pétanque

What a great game! I love pétanque and Nice is a brilliant place to watch groups of players in parks – among the olive trees in Cimiez for example – where you’ll find games in progress most afternoons.

You’ll also find clubs and open pistes dotted around the town, on the sea-front near the airport, on the slopes of the Colline du Chateau and in the Vieille Ville. You can see some of the clubs in Nice here http://www.rivierapetanqueshow.com/articles/ou-jouer-a-la-petanque-a-nice.php

Check out  http://www.rivierapetanqueshow.com to see photos from the recent massive petanque competition held in Nice.

Who loves pétanque?

beaches

There’s no getting away from it…Nice beaches are pebbly.

However with flipflops – or jelly shoes for the unfashion-conscious (after all you’re on holiday) – the beautiful grey/blue pebbles need not be a problem. In fact for trouble-free walking over the pebbles and a comfy foot-related entrance and exit from the waves look out for the black rubber beach shoes which most of the little beach shops sell. These are the best solution and look good too.

Getting in and out of the sea can be tricky because of the slope and swell! I do best to surf in on my tummy and reach for the shore this way. Of course you’re taking advice here from probably the least agile bather around so it’s very likely that you will experience no difficulty at all in nimbly nipping in and out of the waves.

Please share your tips with me!

maps

I love maps and always like to carry one with me to spot new routes and short-cuts which often turn out to be long-cuts because of the interesting places I come across!

You can get free maps of Nice from the tourist information offices next to the Gare SNCF and on the Promenade des Anglais next to the Casino Ruhl.

If you want to download a map in advance (giving you the fun of planning your days and doing some virtual exploring) go here for a straightforward map of the town centre including the Old Town – you can enlarge it so that you can really get to see all the little streets!

For a google map click here and print a copy to have handy on the plane so you can spot places along the coast as you fly into Nice!

from the airport to the centre

Getting from the airport into Nice couldn’t be easier! As you leave the arrivals building you can see the bus stops lined up on the other side of the roadway. Buses 98 and 99 are the dedicated airport buses and for 4 euros take you swiftly into Nice in about 20 minutes. (See below for advice about tickets.)

On leaving the airport you immediately feel part of Nice as you drive right next to the blue and turquoise sea, the palm trees and the sweep of the bay…

Which bus?Bus 98 takes you to the Gare Routière (bus station) and 99 to the Gare SNCF (main train station on Ave Thiers).

Both buses go along the Promenade des Anglais until reaching Boulevard Gambetta where the 99 turns left and continues along Gambetta with a request stop just before the Jardins Alsace-Lorraine, for which you need to ring the bell, before arriving at the train station.

Bus 98 continues along the Promenade forking left by the Jardin Albert Premier with its landmark Big Wheel and a handy stop for the beginning of the Old Town at Rue St François de Paule. Continuing to the terminus at the Gare Routière gives you easy access to the rest of the Old Town.

Tickets: You can buy your ticket from the driver on the bus but it’s very handy to get “un pass sept jours” from the kiosk outside the terminal building along to the right before crossing the roadway to the bus. A single ticket is 4 euros and a 7-day pass is 15 euros and gives you unlimited travel on buses and the tram. We always go for the 7 jours as we’ll be returning to the airport by bus and plan to use the bus or tram while in Nice – it’s very convenient to have a ticket in advance as you can bypass the queue of people waiting to pay the driver. (You have to validate your pass in the ticket reader each time you get on the bus or tram.)

au bon pain

Which boulangerie??

With so many mouthwatering boulangeries to choose from this is a difficult decision. One I know well, and my favourite in the Gambetta area for a breakfast choice, is Au Bon Pain a lovely boulangerie on Rue St Philippe just south of Rue Dante. Join the queue there for a wide and appetising range of sweet and savoury delights. It’s closed on Sunday afternoons and all day Monday – so that’s the time to try La Fragola on Rue Dante which is my very close second choice.

In the centre near the pedestrian zone you used to be able to find the soft green exterior of boulangerie Multari opposite Place Magenta on Rue de la Liberté at the intersection with Rue Alphonse Karr and Rue de Longchamp where you would be spoilt for choice among the amazing selection of breads and pastries.

however this lovely boulangerie has moved which surprised me greatly on a recent visit to Nice! You’ll find it now on Rue Maccarani which runs between Place Grimaldi and Rue Massena. It’s a smaller shop but still has a yummy range of delicacies! Here it is …

Nice 074

One final unmissable patissier is La Lorraine at the corner of Rue Déroulède and Alphonse Karr – so many amazing cakes and confections to choose from…and return for…

Let me know if you have tried any of these boulangeries – and do share your own favourites!

arriving by plane

Flying into Nice is great. The most common route is flying over the pink Esterel rocks, looking down on the harbours, beaches, islands and the blue sea. Spotting Cannes, Antibes, Villeneuve-Loubet, the hippodrome, Cros de Cagnes. Getting lower and lower till it feels like you’re skimming the waves…

first impressions of france

When I was about 7 years old I went to Paris with my parents. We were in the Tuilerie Gardens and I wanted to go to the loo (though not very impressed with the stand-astride-a-big-hole 0nes which were common then). We asked a man where the nearest one was and he shrugged (gallicly) and said there were none! I must have looked desperate because he rooted around in his pocket and drew out a cork which he handed over to us with much laughter…