Initially, P and I had planned on driving down to Nice form Paris, a whopping 7 hours or so, which at the time didn’t seem all that bad. But, we ultimately decided to fly, which was a great decision. Not only do we save on time (we get an extra day in Nice and we would be less tired), but we also saved money. Even though the car rental for a day was a mere $20, tolls and gas would have almost brought us up to the equivalent of two one way tickets from Paris to Nice.
We arrived in Nice and spent the first night with our host Caroline through Airbnb. Since we wouldn’t waste the day driving to Nice from Paris, we had an extra night in Nice. However, I had already booked two nights at a hotel already with our Chase rewards points, so we wanted to find a room for just the first night that was reasonable. Caroline had a room available in her apartment in the Nice Port, a fantastic location, for only 60 bucks (this time, we opted for a “shared room” rather than an “entire apartment” since we were only planning on staying for one night). Her place was easy to find, and she was at her apartment waiting for us when we arrived. The whole process went much more smoothly than in Paris. Her place was homey, the bedroom was exactly what we needed, and she had a cat, Mr. Grey, who was a little bit spastic but really fluffy and cute.
After arriving in Nice that afternoon and checking in with Caroline, we went off to explore the town. We climbed to the top of Castle Hill (there is sadly no castle), which has the best views of Nice. Then we wondered through the Old Town, peaked into the little shops, and had an early dinner at La Tapenade in the Old Town. Exhausted due to lack of sleep and travelling, we decided to just call it a night.
The next morning, we felt refreshed again. The plan was to drop our luggage off at the hotel (a 15 minute walk from Caroline’s apartment and go to the airport (only about 5 miles away) to pick up our rental car. Easy peazy, right? Nope. After dropping off our luggage, I had this bright idea to use Nice’s city bikes, Vélo Bleu, to get to the airport instead of spending 12 euros taking the bus (such a bad idea… but then again, after learning how to use the bike system, we used it all the time during our stay).
It took us the whole morning trying to figure out how to use the city bike system… well, more like half an hour. We also had some help from a student who spoke little English…well, he wasn’t really much help either. After numerous failed phone calls, hand gesturing, and bike kicking, we finally figured out how to use the bikes (details to come on our “how to” for getting the bikes). When we finally got going to the airport, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it was to ride a bike with a really heavy purse. Poor P has to take my purse and his really heavy backpack while biking 5 miles. At least the ride was gorgeous along the Promenade des Anglais with views of the amazingly blue Mediterranean sea. I arrived to the airport car rental with sore bum and sweat just radiating out of my pores.
With our trusty car, whom we’ve dubbed Francois, P and I headed to Menton, a little village nestled between Nice and Monaco. Menton was utterly breathtaking with its red, pink, orange and yellow color scheme. We wondered around the town for 2 hours, wishing we had brought out swimsuits (more to come on Menton!)
Nice in the evening was so vibrant, especially in the Old Town. P and I had our second favorite meal of the trip at Bar du Coin, a little pizzeria of all places, with an endless list of different toppings and combinations. The crust is thin, the toppings are plentiful with just the right amount of cheese, and the house wine is amazing. Oh yeah, and none of the pizzas are sliced, as most French use a knife and fork while eating what American’s call finger or hand food. While I had urges to just grab the entire pizza with my hands and shove it in my mouth, I gracefully cut the pizza as I would a steak. Voila! Now, I’m French!
The next day, we headed to Eze and Villefranche sur la Mer, little towns outside of Nice. Gorgeous views and beaches. What more can a girl ask for? More to come on Eze and Villefranche sur la Mer! Meanwhile, here’s peak:
For our last night in Nice, we biked through Place Massena to a local restaurant recommended by a good friend, who had spent some time in Nice as a student, called La Canon. The atmosphere was very rustic chic with modern touchs,and the food was simply amazing. Though it set us back about 70 euros, it was completely worth it. Everything was in French, so the waiter had to guide us through the menu, which changes every day depending on what was in season or what the chef wanted to serve. P had a brandade and veal liver, and I had the butter and sage ravioli and the fish of the day. We finished off dinner with a typical French short cake with cooked cherry glaze. What a perfect end to our trip in the French Riviera!