Table of Contents for this Episode
Discussed in this Episode
- Nice on the Riviera
- Cours Saleya
- Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill)
- Cimiez and the Belle Époque Palaces
- Quartier des Musiciens the Art Deco architecture
- West Nice
- Promenade des Anglais
[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 384. Trois cent quatre-vingt-quatre. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, and news-related to travel to France.
[00:00:37] Introducing Jeanne Oliver
[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today I bring you a conversation with Jeanie Oliver about the lovely city of Nice on the French Riviera. Jeanne has been living in Nice for a long time. She wrote a book about Nice called Nice Uncovered Walks Through the Secret Heart of a Historic City, which I read, it’s a good one. She also produced a VoiceMap tour about Nice and you know, how much I love those self guided walking tours. Her VoiceMap tour is called The Best of Nice’s Old Town Highlights, Legends and Secret Spots.
[00:01:15] Annie Sargent: I had a lovely time talking to Jeanne about the city she loves, and I think you’re going to enjoy our conversation. So just get ready for a vicarious, at least trip to Nice in your head.
[00:01:29] May 1st and other travel tips after the interview
[00:01:29] Annie Sargent: After my conversation with Jeanie Oliver, I have several things I want to discuss about travel to France, including what’s open and what’s closed on May 1st in Paris since May 1st is going to be falling on a Sunday this year. And what I’m telling you about Paris also applies to almost everywhere in France, and I also want to clear up some misconception about travel to France that I keep hearing. And this time I’m like, okay, I’ve got to clear this up.
[00:02:00] Support this podcast by making purchases on Annie’s Boutique
[00:02:00] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my very popular, itinerary consultation service. You can browse all of my products at my boutique https://joinusinfrance.com/boutique
[00:02:19] Feedback about the itinerary planning service
[00:02:19] Annie Sargent: Recently I did an itinerary consult with Elizabeth Brawley and she sent me this lovely feedback: “Annie. Wow. Thank you so much for our itinerary. We were blown away by how thorough it is. I did not expect to have so many travel tips from your podcasts, all in one place, along with a ton of history for almost every stop you planned for us. I thought that I would have to continue to research each place, just so that I could understand what we were seeing, but you saved me so much time. I also did not expect to have so many recommendations for restaurants in each area of Paris and even beyond in several other cities, we are going to visit. You even included what times things open and close and the best strategy for seeing each place to the fullest. I would highly encourage anyone to invest in your itinerary planning service to make the trip as stress free as possible. It is like a personalized travel guide. Merci beaucoup.
[00:03:23] Annie Sargent: Well, thank you, Elizabeth. It was a pleasure talking to you about your trip, and I think you are going to have a grand time.
[00:03:40] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Jeanne Oliver and welcome to Join Us in France.
[00:03:46] Jeanne Oliver: Bonjour Annie, I’m delighted to be here and to talk about my adopted city and favorite place in France, which is Nice on the French Riviera.
[00:03:57] Jeanne’s VoiceMap tour of Nice
[00:03:57] Annie Sargent: Lovely to have you. You reached out to me a few weeks ago because you finished what, because you published a VoiceMap tour of Nice. And I was really excited because I love VoiceMap tours. So I want to hear about that first. And then we’ll go on to talk about Nice obviously.
[00:04:15] Jeanne Oliver: Okay with pleasure. I also love VoiceMap tours. I think it’s a great way to discover city. Now, this VoiceMap tour of Nice is called The Best of Nice’s Old Town Highlights, Legends and Secret Spots. I really had a ball doing it, because I was able to uncover, so many little hideaways that people don’t know about that, uh, reflect, uh, Nice’s turbulent and tangled, but really interesting, uh, history.
[00:04:49] Jeanne Oliver: So, the tour has been a delight to research. And of course I love VoiceMap tours because I think it’s a great way to discover the town. So the centers on the old town, , which is, I think the part that tourists and visitors are most fascinated with and for good reason, it’s a chockfull of, uh, beautiful Baroque churches, the colorful Cours Saleya for shopping and lots of fun, little restaurants and shops to, Introduce you to Nice’s, uh, culture and what we have to offer down here.
[00:05:28] Annie Sargent: Yes. And you also wrote a book about Nice, which you also sent me and that I started reading. I didn’t quite finish it, but I will finish it cause it’s really a good book. I mean, it’s a very good introduction to the city of Nice, so do tell a little bit about that as well.
[00:05:43] Seven walking tours in Nice
[00:05:43] Jeanne Oliver: Oh, thank you. Well, the book, contains seven walking tours, very detailed walking tours that take in Nice’s most fascinating neighborhoods. The old town of course, and Colline du Chateau castle hill, which is where it all started a beautiful Cimiez with the Belle Époque palaces, and lesser known neighborhoods such as the quartier des musiciens, which has gorgeous Art Deco or architecture and West Nice that a lot of people don’t venture to, but also has some stunning sites to see, Art Deco, and also a wonderful 19th century Villa and Manor House in West Nice.
[00:06:27] Jeanne Oliver: And of course also the Promenade des Anglais built by the English, that really spurred development of Nice. And, so I think that it gives an excellent overview of, Nice’s many different neighborhoods and different cultures that, um, work together. And in many instances to, uh, create the city that we now know and love, and that it’s just been named a UNESCO world heritage site last year.
[00:06:59] Annie Sargent: The whole city?
[00:07:00] Jeanne Oliver: Well, not the entire city, but the heart of the city. The neighborhoods that I, that I just mentioned, that, the old town and a Quartier des Mucisiens is for the architecture.
[00:07:13] Jeanne Oliver: And also because Nice had an important role in developing tourism. Actually in Europe.
[00:07:21] Nice started attracting visitors in the late 1700s
[00:07:21] Jeanne Oliver: It a Nice people the end of the 18th century, they really were able to see just how important tourism was going to be. And they, uh, built and catered to some of the foreign visitors that were starting to come down here at the end of the 18th century. First, the British, uh, we’re really the first and, uh, then later on, aristocrats from all over Europe came to Nice.
[00:07:50] Jeanne Oliver: So the city. Really bears the imprint of many of the foreign visitors that came down for the sun and the sea that healthy air and, brought with them a whole train of, , artists and architects and designers that made, some of the really outstanding buildings that Nice is known for.
[00:08:16] Nice offers a wonderful lifestyle
[00:08:16] Annie Sargent: And Nice also has just a lovely, lovely lifestyle. Now, I mean, French people know it as a resort kind of place, but it’s not just a resort. There are plenty of French people who live in Nice year round and it’s. Quite, I mean, there are plenty of towns along the Mediterranean coast that have turned into just tourist towns and not much else. But Nice is not one of them Nice is actually a town with university. And a sizeable full-time population. Quite a few retirees as well, or, you know, Maybe it’s the Florida France in a way.
[00:09:03] Jeanne Oliver: Maybe because it’s true that French people do like to retire here. And so to the British and Americans, uh, like to come to Nice for the mild climate, but it’s true. There is so much more, it is a university town. There’s a lot to do for young people. We have a pretty good nightlife. It gets a lot better in the summer, actually, when people are out on their terraces and swarming through the old town in the Cours Saleya. So it has really, I think developed a, um, a very particular culture.
[00:09:40] Nice as a city of Art and Architecture
[00:09:40] Jeanne Oliver: The current mayor, as well as past mayors, who’ve really highlighted public art, public monuments. So we have quite a tradition here of, uh, art and architecture. Uh, as you probably know, you have had, uh, famous artists like Matisse that lived here, for, quite a number of years and created, uh, some of his most iconic works here in Nice. And it’s, so it’s a tradition that, we’re very proud of, and that is a very much part of a fabric of the city.
[00:10:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So this is going to sound like a strange question, but is there anything you don’t like about Nice?
[00:10:21] Jeanne Oliver: Um, is there anything you don’t like? Well, let me see. Um, I w I’d like to see more of a variety of exotic cuisine that I would like to say. Uh, I love pizza and Italian food and traditional Nice, uh, dishes as well. Um, there is good Vietnamese food as well, because we have quite a Vietnamese community here, but, um, I would like to see the same kind of variety that we have in Paris, but, uh, little by little it’s happening. There’s more Japanese restaurants, more Chinese restaurant. So, um, I think the culinary scene is, is developing quite nicely.
[00:11:06] Nice has a rocky beach and that’s good and bad
[00:11:06] Annie Sargent: The only thing I don’t love about Nice personally is the fact that the beach is rocky. I would love a sandy beach.
[00:11:15] Jeanne Oliver: Oh, well, a lot of people say that, but you know, we kind of get used to it here. Uh, you have to have the right shoes. That’s really important. You don’t have to have special a water shoes, rubber shoes, and, uh, you don’t have to worry about sand getting stuck in your bathing suit. I kinda like that.
[00:11:33] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s true. That’s yeah. Okay. Okay. I’ll grant you that one. So let’s talk a tiny bit about the history of Nice and how these beautiful towns came about.
[00:11:46] A brief history of Nice
[00:11:46] Jeanne Oliver: Oh, well, it really goes back many, many centuries. Actually it’s kind of shrouded in mystery and, uh, to a certain degree, we do know that the ancient Greeks set up a colony on castle hill or Colline du Chateau. But there may have been settlement before then, uh, they’re not really sure, but we do know that the Greeks did settle, uh, on top of the Colline du Chateau and they traded with them or say they were kind of linked.
[00:12:16] Jeanne Oliver: It was a part of the Province of Massalia and then the Romans came and, um, they took possession of another hill. That would be Cimiez Hill. Now, the site of so many beautiful Belle Epoque buildings. So the two, actually two communities didn’t like each other, all that much the Greeks and the Romans, they weren’t fighting, but they were, um, rivals, well, there’s not that much.
[00:12:43] Roman site at Cimiez
[00:12:43] Jeanne Oliver: That remains of the ancient Greeks. They did bring, the cultivation of vines and wine. To, uh, to the region. So that was good. We certainly appreciate that, olive trees as well. But in terms of actual buildings, really, not too much, I think it was quite a, I wouldn’t say primitive, but not as developed a civilization, as you would find, actually in Greece. The Romans they left on the, the, uh, on top of, uh, Cimiez a beautiful amphitheater the thermal baths, uh, which have been well-preserved well, um, excavated. And, uh, so we know a pretty, a fair amount about the Roman presence in Nice. And that’s something that can be visited and it is, uh, is wonderful to visit, uh, actually. The archeological museum even has a hair hairpins from the ladies baths, uh, that they have found, uh, up there and the whole formal bath complex, Romans what their baths and, um, so it’s, uh, it makes for a really wonderful visit.
[00:13:54] Jeanne Oliver: And then the Christians set up a community up there very early Christians and really, kind of. , spurred, the religious development of Nice. Which, became quite tied to, uh, to the church. And then eventually a Franciscans moved in that was a much, many centuries later. Uh, that, uh, they moved in Franciscans penitence, and they built churches and monasteries, and, uh, was really the focal point of, life in Nice for many, many centuries.
[00:14:30] Nice as part of the House of Savoy
[00:14:30] Jeanne Oliver: After the Romans and then there was very disruptive period. And then the Italians came and Nice was eventually absorbed into there wasn’t an Italy at the time, but it was absorbed into a Savoy, which was, uh, based in Chambery in the north of France, but really covered a lot of, a lot of Northern Italy.
[00:14:53] Jeanne Oliver: And that was, uh, I wasn’t influenced that really lasted for quite some time. They became part of the house of Savoy and in the 14th century, and didn’t weave it until the middle of mid 19th century. So it’s, uh, the point Mary, um, uh, influencer of development in Nice were the Italians and Nice was…
[00:15:20] Annie Sargent: You still feel it!
[00:15:21] Nice is very close to the Italian border and a major seaport
[00:15:21] Jeanne Oliver: Oh, most certainly. Oh yes. Well, we’re quite close to the Italian border and a lot of Italians come here on holiday and, uh, for those of us that live here, we love to cross the border and do some shopping. And it’s just really amazing that 30 minutes away from Nice, uh you’re in another country and you kind of feel it too.
[00:15:43] Jeanne Oliver: I mean, it’s all part of Europe, but it’s still, Italy is quite different and different styles. So, uh, and it is so it’s a part of Nice’s heritage that, uh, that we’re really very proud of. It left really a profound influence on Nice the Savoy houses. And Nice was quite important to Italy, it was a Seaport and, uh, it was a source of a lot of prosperity.
[00:16:11] Jeanne Oliver: It was on the salt route and a Nice became really quite important for salt. Big, uh, big commodity in the middle ages. Uh, salt came from Camargue which is, uh, to the west of Nice, in the Languedoc region. And, uh, you know, it was unloaded at Nice’s port and then sent out to various parts of Europe. So it, uh, really affected the development of Nice.
[00:16:40] Jeanne Oliver: And in Nice we’re. They kind of. We’re attached to their Savoy, or governors, uh, it was ruled, uh, fairly well there’s a lot of building was done and it became, um, kind of a Haven for, um, a lot of people throughout, Europe. They were largely good governors and Nice was always kind of sandwiched in between France and Italy and Savoy’s.
[00:17:10] Jeanne Oliver: So it did, unfortunately was the site of. Several, uh, battles, uh, because France kind of wanted to gobble it up. And, uh, Savoy said, no, no, not so fast. We like it too. It’s very important. So, um, it, uh, it was not a history that was necessarily peaceful for that reason.
[00:17:34] The Siege of Nice and Catherine of Ségurane
[00:17:34] Jeanne Oliver: The big development was in the mid 16th century, when a France allied with the Turks laid siege to Nice and, especially the, castle hill, the Colline du Chateau, uh, was placed under siege. There’s very fierce fighting, but it did give rise to Nice’s favorite heroin, Catherine of Ségurane who, um, legend has it, uh, saw the Turks besieging the walls and firing. And she, um, turned her back to them. She lifted up her skirts and supposedly according to the legend, she, uh, raped her rear end with a Turkish flag and they were so repulsed. That they turn tail, so to speak and left. So, so she became like muses heroin, and there’s a monument to her in the old town of her looking very fierce on top of the, uh, the wall that she defended. But whatever the truth of the matter is whatever they left. So.
[00:18:50] Annie Sargent: That’s wonderful.
[00:18:52] Jeanne Oliver: That’s the important thing. Oh, so after that, anyway, that was on top of the castle hill, Colline du Chateau. And then after that, they turn that whole area into a military bastio n and all of the civilians went down to old Nice and that’s really, after that is when old Nice, uh, started to develop and blossom. Uh, people moved down there and started building. And, uh, that was, I think really the beginning of, uh, a lot of the beauty that we see in the old town.
[00:19:27] Favorite churches in Nice
[00:19:27] Annie Sargent: Yeah, there’s some really stunning churches in Nice. And you can delve there, you know, they were made by Italians because they’re the only ones who can do this sort of a thing. And they just look glorious. Really, really. What’s your favorite church in Nice today to visit?
[00:19:43] Jeanne Oliver: Ooh. Well, I think, I like the, cathedral Sainte-Réparate, because it’s so, integrated into. Cultural life. Uh, now, uh, whenever something important happens and there needs to be a memoriam. For example, after the awful terrorist attacks in 2016, there were special masses held there. So, uh, cathedral is a place that is just really soaked in history and it’s also so beautiful on the inside as well that, uh, Baroque style is just, uh, just stunning.
[00:20:22] Jeanne Oliver: Uh, the Church du Gesù is also quite wonderful with all of the cherrubs. Lots of lots of cherubs on that. So, um, uh, that’s also a lovely church and, uh, the Misericordia, uh, is also a nice church.
[00:20:40] Jeanne Oliver: It’s not open that much, unfortunately, but for visiting, I think the, uh, Gesù and the Cathedral usually are open and very easy to go in and, and take a look around. And it, the whole Baroque idea is just so stunning. You know, the whole idea is to, um, make you kind of transport you into, into paradise actually to transport you to another dimension.
[00:21:06] Jeanne Oliver: So, you know, the soaring ceilings and all of the guilt and the carvings and the cherrubs is, uh, is really a, a feast for the eye.
[00:21:19] Annie Sargent: It really is. And especially from the perspective of the people of those times, that didn’t have all of this art and TV and movies and special effects that we have today. I mean, you know, to them, that’s the only art they ever saw and as art, it was really, really impressive.
[00:21:41] Jeanne Oliver: Yes. It really was.
[00:21:43] Annie Sargent: What’s the name of the little church by the Cours Saleya?.
[00:21:48] Jeanne Oliver: Yeah. The, Miséricorde church it is really exquisite. It’s a small church. It’s right on the Cours Saleya, uh, it is really exquisite. Um, you have to go there on Tuesday afternoons.
[00:22:03] Annie Sargent: It’s not open very much, is it?
[00:22:05] Jeanne Oliver: Tuesday afternoons and Sunday mass. And, uh, that’s pretty much it, but it is really worth looking into because it’s like it’s glittery inside. It’s like stepping inside of a jewel box. It’s quite lovely.
[00:22:21] Jeanne Oliver: lovely
[00:22:22] Annie Sargent: So, um, okay. Oh, you’re not quite done with a history of Nice can carry on with the history and then I’ll ask you more questions.
[00:22:29] Louis XIV tries to take Nice
[00:22:29] Jeanne Oliver: Okay. Yeah. So, uh, the, after the, the siege there and the 16th century, everybody moved to the old town. Uh, but there France still had their eye on Nice. They didn’t forget about. And, still very much wanted to capture it. So the other, really important event was, beginning of the 18th century, that’d be 1705 when, Louis, 14th, came and, again, attacked and he really had quite an army.
[00:23:00] Jeanne Oliver: So, uh, he leveled the Colline du Chateau was really just smashed to smithereens and you can see it was a military fortification at the time, and you can still see, parts of that there were still standing parts of the old walls, but, he did quite a job on, eliminating that. So at that point then, Nice was not really a military defense for the Savoy Kings and, uh, they, uh, became an open city and devoted to, uh, to trade.
[00:23:33] Nice gets attached to France in 1860
[00:23:33] Jeanne Oliver: And, um, it was then really that the, the era of the big Baroque churches started, uh, where they were a building and Baroque is sweeping Europe at the time. And, and so a lot of that. Town really, uh, developed the dates from the, uh, the 18th century. So, that transformed, matters in Nice. And then the other, uh, big event of course, is when it became attached to France, which was in 1860.
[00:24:05] Jeanne Oliver: And I was kind of, Europe was really a complicated system of alliances at the time. So it’s a little too, too much to really go into, but essentially, everybody was kind of united against the power of Austria. Nice voted to become a part of France in 1860. And, uh, then French people started coming to Nice because really before then, you know, it’s not part of France.
[00:24:33] Jeanne Oliver: It was really pretty much, well, all Italian. So then French people started, um, immigrating to nice and they were followed by, uh, a lot of other on nationality. So it was really the end of the 19th century. Uh, you saw, a lot of these big palaces and villas develop as, the British, came on, and, built for the British.
[00:24:58] Jeanne Oliver: This was just like great. There was a great way to get away from winter, London, and winter. And it was also the time of the big tuberculosis epidemic. So there was a sense that the air down here was a lot healthier. So, uh, they came here for the good air.
[00:25:16] Jeanne Oliver: And also, I mean, it was just a lot of fun. I mean, everybody, who was anybody wanted to come to Nice and, you know, build a Villa or stay in a Villa and balls parties. And, uh, it was, uh, generally a, um, a delight and the train station opened also in the mid 19th century. So, uh, shortly after it became attached to France, it was easy to get to.
[00:25:43] Jeanne Oliver: And then. At the end of the century, queen Victoria came and, the, hotel, the Excelsior Royal, right on top of Cimiez, it was built for her. And, uh, of course, once the queen decides to spend her winters in Nice, then, uh, you know, a whole social circle really a whole social scene developed around her.
[00:26:06] Jeanne Oliver: And then if nobody wants to come over the, all of the aristocrats and, um, so that lasted basically into a world war one. And then the kind of a fun stopped. Uh, to WW1.
[00:26:23] Jeanne Oliver: And then, then the Russian revolution, because we had had really a lot of Russian artistocrats too a lot. It was a big favorite, uh, among the Russians.
[00:26:33] Art Deco in Nice in the 20s and 30s
[00:26:33] Jeanne Oliver: But, you know, after the Russian revolution where they didn’t have so much money anymore. So, , you weren’t getting the moneed aristocrats coming. Life was a little bit different down here, but, that coincided with, the great age of, art deco architecture, which, Nice can be very proud of because we just have some spectacular buildings that were put up in the twenties and thirties, really intro intro, world war two. It was a big flourishing of Art Deco architecture. And you see a lot of that in the, Quartier des Musiciens, some, great, buildings and, all of the most noted Art Deco architects wanted to come here and, and, uh, build. So, there’s a lot. And, and some of them came from other countries, uh, to, uh, George Decanski, was a Russian architect that built a tremendous amount of really iconic buildings here in Nice. And, uh, Then there were Armenian architects that came to build, uh, Gloria mansion’s. So that was a really big flourishing.
[00:27:48] WW2 in Nice
[00:27:48] Jeanne Oliver: Then a world war II. You know, obviously this was, uh, you know, a very, very difficult time here first the Italians occupied. And you know, that Nice was worried about when the Italians occupied, they thought, oh no, they’re going to come, then they’re gonna want to take us back.
[00:28:05] Jeanne Oliver: We’re French now. We don’t want to go back to Italy. That didn’t happen, but, It was part of free France or the Jewish population was not persecuted under the Italians. Then the Germans came and they started quite a system of, uh, deportations, uh, that, uh, you know, lasted until. 1944. Um, so, uh, it was, it was very hard period because people were literally starving to death.
[00:28:38] Jeanne Oliver: We don’t grow that much here in Nice. We don’t really have, cattle or dairy grains. We don’t have. So everything had to be sent by train from Paris and then it would get ripped off. So by the time the war ended and the Americans really basically supervised the whole, that whole period after the war, I mean, it was really a matter of feeding the, the population that, uh, was just on the verge of famine.
[00:29:10] Jeanne Oliver: Uh, so, and then, but then after that, you know, Nice started to develop fairly, fairly well, fairly steadily, throughout a lot of projects, uh, building the projects, uh, developed and it expanded into the hills and big, uh, apartment buildings. And, uh, but there’s still so much is preserved. And I think that’s, what’s so great about Nice.
[00:29:36] What to do in Nice in 4 or 4 days
[00:29:36] Annie Sargent: Well, so let’s imagine a person who’s going to come and be on the Riviera for say four or five days. I often recommend that people stay in Nice because it’s so easy to get around from Nice and go see other things, you know,
[00:29:54] Jeanne Oliver: Oh, it is. Yeah.
[00:29:55] Annie Sargent: Èze you know, I mean the train system cannot be beat.
[00:30:00] Annie Sargent: It’s really, really good. And so, um, so I that’s what I recommend, but if say you had, uh, three days to spend in. Nice. What would you do?
[00:30:12] Jeanne Oliver: Hm. Okay. Well, uh, after I taking a nice swim in the sea if this summer, I would definitely start the day with that, but I’m kind of a beach bums. So I wouldn’t miss that. Uh, definitely a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, uh, which is, uh, you know, lined with these really very beautiful, uh, 19th century, early 20th century hotels.,
[00:30:36] Jeanne Oliver: And, uh, you know, the sea on one side and beautiful buildings on the other and the Promenade des Anglais is also, very lively, particularly in the summer you have street performers and, artists. So I think that, uh, that’s definitely a thing to do. And. Also take, uh, take my audio tour of the old town to really, kind of appreciate and soak up, uh, the old town. Shop in Cours Saleya, uh, which is so colorful and has a lot of local products too, in the cours Saleya a lot of, uh, fruits and vegetables, particularly vegetables that come from, the, various farms up in the Hills outside of Nice. So definitely a trip to the, Cours Saleya I think is really, really essential to some, uh, picking up some food and soap and souvenirs and also, uh, taking a look at the beautiful, uh, Baroque churches, uh, there as well.
[00:31:39] Jeanne Oliver: And then go up to castle hill, take the elevator, or walk to the top of castle hill because you’ll never forget the views from the top of castle hill is. Just, uh, you get that you over the whole bay and west, even on very clear days, you can maybe get a glimpse of Corsica. So, uh, definitely castle hill and Cimiez for the Roman ruins and the M uh, the amphitheater and baths, the Matisse museum is up there, the Chagall museum as well.
[00:32:19] Annie Sargent: I love the Chagall museum. I
[00:32:21] Jeanne Oliver: Uh, I know,
[00:32:22] Jeanne Oliver: I know, I know. It’s so beautiful. The gardens outside, so definitely a highlight.
[00:32:35] How long do you need to spend in Nice?
[00:32:35] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So typically, like if you have friends or family visiting, how many days do you tell them they should stay in Nice? Because this is a question people ask me all the time is how long do I need to see Nice? And I think, well, two days is the bare minimum, but what’s, what’s a good amount of time to spend in Nice.
[00:32:57] Jeanne Oliver: Well, I think, uh, I think four days, uh, actually can give you a pretty good, uh, overview of, uh, of what’s going on because it’s true. You want to, you do want to check out, uh, some of the museums. Artistic, uh, heritage. So, uh, uh, and it can leave some time for a, for a day trip to, uh, especially to nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer which, it was kind of, almost an extension of Nice’s port. I was also a coup and that’s a lovely town in its own own right. Uh, so I would say, you know, four days and including like maybe a day trip to nearby town,
[00:33:41] Annie Sargent: Yeah.
[00:33:42] Jeanne Oliver: but there’s yeah,
[00:33:44] Annie Sargent: And Villefranche-sur-Mer has a Sandy beach.
[00:33:46] Jeanne Oliver: yeah. Yes. Artificial, but yes, it is there. Yes.
[00:33:53] Annie Sargent: Not a big one though. It’s not like a big sprawling beach.
[00:33:57] Jeanne Oliver: Yeah, it’s long, but it’s, it’s quite narrow. Uh, but, uh, but it’s quite a, it has that beautiful, you know, cliffs on either side or to the foot of a very deep bay. So it is spectacularly scenic that’s for sure.
[00:34:15] Notable restaurants in Nice
[00:34:15] Annie Sargent: Since you’ve been living there for so long, maybe you have some restaurant recommendations you can give us what sort of places do you like to go to?
[00:34:24] Jeanne Oliver: Well, I think for Nice food, for typical food, I like Le Safari. Safari right on the Cours Soleya has been there for a while, but, uh, they have, good, a good traditional things and done extremely well. Like Bagna-Caouda, for example, which is, uh, uh, raw vegetables dipped in anchovy sauce that, you know, it’s, it’s a real staple.
[00:34:54] Jeanne Oliver: I had a staple of, of Nice you don’t see it on that many menus, sometimes stock fish, which is a sorted issue, very, uh, stew, which is a very particular. Uh, taste, artichoke salad. I’d like Safari that also have good pizza.
[00:35:12] Jeanne Oliver: Um, and I also like in the old town, uh, Aacchiardo, uh, Acchiardo has, uh, really been there for family restaurant has been there for a long time and it’s located in an old job, uh, mansion, actually a big sprawling mansions.
[00:35:32] Jeanne Oliver: So inside it’s. Uh, it gives you a taste of all these, but also the food is really good. Inexpensive. The people are really friendly. Um, make everybody feel at home. It’s a wonderful casual, place.
[00:35:48] Jeanne Oliver: And then there’s a newer restaurant that I liked very much called the Racine for roots Racine. And that is, near the, liberation market, uh, right next to the Gare du Sud.
[00:36:02] Jeanne Oliver: And that is, a fairly it’s fairly new in Nice, but the owner has, a Michelin star place up in La Turbie. Uh, and, uh, he’s expanded here in the accent is on vegetables who won’t say it’s vegetarian. I don’t know why, but it kind of is. Definitely the best vegetables that like you’re ever going to eat prepared exquisitely and.
[00:36:30] Jeanne Oliver: Yeah.
[00:36:31] Jeanne Oliver: So that’s very, a very nice restaurant.
[00:36:35] Nice and the Meditarranean diet
[00:36:35] Annie Sargent: Your three favorites. Thank you so much for sharing that. And you know, the Mediterranean diet is absolutely wonderful compared to, I mean, I live in the Southwest and duck everything. And after a while it gets old, but to me, the, the kind of food that they eat at Nice never gets old, you know, like, yeah, it’s, it’s really nice.
[00:37:00] Annie Sargent: Like you, you can have pizza one day and then Pain Bagnat another day. And, uh, I love the Pissaladière. I mean, I just love the whole thing. It’s just lovely.
[00:37:14] Jeanne Oliver: It really is. And it’s really, really an accent on fresh seasonal food, that, fish as well. Some local fish, although not as much as there used to be, but fish and super a fresh vegetables and salads, uh, or mesclun, uh, the famous mesclun salad that was invented by Franciscan monks, who used to, they used to grow that upon their monastery, the Franciscan monastery in Cimiez, uh, they would make this mesclun salad from the various. Uh, strains of lettuce, they were growing and carried in big baskets down the hill and distributed to the townspeople, says where mesclun came from, but it’s a great salad.
[00:38:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I mean, Nice. I think it would be one of my favorite places to go spend maybe a longer time, maybe a month or something, you know, because there’s so much to do, but just looking around, just walking around, taking a bike ride, uh, you know, the promenade. Promenade des Anglais is very nice, but there’s this other promenade that goes to the, I’m going to forget the name now.
[00:38:30] Jeanne Oliver: Oh, yeah. Promenade du Paillon the coulée verte. Oh yeah, that’s great.
[00:38:35] Annie Sargent: That is so You know,
[00:38:38] Jeanne Oliver: It is. And it’s really great for people that are interested in, uh, flowers and plants, because it’s planted with various bushes and plants and flowers from around the world. And it’s all well labeled too. So you can really, uh, they have a part from Africa, then a part from Oceana Australia, New Zealand. So it’s so well done. And, uh,
[00:39:04] You don’t need a car on the Riviera or in Nice
[00:39:04] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It’s, it’s a town to be lived in. I guess this is what I would say, not a town to live in a car, however. When people tell me that they want to drive around the Riviera, I’m like, you are nuts.
[00:39:19] Jeanne Oliver: Exactly. It’s really not necessary. And especially now we have, you know, now that the, uh, east west tramway line two opened up a couple of years ago, you know, you can really speed from one end of nice to the other in, in 20 minutes from the airport. To the port Lympia, uh, so it’s just so easy to get around and then it links up with the, and then a lot of the buses are a lot more frequent.
[00:39:47] Jeanne Oliver: So, uh, Nice’s has really, um, I think our, our mayor Estrosi has really, uh, done a lot to making Nice less car friendly and more public transport, uh, friendly plus it’s like, it’s not really that pleasant to drive here. I. Kind of avoid it whenever possible. Parking. I don’t know, crazy drivers it’s I don’t think it’s necessary.
[00:40:13] Jeanne Oliver: And a lot of the buses, if you want to take day trips, very, also very easy to take buses to some of the wonderful hill top villages or other coastal towns. So I think a car is really unnecessary.
[00:40:28] Annie Sargent: I assume that your book has some of those details about, oh, well, since you focus on walks around Nice, maybe you don’t even talk about going out to other places.
[00:40:40] Jeanne Oliver: Well, yeah, that’s more of my website, French Riviera Traveler.com. I have a lot more practical information about, uh, exactly how to take a day trips, uh, using public transport. And, uh, it’s, it’s possible that like almost all places, uh, this is just very easy and as it gets better every year, I think the whole public transport system here in terms of frequency and ease of use, um, apps that you cannot download and so forth. So it’s really it’s become ever easier to, to do that.
[00:41:20] Annie Sargent: All right. So let’s remind everybody. Well, first of all, say again, the name of your website.
[00:41:26] Jeanne Oliver: Um, my website is French Riviera traveler.com.
[00:41:31] Annie Sargent: Excellent. Your book.
[00:41:32] Jeanne Oliver: And my book is Nice Uncovered Walks Through the Secret Heart of a Historic City.
[00:41:41] Annie Sargent: Hm. And the VoiceMap tour.
[00:41:45] Jeanne Oliver: Yeah. And the, and the audio tour, uh, as well, uh, which also the audio tour focuses on the old town. The best of NICE’s Old Town Highlights, Legends and, uh, Secret Spots. So.
[00:42:01] Jeanne Oliver: There is really, there’s just armed with, uh, armed with a, the walking tour, audio tour, and my book of walking tours. I think that you can, uh, really appreciate the, uh, the beauty and, uh, and the culture and very unique culture of nice.
[00:42:21] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. Well, I wish I had known all of that before I went myself. It was a few years ago. So I’m due to go again. So I, I look forward to going with your book and following along and looking at all this beautiful stuff, because you know, it’s easy to walk right past stuff and not know it’s there. So.
[00:42:41] Jeanne Oliver: I know. And, and I did for so many years too, until I started researching, uh, the, the book and I, I researched and. Uh, a road at largely during the pandemic when we were kept, uh, confined. So it really kind of gave me a focus on what to see, and it just like opened up the whole town. I couldn’t really travel anywhere else, but it just opened my eyes. And uh, to two buildings and monuments and little details that I just never noticed. And once your eyes are opened, it makes, it makes the town so much more, so much more fascinating and stimulating.
[00:43:22] Annie Sargent: Anything I should’ve asked you that I didn’t, that you want to say now?
[00:43:27] Give slow travel a chance!
[00:43:27] Jeanne Oliver: Well, I, um, I think that that just about covers it. I think that, uh, I would urge people really to try to get out of, uh, uh, you know, the old town Promenade des Anglais is wonderful, but I really would urge people to try to branch out. To choose some other neighborhoods, the Quartier des Musiciens, uh, particularly. It’s funny, it was built for Americans and it still is a place that Americans seem to want to live in because I have many American friends or that are living there.
[00:43:58] Jeanne Oliver: Quartier des Musiciens for the architecture and then also a West Nice, uh, which, uh, which I have in the book. Uh, also has some really spectacular sites. So I think that, um, uh, I think it’s great to just kind of get off the beaten track a bit and, uh, to experience
[00:44:20] Annie Sargent: And spend a little longer there because it’s really worth, uh, you know, people just want to go way too fast, like
[00:44:28] Jeanne Oliver: Yes, I think so, too. I believe in slow travel. Take your time. Walk, open your eyes, look at stuff. And I think it gives you a much richer experience.
[00:44:41] Annie Sargent: Indeed. Well, Jeanne Oliver, thank you so much for talking to me and, uh, hopefully I’ll meet you a Nice, uh, at some point
[00:44:51] Jeanne Oliver: I hope so. It was a pleasure talking to you, Annie. Really was and yes, I hope we can meet in Nice at some point.
[00:45:00] Annie Sargent: Lovely Merci beaucoup !
[00:45:03] Jeanne Oliver: Merci !
[00:45:03] Annie Sargent: Au revoir.
[00:45:05] Thank you new Patrons!
[00:45:05] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back patrons, get several exclusive rewards for doing so you can see them at https://patrion.com/joinus P a T R E O N. Join Us no spaces. Dashes. And thank you so much for supporting the show. Some of you have been patrons for a long time, and I really appreciate that. And a shout out this week to new patrons, Shannon Kitchen. I think she’s a returning patron actually. Thank you. Shannon. Cory Bray, Hope Gin and Brooke Kiss. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.
[00:45:46] Don’t drive yourself crazy planning your trip to France
[00:45:46] Annie Sargent: Okay. This week, I want to mention a couple of things that have to do with travel. Uh, you know, I work in the travel space and I talk to people about their trip to France, uh, every day. And for me, it’s surprising to realize how much pressure people put on themselves about having the perfect trip to France.
[00:46:06] Annie Sargent: Uh, people think this is their one chance to have the wonderful vacation and they become. Well, some of them become a little bit obsessive. I think platforms like Facebook and Instagram only make it worse because they make it look so simple. When really we know that planning a trip anywhere that you don’t know is difficult.
[00:46:27] Annie Sargent: You know, it’s, it’s work. I’m telling you this because. Uh, if you’re listening to this podcast, obviously you are a planner and planning is good, but I would like you to not go nuts. Okay. Deep breath. It’s just a vacation. It’s not an exam. You have to ACE. Um, and there are ways to do this really simply, for example, you could get my VoiceMap tours, mine or somebody else’s. There are plenty of VoiceMap tours. These tours are. To give you an appointment at a specific spot and then guide you through the voice. How easy is that along the way you hear about monuments, you hear about museums, you hear about restaurants, you hear about food, you hear about all sorts of things. And so it makes it really, really easy.
[00:47:14] Annie Sargent: And if you spend the day in the same area where you took the tour, then it’s really easy. You know, you just sit down and enjoy your meal, enjoy some drinks, look around go into the museums that you walk by. Go into the gardens that the tour takes you by all of that sort of thing. And there you go. You just had a lovely day in Paris. There was nothing for you to plan and it costs you a few bucks. You know, it’s very easy and I’m not the only one who does tours. Jeanne Oliver does one for Nice. And next time I’m in Nice, I’m going to walk her tour because I want to know, you know, where she’s going to take me.
[00:47:50] Annie Sargent: And I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful way to enjoy Nice. The other thing you can do in my case is that you can book an itinerary planning session. I put a lot of care into these recommendations. I think about what your needs are. So it’s like a custom, uh, travel guide just for you and your family. It costs a little bit more money.
[00:48:10] Annie Sargent: But you know what? It took me years to develop the strategies. And so, uh, it’s going to save you a ton of time. And I think you can totally have a wonderful time in France without stressing out too much. And I hope for you that’s what you’re going to get is a stress-free enjoyable time in France.
[00:48:29] Annie Sargent: Now this week I ran into some misconceptions, I would like to clear up. What is kind of strange to me, but it’s the idea that people want. See rural France, but they want to go on public transportation. Now they’re putting together two ideas that are true, which is that in France, we have a lot of great public transportation, but we don’t have it in rural France so much.
[00:48:53] Annie Sargent: Or at least it’s unusual to have it in rural France. So really if you’re, if you’re thinking really visiting villages and, uh, chateaus in the countryside and whatever. You’re going to need a car. Okay. That’s just how it is. And most people know that, but there are some people who just, somehow it never occurs to them that a there’s only public transportation when there’s enough population to support it and villages, you know, not, not really, no.
[00:49:22] Annie Sargent: If it’s a village in the close vicinity to a big city then yes. Because the people in the village probably work in the city. But if it’s a village in the middle of nowhere, Yeah, there’s not going to be public transportation.
[00:49:36] There are a lot of taxis in Paris
[00:49:36] Annie Sargent: And the second one is a pet peeve of mine. So please bear with me, but I’ll make it quick.
[00:49:40] Annie Sargent: Uh, in Paris, there are taxis everywhere. You could call taxi, uh, at any time of the day of the night of the weekend of the holiday, any day of the year, call a taxi, you will get one within five minutes. There is no need to book a limo or a transfer or a private driver or whatever.
[00:50:08] Annie Sargent: Now I know that when I lived in the U S it wasn’t like that. Uh, we lived in Utah and from where we lived, we had to book a van to take us to the airport. When we came to visit France. So maybe that’s why people think that, that, you know, because where they live, you need a van, uh, you need to organize something. You need to arrange, something. If you’re not driving yourself to the airport.
[00:50:35] Annie Sargent: Uh, but in France you don’t need to. Okay. Uh, in Paris there are taxi. Everywhere. Now, let me give you just a simple example. In November, I went to Paris with my husband and my sister and her boyfriend, and we showed up in Paris at the airport, there were four of us. We had some suitcases and we just went to the official taxi line, which is what you should do.
[00:50:59] Annie Sargent: Just go to the official taxi line. And the guy saw there were four of us. He called van over. It cost us same price as it would have cost for one person in a smaller car, because with a taxi you pay per vehicle, not per person. And off we went to our hotel.
[00:51:20] Annie Sargent: And when it was time to come back a few days later, we had a late afternoon flight. We had checked out of the hotel, put our suitcases in storage at the hotel. When we returned to the hotel to, uh, pick up our luggage I asked the guy, if he could call us a taxi and he did, and he called us the right size taxi. A van showed up. It didn’t take any longer than, you know, he made the call, then he went to start getting the suitcases. And you know, my sister’s a shopper, so she had more bags than most people. And by the time he was back with all our suitcases. The taxi was waiting outside the door. It honestly, it takes five minutes. You don’t need to arrange anything. And that’s true even if you need a taxi at four in the morning or at five in the morning, there are lots and lots and lots of taxis in Paris.
[00:52:14] Annie Sargent: And it’s the same most french cities that have an airport or a train station. Now, if you’re going to Podunk train station, there are a few left, not many, unfortunately, but there are some, yeah, maybe there, you might need to be a little more patient, but there are still taxis everywhere. And of course there’s Uber as well.
[00:52:34] Annie Sargent: So if you’re not staying at a hotel and you’re worried about it, there’s an app called G7, G7 in French that, um, you can, you can call a taxi from the app.
[00:52:49] Annie Sargent: It costs a little bit of money. It’s four euros. If you need a taxi right now and seven year olds, if you need a taxi for tomorrow or whatever, so you do pay a little more for using the app, but otherwise it’s the same set price to, and from the airport for all taxi companies.
[00:53:02] Annie Sargent: So relax, just take a taxi. And of course it’s also public transportation. If you like, you know, smelly, crowded, Stairs with suitcases. Uh, you know, I mean, some people like that and that’s fine. You can also take public transportation. I do not recommend it. Uh, I don’t do it myself anymore. I’ve done it plenty. I’m done with that this is good for young people or, you know, gluttons for punishment.
[00:53:27] Open and closed in Paris on Sun, May 1st. 2022
[00:53:27] Annie Sargent: All right, let’s talk about what’s closed in Paris on May 1st. This year, May 1st falls on a Sunday, so we celebrate May 1st on May 1st. So since May 1st is on a Sunday, May 2nd is a normal day. Okay.
[00:53:44] Annie Sargent: What you should plan on is demonstrations. All over Paris. Demonstrations are planned and authorized, and there are police along the route and police are there to make it possible for demonstrators to peacefully, assemble and shout out whatever slogans they want to. As a passer-by your job is to stay out of the way and let them be. Okay. It’s their right to participate in a demonstration, even if it’s inconvenient to the rest of us. And even if we think they’re idiots, It’s often the case for me anyway. So expect demonstrations. Most demonstrations are totally peaceful and happy go lucky. But of course you never know who might show up at a demonstration. So as a rule, I stay away from demonstration. It’s easy. If you see a group of demonstrators walk the other way, problem solved. Okay. So. Um, the 1st of May, because it’s a Mayday, it’s the day when we celebrate laborers, there will be demonstrations.
[00:54:46] Parks will be open
[00:54:46] Annie Sargent: On Sunday, May 1st in Paris, parks will be open. Tuileries, Luxembourg, Parc Monceau, Buttes-Chaumont, blah, blah, blah. All of those, they will all be open for all of us to enjoy.
[00:54:59] Annie Sargent: So will the Arènes de Lutèce, if you’ve never been, this is your, this is your chance. I’m not going to list them all. There’s hundreds of ’em. Okay. But you get my drift in general in Paris. Parks are going to be open on Sunday, May 1st.
[00:55:14] Major shopping centers will be closed
[00:55:14] Annie Sargent: But on Sunday, May 1st do not plan on visiting the gallery Lafayette or the BHV as well as most other stores, because they will be closed.
[00:55:25] Most museums will be closed
[00:55:25] Annie Sargent: The Opera Garnier is going to be closed as well. Uh, Paris city museums are going to be closed. Uh, the Louvre is going to be closed. The Grand Palais, Orsay museum. They will be closed. Okay.
[00:55:42] No metro or bus on May 1st in Paris
[00:55:42] Annie Sargent: And anyway, how would you get there? Because there’s not going to be any buses or metros on May 1st, either.
[00:55:49] The Eiffel Tower is open on May 1st
[00:55:49] Annie Sargent: The one big monument that’s open on May 1st. Eiffel tower. It’s also open on Christmas day, by the way. Uh, so if you want, you could go to the Eiffel tower.
[00:56:00] On May 1st walk to the nearest park and have a picnic
[00:56:00] Annie Sargent: But I think, uh, on May 1st, it is lovely to stick around, close to where you are staying, walk to the nearest park, and we’ve done an episode about Paris parks. Actually we’ve done more than one episode about Paris parks. There’s a bunch of them and they are absolutely lovely and there’s going to be a lot of families enjoying the park that day.
[00:56:22] Annie Sargent: So I think that would be a good thing that some grocery stores are going to be open mostly the mom and pop kind. And also some restaurants will be open hotels, obviously stay open taxis and Uber will run on May 1st, but no metros, no buses.
[00:56:42] Annie Sargent: Okay. No RER, no, nothing like that. So it’s a very quiet day in Paris. It’s a wonderful day to walk and try and enjoy the sun. We hope we’ll be off.
[00:56:52] What about Easter Sunday?
[00:56:52] Annie Sargent: And another quick travel announcement. And next Sunday is Easter Sunday and Paris city museums are going to be closed that day. That includes the Carnavalet museum and the Catacomb.
[00:57:07] Annie Sargent: All right. I’m not going to do this weekend French news because I can’t stand to watch the blow by blow of the elections. Uh, you know, we’re voting today as you, as this episode comes out and, uh, I hope things go well for Emmanuel Macron. I think he’s not perfect, but he’s done a fine job. And so I don’t see why we should go with some crazy candidates instead.
[00:57:32] Annie Sargent: Show notes for this episode are on https://JoinUsinFrance.com/384. And if you enjoy the show, I would love it if you would, uh, introduce a friend to the podcast and tell them why you listen and how it can help them have a better trip to France.
[00:57:50] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast and episode with Elyse on the Vosges region of France. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about the Vosges. Uh, so we’re, we’re going countryside. You know, we it’s spring. We want to go to the country. It’s fun. Send questions or feedback to Annie at Join Us in France dot com. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir !. The Join Us in France travel podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2022 by addicted to France. It is released under a creative commons attribution. Non-commercial. No derivatives license. .
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