Nice – The perfect citybreak getaway
Nice always piqued our curiosity. We spent a few hours there while driving through the French Riviera in 2014. At the time, we wanted to visit as many Riviera hotspots as we possibly could. Cannes, Monaco, Grasse, Antibes, and Eze – we explored them all. But Nice was the one that intrigued us the most – the few hours we spent there made us realise we wanted to spend more time exploring its cobble-stoned alleys, acquainting ourselves with its crumbling buildings, and sampling local delicacies at hole-in-the-wall eateries.
Guess what sealed the deal? An unassuming scoop of ice-cream we had at a legendary gelateria in Nice. Fenocchio is a bit of an institution in thecity and one bite of their orange blossom ice cream confirmed why. Its velvety-smooth texture and delicate flavours left a lingering taste. We knew we had to come back, if only to sample every other flavour of ice cream sold there.
Frequent flights and easy connectivity from London ensured we landed at Nice’s doorstep the next summer. We spent the first couple of days strolling through Vieille Ville, The Old Town. Its quaint alleyways, Sardinian architecture, Baroque churches, and historical buildings entice visitors to no end and we were no exception. We clicked endless photos of neo-classic architecture at the Town Hall and grandiose rooms at Palais Lascaris, a seventeenth century aristocratic house. We jumped headlong into the commotion at Cours Saleya, the open-air market. We stared dumbfounded at the intricate Baroque architecture at Chapelle de la Miséricorde, The Chapel of Mercy and spent warm afternoons unwinding at Promenade du Paillon, the lungs of the city. Its water mirrors, fountains, and exhibits make it the perfect place for a lazy picnic or stroll.
Most tourists would head straight to the sun-spangled beachfront for a nap after a picnic featuring baguettes and croissants, but we just couldn’t get enough of the Old Town. So back we went. We loved the iconic monuments but Nice’s smaller, anonymous buildings and art galleries truly seduced us. Getting lost in narrow alleys is nowhere as rewarding as it is here – one is bound to stumble upon a building that has withstood the ravages of time, a little-known museum, or an independent art gallery.
If there’s something we enjoy more than ogling at sites laden with history, it has to be experiential travel. On our last evening in Nice, we met a local resident through Nice Greeters, where residents can volunteer to show tourists their own city through their eyes. There isn’t a better way to acquaint oneself with the culture of a city and we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of our experience with Nice Greeters. Our local ‘greeter’ showed us around and gave us a quick introduction to Nicoise specialities. We spent the afternoon walking around farmers’ markets admiring colourful local produce and sampling wines and cheese from neighbouring areas. Once we worked up an appetite, we walked to a couple of hidden hole-in-the-wall eateries and feasted on delicious socca wraps (savoury pancakes made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil) and scrumptious thin-crust Nicoise pizzas.
Unsurprisingly we found ourselves back at Fenocchio for dessert on our last night in Nice. As we sat devouring luscious lavender ice-cream in a dreamy alley, we found ourselves looking for air tickets to come back to Nice later in the month. Who knows - 10 more scoops of Nicoise ice cream and we might persuade ourselves to move to Nice for good!