Overlooking the Côte d’Azur

Nice

A week following our second trip to Paris, Jessica and I set out to Nice to enjoy our lovely weekend at the beach.

We stayed at another apartment rental and I had found this one through Airbnb (please do check it out and consider it if you are paying a visit to Nice, I highly recommend it!).

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The location of this apartment was fantastic. It was five minutes away from the train station by foot and it was very central. Everything was within walking distance and according to Google Maps, the beach (my main purpose for this trip) was half an hour walk away, but it really only took us 15-20 minutes more or less.

Nice Airbnb

The host, Albert, was also staying in the same suite, along with his girlfriend and adorable dog. Upon entering his apartment, he showed us around the house and asked if we wanted anything to drink, and if we wanted to rest or if we would like him to show us around town. He also showed us thank you cards his past clients (he referred to us as clients, très professionnel) sent him. He wasn’t boasting about how everyone enjoyed their stays, he was just genuinely happy talking about meeting people from all over the world. Super sweet guy. Made us feel right at home and relaxed, and it was just like we were visiting a distant relative. He even recommended us to visit a nearby island if we had time. He showed us photos of him and his girlfriend and how to get there by train (which was a 10 minute ride), etc. Such a pity that we didn’t have time to go (sad face).

We paid $269 CAD ($240 plus Airbnb service fee) for two nights. Compared to Paris, this would be very cheap, considering the quality of our stay compared to our previous Airbnb experience. However, Nice is a very small city and obviously its value in location differs greatly from Paris. Also, a lot of other listings on Airbnb were a lot cheaper, but I was, nonetheless, quite happy with paying this price. To me, it was reasonable, especially because of Albert’s hospitality and his delicious homemade breakfasts! He served croissants the first morning and they were the best I ever tasted. Not sure if they were homemade, but they certainly didn’t taste like the store bought croissants we have here at Safeway. Second morning, which was the day we were catching our train at 8:00am, he got up early just to make us crêpes. How kind!! He originally only served us cheese-filled crêpes with tomatoes, but he insisted that we try his sweet honey and walnut version, which all his clients loved and raved about. He also kept asking if we wanted seconds and scolded us for trying to wash our own dishes.

(And no I wasn’t paid to review my stay and talk good things about it. I had to pay to praise it! LOL.)

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The apartment itself was rather fancy and had a somewhat high class feeling to it (maybe because the nearby stores and other apartment entrances looked so run down), but the area in which it was situated in was definitely a bit ghetto/shady.

After settling down, we headed out to afternoon tea at Pastry Plaisirs. Reviews for it on TripAdvisor were very positive so I e-mailed them in advance to book a reservation. Not only did they reserve a table for us, they also inquired if we had any allergies and such, very thoughtful!

When we arrived, it was super empty. No need for reservations at all LOL.

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Everything was small and dainty and the food was amazeballs, simply delicious! It was quite hot, hence I ordered a shaken cold tea instead and it was so soothing, so perfect for the summery weather, loved it!

This was my first time having high tea and the food just kept coming and coming; I was completely overwhelmed! If I recall correctly, total came to €20-25 ($28-35 CAD) per person.

We ventured out to explore the city after.

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We strolled along in Vieille Ville/Vieux Nice or Old Town Nice. The little boutiques here mainly sold souvenirs and clothes (swimsuits and beachwear especially). Fashion in Nice, in comparison to Paris, had a very laid-back style. A lot of these stores sold flowy maxi dresses that were great for the beach and oh my gosh, so many carried cheap sun umbrellas and I wanted to get one so badly except it wouldn’t fit in my luggage (poop).

We walked and walked and eventually found ourselves at Promenade des Anglais, the beach!

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We climbed to the top of Colline du Château (Castle Hill) and discovered an amazing view overlooking the French Riviera.

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I watched the peaceful waves roll gently against the shore as the wind blew lightly and the smell of saltwater drifted in the wet air. I heard seagulls screeching as they soared in the crystal blue sky. I felt droplets of water bouncing against my bare arms as I stood by the waterfall observing the city and its people. Just like that, time seemed to slip by without me realizing and the sun slowly sank into the horizon, disappearing into the busy shadows of the streets. (Damn, this sounds so cheesy LOL! Too poetic for me, but this whole experience was really, truly, very, very breathtaking!!) I’m sorry Paris, but I fell in love with Nice.
For dinner, we dined at Le Séjour Café, which according to TripAdvisor (again) was the number one restaurant in Nice (pretty sure that as a tourist, everyone goes through that stage of, “Number one!? We HAVE to try!” so I hold no shame in doing this).
The restaurant was a bit hard to recognize. We walked past it, unsure if it was the one, then we had to walk back again, and had to look around for the restaurant’s name to make sure it
was the one, which was all rather embarrassing. Oh well, we were thick skinned tourists so no worries.

Nice

Before our appetizers came, the waiter presented us with a tiny shot glass of juice (cream?). I was in the restroom when this happened so I unfortunately don’t know the name of this. It was quite refreshing though (somewhat minty) with a hint of mushroom and very thick.

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For starters, I had a salmon tartare. Followed by a fish entrée (don’t exactly remember the French names for the dishes that I ordered). Of course, no dinner in France is complete without dessert, so I finished off with a floating island.

On our second day in Nice, Albert took us to the public market. Apparently there were two, one for flowers, the other for produce and miscellaneous goodies, but it all just seemed like one giant outdoors market to me.

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I absolutely adore flowers. I couldn’t resist and bought myself a bouquet, even though I knew it’d just end up wilting in my bedroom back in Lyon anyways (oh well).

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We also checked out Fragonard Parfumeur. We had passed by one on our previous visit to Paris and I saw these lovely rose-shaped soaps that I’d wanted to buy as presents for my host mom, but never had the chance to. So I bought it this time, yay!

Nice

For the rest of the morning, we strolled around the city and later enjoyed lunch down by eat street.

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Before setting out to the beach again, we went back home to drop down our victory goodies from shopping and also got changed.

When we came out of the apartment, we ventured out the opposite direction of where we usually would head towards and discovered Notre-Dame de Nice right around the corner.

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Albert also suggested us to visit St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. I saw this on TripAdvisor and the photos were beautiful. It was beside the train station so we figured we would go right before we take our train depart back to Lyon, but we completely forgot about it (oops).

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All of the beaches were lined up against the French Riviera on what was called the Promenade des Anglais (as mentioned earlier). When I was still back home doing research on places to visit in Nice, I read about how there were public beaches versus private ones. A private beach would basically be an upscale resort-like experience where you could order food and drinks and have them served to you as you relax and tan. Chairs, sun umbrellas, towels, you name it, everything would be prepared for you. On the other hand, a public beach would be, well you know, a beach. With nothing. You gotta bring your own stuff.

There were so many different beaches that we couldn’t decide on which to go to so we randomly chose the Ruhl Plage, which was a private beach. Our original plan was to save money and just hit up a free (public) beach, but somewhere in the back of my head I still imagined myself chilling by the waters and sipping on a fancy cocktail so that was what we decided to do. A drink at Ruhl was around €9 ($12-13 CAD) which was a tiny bit expensive, but hey, a vacation calls for treating yourself. We waited to be seated (the place was packed!) and we were so excited because we overheard there were still a couple seats empty, but we were told that just sitting there, in one of their beach chairs would cost us €40 ($57 CAD) per person. Just sitting there. Just your bum. Touching their deck chair or whatever the hell you call that wooden piece of furniture. $60. SAY WHAT!??!!!!

Anyways, we ended up going to the public beach right beside. Not sure what the name was, but it was free and that was all that mattered.

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Now regardless of being public or private, most of these beaches actually had pebbles instead of sand. This was shocking news to me because in my dictionary, a beach without sand just wouldn’t be a beach. There were still sand beaches nonetheless, though not that many, but I was down to try this new pebble experience.

The moment I took off my sandals, I was screaming in my head. It was so so sooooooooo extremely extremely painful. I’d never gotten a Thai foot massage before, but this would be what it would feel like. The pain was just excruciating and unbearable. And here I was walking into the water slowly and awkwardly, trying to embrace the pebbles while everyone else around was jumping and running around. (They must’ve had iron feet.)

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The Mediterranean Sea was incredibly stunning. It had a rich colour gradation of green to blue and these photos definitely do not do it justice.

Nice was exceptionally hot the weekend of our visit, but it was strangely relaxing sleeping under the burning sun. I’m a completely irrational, ironic being. I love the beach, but I hate the sun. Or I suddenly decide to love the sun, but oh wait it’s too hot never mind, I want winter back. And to be honest, I’m not a big fan of tanning just because I always tan unevenly and Asians tend to look dirtier tanned (or maybe that’s just me) like ugh I don’t know how to explain it. My Asian folks out there, you know what I’m saying??????? Anyhow, despite that, I just forgot about everything and I legitly fell asleep. We were supposed to be reading for class, but it was just THAT comfortable (surprisingly because my feet sure didn’t get along with them pebbles). At this moment, I’ve still got crazy tan lines running berserk all over but I enjoyed Nice and its beach so much I could honestly care less (except that uglyass sandal tan on my feet ARGHHH).

After an afternoon at the beach, instead of having “actual food”, we had ice cream for dinner. Aww yeaaa we the cool kids, ain’t got moms nagging us ’bout not eating sweets as dinner.

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Arlequin Gelati Italiani. Their flavours were meh. It was unique (consisting of ingredients such as red pepper and a bunch of other things I’d never heard of) but very limited (red pepper with dark chocolate, blah blah blah with dark chocolate, you get the idea). And we had to keep asking what was in each of them since a lot of the names were just way too out there and completely ambiguous.

I ended up going with “Divine”. It was very chocolatey with a hint of pistachio. It didn’t photograph nicely (plus the ice cream scoop boy didn’t do his job well), but it was good. Very creamy, very rich, very divine.

Gelateria Azzurro (top 4th restaurant in Nice) was another ice cream shop that we had passed by a few times while on our way back and to the beach. It was ranked as the second best ice cream place in France, but for some reason, for the longest time I always thought Arlequin (9th) was better. Oh well, just one more thing added to my “must revisit” list.

The following day we rushed to catch our 8am train so not much to talk about there. Guess this concludes my Nice post then. Definitely had a fantastic, nice weekend in Nice!! A lot of travel bloggers tend to say there’s nothing to see in Nice and its history isn’t as rich hence it doesn’t really deserve its popularity. I highly disagree. I mean everyone enjoys different things but summer, beach, and ice cream? Nope, can’t think of anything else better.

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