Europe, Travel Tips

A Nice-ish Time in Nice

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We took a spring break to the city of Nice as we have always thought it was a glamourous destination. Well, and this is just our opinion remember, it isn’t. You can see that it has become a victim of it’s own success and global tourism has had a big impact on this place. Now, don’t misunderstand me, we had a great time and there is plenty to see, but to explain what I mean, I will have to put this narrative into sections, so bear with me. 

The airport is ideally situated and nowhere is more that a thirty-minute drive away. It’s also a really modern, clean and well-equipped hub for travellers. It didn’t take us long to get to our hotel, which was not in the centre of town as these hotels are quite pricey.

We booked room only thinking that we could easily grab breakfast and any other meals. We had looked up the food hall on Google and we knew it was a 10 minute walk from our hotel, so we thought that would be a great place for breakfast and possibly brunch. (Not good at early mornings).

Hmm, should have done more research. There are plenty of different food outlets, and yes, they seem very popular, but to us they were all very much the same. So, after trying it once, we gave it a miss for the rest of the stay. I bet you think that there are French bakeries are on every corner, with fresh croissants, fresh coffee and other delicious pastries.  Well, we didn’t find them. They are there but the main road we walked up and down most days had very few. Burger King, Chinese and Indian restaurants, plenty of these. Bars of course, and some sell food at certain times. The best place to get something to eat was a tram ride away, and that’s the next topic.

My other problem was toilets. I have to admit that it is something of a bugbear with me and himself that lots of cities and towns are not very good at providing public facilities, and when they do, they are often gross. I had forgotten that in France both sexes have access to public loos, and as an example, I will tell you about the loos in Burger King. I wanted to use the loo and wash my hands before getting something to eat, so I popped down to the facilities and got really confused! I tried to find the Ladies, but no, it’s one toilet and you have to walk through the urinals to get to a cubicle.  Well, it was an experience if nothing else. Now, this is not the case in all eateries. We did go to one of the ‘upmarket’ cafes in the main street, and OMG, it was fabulous. Nearly as good as Harvey Nicks in Manchester! So, it seems that if you get ‘caught short’ be careful, it may be a while before you find somewhere to go.

Now for the positives. The tram service is great. Trams run from early morning until late at night. They are always packed first thing and when schools close, but you knew that!  Ticket machines are available at every stop and you buy your tickets as required. If you get on and off a tram with within one hour, you don’t pay for your return journey. Bonus. I have to be honest; we spent a day on the tram just seeing different parts of Nice and it was one of the best days we had there. It takes you to residential areas, so you get a different perspective of the city. It’s cheap and clean and we were fascinated to see that every night the tram lines and stations were cleaned. We highly recommend the tram service.

The main streets and squares are buzzing with people from all over the world, so English is widely spoken, thank goodness. We haven’t spoken French since we left school, and that was in another century, so it would have been impossible to make ourselves understood without making the French people laugh! The history of Nice is fascinating and we had a smashing time looking around and reading about it.

We also admired the cars and fashions around the squares, as well as the statues.

Then we decided it would be very remiss of us not to take a trip to Monaco, so we did. We opted to go by bus rather than the train because we thought it would be great to take the coastal route. We were right. Honestly, the buses were packed and that may have something to do with the price. At the time we went it cost approximately 3.50 euro each, return ticket, but please don’t quote me, I could be totally wrong. (bad memory). It is well worth the effort and the scenery is amazing as you drive along the coast. I just wish the bus seats were padded, because it’s a jolly long trip and busy, but still fabulous! We had a bite to eat and it wasn’t expensive at all. You must walk around the Marina and see all the fabulous yachts. It really is another world you are looking into.

We also visited the gardens that were built as a memorial to Princess Grace. Absolutely stunning. Photographs cannot do justice to this lovely place, so if you do go to Monaco, check it out please. The Casino is iconic, and the super cars are all over the place. We tried to walk some of the Grand Prix route, but there was sooo much traffic it was nigh on impossible. Oh yes, the shops are very high end and we did a bit of window shopping, well you would, wouldn’t you. Didn’t manage to buy anything, they didn’t have my size.

Back in Nice and over the next day or so, we wondered along the famous Promenade de Anglaise, checked out the usual sights and enjoyed the old town. There is an awful lot of walking to do, so take comfy shoes. It’s a very casual place and we honestly enjoyed the view from the top of the hill where the enormous NICE sign is. There is a lift you can take to the top, and a really good cafe for a coffee or cold drink. The toilets were great too! Finally found some.

So to summarise. Nice is shabby chic I suppose and we were stunned at times how run down some areas were. Maybe our expectations were too high. As with all trips to different places, it all depends on your personal outlook and what you want to do and see. Would we go again, I doubt it, but if you decide to go, we hope you have a great time.

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