Map out your trip to the French Riviera with this guide of what to do & eat in Nice, France!
It’s time for part two of my vacation recap! This time, I’m sharing all the details of our days in Nice, France and the long-awaited engagement story! Need to catch up? Check out part 1, What To Do & Eat In Brussels & Bruges.
After spending an amazing time biking, eating and drinking our way through Belgium, Will and I Ubered to the airport and hopped on a quick flight to Nice. Upon landing, we snagged a cab and made the short drive to our hotel. It was dark & rainy when we arrived, but I got my first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea! But enough set up, let’s dive into the good stuff!
WHERE TO STAY IN NICE
We stayed at the Ajoupa Apart’hotel, which was exactly as it sounded: a hotel made up of apartments. It’s in a great location right off of Place Massena (the main square) and in the heart of Nice’s Little Italy of sorts (so get ready for AMAZING Italian cuisine). We checked in late but someone stayed late to greet and escort us to our apartment. Unfortunately, upon arriving to the apartment, the lights weren’t working and there was a small flood! YIKES! The hotel reacted very well, though. They took us to another one of their buildings around the corner and upgraded us to a nicer apartment with a balcony! The room was wonderful, and having the balcony was glorious. We spent each evening sitting out there with a glass of wine overlooking all the little shops and restaurants.
WHAT TO SEE IN NICE
Nice has a really interesting history, which we learned all about during this free walking tour. If you don’t want to do the walking tour or just want to explore on your own, here are the must-sees:
- Fountaine du Soleil in Place Massena – The Apollo statue that crowns this fountain was banned in the 70s because women found the size of his (ahem) manhood offensive. To remedy the issue, the sculpture reduced the size of his stuff (poor dude) and eventually the statue was moved to a football stadium (cause, ya know, women wouldn’t go there – oh stereotypes…). Years later Apollo and his manhood (in all of it’s reduced glory) were brought back to the main square.
- Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya – This flower and food market is open every morning and afternoon in Nice with the exception of Mondays where it turns into an antique market. The front of the market is filled with vendors selling beautiful flowers and plants while the back half of the market is a foodie’s paradise. There’s fresh fruit, fish, baguettes and bakeries, cheese and meats and more. I came across a booth that sold gluten and lactose free baked goods and was P to the UMPED!
- Promenade de Anglais – There are miles of walking and biking paths that take you along the coastline of Nice and out to other cities along the French Riviera (Cannes, Monaco, etc). Stroll along and look out at the city and the gorgeous water. The scenery is unbeatable.
- The Rocky Beach – I am NOT a water person. Will and I have been together 8 years, and he can probably count on 1 hand how many times he’s seen me swim. However, when I saw the crystal blue waters along the Nice coast, I had to go in. The water is gorgeous. Cool but not cold – perfectly refreshing. It is quite salty, though, so don’t be worried if you come out with white residue on your skin or suit. Warning: the shore is rocky, so you might want water shoes. Otherwise, enjoy the struggle of walking down to the water barefoot. Trying to get out of the water and balance on the rocks as they jab into every inch of your foot is also not very pleasant sooooo yea… water shoes! In the evening, grab a blanket and have a nighttime picnic or glass of wine on the rocky beach, and watch the sunset. Just be wary of high tide so that your picnic doesn’t get washed out!
- Day Trip It To Monaco – The train station in Nice is a little less than a mile from Place Massena. From there, you can hop on a train to pretty much any of the other famous beaches along the French Riviera. Will and I spent a half-day in Monaco to admire all the fancy yachts. Our mission was to make friends with some fancy rich people and have them take us for a ride. They’d love us so much that they’d buy us our own yacht that we could live on. Then we’d spend the rest of our days yachting our way acround the world and pretending we’re fancy. Alas, our plan failed. But we did get to see some sweet boats!
- Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) – This is now one of my favorite places in the world, because it’s where my favorite guy asked me to marry him! Grab your wine, kids, it’s engagement story time!
Our first full day in Nice, Will and I went on a free walking tour of the Old Town (Place Massena, the flower market, and more). The tour ended at Castle Hill. A little hike or an elevator ride will get you to the top where you can enjoy amazing views of the city of Nice and the beautiful blue waters. After getting our fill of the breathtaking spot, we decided to come back that evening to watch the sun set over the coast.
Fast forward a few hours and we were making our way back up all the stairs. About ¾ of the way up, there is a main viewing point, but if you keep going up, there are a few more outlooks that are bit more secluded and quiet. We found the perfect little private spot. After taking a few pictures, Will asked if I wanted to sit on a nearby bench for a minute before the sun finished setting.
We sat down and he told me he had an anniversary present for me. Our 8-year anniversary was the day before. We’d been traveling from Brussels that day, so we decided to make the day after the one to really celebrate.
When he told me he got me a present, I was surprised. I thought this vacation was our gift to each other. I told him that, and he told me not to worry. “Just close your eyes and hold out your hands,” he said. I did.
There in my palms was the most beautiful shiny ring!
I looked up at him, totally surprised.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
“Mmmm… only if you buy me a bulldog” I said.
JUST KIDDING! I said, “YES!” of course.
I had so many questions. How had he planned this without me knowing? Who was in on his plan?
He told me he’d been planning for months. That his parents and my parents knew. He told me how he’d gone about designing the ring.
I had no idea what kind of ring I wanted, but what he made is absolutely perfect. I love every little thing about it, the cut, the setting, the little blue diamonds on the side.
Then he pointed out the box. He had made it. From scratch.
He bought a piece of olive wood. Designed the box and the little etching (It’s a llama by the way – but that’s a story for another day), and built it using equipment from his office. The box means just as much to me as the ring does, and have you ever smelled olive wood? It smell amazing!
I was so excited and happy and wanting to know all the details of his little plan that we ended up missing the end of the sunset! Oh well! We still got a great little look-we’re-engaged selfie!
We’re not going to start wedding planning for a bit. Right now we’re just enjoying being engaged, and I’m trying to figure out how to adjust my marathon-training pace with all this extra weight on my hand. Haha – just kidding again!
WHAT/WHERE TO EAT IN NICE
Now that I’ve nauseated you with our mushy love, let’s chat food!
The gluten free/lactose free bakery vendor at the flower market made these incredible pecan tarts. I had one for breakfast every day. #sorrynotsorry
Will and I also got a box of French macarons! The caramel one (lower right corner) was bomb.
This one time, I found #glutenfree, #lactosefree macarons in Nice and went a little overboard with buying all the flavors. And yet, I have not one regret. They’re like like pillows of flavored heaven. Haven’t tried them all yet but the one on the bottom left is #caramel and it is ? Have you ever had macarons? * * * #macarons #frenchcuisine #nice #nicefrance #nicefood #foodiesofig #instafood #frencheats #eeeeeats #yum #dessert #allergyfriendly #getinmybelly #niceisnice #sweatpink #bgbcommunity #fitfluential #chicoryco #frenchdessert #frenchfoodporn #frenchmacarons
We also tried a local Nicoise food called Socca. It’s a kind of flat bread made of chickpeas, oil, water, salt and pepper, and it’s delicious!! And so filling! The texture is a mix between a pancake and a crepe.
Of course, you can’t go to an Italian-influenced nation without getting gelato. Most places have dairy-free sorbet, so I enjoyed a rich, dark chocolate flavor. Nom!
As for healthier things, you of course have to try a Nicoise Salad while in Nice. Mussels and Frites are also a popular dish, and pizza is everywhere!
Here’s the quick list of what/where to eat in Nice:
- Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya for Socca, meats, cheeses, baked goods and more! For gluten free, lactose free treats, find Le Vanillier’s
- La Maison de Marie – The restaurant is set back from Rue de Massena (where our hotel was). Will and I went here for dinner one night. The outdoor space is beautiful and much more private than most of the restaurants on the street, and the food is delicious! I suggest making a reservation the day before you’d like to go, though.
- Gelatoria Azuzurro – This place, just off Place Rossetti, has a great selection of gelato and sorbetto. Our tour guide recommended this spot over the popular Fenocchi as it’s less touristy and, according to him, more delicious.
- Definitely try some Italian food on Rue de Massena and get yourself some mussels and frites at some point!
- You also must try a Nicoise Salad. What better place to get one that the home of the Nicoise?
We spent 4 nights and 3 days in Nice, but I could have stayed forever. Will and I kept looking at the real estate posted in the windows and decided we’re going to live there in retirement. It’s only 30 more years away…
Stay tuned next week for the last installment of my vacation series: What To Do & Eat in Paris.
In the meantime, check out the Fit & Fashionable Friday Link Up (full rules here) and add your link below!
Have you ever been to the French Riviera? Add your must-dos in the comments!