“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” Susan Sontag
Bonjour! This week’s virtual travel journey takes us to Nice, France, where deep blue waters of the Cote d’Azur are the dramatic backdrop for an elegant city. Breathe in the fresh Mediterranean air as you stroll the famous Promenade des Anglais, be charmed by the quaint streets of Old Town, or gain a panoramic view of the whole city from atop Castle Hill. Indulge in classic Provençal dishes and wines in one of the city’s intimate cafes or bustling brasseries. And don’t pass up the chance to experience the French Riviera’s glitz and glamour by taking a day trip to Saint Tropez.
Nice has a beautiful Mediterranean climate, with gorgeous mild temperatures for most of the year. You can expect brilliant, sunny summers and cool winters. Nice is in the Provence on the Cote d’Azur, or the French Riviera, as it is now referred to. Nice sits upon France’s southeast Mediterranean coast, which is famed for its exceptional weather. Summers in Nice are long and hot, but like many of its neighbouring Mediterranean cities, the hot days are made pleasant by the cooling sea breeze. However, this usually arrives in the evenings, when it is really needed, after scorching summer days, which often see Nice reach temperatures of 38 – 40°C. The average daily temperature rises from 20°C in June to 24°C in July and August, providing consistently pleasant days, then rampaging heat. Even the average low temperatures are warm, rarely dipping below 20°C in July and August and still maintaining a pleasant 17°C in June and 18°C in September. Autumn is a great time to visit Nice, as the summer heat still lingers but the crowds have dissipated, leaving the city much quieter than during the previous months. With average high temperatures remaining at 21°C in October.
The top 3 activities to do/see in Nice:
Walk the Cobblestone Street of Vieille Ville
Wander through the narrow streets of the historic centre, and enjoy the cool cobbles, and shopping streets. The Old Town of Nice is made of tall tenement houses lined up along narrow and shadowed backwaters. The ground floors are occupied by restaurants, shops, and the galleries of local artists. You can buy everything, from Provencal spices to hand-made jewellery, and locally made soaps. Just go in and let yourself be carried away by the past, which is still very much present there, today.
Walk to the top of Castle Hill:
Of all the places that are essential to see in Nice, one of them is Castle Hill, with its ruins of a defensive wall, an artificial waterfall, and an elevator built into the rock. Castle Hill in Nice (Colline du Château) dominates the city, and divides the seaside part of Nice, into two parts: the eastern part with the port, and the western part, with the Old Town of Nice. The 92 m high hill offers views from all sides, and tourists take the most recognisable photos of Nice from there. The building looking like a huge barrel just by the stairs, it is the Bellanda Tower, which now houses the Maritime Museum. It was built in 1826 and is a reconstruction, of one of the bastions of the former castle. The French composer Hector Berlioz lived within it. Here he wrote, among others, the famous “King Lear” overture.
A visit to Massena Museum:
Inside the most beautiful villa on the Promenade des Anglais, you will find the elegant Musee Massena. Surrounded by stately manicured gardens, the estate is an oasis of tranquility, and the villa itself, has been beautifully restored.
The first floor is decorated with artwork, antique furnishings and personal effects from the Massena family, that built their home within its confines, and whose family history, was deeply entwined with the Napoleon Bonepart and added to the history of Nice.
The second floor is consecrated on thematic elements of the history of Nice from the 19th century through to just before WWII, including military memorabilia, and uniforms.
Nice does not fall short of refinement, so characteristic of the French cuisine, with Mediterranean influences, materialised in the use and consumption of seafood, fish, vegetables and fruit.
Another notable feature of the regional cuisine observed in Nice, refers to the extensive use of a wide range of herbs, such as bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano and, in moderation but constantly, garlic. Olive oil is an ever present ingredient, and this is precisely what distinguishes the cuisine. Traditional foods include:
The salad is a mix of slices of tomatoes, slices of hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes and steamed green peas, all laid on a layer of lettuce. The entire “edifice” is topped with tuna (either canned or seared) and canned anchovies.
This type of flat unleavened pancake (crepe) is made of chickpea flour and olive oil, and it is served hot and heavily seasoned with pepper. It stands as an excellent quick snack.
The apple tart is a fabulous dessert in France. The dessert is made with a flaky crust topped with a vanilla custard, and thinly sliced apples. The tart is then baked until lightly browned and flavoured with a dash of Vanilla essence.
Look out for another exciting virtual adventure next week,
Charlotte Fellows and Sarah McNaught
Researcher and Writers