After two nights in Paris, we took a morning flight from Orly airport to Nice on Air France. One thing I will note is that Orly is a pretty crummy airport – outdated, small, crowded and very warm inside. We were so glad to get on the Air France flight which was great and only lasted an hour (as compared to a 5-6 hour train ride to Nice from Paris). I was lucky and got a window seat and some great views from our approach into Nice.
It was about a 30 minute taxi ride from the Nice airport to our hotel, the Hotel La Perouse, which is at the Eastern end of the famous beach promenade called the Promenade des Anglais. I wanted to be close to the old town of Nice which is full of pastel buildings and narrow alleyways and also has lots of shops, restaurants and a market each morning. The Hotel is a little funny in that it’s clearly several old buildings that have been connected. For instance, we had to take two different elevators to get to our room and you even had to take a third elevator to reach their rooftop terrace but our room was large, clean and modern and we had a huge outdoor terrace, which was very nice. It was also right on the Promenade so it had great views from the lobby and was centrally located.
After checking into our hotel, we immediately headed to the Vielle Ville (old town) of Nice for lunch and randomly picked a small cafe that did some French-Thai fusion cuisine that was wonderful. Unfortunately, as we were finishing our lunch and our Thai Singha beers, we heard a clap of thunder and 5 minutes later it was pouring rain. A real deluge and we had no umbrellas. We made a break for it and ran to our hotel during a short period where it lightened up but we still got soaked. It was late afternoon and the rain didn’t let up until almost 11pm so we ended up not being able to explore and just had room service for dinner and called it an early night. We were able to really explore the old town early the following morning and I loved it. So picturesque!
Every morning there is also a farmer’s market in the old town, selling fruits, vegetables, pottery, flowers, soaps and lavender products, kitchen items, linens, etc… It was very busy but I think this was the best market we visited during our stay.
Whenever we go on vacation, Steve and I always look for at least one funny thing to take a picture of or make a joke about and we found one in the old town. Obviously the word for “shower” in French is used a little differently in the U.S. so this may only be amusing to us crude and juvenile Americans but it gave us a giggle.
We didn’t do much eating in Nice. Our first day, we really enjoyed our lunch but because of the rain, we ended up doing hotel room service for dinner. The second day, we had a huge and special lunch in another town called Eze (separate post to come) and the third day we were off on all day private tour of Provence (another post!) and ended up grabbing a casual Indian food dinner that night in old town. Nice is crawling with casual cafes, bistros, bars and beach clubs so there is no shortage of good places to eat. Nice is also far more casual than Paris and less expensive so that was also a plus.
Our other thoughts on Nice is that it was quite crowded during our visit but mostly in the afternoon. It seems to be a late-rising town so if you go out in the morning, it’s very pleasant. It also seemed to be a bit of party town as there were many young (college-aged) kids there and we noticed a lot of ads for night clubs. Nice is also not the place if you want serious beach time because it’s so rocky there. You really should head towards Antibes, Cannes or St. Tropez for sandy beaches, which is what we did after 3 nights here. Overall, I really enjoyed Nice and our hotel was in a great location!