Tag Archives: France

Nice is Nice…


The recent happenings in Manchester and London reminded me of the horrible night in Nice,  when so many people were killed or injured on the Promenade Des Anglais.  Such a sad night for the whole world, something we will never forget,  and it would be remiss of me to do this post without a mention or a thought to all those that suffered that night.

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Exactly one week before that night, we had been in Nice, and on our last night had been celebrating with thousands of people on the soccer win over Germany.  The streets were alive with locals, tourists, soccer fans, adults and children everywhere.  There were car horns blaring,  fire-crackers,  singing and dancing in the streets.  It was amazing!   We had such a wonderful time because NICE is NICE!

The Promenade Des Anglais is awesome,  running along the beach it’s the perfect place to wander along or sit and people watch,  and as it is covered, there is plenty of shade from the hot south of France sunshine.   We spent every evening doing just that and of course, chatting with the street vendors and performers.

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Nice has much, much more to offer than just the Promenade, and in our few days there we managed to explore a some of these places.

We were lucky enough to stay at the Mercure Hotel, which is on a corner off the Promenade and so we were able to walk everywhere.  And walk we did!  Right after a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, we would set off each morning in a different direction to see what we could find.            Search Flights to Nice

Our first day was spent wandering around the old town of Nice, with narrow streets, loads of shops,  cafes,  bars and restaurants.  There isn’t much you can’t get in the old town!  It is a really pretty part of Nice and most of the  shops are decorated with hanging baskets outside.  There are numerous artisan bakers, and little places selling all sorts of delicacies like olives, cheeses, pickles, cured meats and local sauces and wines.  It made us a little sorry we weren’t in a self-catering apartment!  Nice Old Town covers quite a large area,  and it’s easy to spend a whole day wandering around, stopping now and then for “une verre de vin” (or two) and of course some lunch!

Flowers Old Town Nice
Flowers for sale, Old Town Nice

My favourite part of the old town was Cours Saleya , known as Marche aux Fleurs  which is a flower and fruit and vegetable market, held every morning.  I have never seen so many flower displays in one place before.

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Vegetable stalls Cours Saleya

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 2 sent us past the Old Town and around to the port where the ferries come in from Corsica,  this walk along the waterfront offers some great views back into Nice.  From there we found ourselves looking up to the cliffs and seeing people walking around, we wondered how to get up there without a car.  (It was a long way up and I certainly wasn’t keen on climbing the hill!).  While standing at the bottom looking at the steps debating shall we/shan’t we? I noticed a little sign and barely visible arrow pointing to “Elevator” Yes! There is a God!  I was going to get to the top and still be able to breath!  And so glad I was,  it would have been such a shame to miss what awaited us at the top.

View over Port in Nice
View over Port in Nice
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Waterfall at Castle Hill, Nice France

The Castle Park (Parc du Chateau) is apparently one of Nice’s top tourist attractions and I can see why, it is beautiful and gives amazing  360 views of Nice. I’m a bit ashamed to say I had never heard of it before we went there!  It isn’t just the views though, it is the gardens, statues, remains of the original chateau and the history that is really interesting. Having been there it is a place I would advise all visitors to Nice to make sure they don’t miss.

Day 3 – Just wandering.  As our second day was so full-on we decided to just wander the nearby streets and so glad we did!  Only a block away in the opposite direction to the Old Town we found a shopping mecca!  All the brand names you could think of,  but with a price tag to match I might add!  There were clothes, shoes, electronics, everything and anything,  and all the genuine article!              Find Hotels in Nice

Of course, once again we managed to find some great little drinking and eating venues, and a place to go back to that evening for dinner.

Seafood Chowder Nice
Seafood Chowder Nice, France

On a narrow side street, a bit away from the crowds, we found a small family run Italian restaurant where Rick had a seafood chowder served in a crusty cob!

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I’ll leave you with this delightful video of the water park….

 

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L’ile Rousse


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We based ourselves in this little coastal town on the North-western side of Corsica for three fabulous weeks.  After much research I decided on L’Ile Rousse because it looked to have everything we craved; beach, daily markets for fresh produce, a town square for events and people-watching, a magnitude of restaurants and of course, glorious weather!

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Marche L'Ile Rousse
Daily fresh produce market

We looked forward to our morning trips to the market, wandering through and tasting all the fresh produce!  Never needed breakfast! The sellers liked to try out their English and to correct our badly pronounced French, all the while offering us a little taste of this and that!  There was all different kinds of honey, cheeses,  olives, seasonal fruit and vegetables, bread and pastries and of course, our favourite – charcuterie!   Charcuterie is king!!!!

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L’ile Rousse beach

Set in a bay, the town beach was always busy, very popular with families and people would be there until sunset in the evening. There are a lot of other accessible beaches just outside of L’Ile Rousse which are not so busy, but you need to take your own shade, the sun can be relentless. Our favourite go-to beach was close to some large rocks that divided the sandy beach.  It made like a small lagoon style area that was perfect for me –  being a non-swimmer!  (Yes, I know, I live in Australia and I can’t swim!!).

The town was alive morning, day and night, luckily not too busy, June is just before the holiday season but it was busy enough to be interesting. Always something to see, the local men playing petanque was particularly fun and Rick did try to have a go one night!

They take their game very seriously, even playing in carparks if necessary!  petanqueIn 2016 L’Ile Rousse held the 6th International Petanque Pascal-Paoli

In the evenings the hardest thing was where to eat – should we eat in (with all that fresh food we had bought in the morning) or go out?  Then the next decision was if we go out where to eat?  So many choices, so many restaurants – and ALL GOOD!!

I think we only ate at the same place 3 times in the 3 weeks we were there, we aimed to try somewhere different each night, but there was a few restaurants that deserved a come-back!

L’Ile Rousse is not all about food, wine and beaches though. It has a great history.   It was founded in 1758 by Pasquale Paoli to create a port that would not be in the hands of the Genoese like Calvi, and there are restaurants, schools and hotels named after him.

 

 

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Our Daily (Corsican) Bread…..


Remember I said we like food and wine?  Well Corsica is THE place for both! The wonderful charcuterie that comes from the wild boar is amazing!  I must say that it is the best we have ever had from anywhere on the planet. affinageAlmost all cafes, restaurants and bistros serve charcuterie platters for sharing and they usually come with olives, cornichons and the best-ever french bread!

bread

A fresh baguette cost around a dollar, so we bought one every morning!  It doesn’t need any butter, just slice and eat!  plattterAlong with some wine and maybe olives, pate and cornichons what else does one need??

Of Course, Corsica isn’t just good for charcuterie and bread, it also has the best Gelato I have tasted!  And it’s eaten anytime of the day, no guilt – just whenever you fancy!   Are you starting to see why I loved Corsica so much?? IMG_1892

Where else can you have a glass of wine in one hand and a huge gelato in the other at  ten o’clock in the morning?   That’s my idea of morning tea!!

I found Corsican wines to be not so “full-bodied” (if that’s the right terminology!), almost weak in a way, but that’s what made them so drinkable!  It’s easy to see why the locals sit and chat with a glass or two any time of the day, starting as early as breakfast sometimes.  Yet, saying that,  even though people seemed to drink early and maybe throughout the day, not once did we see any bad behaviour.

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Corsican food is mostly organic, with  local produce available direct from growers and at farmers’ markets.  Products include; cheeses, olives, vegetables and fruits, honey, herbs and spices, nuts and of course, charcuterie. The sellers encourage sampling before buying so it’s a great way to spend a morning!

500_____LIQUEUR DE MYRTE_136Apart from their wines, Corsican’s like their home-made  Liqueur de Myrte.  Made from the berries and leaves of the red myrtle tree, it is usually drunk after a meal, like a port. It is so popular that in most restaurants they just give you the bottle and leave you to help yourself after your meal at no charge!

Surprisingly enough, although Corsica is an island, it is not renowned for seafood. This is perhaps due to the Corsicans moving more inland and up in the mountains many years ago. You can still get seafood in some restaurants, but you will pay for it.

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Where’s Corsica?


Oops!  This has become more like a “London Blog” – not my original intention!  But as you probably guessed it is my love!

So how about a bit of Corsica for a diversion?  Corsica mapWhen we first told our friends we were going to Corsica for a holiday, most of them said “where’s that?” The next question was “What made you choose Corsica?”

Corsica or Corse to the locals, is a small island above Sardinia, between France and Italy. Although it is closer to Italy it actually belongs to France, and is French speaking.

Well, what makes us choose any place?

FOOD, WINE and PEOPLE of course!        Or should I say of Corse!!!

Before we went I thought it would be a mixture of the two cultures, but in reality, Corsica has a culture all of it’s own.

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Isula Rossa (Ile Rousse) Corse

We spent three fabulous weeks on this beautiful island, basing ourselves in Ile Rousse with a hire car to do day trips and once an overnight stay in Bonifacio.

Although the distance between Ile Rousse and Bonifacio is just about 185kms, the mountainous terrain means it takes about 3.5hrs! It was worth the drive, and the sights on the way were awesome!

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Bonifacio Harbour

I must admit, the first day we drove around the mountains (on the wrong side of the road  – well for us it was!)  I had my heart in my mouth at every bend!  From a sheer drop on one side to an overhanging cliff on the other, cyclists, wild pigs, goats and a few cows to contend with, I was so glad to see our first stop and lunch! A couple of Corsican wines and some food soon relaxed me and a stern word or two from my husband Rick kept me quiet for the rest of the trip!

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Then it was back to our apartment and a dip in the pool before venturing into the town for dinner.

thumb_IMG_1916_1024       Ile Rousse is a picturesque coastal town at the bottom of the mountains. With Place Pascal Paoli home to daily fresh food markets, local butchers, bakers, and bistros, it was the perfect place for us.

Each morning we would wander around the markets and artisan shops sampling (and sometimes buying) fresh local produce.

A mid morning stop was mandatory for a glass or two of Corsican vino, accompanied by the obligatory bowl of corsican olives. Just to sit and people watch was magic and of course the weather was great!

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I think I have to dedicate some more posts to this awesome island – Corsica has so much to offer, and one day we would love to go back!

If you have been there I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, so stay tuned for more of this beautiful place.

corse map

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