The week before Christmas in Nice, December 2006

Our week in Nice 17th - 22nd December 2006

Sunday 17th December 2006

Arrived in Nice airport about 1pm and immediately got trapped inside the airport due to a bomb scare. Let out at the far end so we jumped on the shuttle to Terminal 1 to catch a bus as the roads were cordoned off outside terminal 2. As we had large suitcases and a large tool kit – husband has plans for the studio this holiday, we gave up and took a taxi, 32 euros, Sunday price hike up, plus supplement for the airport, plus a bit for the cases no doubt. The temperature was mild about 12-13 degrees C and a bit cloudy.

Lou Pilha Leva self-service restaurant, Old NiceWe dumped our stuff, the studio was filthy so we turned tail quickly and went out for lunch. Warm enough to eat out and as the queue was small at Lou Phila Leva, had lunch there, Pan Bagnat for me, the day's special - ravioli daube for my husband and spaghetti bolognaise for my daughter. The staff automatically hand out a carafe of water and plastic tumblers and a waiter from the bar on the other side nips over for wine/beer/coffee orders, tip - the wine is much cheaper than the beer.

Joined at our communal table by nice French couple but we didn’t speak. On the taxi ride from the airport, we noticed pens of farm animals along the Prom by the Albert 1er gardens so we went along to investigate. En route we bought some riding gloves for my daughter and I bought some handmade traditional Camargue riding boots but for fashion, far too nice and expensive for riding. They are not the most comfortable things at first wearing but I have been assured that they will soften and mould to my feet and will last a lifeme. This shop, if you are at all horsey, is wonderful.We bought jods, boots and gaiters here in the summer. It’s called Tango and is next door to the L’Ecurie restaurant along rue du Marche. He is the only stockist in the region for this type of boot.

gLove Me on rue de Collet, great selection of leather gloves and other goods in a rainbow of coloursWent to gLove me on rue de Collet, bought some lovely tan gloves on about the third attempt with a different credit card. Turns out that our carte bleues (the French switch) expired in September.

petting the hee hawsOn to the animals where the donkeys were popular with everyone. Plenty of other farm animals to gawp at - pigs, sheep, a mule, horses. There was a sheep dog demonstration, hand-forging and wheat threshing displays using a steam engine which unfathomably held all the men’s attention for many minutes.

Came home to find the phone line dead and internet not working. Husband and daughter still not hungry after lunch, the lightweights, so they had a snack instead of an evening meal in Alexanders bar on the Cours.

chocolate crepe at Alexanders on the Cours SaleyaThey had crepe each but I had Spaghetti au Pistou, a big lunch never puts me off my next meal. Very nice pasta but pricy at 12.50 euros. We ate outside but under a covered terrace with outdoor patio heaters. Most of the restaurants along the Cours have this arrangement for the winter.

Monday 18th December

To the Societe Generale bank where we discovered our new carte bleues had been destroyed as we had not collected them within 8 weeks of the old ones expiring. We think we have now arranged for the new ones to be sent to our Liverpool address. Various bits of shopping done, food from Ed in rue Cassini, the cheapest supermarket in France but it's the social equivalent of shopping in Netto back home.

On to Carrefour to buy the cheapest phone so we can see if the line is truly dead. We want to buy a shelving unit to insert in the partition wall on the kitchen side to increase storage area. Nothing suitable in Carrefour where we bought more inline skates for the daughter, the first pair bought in the summer having gone back to Liverpool. Lunch on the hoof, sandwiches from Brioche shop in Nice TNL commercial centre.

Fly is full of great present ideas like these decorated tinsFrom Carrefour, a short walk to Fly by Riquier train station. Lots of good things in Fly like the tins shown in the photo and cute Christmas decorations including some tea light lanterns with reindeers, couldn’t persuade husband although he succumbed a hanging Santa for the balcony going half price in Carrefour. Back to the studio. New phone in which appeared to work so tried again with the internet and after some switching on and off and waggling of wires etc it all sprang back to life.

Quick evening meal on balcony (too cold really) then off to meet friends to help them move apartments later so we are saving the Christmas village and big wheel for another day. Husband disappeared to help hump furniture and daughter and I went home bumping into other friends on the way home, small world. It’s very quiet in Nice in the Old Town, I felt much safer in the summer crowds. Place Garibaldi and Felix Faures still a mess but there are proper walk ways across the road from the Old Town to the Gare Routiere. There appears to be no discernable progress with the tram route up rue de la Republique. Daughter jabbered until midnight, can’t wait for the partition wall to go up tomorrow.

Tuesday 19th December

Plan was to meet friends for reciprocal help getting stuff for partition at DIY shop. Phoned at appointed hour to put off until later. Wandered out after late breakfast around the front of the Chateau Hill and into the Cours Saleya via Agnes B where I saw a lovely dress but hanging on to money at moment as we are going to Paris sales in January. Through the Cours, not many stalls in the winter and then on to Bar de la Bourse for lunch . Our usual chap wasn’t there and although we were smiled at a lot by the woman, she left us standing for about 10 mins with no sign that we would ever be seated so we gave up, you need to get there for 12 noon not 12:30 to be sure of a table, even in the winter. Went for a cheap option which we’ve done before. Chez Christiane, very simple a bowl of fresh pasta, with a sauce, generous glass of wine and a pudding all for 8,00 euros. (April 2007, price hike to 8,60 euros, review here) Husband disgruntled at first as he thought he was getting soupe au pistou but really enjoyed the garlicky sauce in the end and mopped the lot up with bread. Pudding was a small boule of ice cream, chocolate or vanilla; last summer it was thin slices of pineapple. The pasta is always spaghetti, home made and the sauces are bolognaise, pistou or just butter with cheese. Husband disappeared off to DIY by train station with friend in a van. Daughter and I shot off to Sephora where she bought herself some makeup and a present for dad. Waited 20 mins in the queue for wrapping.

La Drogeurie - for all your knitting, sewing and craftwork, a beautiful and inspiring shopCalled in at La Drogeurie on rue Hotel des Postes, very tempted by the felt and purse fasteners but decided to hang on.

at last, that messy corner is disappearing...Came home to find husband back in flat and on with job, uprights up and in place plus first layer of plaster board, but didn’t block daughter's chattering that night.

Wednesday 20th December

Up and on with the job. In spite of a comprehensive list and only one opportunity of a van run, husband forgot skirting board. Cracked on with nailing on the plaster board and putting in some shelves.

Bar de la Bourse, rue Pairoliere, Old NiceMade sure we got to Bar de la Bourse at 12 on dot, empty today and only half full by 12:30. We are out with friends tonight so had one course each, rabbit and ratatouille for about 6-7 euros, salad for me and steak au poivre for daughter, the dearest at 12.50, great value.

almost doneBack to studio to carry on with wall. I decided to rearrange the furniture a bit and swapped the book case for the sofa. It looks better I think. Took daughter ice-skating this afternoon – the 3pm session. Happily, we picked the best day for it, sunshine and blue skies, the sun was very low in the sky though.

ice skating in the open air in Nicerecovering from the iceskating with a chocolate waffleThe Christmas Village is back in Place Massena, last year it had moved to Albert 1er gardens. The chalets are all very pretty but we are never tempted to buy anything. There are very similar ones now in Liverool and Manchester. There were a few seats by the ice-skating rink with hot wine, beer and coffee for sale. Daughter skated for about 45 minutes then recovered with a gauffre au Nutella – a chocolate waffle.

The big wheel in Nice goes up in December and stays up until after the Carnival the following FebruaryWe went for our annual turn on the 50m big wheel which terrifies me a little bit more each time. There was an exhibition at the top of Jean Medicin with one of the new trams to examine. Jean Medicin still looks very bleak without trees. I hope some will be planted to replace the felled plane trees. The wheel was fine but a bit hairy with husband leaping all over the place to take photos and making the seat swing. Walked past Hermes afterwards, I already have had my present this year so it was window-shopping only or as the French say, leche de la vitrine - window-licking, which was about right for Hermes. On to Galleries Lafayette for the loos to discover they are only on the third floor now, but luckily there was no queue.

even the Santas are slim in FranceWalked home passing Father Christmas in the Old Town who was handing out sweets to good girls and boys. Had a quick tidy up before meeting our friends at Au Vieux Four at 1 rue emmanuel Philbert for pizza. It was excellent, I had the Provencale – aubergine, peppers etc but I understand it is the Paysanne pizza which has won awards here. Nice buzzy place – great atmosphere. Threw caution and diet to the wind and had several bottles of house red, very good wine, an unbelievable 6.50 euros a bottle and totally lost my head and had a Tiramsu for pudding, another of their specialities. Try and get here if you are staying near the Port but I would reserve first, it was full tonight, glad I phoned in the morning. All piled over to our studio where we had more wine and the partition meant daughter could ‘disappear' off to bed and it was secluded enough for her to crash out while we stayed up past midnight, we are normally asleep by 10pm.

Thursday 21st December

Felt surprising fine but have had a low-level viral thing all week so it masked whatever hangover I should have been feeling. Went to Fly for some baskets to hide loo rolls on open shelf in the bathroom and it does look much smarter. Had lunch at Renee Socca - a slice of ratatouille pizza which should have been enough but had guilty portion of socca too. can't beat a sausage and a bottle Pschitt for lunchDaughter had sausage and chips, husband, cabillard (cod) and chips, came to about 10 euros the lot. No queue and we ate inside the bar opposite, you have to buy a drink, so I had a coffe for 1,50 euros. Daughter had a lemonade, there’s a variety charmingly named Pschitt (the p is silent) which causes mirth every time. Husband had a beer which explained his determined effort to enter Schlecker – a general food/hardware shop opposite Renee Socca through the exit rather than the entry door. Bought bucket for mixing plaster but resorted to my mixing spoon for mixing the plaster. We needed a water spray but have improvised with Magicool, hope it works.

Friday, 22nd December, last day

Strolled down to Cours Saleya to say goodbye. Shopped for some Medjool dates, I’m addicted. Had the sense to check a few prices, these varied over several stalls between 16 and 29 euros per kg. Went back to the 16 euros/kg stall and bought half a kilo, they were enormous, plump, soft and sweet, great chocolate substitute. We had a party to go to that night in Liverpool so bought a bag of chocolate-covered almonds from the long-establishes Auer, 8 euros for a tiny bag, they are good though. just about ready to be painted now, that will have to wait for our return trip, a week in AprilSpent the morning reluctantly tidying up and packing for home. Decided to order a taxi to the aiport but ended up as usual with a last minute phone call from my mobile in the road, to check they are coming. The taxi was so quick, it had arrived and left but was in the wrong place, up past place du Pin.

At the airport Hermes, there was the most beautiful scarf and a cute keyring but no money so stroked it all and left with nothing. The scarf was a plisse in the design 'Tapis Volant', colours perfect for me – blacks and golds/tans, would go with everything. The airport was packed with many flights delayed, every time husband got up to read the flight information board, someone tried to grab his seat. Magically, the Liverpool flight was perfect so home ahead of eta. Overall one of our best weeks, as always entirely due to the weather, it makes such a difference and out of season, we know to our cost it could have been dull, wet and windy. Everyday was sunny with blue skies, up to 19 degrees C one day although it was always crisp enough to need a coat.

9th - 10th January 2007

An extra day and night in Nice...

Emergency trip back back to Nice by myself to collect all the stuff we left here by accident in December, nothing desperately urgent but camera, glasses etc. I used the opportunity to try out the daughter's new 'bedroom' very cosy it is too, much better than the open-plan arrangement before and easier for me to use her bed rather than fold out the sofabed.

The highlights of this short trip were three-fold. First of all I was asked out to dinner on the flight by a lovely chap - 'Monaco Man' to preserve his identity. Sorry I declined MM, but I'm married. Still it was nice to be asked. Secondly, I spent a blissful two hours in the Nice Hermes store and learned about the different leathers, colours and agendas. They are a shocking price though, I'm hoping to bag a bargain in the Jan sales in Paris next week. They don't have the beautiful Tapis Volant scarf in this branch, I'm hoping it might still be at the airport, although it is nearly 3 weeks later...

my beautiful 'Tapis Volant' plisse from Nice airportFate and luck were on my side, the plisse was still there so I treated myself. Looking foward to returning to the studio in February to top and tail a weeks skiing in Meribel.

The partition wall was just about finished, still needs skirting board and the whole place is in dire need of decorating. No time to do this before or after our ski trip so we are back in April to finish the job, this time minus the daughter who will be away on a school ski trip, yes she gets two ski trips this year. My April report is written up here.


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Douglas and Victoria said...

Hi Lisa: Thanks for all of your information about Nice. I've been having a great time over the last few months planning a trip to Nice later this year. I haven't been to Nice since 1989. I'm also following your commentary in TripAdvisor. I particularly appreciate your commentary regarding restaurants and shopping. It's all very helpful.
All the best, and thanks again.
Douglas and Victoria