What I enjoy most about a holiday to somewhere you've never been before is the complete emancipation from your real life. In London I am poor and usually cold, while in Nice I am decadent and hot! The Euro bears no relation to real money and I am eager to spend 15 of them on all you can eat mussels and chips, or moules frites. On our first night we went to Le Festival De La Moule, which was nestled amongst a whole host of fish themed restaurants in the city centre.
I was already drunk on beer consumed at the gothic-esque styled drinking den of the old town that is Les Distilleries, Ideales that when presented with a champagne bucket full of mussels in white wine & chopped garlic I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
When it comes to French wine the supermarket shelves resemble an affluent baron's wine cellar
When it comes to French wine the supermarket shelves resemble an affluent baron's wine cellar. There are so many to choose from but the prices are the stuff of dreams! You can get a perfectly satisfying wine for 3 Euros. We took our bottles to the beach on our second evening in Nice. Everyone else does this too, so watch out for broken glass in the pebbles.
Nice's beach and the surrounding beaches are all pebbly so no escaping that. What you do benefit from by venturing further a field is a less populated beach. I hopped on the train at Gare de Nice Ville and went two stops down the line to Villefranche-sur-Mer. The train takes you right to the beach, which is in a cove so you are sheltered from the wind and feel toasty warm! The little shack on the beach that sells booze and food. The 20 strong collection of ice cream flavours included a biscuity Tiramisu and incredible green pistachio you should try. Unless of course you are allergic to nuts...
If you can bear to pry yourself off the beach, venture up hill. In the swankier neighbourhood in Nice you will find a tranquil and secluded setting with a panoramic view of the city. The Franciscan Monastery and Gardens in Cimiez were surprisingly quiet on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The soft terracotta colouring of the decorative Monastery gave way to stony stairs that descended into surrounds of immense natural beauty. The arrangement of lush green foliage and colourful flowers framed against a bright blue sky was truly picturesque. Wandering over to the wall I looked out onto the hills and sea. They are by far the best aspect of Nice. The older buildings with wooden shutters and balconies are romantic but there seemed to be a lack of forward planning and all the newer buildings are concrete boxes lacking imagination and the ability to inspire.
If you are looking for inspiration right next to the gardens, passed a gorgeously old and twisted olive grove, is the Matisse Museum. One of the pioneers of modern art, he lived and worked in Nice from 1917 until his death in 1954. The museum may not house his most famous works but it showcases Matisse's development well. It was interesting to see the objects that he had painted next to the paintings themselves. You could see the elements he had highlighted and details he had chosen to simplify. Nice seems to offer the enjoyment of the simple things in life; beautiful weather, beautiful food and beautiful surroundings. Add wonderful company to this list and you have a heady holiday mix!