Of course I had heard of Nice, France, but nothing prepared me for what I would actually find here.
Arriving on a runway, that seemingly begins and ends in the Mediterranean Sea, the first thing I noticed were all the palm trees. Could this really be France? (A question I constantly received on my subsequent Instagram posts). Well the answer was yes, and it was about to get even better.
It's hard not to feel an immediate sense of calm as you walk down Promenade des Anglais along the row of palm trees and breathtaking turquoise sea.
Of course there is money in Nice. After all it is the South of France. However, there seems to be a much more overall humble and down to earth feel to the city. Much more so than neighboring Cannes and Monaco. I was also not expecting there to be so much to do and for the people to be so nice...I mean maybe it's called "Nice" for a reason. (Sorry I had to make the joke at least once).
France in general I have found to be overwhelmingly nice. I can't count the times I have read or heard someone say the "French are so rude". Seriously where are these people?? I have been in France for six months now and have maybe met one rude person. For that I don't blame the country or the French as a whole. The majority of my time has been met with incredibly lovely people striking up conversation in grocery lines or joking with me in a restaurant. Maybe people are confusing a language barrier for rudeness or perhaps you get what you give? Okay mini rant over. I just had to say it.
Back to Nice!
Its no secret I love an old town. Le Vieux Nice, as its known locally, did not disappoint. If you've seen my Instagram you also know I'm slightly flower obsessed. The daily flower market here had me feeling like I was in heaven! There is so much variety to choose from and everything is so cheap.
Also further down in the same market you can find lots of fruits, vegetables and local delicacies like socca. The area is known for this savory type pancake made from chickpea flour. A must try if you are ever here!
Further into the old town there is so much more to see and do. So many treats to taste and amazing restaurants to try.
Among our favorite authentic restaurants was Acchiardo. The food was unbelievable and the staff were so lovely. Not surprisingly this restaurant becomes full quickly, so get there early. You wont be disappointed. Another authentic experience we had was at the quirky Le Petite Lascaris. The food was delicious and the staff are hilarious.
Between old town and the more modern shops, in the center of Nice, there is a beautiful park area called Promenade du Paillon, complete with dancing fountains.
And of course.... Place Massena with its checkered floors....
If you're looking for a unique vantage point to see the whole city, and find hidden waterfalls, be sure to climb to the top of Castle Hill. You can see everything from up here!
Beyond Promenade des Anglais and Castle Hill you will find the beautiful marina and picturesque hillside.
Besides all the many things to see in Nice itself, there are stunning little towns only minutes away. You can take the train, bus or car through the winding seaside roads. You'll want to have your camera ready for the journey because you wont believe how beautiful everything really is.
A small clifftop town, well worth a visit to is, Eze. It's a little medieval town that you wont even believe is real life as you walk through. Not to mention the views all the way from St.Tropez to Italy are astounding.
A few minutes further along the coast in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
Once a summer home (mansion), it is now open to the public both inside and out. The grounds are gorgeous and are complete with Mozart playing fountains and cacti twice the size of you. Inside you can explore the history or enjoy some tea, wine, treats or all of the above!
Bare in mind I was here in March and everything was this beautiful and active. The South of France has so much to offer that I was not expecting at all. I had heard of it as a summer place for the rich and famous but it is so much more than that, and all year round. I spent a month here and only saw a fraction of what it has to offer.
Two things are for sure...I will definitely be back and Nice has stolen a piece of my heart.