Mention of a trip to Côte d’Azur immediately brings to mind a plethora of wonderful sensory experiences – the smell of sea salt and sand in the air, sailing through the Mediterranean with the breeze whipping through your hair, the sun warm on your bare feet, your skin cool and refreshed after a dip as the sun warms that damp stickiness on your skin while you gaze at the tiny white boats in the distance floating across the blue, blue sea. It’s an ideal way to celebrate the start of summer, especially if it’s a trip planned for your birthday.
Charles de Gaulle is about an hours’ flight away from Nice Côte d’Azur. The view flying in was extraordinary – the yachts and the sea against a backdrop of emerald hills and houses painted in various shades of the sunset.
The relaxed pace of life reflecting the scenic view from the coast was evident upon arrival, with smiles and greetings exchanged on the sunset-lit streets – very different from the air in Paris, that’s for sure!
Relaxing strolls by the coast
Taking a walk down by the port and Promenade des Anglais is definitely one of my favourite things to do in Nice.
Promenade des Anglais is the curved stretch of coast all along the bay with an adjoining beach. Many choose to read and catch some sun along this stretch, but I did not find the pebbled beach too pleasant to walk along.
I found a link to a cute live cam of Promenade des Anglais if it might interest you.
Fresh seafood by the port
One of the best restaurants in Nice is right by the port. Les Pecheurs (The Fishermen) serve up the freshest, most succulent fruits de mer in generous portions, so of course it had to be the ideal place to celebrate a seafood-lover’s birthday. Selection from the extensive menu was a most challenging task, but we finally decided on:
Octopus should be slightly undercooked in my opinion to retain the flavour of the sea but cooked enough to give it a chewiness while retaining its tenderness, then served chilled for more flavour in each bite. This one was done to perfection.
We unwisely chose to end the meal with the largest portion of bouillabaisse after the previous courses and it was unfortunately impossible to finish.
Bouillabaisse is a mediterranean fish chowder and the largest portion came with varieties of the freshest seafood from the Mediterranean – from mussels, shrimp and sea bass to crabs and rock lobsters. The dish was delicious and hearty with all that fresh seafood in a thick, flavourful slightly spicy soup.
Traditionally served with the bouillabaisse are croutons, rouille and shredded emmental. Have the croutons topped with the rouille (a sort of mayonnaise made with olive oil, saffron and cayenne pepper) and the emmental. I like having them both with and without the broth – superbe deliciousness all in one dish!
The chablis has always been one of my favourite whites and I had the opportunity to have a really nice bottle to accompany the meal – the 2012 Premier Cru Fourchaume from Pierre Gruber is one I will definitely keep in mind for future.
Watch out for more about Côte d’Azur in my next post and until then – à bientôt!