Nice – a weekend at the French Riviera | Travel Diary

Even though we got married in June 2018, our honeymoon had to wait until November the same year, as we were planning to visit Australia and Fiji Islands for the first time.

To overbridge the long weekends, we choose to spend some in European cities we hadn’t been to before and Nice happened to be the first destination. Coming from Berlin (TXL), it’s only an about 2 hours flight to Nice which makes it pretty accessible for a weekend trip. Starting on a Friday after work, we arrived in Nice in the early evening and right in time for sunset. After a quick check-in at our hotel, we went to a restaurant that I had found in my research… honestly, we couldn’t have started Nice any better. Sitting in a romantic backyard under little lamp bulbs in late Summer, eating Mediterranean food, and have a bottle of wine… this could have been Italy, frankly. I had to remember myself that Italy wasn’t too far away and that food that we consider as the Mediterranean is not only reserved for Italy. In any case, this restaurant worked as an ideal welcoming of Nice and set a high standard for the following days.


The next morning, we went straight to the city on the search for a café with outdoor seating, croissants, coffee, and orange juice (just as we had experienced it in Paris). We hadn’t booked breakfast in our hotel to be able to fully enjoy the culture and culinary delights of Nizza. Well, we might have been naive as Nice is not Paris and it was surprisingly tough to find a café that meets all our criteria. Eventually, we ended up in the Boulangerie Jeannot.

Place Masséna

On our way, we passed by the imposing Place Masséna, which is a very special scenery with its chessboard floor and the walkways covered with vaults.

Walking over the beautiful chess-tiles felt almost royal and the facades in pink and yellow were beautiful to look at. We passed the Fontaine du Soleil up to the Rue Saint-François de Paule, a parallel road to the world-famous Promenade des Anglais at the sea. Finally, we reached our breakfast place, purchased the food to go, only to eat it in front of the café. We were lucky and happy that we found the place because apparently, breakfast cafés in Nizza happen to be unfortunately very rare.

La Côte d’Azur et la Promenade des Anglais

After breakfast, we went to the popular Promenade des Anglais – the most famous stretch of seafront in Nice (if not France) to catch sight of the beautiful turquoise sea. The water is beautiful and has a very unique color! However, the beach itself is rather unspectacular: Along the Promenade des Anglais, runs the 6-lane coastal highway for the whole 4kms and separates the beach from the hotels and apartments. It is frankly noisy. Also, it is a pebble beach. The little stones contribute a big part to the beautiful turquoise (or better: azure) color of the sea, however, they are quite uncomfortable. So if you want to spend a day at the beach, make sure to bring a padded beach and best way swim sues. You can also check out the many beach clubs with sunchairs and umbrellas. Having only so much time on the weekend, we rather spend our time else with and after looking at the sea for a while, we went for other places.


Vieux Nice, or: Old Nice

Even though the view at the sea is beautiful, we wanted to change our perspective after a while and decided to climb up on Castle Hill. Therefore we had to walk through the Old Town of Nice. Also called Old Nice, it lies just below Castle Hill. The Old Town of Nice is full of historic tenements, churches, and squares. If the French hadn’t put their flag on house walls, I would have thought I was in some city in Italy. The architecture of the tall tenement houses lining up along narrow and winding alleyways reminded me of Italy’s Tuscany. That’s because the port city was repeatedly under Italian rule in the past.

While strolling through the Old Town, there is a lot to discover: Several cathedrals, churches, and shops that are worth closer look at. Most popular is the centerpiece Cours Saleya: a massive market square, mostly selling food, but also souvenirs and flowers.

The alleys guided us through the old town, and while we made some stops here and there, and peeked through the shop windows for fine pastries, oils, figs in various options, and other delicacies, we had one main goal:

Castle Hill

The top of Castle Hill. Up at 100m, the hill provides a beautiful on various landscapes. At first, you will see the Promenade des Anglais. From above, the coastline looks even more picturesque and impressive and the color of the water is living up the coastlines famous name: It is indeed bright turquoise (Thanks again to the pebble stones!).

By walking a little further, there is another excellent view of the harbor Villefranche-sur-Mer. This is also a perfect place to spot the airplanes approaching Nice. While we enjoyed the view, an Emirates A380 majestically flew in which was almost magical to watch at (if you like airplanes). Also, there were so many succulents and cactus that frame the view on to the harbor. I must have taken 1000 photos – all the same, and yet all so different. I just could not get enough of it.

La crêperie et la pluie

Unfortunately, we couldn’t only watch planes but also big dark clouds rising behind the hills in no time. Suddenly, the sky became very dark and we couldn’t wait to leave the top of the hill as fast as we can. Though, we could not make it far, because it started to rain in no minute which is why we rescued ourselves into a nearby crêperie (could be worse). There, we tried typical “Galettes Bretonne”, crêpes with ham, cheese, and an egg. Funny enough, we tried our first Galettes Bretonne in Provence.

Unfortunately, the rain wouldn’t stop which is why we protected ourselves with a plastic foil that we got from the crêperie (remember: always have an umbrella with you) and walked our way down the hill, through the now empty Old Town in direction of our hotel. Halfway, there was the Galeries Lafayette and we thought we could use the weather as a permit to go inside for a little stroll… Eventually, we spent an hour or two at the Galeries Lafayette and I was very successful. Apparently, in France, they still sell the brand KOOKAÏ, which unfortunately is no longer available in Germany and I got hold of a few nice pieces that now always remind me of our little weekend trip to Nice.

When it was still raining cats and dogs afterward, we went back to the hotel and drank rosé at the hotel bar on the roof, which offered a nice view to the surrounding houses, but certainly didn’t show its most spectacular side in the rain and under a cloudy sky. Later in the evening, we went to a French restaurant nearby that is hardly worth mentioning and went to bed early in the hope to wake up to better weather the next day.

Day II

Fortunately, we were not disappointed. The next morning, the sky welcomed us back in a beautiful blue and the sun was shining brightly. This time we wanted to take advantage of the weather. After all, we had been badly surprised the day before. So we packed our beach stuff, went again to our Boulangerie from the day before, to not waste any more time in looking for breakfast places that Nice truly misses…. There, we again ordered croissants and baguettes but this time, we didn’t choose to sit in front of the café but rather took our breakfast to the small beach section nearby and enjoyed our delicious bakeries in the sun, watching the sean. One can surely spend some NICE hours here, haha!

Afterward, we strolled again through the remaining part of the old town, which we had missed the day before due to the rain. Here, one Italian restaurant follows the next (after all, the border to Italy is less than 40km away…) and the air smells of pizza, tomatoes, figs and all kinds of sweets.

Unfortunately, most of the restaurants were closed in the afternoon, otherwise, we would have liked to eat here. Instead, we had our last meal in Nice in a rather simple restaurant on the Promenade des Anglais. Frankly, we had imagined it to be more luxurious, considering it the seaside is one of the most glamorous and luxurious beach sections of the Mediterranean Sea…?!

But maybe we simply have to come again to convince ourselves of the better. Anyway, that evening we went back to rainy Berlin. We haven’t even left France, I was already missing the French Rosé and the Mediterranean cuisine… Nice certainly increased my admiration for Southern France and probably also rose my interest to go to Italy soon. Hence, the South of France and Tuscany have now been added to our bucket list for 2019. Let’s see if we can make it!

Where to eat and drink:

x La Langouste Mediterranean restaurant with high-quality food and reasonable prices.

x Boulangerie Jeannot serves typical french breakfast, fresh bakeries, coffee, pain au chocolat, freshly squeezed juices as well as baguettes with figs and cheese.

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