La Fougasserie, a favourite bakery

5 Rue de la Poissonnerie, 06300 Nice, France

Tel. +33 4 93 80 92 45

Old Nice is flooded with good bakeries; choices are immense, and decisions are difficult to make. Each bakery has its own face, adding something extra to the usual selection of croissants, pain au chocolat, pissaladiere, pain bagnat, etc. Thus we always find ourselves shopping for “baguette tradition” in the bakery close to Chez Palmyre, “brioche a la  pistache” in the bakery off Palais de Justice, and “tarte fleur d’oranger” on rue Droite.

However, there is one bakery, La Fougasserie, where we shop every day. Our daily purchase is their multigrain bread, the recipe of which comes unchanged from the 17th century. The bread is the best I have ever had. It offers a mixture of textures – a crunchy crust, soft chewy inside and an abundance of grains sprinkled over the crust. Faced with describing it to friends, I call it “orgasmic”, which makes my husband look visibly embarrassed but nevertheless gives justice to this artisanal creation. Needless to say, the bread is sold out very quickly. However, one can reserve a loaf or two, a tip which took us years to learn and which makes our life now considerably easier. No cake for us, Marie Antoinette, when we can have our “pain multigrain” from La Fougasserie.

 

Gelateria Azzurro, a favourite ice cream place

 

1 Rue Sainte-Reparate, 06300 Nice, France

Nice has an abundance of ice cream shops, and most of them are very good. Perhaps the reason for it is the high competition with Italians who open numerous gelato places here. The flavours and colours of local ice cream are mind-boggling, and choosing one is not easy. That said, our favourite ice cream shop is Gelateria Azzuro in Old Nice, and this is why.

The first thing that springs is the friendliness of the staff. Fiercely proud of their product, they are not anxious to make a sale if a customer might not be satisfied. I was once tempted to buy violet ice cream. The colour looked so pretty, and the idea of eating a flower-based gelato sounded good. “Have you ever tried it before?” was the question which I got from the vendor. After my “no”, he offered me a taste which saved me from a bad purchase. Non-traditional flavours could sometimes be a challenge. In the end, I settled for Ferrero Rocher, one of my favourite flavours. It turned out to be the best I have ever tasted which prompted me to return to the shop over and over again.

Gelateria Azzurro is a family-run business which opened in Nice in 1996. Their specialty is home-made ice cream and cones. It is hugely popular with the local French, another good sign.  Last time I bought ice cream there I saw a sign- “2nd best ice cream shop in France”. I was not surprised in the least.

Cave de la Tour, the family-run wine bar you can’t resist

 3 Rue de la Tour, 06300 Nice, France

www.cavedelatour.com

20170302_062909Imagine you have very limited time in Nice, you are dying for a drink (and food), and you have to make only one choice which will satisfy all your touristy requirements –  authentically French, a pretty location, the presence of locals, lots of character, great wine and food, and, most importantly, good prices. Then you do not have to look any further than Cave de la Tour.

An institution in Nice since 1947, this family-run business is located in one of the most picturesque streets in Old Town. Its specialty is local wines served by the glass. You can also order a bottle, an experience which will not break your wallet. A plat du jour, usually a local specialty, is served at lunch. Making reservations is essential since seating is limited and you will have to compete with both tourists and locals who love the place. Otherwise, having a drink inside or outside, at large oak barrels serving as tables, is also a treat. One can always order cheese or some other kind of local snacks, like pissaladiere, to go with wine.  All in all, a very satisfying experience.

Maison Auer

7 Rue Saint-François de Paule, 06300 Nice, France

http://www.maison-auer.com

If one were to choose the most beautiful shop in Nice, it will undoubtedly be Maison Auer in Old Town. Located in front of the Nice Opera House, the shop boasts a stunningly beautiful Florentine-style interior. It is a family-run business since 1820, and the current owner Thierry Auer is the fifth generation chocolatier. Fiercely committed to producing some of the best products on the Cote d’Azur, Thierry keeps his business local, having refused to expand to Paris. His guiding principles are loyalty to the quality of his products and the quality of his own life.  After all, La vie est belle a Nice.

 

Maison Auer is a chocolaterie confiserie. It sells chocolate, candied fruit, glazed chestnuts and many other local specialties. A great thing about the store is that you can buy as many or as few delicacies as you wish. I like the idea of picking several chocolates to share with my husband, a fun thing to do without worrying about calories.  Among my favourite products are chocolate almonds. I have never tasted anything better. Maison Auer is not cheap but is worth every penny. No wonder that even Queen Victoria was one of the customers.

 

 

 

Chez Pipo, the place for socca

13 Rue Bavastro, 06000 Nice, France

http://www.chezpipo.fr

 Visiting Nice and never tasting socca is like visiting France and never having champagne. A local specialty, socca is a chick-pea flatbread sold all over Nice in restaurants, cafes and special socca stands. If you would like to taste what is considered the best socca in town, Chez Pipo is your place. Going to Chez Pipo for socca would also give you a nod of approval from the locals, read “you have good taste”.

An institution in Nice, Chez Pipo is located in the port area. They do not take reservations and are always extremely busy. If you would like to sit outside in the summer, make sure you plan for it, otherwise the wait might be long. A portion of socca and a glass of rose is all you need for a pleasant appero, but they also serve other local specialties like pissaladiere, tapenades, etc. Not to be missed!

 

 

 

Chez Palmyre

 

20170302_0633385 Rue Droite, 06300 Nice, France

Phone: +33 4 93 85 72 32

If you have to pick just one restaurant in Old Nice which would reflect the local cuisine and culture plus give you the best value for your money, choose Chez Palmyre. Mind you, you have to make reservations as far in advance as possible. I have never seen anyone showing up at the last minute and getting in. A week in advance should be sufficient, but if you prefer dinner to lunch, you might consider contacting them earlier.

 

The place is very French and filled with locals. The interior is simple but with a lot of character. The walls are decorated with finds from the local antiques market. The menu, which changes once every several weeks and reflects seasonal products, is written with a chalk on the mirrors and boards. For mere 18 euros you can get a very memorable meal. Alcohol is very inexpensive. All in all, this is a never-fail choice.

Chez Palmyre, one of the best kept secrets of Old Nice

 

20170302_063409

 

We first noticed Chez Palmyre on our way to the beach on rue Droite. It looked like one of those very traditional French restaurants that tourists like being photographed in – wall mirrors with inscribed menus, simple wooden tables and chairs, an old-fashioned bar at the entrance. It looked interesting, and we thought that we should check it out some time. But, as usual, one tends to visit places which are not in the exact proximity to where one lives, and Chez Palmyre happened to be very close to our apartment. We passed it every day, marveling at the menu displayed outside, observing the crowd descending on the place every day for lunch and dinner and feeling sorry for the owners getting the restaurant ready for the next day late at night, the time when we would be heading back home after the night on the town.

And then one day, when our stay in Nice was coming to an end, we said to ourselves:  “This is the day. Chez Palmyre, here we come.” We decided to make it a dinner meal and headed for the restaurant around 7 pm.  Alas, it turned out that we could not just waltz in, we had to make a reservation ahead. Disappointed, we asked for a dinner reservation the following day. Well, they were fully booked, and not just for that day but also for the next and the day after that. We finally managed to squeeze ourselves in five days later. It’d better be good, we thought.

Well, Chez Palmyre did not disappoint. All the dishes proved to be delicious and carried out with a precision bordering on perfection. This, of course, is not particularly surprising since the menu stays the same for two or three weeks before they switch to a new one. It seems that the restaurant’s strategy is to produce high-quality inexpensive dishes which would please the palate but would not hit the pocket. And they succeed. All the dishes are seasonal and reflect the local cuisine. For 18 euros one can get an appetizer, the main dish and a dessert. Wine is also inexpensive. You can get a pitcher of local wine for only a few euros. The baguettes which they serve with the meal are to die for, and I suspect that I know where they get them – the same place I do, but that is another story.

Since that first visit, our love story with Chez Palmyre goes on. We try to have a meal there every time we are in Nice. Mind you, now we are smarter and often phone from Holland weeks ahead if we want to get in on a particular day. We always mention the place when asked about our favourite restaurants in Nice, we bring our friends to Chez Palmyre, and we never fail to check out their menu on the way to the beach, just to be informed. Last time we were in Nice, we were sitting at Chez Palmyre one cold January evening, surrounded by locals (the advantage of being in Nice off season) and enjoying our hearty Nicois meal and wine, and felt a pure joy of belonging to the neigbourhood. And what can be better that that?

Why “Nice on the Run”?

As an avid traveler, I always like to be prepared for a new adventure. There is nothing more annoying than missing an interesting site, a great restaurant or a cultural event, especially if it is on the French Riviera. Things become even more tricky if you have only several days at your disposal. What do you do? Where do you go? How do you combine the cultural and gastronomic aspects of the place? How can you experience a place like a local? How do you know that your restaurant of choice will leave you with that wonderful memory of authentic food and ambiance rather than  the feeling of disappointment and a considerably depleted wallet?

And so I usually spend hours and hours going through different travel books, googling different sites and trying to get advice from my friends who already visited the place where I am going. The latter is my  option of choice since I prefer personal opinions to impersonal  information of travel books. Unfortunately, this option is not always available.

“Nice on the Run” is a personal look at the capital of French Riviera. Being owners of an apartment in Old Nice, the heart of the city and the place to be in terms of food, culture and entertainment, my husband and I often treat our friends to personalized tours of the city. Most of our visitors have only a couple of days in Nice, and we try to make sure that they make the most of it. This blog intends to provide my personal advice on what to do, where to go and what not to miss in Nice, particularly if  time is an issue.