This past weekend, dreams of basking in the beau soleil of the famed Côte d’Azur in the south of France became a reality. It was a much-needed refreshing and relaxing excursion from the hustle and bustle of Rome. The nicest things about Nice (pun intended) are as follows:
1 – The pebble-stone beaches.
While wobbling your way down to the shore on a foam-pit-like base of pebbles sounds challenging, it’s well worth it when you can sit comfortably and bask in the shallow end and allow yourself to be consumed and lapped by the icy cool waves. The bonuses? No sandy bikini bottoms and an quick (and cheap!) souvenir of vibrantly colored rocks.
2 – The WATER.
It’s definitely called “Côte d’Azur” for a reason. The most beautiful shades of cerulean, indigo and turquoise that compose the crystal clear waves make for a surreal dip in the ocean. It feels clean and the salt does wonders for your hair and skin. The temperature of the water is also prime contrast to the heat as it’s just cool enough to where you aren’t shivering. The waves are also calm but not in a way that is boring, but rather, relaxing. Additionally, nothing is more beautiful than watching the salmon pink sun set on the water in the evening as you go for a run or a bike ride down the promenade.
3 – The hike to the waterfall.
If you’re a person whose experiences abroad are impacted most by beautiful views, this hike is no exception. In addition to being composed completely of paved stone stairways, there are a few stops along the way to the very top that provide the most stunning views of the ocean, the sienna rooftops sprinkled densely around Nice, and the mountains. It’s also wonderful in the sense that if you are coming straight from the beach, you can easily make the trek in flip-flops or sandals to reach the waterfall wonderland that awaits behind the trees. It’s just challenging enough as well, so you aren’t drained when you reach the top.
4 – The pharmacies.
When I went to Nice, I was sniffling and coughing due to a bad bout of a mild sinus infection. I don’t know what it is about French pharmacies but their products incorporate natural ingredients, such as thyme and chamomile, and actually feel like they’re invigorating your system to improve your health. The beauty-magazine-raved sunscreen brand La Roche Posay is in full stock, and the hand sanitizer smells just like a nice gin and tonic.
5 – The food.
Seafood soul-surfers unite! Only the freshest fish and crustaceans await your palate, and the preparation with the finest of French cuisine techniques makes it infinitely more delicious. Additionally, the service is very friendly and helpful. Even if your French is limited to je m’appelle Ashley and merci beacoup, the hospitable waiters will gladly help you decipher the menus. The food simply feels and tastes authentic. Local wine from Provence suits any sommelier’s sinuses and the presentation is aesthetically pleasing.
Favorite spots include:
> La Petite Maison for fine wining and dining and excellent service. I highly recommend the Sea Bass.
> Fenocchio Glacier for countless artisan ice cream flavors, such as Avocado, Jasmin, and Fleur d’Orange.
6 – Galeries Lafayette.
It’s much like Spain’s famed Corte Ingles or the London’s Selfridges, but with a French twist. In stock are the latest styles from French fashion houses like Sandro, Comptoir des Cotonniers, and Maje, creating a unique authenticity that can’t be found perusing department stores in the States. From Isabel Marant wedge sneakers to Yves Saint Laurent lipsticks, Chanel shades and Chloé satchels, it’s a fashionista’s fantasy.
7 – Nightlife.
After hours, the nightlife in Nice is just as vivid and lively as the hibiscuses that decorate the window sills during the day. I went during the kickoff of the World Cup, which couldn’t have been a better time to explore the streets and neighborhoods in the pleasant evening air. Groups crowded around large TVs to watch the professionals at their finest. In addition to a plethora of bars and clubs, Nice is also home to a world-famous cocktail bar, Fred’s, in which there is no menu: baristas ask you what flavors best suit your taste buds and then concoct a unique drink to match them. Mine consisted of gin, violet syrup, rose syrup, half a lemon, cranberry juice, and cucumber slice garnish.
On a final note, I will add that Nice hosts twenty museums, two of which host the works of Matisse and Chagall. I unfortunately had very limited time during my stay, but all the more reason to return for another visit to satisfy my sartorial sweet tooth. Until then, à bientôt!