Exploring different French towns is always a tremendous pleasure. The South of France is full of ‘oldy-worldy’ ones which over the years have become the favourite haunts of people who go in search of more temperate climates. The region enjoys such a climate but there is so much more than just the sunshine that visitors find so attractive about Nice. It is the combination of a relaxed lifestyle that is infused with the flavours of the region that makes it so very charming.
The old part of Nice is a place that just begs to be explored. The narrow lanes lined by houses with their balconies laden with pots of geraniums overlooking cafés and restaurants, shops and people wandering along in the sunshine, makes it a delightful area to discover and then explore.
The cafés, bars and restaurants are found in the Old Town serve the best ‘Socca’ I have ever tasted. There are restaurants offering traditional fare which is just out of this world. One such restaurant is ‘L’Estrilha’. Nestled in a little lane right in the heart of Vieux Nice, this very popular restaurant is a real find. It is always wise to make a booking if you ever want to enjoy the amazing dishes found here. They serve their specialities in ‘amphores’ and you have to taste them to really understand just how good these traditional Plats Niçois really are.
If you want to taste the best ‘pissaladiéres’ in the south of France, then just wandering through the lanes of Vieux Nice, you cannot help but be enticed into one of the many shops that sell this delicious savoury pastry delicacy which is made out of onions, black olives, garlic, herbs and anchovies. I know I could not resist the aromas as I walked through the lanes and it was simply wonderful.
The great part about Vieux Nice is its’ proximity to the old port. Walking through the lanes in the shade of the many balconies is a delight but when you come out onto the quays of the port it is a great experience that has to be enjoyed. The area really opens out onto the magnificent vista of the Mediterranean Sea in such a splendid manner.
I spent the whole day just ambling through the lanes, sampling everything I could and buying lovely gifts that are so typical of this region to take back with me for friends in England. The time just seemed to evaporate. Then after a superb ice cream on the port, we made our way back to Boulevard des Anglais to rest up before once again returning to the old town for a superb dinner at l’Estrilha.
It is no wonder that in times long past, Nice was an incredibly popular destination to take in the beauty of the sea, the sun and the atmosphere. Vieux Nice today feels much like it possibly did back then. To me it felt like time had slowed down and had preserved a truly wonderful place in the sun with all of its’ unique traditions married to a way of life that is to say the least, as beautiful as the town itself.
Old Town of Nice
- What to see:
Mairie de Nice
Palais de la Prefecture
Palais de Justice
Palais du Vieux-Nice
Saint Reparata Cathedral