Bonsoir! WOW. HOLY MACKEREL. I love Nice. I love love love, love love, Nice. And France, although I’ve only yet been to this one tiny city. But if it’s any example of France, then I love France. Now if you asked me three years ago, I wouldn’t have said I liked anything about France, simply because I’m stubborn. And stubborn may be a bit of an understatement. It was quite the uphill battle, but then I actually tasted French cuisine and was introduced to macarons, and that was the end of any anti-France sentiments. My love for food and culture literally TOOK OVER my brain and eased my stubbornosity. Don’t ask me why I was against it in the first place, it was simply too long ago to remember a reason. Did I mention I’m stubborn?
So I left Cascina Zerbetta yesterday morning and caught a train to Genoa, then caught a train to Ventimiglia, and FINALLY caught a train to Nice Ville. It was a long journey, but it was well worth it. I walked from the train station to my hotel (The Hipark) and sort of just got settled in. My hotel room has a little kitchenette which is very exciting because I have a mini-fridge, sink, hotplate, toaster, water-boiler, AND dishes!!! I am only using it for breakfast (yogurt yogurt yogurt!) so I can really take in the French cuisine :).
Then I spent the evening walking around in Old Nice and perused all of the little shops. I immediately found a little patisserie that had macarons, but held off in case there were more exciting macarons to be found. You cannot imagine my self-restraint at that point. I then quickly stumbled upon Fennochio’s, which is a famous glacier shop (gelateria) with some absurd amount of flavors. You can bet your bums I had salted caramel gelato, just to compare it to the one I had at Gromm Gelateria in Chiere. You know, for scientific purposes. I hope to get back there tomorrow for lunch to have some other flavors, but there are so many things I want to eat, I have to take it slow. IT WAS SO GOOD. Moving on, I walked along the Promenade de Anglais to find the WWI Memorial (which you’ll see in the slide show I successfully did) and then called it an evening. I went to Monoprix (Oh man, Mer, I totally loved it, you were right!), the grocery store here, to pick up some fruit and yogurt for breakfasts. And you know how in the grocery store in America we have an ‘international’ food section where they have Barry’s tea for the Irish, weird canned fishes for who knows, tim tams for the Australians, etc? At the Monoprix, they had the same section with the same items for the other countries, and then what I can only assume was America’s. It consisted of Hellman’s mayonnaise, Campbell’s Tomato soup, and peanutbutter. Wow. That is really, really sad. I cringed and then pretended I never saw it and went to pay.
After that I just sort of crashed because I was so exhausted. This morning I woke up and had some YOGURT AND FRUIT WOOOOOOO, and decided to check out Nice properly. None of the museums are open on Tuesdays, so I decided to walk into Old Nice again to check out the shops and then do the walks and climbs that were recommended. I found a recommended fast-food joint which served Socca, a local dish made from chickpeas and olive oil, baked in this large iron pan over a fire. And I was surprised to see that the restaurant I was at was truly a ‘local’ spot. It was the Julia’s Empanadas for Nice. Or like, the Georgetown cupcake in Bethesda, in that there is a line around the block for it, and only 25% of the people in line are tourists. There’s a picture of the socca in the slideshow. They sort of scrape it up and then serve it to you on a plate. You put black pepper and salt on it and you’re good to go. It was delicious. Check out the Wikipedia page for more information about it. After I finished I bought myself two macarons, as a reward for finding the socca place so quickly, but made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t eat them until I got to the top of Castle Hill.
So I walked around and started heading toward Castle Hill, but was very quickly distracted by all of the shops. Nice has all of these little shops dedicated to food. I mean one whole shop for spices and salts (you’ll see a picture of this in the slideshow). One whole shop dedicated to biscuits-A WHOLE COOKIE STORE!!! AND THESE ARE NOT MRS. FIELD’S. A whole store with just different chocolates and caramels. I fell in love and subsequently lost my mind. I couldn’t control myself. I bought a salted caramel (I know, but I’m officially addicted), a chocolate/almond paste banana shaped thing (see the slideshow!), a back of mix peppercorns, some vanilla beans, and an herb/salt mix, and a bottle of water. On top of the two macarons I already had wrapped delicately and sitting in my bag. Sheesh. Some of it was gift-shopping so I forgave myself pretty quickly.
I made it to the top of Castle Hill and found a bench to enjoy my ‘snacks’. See the pictures. The raspberry macaron was so delicious and filled with a delicate raspberry jam. Yikes. The pistachio macaron’s crust was more flaky and had a buttercream filling. Oh my my my. So much sugar today.
After eating all those sugary treats I committed to the cliff walk. Which I could describe to you, but when I was thinking about it out there on the cliffs, I decided it would take too long and you still wouldn’t get the full picture. So here’s a video of me describing it instead. Sorry I sound like a valley-girl. 😉
I climbed those stairs. And there were about 260 of them, not 300. Whoever told me 300 lied, but it’s still a lot of damn stairs. And when I reached the top, there was a little pizzeria that I stumbled into in search of water. The guy behind the counter took one look at me and pulled a beer and a bottle of water out of the fridge. He poured the beer into a glass and put them on the table and motioned for me to sit down. I tipped him. I don’t know if you’re supposed to tip in France, but he earned one with service like that. And I CAN actually wait to see you back in the states. I just panicked trying to remember how to say farewell in French. I ❤ you all, but seriously, I can wait. 😉
My walk back was a bit shorter since I was inland more, so I reached my hotel in no time at all. Now I’m just having some green tea before I go out in search of an amazing Nicoise dinner. Which I will write about later and leave you here, since this was a long enough post as it is!