Nice like a local
Want to experience the city of Nice like a true local? Then be sure to follow some of these handy tips for an authentic experience in the city.
Firstly, it is important to immerse yourself in the local culture. To really accept the niçoise culture you have to try some of the local specialities. The gastronomy of Nice is not what you might consider to be quintessentially French. As the city of Nice is located on the Mediterranean coast, the cuisine combines several Italian and Provincial French influences.
Be sure to try the following specialities when visiting Nice:
Socca is a flatbread made from chickpea flour. It is the perfect snack to have while walking around the old town and the Cours Saleya market. Socca is traditionally made in copper dishes, baked in wood-fired ovens. In Nice, you’ll see street vendors making Socca in the side streets of the old town.
In Nice, you will see pan bagnat everywhere. This sandwich makes for a delicious lunch and is typical with locals in Nice. It is made from country bread and typically contains anchovies or tuna, egg, salad and a drizzle of olive oil.
Salade niçoise is arguably one of Nice’s most famous dishes which you will find in restaurants and cafés all across Europe. It originates from Nice and traditionally contains tuna or anchovies, olives, eggs and tomatoes. This makes for a delicious summer salad lunch to enjoy out in the sunshine.
Pissaladière is a bread dough topped with olives, caramelised onions and anchovies (fresh from the Mediterranean). Traditionally, it was a typical breakfast in Nice. However, today you will find it as a morning or afternoon snack.
The French Riviera is also home to the Provence rosé wine, the perfect drink on a sunny summer’s afternoon. Also, look out for Bellet wines on the menus. The Bellet wine region is in the city of Nice itself and a few producers make wine in the hills of Nice.
Promenade des Anglais and Old Town
As well as tucking into some of the local cuisine, why not do what many locals do and take a leisurely stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. This is Nice’s seaside walk that spans around 7 kilometres by the Mediterranean Sea. It is a great spot to watch joggers, skateboards and people enjoying the sunshine. From here, be sure to take a walk into the old town (la vieille ville) and wander through the brightly coloured pedestrian streets. Here, you will find many great bars, restaurants and boutique shops. If you want to get the best views of the city, be sure to walk up the Collines du Château (Castle Hill). Alternatively, there is an elevator that goes from the Promenade right to the top. Here, you will get a break from the hustle and bustle of the old town and you can enjoy the green parks and watch the locals playing pétanque.
Markets of Nice
You should also have a wander around one of Nice’s markets, where many locals go every morning to get their groceries. The most prestigious market in Nice the Cours Saleya in the old town. Traditionally, this was a flower market but now you can find all sorts of fruit, vegetables and local souvenirs (as well as beautiful flower bouquets). It is open every morning from 8am and on Monday is an antique market. There is also large daily fresh produce market in the Libération neighbourhood of the city, just north of the Nice Ville train station. From Tuesday through Saturday the streets are filled with stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables. If you are in this area, you should also stop by one of the family-run restaurants for a great value plat du jour (plate of the day).
Exploring the surrounding area
Also, sightseeing and public transport is not as expensive as you might think in the French Riviera. A one-way bus ticket from Nice to both Monaco and Cannes will cost you only 1,50€. Along the route you can enjoy the stunning views of the azure blue sea. It is worth bearing in mind that the route does take about double the time of the train, but it is definitely worth it if you are not in a rush. Nice also has a great tram system that is also very well priced.
You can also take a day trip from Nice up into the mountains and enjoy the picturesque villages of the region. For example, the medieval villages of Eze and Gourdon are a short distance from Nice. If you are into hiking too, you can walk along the coastal trail that winds round from Nice to the next town of Villefranche sur Mer. On this walk you will enjoy the amazing views of the sea and you can even take a refreshing dip in the clear waters.