Things have been quite busy for us. Petit Copain and I moved into our first apartment together. We have been slowly getting everything together (including setting up a dream kitchen!), hence the lack of posts! Luckily, we had some time to head over to Nice during the holidays and it was a wonderful trip. Nice was a bit chilly but still warm during the afternoons. We enjoyed some much deserved sun!
Some restaurants in Nice were closed for Christmas vacation during December 26-28, but there were still many places that were open for business. The highlights of our trip were the bike rides on the Promenade des Anglais (next to the sea!), spotting the beautiful southern architecture, and eating socca! Socca is a delicious chickpea pancake that is unique to the region. When made right, it's crispy outside and soft inside, with the right amount of salt and olive oil.
Following David Lebovitz's advice, we went to the Flower Market at the Cours Saleya and got a taste of our first socca at Chez Theresa's. Her stand is towards the end of the market and there's usually a long line, even at this time of the year. The socca is made in a kitchen around the corner and is delivered to her stand by scooter!
We loved going to the Flower Market that we visited it every day we were there (3 times!). It is also a food market and on Mondays, turns into a brochante (note: no socca on that day).
The best socca we had was at Chez Pipo (13 Rue Bavastro, 06000 Nice). I'm sad I don't have any good pictures, but I was too busy eating-- it was that good. The restaurant is always busy and it can be very hard to get tables, especially for large groups. My advice is to go as early as you can. Eating at Chez Pipo is not just special because of the socca, but also because of the huge wood burning stove in the center of the restaurant. You can watch the cooks make your socca right there. The prices are more than affordable and my advice is to order some of the house rosé as well as try some of the other dishes (like the tapenade) on the menu. For two people, we did not spend more than 20 euros.
We also had a romantic Italian dinner at Luna Rossa (3 rue Chauvain, 06000 Nice) which was a nice discovery. Since many popular restaurants were closed, Petit Copain and I took a gamble on Yelp. What we found was excellent service and out of this world food. The pasta was extraordinary and what you would find if you were in Italy. If you head over there, please order the seafood linguini. I'm sad to say I don't have any pictures of this meal either... I was too much in heaven to take photos.
What's also great about Nice is the little day trips you can take outside of the city. Just 40 minutes away is Eze, a small medieval city on a hill. Nearby is the Fragonard factory, where you can take tours to see how their products are made.
Our tour was disappointing as our guide just breezed past the factory without any pauses... literally. We could hardly understand her, as she spoke so fast. The only fact we got out of her was how much a company can pay a perfume scent maker... up to a million dollars for a creation of a scent! They're not allowed to drink coffee, smoke, or eat certain foods because it can "desensitize" their noses. These scent makers also only work 2-4 hours a day, and only a few times a month. I need this job.
Of course, the whole point of the tour is to get visitors to buy Fragonard products at the end. The prices are somewhat discounted than what you would get at a regular store. I did buy a nice parfum (more concentrated than an eau de toilette) that used local flowers of the region.
After the factory, we climbed up the steep steps to visit the village of Eze. It is beautiful but touristy. I suggest bringing sandwiches along as each restaurant is an overpriced tourist trap. Service is terrible as well.
The view and the architecture are worth the visit though. If you like hiking, there are some amazing trails that lead to the sea.
After Eze, we had the pleasure of visiting Monaco... another 20 minutes away.
Monaco was spectacular in all its grandeur and wealth. Unfortunately, we went on a Sunday and mostly everything was closed. Still, the tiny nation was overwhelming. Petit Copain and I held contests, trying to pick out the most decked out yacht. Many were "yacht-inceptions"... yachts within yachts within boats within jet skis. Pretty fancy.
The streets are lined with orange trees, but the fruit isn't very good to eat (nor is it easy to reach). We didn't go to the casino but walked around the city instead. It's filled with luxury shopping and high rise apartment buildings. Sadly, much of the historical architecture has been torn down. Monaco didn't really interest me as much as the other places I've been to, but I still think it's worthy of the experience.
Our last day trip was to the small village of Biot to visit its famous glass making factory. Watching the glass production was pretty amazing. However, I advise not to buy any of the glass they sell: it is severely overpriced, if not a straight up rip-off.
Another nearby place to note: The Musée National Fernand Léger is in the same village and is a must-visit. The museum is dedicated to surrealist artist Fernand Léger and it is a very impressive place. A visit wouldn't take you more than an hour.
Well, that's all I have for today. Until next time!