Comptoir du MarchéLe Comptoir du Marché

Another one of Armand Crespo’s restaurants and fabulously delicious. Not to blame the restaurant, but Saturday evening when I was there, we were seated next to a group with a baby. The woman actually changed the baby’s diaper right there at the table — which I must say, was to me rather disgusting. Then I noticed WHO it was: believe it or not, it was Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi and his wife, Laura Tenoudji, with their October-born baby. I like the guy — he could make it to the presidency. But seriously? His wife needs to learn a few table manners!

Mayor Christian Estrosi, his wife and baby at Le Comptoir du Marché, Photo by Michael Honegger

Mayor Christian Estrosi, his wife and baby at Le Comptoir du Marché, Photo by Michael Honegger

Le Victor Hugo

No website, no Facebook page, no nothing.
1 rue Berlioz, 06000 Nice, France
+33 4 93 87 11 58
Run by two women (woman chef) and their bulldog mascot, and only open at lunch, but it’s exceptional. The locals go there with their little dogs who benefit at the end of the service when the chef brings them leftover meat. I love everything about this restaurant including the two caustic women who you won’t want to make angry!

Les Deux Terrasses

My least favorite of all the good deal restaurants.

Portovenere

Excellent Italian on “restaurant row,” but the best of the bunch. Look for the big guy chef with the toque – owner and chef.

A few special notes:

SOS: A VOICE THAT CAN HELP YOU

SOS Help is a volunteer phone service designed to help you when times are tough. Joan Westcarr speaks to Andrew, one of the many voices behind the phone as he explains how the SOS team works. This is the first in a series dedicated to introduce you to the many community organisations here in Paris designed just for expats. Listen to Andrew now.

VICTORY OVER RENTS!

Excellent news for Landlords! The Paris Administrative Court annulled the orders fixing the reference rents for Paris, making the rent-framing scheme of the Alur law unenforceable in the capital. The Parisian jurisdiction followed the same reasoning as the administrative Court of Lille. The soap opera is not finished because we are waiting for the reaction of the public authorities. But it is an undeniable victory for the owners, especially since the decision indirectly recognizes the chambers of the UNPI as representatives of the owners. Read the full report (in French) by downloading this PDF.

A la prochaine…

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