The best thing about the beautifully crafted Sky Atlantic show Riviera were the endless captivating shots of clear blue sea, and sunshine glittering on the water… clichés galore and I LOVED it. I spent 10 episodes drooling over the scenery (much more interesting than the show!), and clearly the cogs started turning for Mr TBST, as he whisked me away to Nice for my 30th Birthday a few weeks later (yep brownie points awarded). We spent 4 blissful days in the capital of the French Riviera, and now I’m going to share my top 10 Nice activities…
1. Try the Tomato and Basil gelato… For gelato that’s out of the ordinary, head to The Fenocchio Ice-Cream Parlour and get your chops around their unusual flavours. Avocado? Thyme? They don’t offer samples, so you just have to be brave and commit. You’ll find Fenocchio on Place Rossetti in old town Nice.
2. Take the 100 Bus to Monaco. The Cote d’Azur remains a millionaire’s playground, but budget airlines have made it more accessible than ever before. While some may bemoan the decline in exclusivity, the filthy rich retain a little bit of luxury (helicopter transfer from the airport anyone?!). For the rest of us, who needs a yacht when you can hop on a bus for 1 euro 50 and in less than an hour you’ll be in the world’s second smallest country. Monaco may lack the charm of its Riviera neighbours, but it makes for a fun day out; Repeating the mantra “we have a good life” to ourselves, we ate gelato in the pretty old town, viewed the Prince’s private automobile collection, and picked out our super-yachts for when we win the Euromillions.
3.Climb up Castle Hill (or take the free and fast lift) to see the beautiful views of the beach and port. The lift is tucked into the cliff, and the steps are a little tucked away too, so if in doubt google map it! Essentially it’s close to the #ILoveNice sign, and near the Promenade des Anglais. Castle Hill itself is named a top Nice activity on Trip Advisor, so take your time and remember your camera!
4. People-watch on the the Promenade des Anglais. Stroll along this famous beach-side promenade and watch as the roller-skaters, cyclists, runners and ultra-stylish dog-walkers go by.
5. Try the local delicacies. Head to the world famous flower market for an eclectic mix of floral and non-floral gifts, fresh ingredients, treats and street food. Try the delicious Socca (savoury chickpea pancake), cooked fresh and served in strips off a hot-plate.
6. Relax in Le Spa 27. In the basement of the Westminster Hotel on the Promenade des Anglais, you’ll find a beautiful new spa. The finishing touches; a stunning relaxation area, static bicycles in the pool, mood lighting and high quality facilities, all make this a very special place to spend a couple of hours.
7. Lunch on the beach. There are restaurants dotted along the beach, reached from the steps above on the Promenade des Anglais. They often have sun loungers and parasols for hire, and snack-bar lunch options as well as a more gastronomic menu. You’ll have a great view of the sea if you head to one of these eateries, but you may also have a view of someone eating their chips and dip in their speedos.
8. Binge on baguette and cheese. It’s what France is known for, and there are boulangeries, fromageries and patisseries galore in Nice. So to experience France fully, you’d better indulge. You’re on holiday after all!
9. Take the free walking tour. Where there are tourists, there are walking tours, and I’m a big fan of the ‘pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth’ tours that have popped up in cities around Europe; Packed with enthusiasm, knowledge, anecdotes and humour, they’re a great way to get your bearings, and if that’s not enough to grab your attention, the tour in Nice comes with a free yummy ice-cream sample.
10. Join the masses… run, rollerblade, cycle, Segway, skateboard, catch a boot camp session at the #ILoveNice sign… your choice, but pack your daps as Nice inhabitants are super-fit and their energy is contagious!