NICE, France – The French Riviera is exquisite, and at the time of my visit, American and German tourists were everywhere, falling in love with the city which is tailored for tourism. Some may think that nearby Cannes and Monaco are the center of the Earth, with their film festival and F1 Grand Prix, respectively, but the best of Nice is a tourist center for abundant reasons: The Promenade des Anglais, the sun, gastronomy, beaches, museums… I could go on and on. Everyone can agree: the entire city exudes elegance of an old-school variety. It’s more affordable, more approachable than Monaco or Cannes.
In this series, Cédric Lizotte visits some of Europe’s best restaurants. He shares his inside knowledge about the best places to sample the delights of some of the best chefs on the planet. Follow his gastronomical journey with the hashtag #CedricInEurope.
When one arrives in a city, the first order of business is to head to the hotel, relax, take a shower and a quick tour to get the lay of the landscape. That done, the first place you’ll want to linger is restaurant le Vingt4.
Le Vingt4 has none of the posh affectations of a restaurant that is trying too hard. On the contrary, this luxury brasserie offers a warm welcome in addition to its high quality offerings. Once there, it feels like home. In fact, it inspired the longest description of a restaurant that I have ever written – go, read it, it will make your mouth water! This is an exceptional restaurant, with friendly people, affordable prices and a wine list trimmed to perfection. The restaurant is led by a staff that knows very well the treasure they are safeguarding. Click here to view all the photos from my evening there!
After a good night’s sleep, one is refreshed and ready to explore la promenade du Paillon, Verdun Avenue, the Promenade des Anglais, Jean Medecin Avenue and Massena, the pedestrian street. History is everywhere here, and we’re not talking recent history. Take Terra Amata, an archaeological site which scientists believe was home to humans as far back as 380,000 BC. Yes, that’s right: 380,000 years.
Old Nice was founded in 350 BC by the Greeks. It’s a mandatory stop for any tourist. Fortunately, there is a small charming restaurant named P’tite Cocotte, led by a chef who learned his trade at Europea restaurant in Montreal, among others, which is anything but a tourist trap! Click here for all the details.
In the afternoon, it’s time to take in the sun. The beach along the Promenade des Anglais is pebbly — not exactly comfortable — but sit a while and watch the planes land at the nearby airport, so close that the planes fly just above your head, and people-watch for a captivating afternoon.
Equally captivating is the nearby restaurant named Jan, the brainchild of young author and photographer Jan Hendrik. This fine-dining restaurant offers dishes with an artistic subtlety of tastes and aromas. The wine pairings in this simple and classic restaurant are an experience in and of themselves. The restaurant décor is almost as beautiful as the food. The only mystery is why this restaurant has not yet been graced with a Michelin star.
For a centrally located and comfortable place to stay, WindsoR, a four-star hotel close to the Promenade des Anglais, is ideal. It has everything one could wish for: outdoor pool, beautiful garden, comfortable rooms and a gym. But what makes WindsoR worth discovering is its relationship with contemporary art.
This hotel is nothing less than a museum, with rooms decorated by artists, some renowned, including the great Claudio Parmiggiani. A beautiful hotel is a luxury that is not to be overlooked, and art-lovers have much to love about Nice: the Matisse Museum, Marc Chagall museum and the museum of modern and contemporary art have tons unique pieces. The cathedrals of the city also have their charm!
When you are ready to enjoy the nightlife, the place to begin your evening is Les Garçons. Restaurant by evening, supperclub by night, they don’t hesitate to push the volume a bit on a Friday and Saturday night!