SIGHTS in Nice:
The Nice Carnival
It's the event in winter along the French Riviera, the Carnival of Nice. Every year round about 1,3 million visitors participate in this event. The festivities go back to a long tradition. Already in 1294 Charles d'Anjou, Count of the Provence, spent some enjoyable days in Nice. In 1830 the first parade through the city took place and in 1873 the festive committee was established. The Nice Carnival cannot be compared to other carnivals, for example the one in Cologne. Nobody dresses up in costumes here. It's not a carnival to participate in but to watch - and there's far enough to watch. Twenty wagons adorned with flowers roll over the Promenade des Anglais. The decoration of the wagons is taken care of by florists from Nice exclusively, since they have to apply for participation. Apart from the flower corso the paying audience is also offered a show with bizarre figures, much music and dance. You can buy tickets from the 26th of January onwards at the Office du Tourisme. A seat on the tribune for the parade costs 20 euros, a standing place is 10 euros.
At the Ironman in Nice the athletes sweat and rave: The location is so beautiful that that it's almost a shame they have to hurry through it. At 6.30 a.m. it starts with the 3.8 km swimming contest in the turquoise coloured waters of the Côte d'Azur. 50 minutes later: Get on bikes and peddle 180 kilometres (in words: one hundred and eighty) up and down the Maritime Alps. If they are still able to move their legs they have to get onto the streets and run 42 kilometres. The first one to reach the Promenade des Anglais after these trials has made it, winning one of the most difficult contests of all, in one of the most beautiful settings. The best athletes reach the magical finishing line around 3 p.m., while the last iron men and women arrive around 10.30 p.m. You can't begrudge them some time to party! At the Place Masséna the Ironman Village awaits spectators and athletes with a gigantic firework display and many events for all the senses.
He is the only representative of the Modernist Period that Pablo Picasso considered to be his equal: Henri Matisse lived in Nice from 1918 until his death in 1954. This is why his most beautiful works are on display here.As with all the museums in Nice the building itself is a real attraction: On the hill of Cimiez, near other sights like the Franciscan monastery with its opulent garden, it has a magnificent view. Henri Matisse himself had lived in the neighbourhood in a 17th century villa. The museum accommodates about 500 pictures, drawings, book illustrations, etchings and sculptures from all the different creative period of the artist.Entrance fee: Adults 5,- Euro, reduced fee 2,50 Euro.
EAT in Nice:
What used to be the odd dull soup has turned into a fad: The starter. Whether it's called mezze in Arab or tapas in Spanish, who wants to be trendy these days skips the main dish. Why? Because it relieves the bad conscience, since, so goes the fatally flawed thinking, they are just small portions anyhow - until the scale tells you a different story. The other advantage is uncontested: You don't have to pick with your fork in your neighbour's food, because it looks so much better than what you have ordered. The starter plate offers all the tastes that the restaurant has on offer; you'll just have to find something that you like. The L'Ybane is the mezze Mecca of Nice: You can plough through taboule, hummus, falafel and flat breads, most of them also suitable for vegetarians. The modern interior comes along in muted colours and with big chandeliers for an extra helping of sophistication. Another L'Ybane has opened in New York, but no matter if here or there, the audience is similarly trendy and stays on for a while, in order to enjoy the cocktails or a good, French wine at the bar. If you have it on you, you might as well reward yourself with a champagne for classy 395,- euros.
Some time ago, it smelled like roasted peanuts here, today there is a scent of Charolais beef in pepper fleur de sel crackling with crushed garlic and mashed potatoes in the air. We are in the heart of Nice, in the restaurant L'Aromate, by chef de cuisine Mickaël Gracieux. Already in 2008, he settled down in the former peanut roasting house. L'Aromate means herb, and accordingly the colour green stretches across the little restaurant - along the walls to the table runners. In the big hall there are seats for 20 guests. Gracieux loves to experiment with fresh products from the region. His creativity and passion for cooking paid off: since 2010, Monsieur Gracieux has his first Michelin star. Two menus are at choice - one for 55, another for 77 euro. At lunch time, you eat cheaper: a main course costs 17 euro. How convenient: the shopping street Rue de Lépante is right around the corner.
A smart restaurant may make you think: Big plate, nothing on it, and a hefty bill. Not in the 11e Art, because here everything is smart, even the presentation: Modern interior, with bar stools made of steel outside and sofas inside, this restaurant is a refreshing newcomer to the trendy, young scene of Nice. And then the food: For a menu with six courses you pay 36 euros, and they are well worth it. The duck breast with polenta may look small, but it fills the stomach and is absolutely divine. Just as the fois gras, the sorbet and just about anything that you order here.Despite the stylish ambiance, the 11e Art has maintained its relaxed ways and convinces with its magnificent food and incredible service: If you are a vegetarian, the waiters fiddle with their menu until it's suitable for you. And if you don't know what things mean, they take your hand and explain everything. Finally, if you like Japanese food, you can get that, too, because one of the chefs happens to come from Japan. The tourist trap Promenade des Anglais is close by, but the restaurant is situated in a calm side street. Instead of the common French fries, it only serves French best.
STAY in Nice:
Hotel Le Meurice
Art Deco is never out. And if it is, it will come back. The Hotel Le Maurice keeps to the law that one always meets twice in life, thereby saving on the costs for remodeling: The hotel is 30s through and through, and it's always been like that. It's this true and authentic charm that makes the Maurice unique next to all the trendy designer hotels: The creaking parquet floor in the lobby, the open lift, the red carpet in the rooms, and the stucco on the walls - the only things missing for a perfect time warp would be a topper and mustache.Yet you don't need to live without modern amenities: Instead of a telephone cabin in wood there is W-Lan, and instead of servants with fans there's air-conditioning and satellite TV instead of theater. And if you pull away the heavy curtains you see cars instead of horse-drawn carriages. It's still easy to take the Art Deco feeling out with you: The old town is only a walking stick away, as well as the elegant parks in which you can saunter wonderfully. Doubles starting at 115,- euros a night.
The Ellington is one of the hotels that wants to be it all at once, but conceals it so well that it achieves harmony, after all. Here a little art deco, there a little modernism, and a lot of 50s in between: What might be confusing elsewhere is hardly worth noticing in the Ellington. The lobby: Heavy chandeliers, playful staircases, glass ornaments. The rooms: Everything different, once trendy, other times African, then Scandinavian or Louis XVI, some with, some without balcony.The breakfast: Classic croissants, but also ham, cheese and orange juice. During Happy Hour at night they serve Duke Ellington and Ray Charles, in line with the atmosphere of the 50s and the old leather sofas, the images of jazz stars on the walls, the piano at one end and the fireplace at the other end of the rooms.Finally, in the courtyard: Southern Spain, cast iron chairs and beige cushioning. Too much? Not for world and time travellers. If you prefer to travel linearly, you should sleep somewhere else. Doubles start at 180,- euros per night.
The road to success is often bumpy, thought designer Michel Wilmotte and made the stone his main topic at the Beau Rivage. The result is anything but rough, with its round forms and the perfect combination between modern comfort and selected natural materials. Gentle earthen colours in the rooms, a lot of wood: All in all the hotel makes a cosy, close to nature impression, which is only topped by the airy sun beds at the private beach.No wonder that the guest list reads like the who-is-who of the arts: Matisse, Fitzgerald and Nietzsche took a drink at the bar and a stroll on the world famous Promenade des Anglais, which is only a stroke of the brush away. The guests then got even more inspired by the nearby flower market, and today the Acropolis Convention Centre gives businessmen good ideas. Doubles starting at 250,- euros a night.
SHOPPING in Nice:
Oh la la! You won't believe what you can do with fruits, blossoms and spices: At Sirop't you get the best in a highly concentrated form. Creative, traditional, surprising, try it out! Unfortunately you are spoilt for choice here, because at Sirop't there are some 100 different flavours. From fruity to nutty up to sweet-sour, out of fruit, nuts, blossoms, herbs, vegetables, tea and coffee.Ludovic Simon and Hervé Vincent have realized a dream with the Sirop't, and aside from the flag store in Nice they also have a branch in Antibes and an online store. Here you can get a foretaste of the exceptional range of products as well as many recipe ideas. Syrup is not only great for preparing drinks but also for refining salad dressings, fish, meat, sauces and desserts.
La Ferme Formagèr
When you step into this shop, you will leave it full and hungry at the same time: The scent of more than 120 cheese varieties, the samples which you get before buying, and the spectacle of so much cheese fills you up, while the unique selection makes you hungry for more.More cheese, more indulgence? Voilà: Tuesday to Saturday, Jean-Paul and Jérôme Perrin turn their shop into a gourmet cheese restaurant. Now you can enjoy the cheese with its best friend, French wine, and indulge in traditional cheese dishes such as fondue or raclette.
French women are known for their seductiveness. An essential part of their secret is for sale: At Etam you find beach wear and lingerie that will drive up your sexy factor into unprecedented heights. When you think of Brigitte Bardot, or the Hollywood goddesses of the 60s, of Cannes and Saint Tropez, you think of Etam beach fashion.You'll find the most elegant bikinis and bathing suits in the small boutique of this luxury lingerie brand in Nice. And of course, there are also many fine laces for the goddesses of the night! Our tip: Leave your Bikini at home and just get a new beach outfit at Etam. You can be sure that you find something there that will turn you into a beach siren that will draw all the attention!