Saturday, 20 October 2012

Nice 1 - All Things French, and Dali and a Horse

The Courtyard of the Apartments
6th October 2012

I love that moment when you step out of an airport in some foreign country and the new sensations hit you. I saw the lush palm trees, felt the gentle caress of warmth of the sun and the smell of the sea and jasmine in the air. We were in Nice!

We got the bus  into the city and it was lovely to see the places we'd first seen three years ago again. We'd first gone to Nice in 2009 to have a holiday as well as seeing U2 perform. We loved the place so much we vowed to go back, and three years later here were were!

The View of the Port from our Balcony

We got off at the Port where our apartment was and trundled our cases down the quay. Near the apartment block, a very tiny woman stopped us, it was Barbara our host. Our lily-white skin must have given us away as Brits lol! She took us through two huge wooden doors and we found ourselves at the foot of some marble steps and at the top we walked into a fabulous cobbled courtyard with ponds in each corner and fountains, very pretty. 

The apartment was wonderful, very clean and had all we needed, even our own showers! And the view from our balcony of the Port was fabulous. Barbara had told us there was a patisserie and little supermarket just out side the back door so we went out and stocked up on food and wine!

We had a relaxing evening eating in and drinking wine, our holiday had started!

7th October

Niki de Saint Phalle
Deb got a baguette and croissants from the patisserie for breakfast, they were delicious, still warm! I love the European (alas not British) tradition of going to a local baker for truly fresh bread and pastries for breakfast, you can't beat it!

On the first and third Sundays of the month municipal museums in Nice have free entry, so we decided to take advantage of that. The nearest place to us was the Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain or MAMAC. Neither of us are that into modern art but we went there with open minds. It turned out to be an interesting couple of hours. 


I especially liked the American Pop Art section which had works by Warhol and Lichtenstein amongst others. It is the kind of work that is accessible by anyone which, for me, is what art should be all about. 

 I also like some of the works by Niki de Saint Phalle, especially her "Diaries" which were a very intricate mix of art and words, much of it relating to women's issues. There was also an amazing life-size wedding dress with a long train made entirely out of blue plastic bottles! Unfortunately I can't recall who the artist who created this was.

We then walked the short distance back to Place Garibaldi and went to our favourite patisserie, Serain Cappa, and salivated as we tried to decide what cake to have. They are truly works of art and so many to choose from! I finally chose a Framboisine, a delectable fusion of raspberries and chocolate. Deb got an almond-based cake that I tried, it too was lovely.

We sat under the stately colonade that runs right around the square, in the centre is a large fountain. It's a bustling place, and it was good just to relax and watch life go by. We felt very French eating the lovely cakes and drinking coffee.

Before leaving we bought two Chantilly Meringues to have later at home. We then walked the short distance to our apartment and had a some tea before exploring some more.

We went out of the back door of the complex, turned right and followed the road that ran by the sea.  All along the walk were seats looking out over the Mediterranean Sea, lots of people were doing what we were, promenading, enjoying the sun and fresh air. Soon we came to Coco Beach, which you reach by going down some steps. It's not really a beach, moreso a jumble of large rocks with lots of places to sit.  Again, we just sat and relaxed for a while.

Later we went into the Vieille Ville, Old Town, for our evening meal. The Old Town is a maze of small roads, alleys, flights of steps, shops and restaurants.  The buildings are all very old, often a few stories high and painted in fawns, yellows and terracottas. Wooden shutters on the windows, washing hanging from balconies and poles, you could hear their lives of the local people echoing off the walls, smell their cooking hanging in the warm air, it is very much a living Old Town. 

Some parts are a bit touristy, which we generally steer clear of.  But you can find great restaurants in the quieter alleys. One of these is a little place called Le Barbecue in Rue du Four which we first discovered on our last trip to Nice.  It's set on a few levels on the stepped alley and is cheap, serving excellent food. I had cod fritters to start followed by a delicious steak then ice cream, all washed down with an excellent Portuguese red wine served at the perfect temperature. We were entertained by two Yorkshire terriers that lived close to the restaurant that played and scampered around in an adjoining alley whilst their owners chatted. It was so good to be able to sit outside and eat like this, no way could we have done it back home, in October it would be too cold and probably too wet as well!

We headed home and passed a heavy horse strangely tied up in a corner of an alley. I went to pat it as I have a soft spot for those workhorses of the past, I gave Deb my camera to take a photo. Suddenly I was accosted by Dali, well he looked like Dali. Middle-aged, with a spiky moustache, flamboyantly dressed complete with cravat!  I thought he was going to pose with me for the photo as he grabbed me rather tightly round the waist.  then amongst the French chatter coming from him I recognised the word "Assis" and realised he was trying to lift me onto the horse!  "No way, no way" I said and wriggled out of his grip, I glanced at Debbi who looked horror-struck, she took a quick photo and then I heard her say. "Right, let's go."  I didn't know what was funnier being accosted by Dali or the look on Deb's face!  

We did make it home unscathed and we opened a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne as a late celebration for my birthday. Debbi gave me her present which she'd kept back to bring to Nice - vouchers for my fave restaurant I was so chuffed! - and we quaffed the champers and ate our Chantilly Meringues, what more could you want?  Oh I love France!

Some of the Cakes at Serain Cappa


  1. Reading you holiday stories is always a treat, Sue! I look forward to reading the second instalment. Chris and I have to visit Nice some time. Well, at the moment we are mentally preparing ourselves for our trip to Israel next month.

    (Btw, from one music lover to the other: you should get "Shields" by Grizzly Bear - best album of the year as far as I'm concerned.)

  2. Thanks Andy! Hope you enjoy Israel, and thanks for the info about Grizzly Bear, will look it up.