Parks in Nice

When you’re not exploring the coast line, visiting museums, or dining on gourmet cuisine at one of Nice’s Michelin starred restaurants, you may want to relax a bit in one of its many parks. Here’s our recommendations:

La Place Massena

This park can also be called Esplanade du Paillon and is situated right in the hear of Nice. An extensive garden surrounds the square and overlooks picturesque red brick buildings. Visitors are always astounded at the sharp and beautiful contrast the Massena gardens have with its surrounding architecture, and the park furthermore makes a great relaxing pit stop while gallavanting through the city.

Le Parc Phoenix

This park is a perfect spot for nature lovers. Situated on the western end of Nice and just steps from the Mediterranean coast, this park has a very large variety of flora and fauna – some 2,500 different plants. Some of the plants are very rare and carry a unique and exotic beauty. Birds and insects also play a big role at the park, as well as giant aquariums they have available for viewing.

Le Parc du Chateau

Not only does this park feature a beautiful castle and quiet (and romantic) walking paths, but there are also plenty of play areas for young children. Some of the best views of the Mediterranean can also be seen from this park.

Parc Forestier du Mont-Boron

Heavily wooded, serene, and a perfect place to take a long stroll. Mount Boron is also located within this park, and is about 190 meters high and offers excellent views of the city. The views one can get in this park are also unique in that you can see the Southern Alps, Mediterranean Sea, and two different cities quite well from within the park.

Les Jardins Suspendus du Paillon

The name of this park literally translates to “the hanging gardens of Paillon”, referring to the Paillon river. This park is situated in the heart of Nice and always carries a nice breeze in from the Mediterranean, which is just a few steps away. The garden is based on the mythical gardens of Babylon, and is truly a sight to behold. It covers about 12,000 square meters and has pine trees, Phoenix palms, Mexican and Asian vegetation, Camellias, Azaleas, and rhododendrons. The garden tends to have a magically isolated feel as well, as it is barricaded from view with a dense wall of trees, thus making the park the perfect tranquil getaway.

Where to Eat in Corsica

Chez Serapin

If you want a true “Corsican experience”, head to Chez Seraphin. It’s one of Corsica‘s hidden gems located in the village of Peri. There is no menu offered here, instead you eat what you are served, with the menu changing daily. All vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s own garden, and the meal creations you’ll be served are to die for. Some of the standing favorites are Corsican veal, zucchini flower fritters, brocciu canneloni, and even local charcuterie. Plates are usually around 43 Euros per person with wine included.

U Museu

This beautiful restaurant is located below the citadel entrance and features a gazebo covered terrace you can dine on. It’s not too expensive, and it features some authentic and sumptuous local Corsican dishes. Feast on wilde boar and myrtle, or tripe shallots in a red wine sauce. Don’t forget the mouth watering dessert menu!

Le 20123

This unique restaurant started in the village of Pila Canale, which in-coincidentally has the zip code of 20123. The food is one thing to come for, especially with the daily verbally spoken menu that is around 32 Euros a head, but the decor will keep you staring throughout your meal. The owner has decorated the restaurant with life sized dolls in traditional dress, a water pump, a washing line, and all sorts of tacky yet charming decor.

 

 

Our Favorite Restaurants in Nimes

If a good restaurant in Nimes is what you seek, you don’t have to search far. Here’s 3 of our favorites that we’re sure not to miss when we’re in town.

 

Alexandre

This restaurant is run by chef Michel Kayser, owner of 2 Michelin stars. You’ll adore this elegant, yet rustic, restaurant that’s located right outside the city center. The menu consists of classic French cuisine, with hints of chef Kayser’s subtle improvements. You’ll pay a pretty penny per person, about 44€-66€, but when you taste the dishes you’ll know why it’s worth it. We recommend the roasted pigeon breast with fresh seasonal baby vegetables, or the courgette flowers with truffle mousse. You also can’t go wrong with chef Kayser’s version of the popular dish “Brandade de Morue”, which consists of salted, pureed, and poached cod.

Tendances Lisita Restaurant

This restaurant is located just outside the Roman ampitheatre, and is run by Michelin starred chef Olivier Douet. There’s a giant covered terrace you can dine under, or a beautiful dining room indoors. There are a lot of restaurants in this area, but this one we’ve singled out as one of our favorites – one of the reasons being their scalloped risotto. You can’t go wrong with the filet of bull on garlic sauce, however. The prices here are medium to high, about 22€-29€ per person.

La Bodéguita

Nestled in the Royal Hotel sits the La Bodeguita restaurant – a Spanish restaurant with a whole lot of flair, and a whole lot of tapas. Located in a great spot right on the place d’Assas, this restaurant attracts people from all over the city who crave some of their famous tapas. Tapas favorites include: octopus salad and Greek meatballs, organic bull steaks, and Nimois brandade de morue. The price is medium to high, but very worth it, at about 22€-34€ per guest.

Off the Beaten Path: Étretat

Off the Alabaster Coast lies the small, but breathtaking, town of Étretat. Beautiful natural beach that’s filled with smooth stone, towering cliffs, and stunningly blue water resemble the setting of a fairy tale. You can’t reach this haven by train, but you can travel by train to Le Havre or Fecamp and then travel by bus for 45 minutes to get here.

Take a walk, a hike, a stroll, a picnic up and down the coast line, or hills, or cliffs. The views can’t be beat. You can even play a round of golf along the clifftops at the Étretat golf club, or stop and watch various artists painting one of 3 famous cliffs along the beach.

Take a look at a tourist’s video here:

When the day is done, you can choose to stay in a hotel, like the gorgeous Hotel Dormy House that is situated overlooking the bay and the quaint town. Or, why not camp? There’s a camping municipal south of the town center.

Grab a French language book, as English is rarely spoken here, and get going! Étretat is waiting.

 

History of Tour de France

Probably one of the best known annual events that takes place in France is the Tour de France. The Tour de France is a multiple stage bicycle race is primarily held at the end of each July and passes through the Pyrenees mountains, through the Alps, and ends in the Champs Elysees in Paris. The race is typically broken up into 21 day-long segments and lasts about 23 days. Each segment is timed all the way through to the finish, with the winner being the rider with the lowest aggregated time throughout the entire race.

The first Tour de France was staged in 1903, and was planned to be a 5 stage race starting on May 31st and lasting through July 5th. It would start in Paris and go through Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Nantes, before ending back up in Paris. Racers would bike through the evening and go through the afternoon on the following day, with rest days throughout. However, costs proved too high and the task very daunting – only 15 racers entered. So, the race was re-designed, with it lasting from July 1st through the 19th, the entry fee being halved, and the prize a 3rd less, which was still 6 times as much as the average worker during that time earned in a year. Then the race saw between 60 and 80 entrants. The Tour was a success, and they decided to run a second one, however this one was scheduled to be the last. The reason being that cheating was rampant during the first race, and participants were getting violently beaten by fans of other participants. However, another Tour de France ended up being planned the following year, this time it was almost twice as long and was run during the day time to eliminate a good portion of cheating.

Since then, the Tour sometimes runs through Italy, Germany, and France and lasts about 21 days and not more than 3,500 km. The teams used to be sponsored by companies, or were individuals, however it is now more common for teams to compete for their country’s instead. The Tour has become a large part of European culture, with some camping out a week prior to the race in order to get the best view. It’s appealing to many because it not only features distance and demands, but it’s also a call for a wish of National Unity. Eugen Weber wrote in his forward of his book ‘Tour de France':

The Tour contributed more to France than new-model heroes. It put flesh on the bones of values taught in school but seldom internalized: effort, courage, determination, stoic endurance of pain, and even fair play. It familiarized a nation with its geography. It brought life, activity, excitement into small towns where very little happened; it introduced a festive atmosphere wherever it passed; and it acquainted provincial backwaters with spectacular displays previously available only in big cities.

 

Corsica, France

Corsica is renowned as one of the most beautiful places in all of France. It’s a French island in the Mediterranean Sea, located west of Italy and southeast of the French mainland. About two-thirds of the island are made up of mountains. The island is technically separated from mainland France, but it is considered part of Metropolitan France legally. Interestingly, here you’ll also find almost equal parts of French and Italian, both in language and culture. The city is also known to be the home of Napoleon Bonaparte, and his old home was turned into a museum.

Most visitors to Corsica visit during the summer, as the city has excellent beaches. Snorkeling, wind surfing, sunbathing, swimming, and scuba diving are just some of the activities available on the beach, all while being surrounded by some absolutely astounding beauty. Quite a few gelato stands, restaurants, and bars rest all along the beach as well, and they are heavily frequented during the evening hours. For those who looking for alternatives to beach activities, there’s also plenty to see in the mountains. There’s a lot of walking trails featured in Corsica, including one that takes 17 days. However, there are also slightly shorter ones such as the Mare e Mare Nord (11 days), the Mare e Mare Sud (5 days), and the Mare e Monti (10 days).

Corsican food is a delightful mix of French and Italian cuisine, which give way to some excellent and very unique dishes. Chestnuts, you’ll find, are a staple in many Corsican foods, and a delicious and unique flavor is often added to dishes by using the local olive oil that is flavored with ripe fruits collected beneath trees. Corsican’s also tend to feature a wide selection of beers, have their own Coke flavor, and some very delicious local wines. If you are able, the Pietra beer is always highly recommended.

 

Tours, France

On the lower ends of the Loire river, stands the city of Tours, between Orleans and the Atlantic Coast. This particular region is known for its divine wines, as well as the alleged perfect French dialect spoken here. The city itself is the largest city in the centre region of France. The Paris-Tours bicycle road race also takes place here.

The city is chock full of great sightseeing:

  • Tours Cathedral: The cathedral of Tours was dedicated to Saint Gatien, who was its canonized first bishop. It was built in 1170 to replace the original one that burnt down in 1166.

  • Jardin botanique de Tours: This is a municipal botanical garden that is free and open daily. It was established in 1843, and contains over 2,000 taxa, including magnolias, water lilies, lotus, bulbs, perrenials, a garden of plant evolution, ponds, a bog, a mediterranean garden, and a heath.
  • Musee des Beaux-Arts de Tours: This is a Museum of Fine Arts and is located in the bishop’s former palace near the cathedral St.Gatien. You can view things such as a stuffed elephant that was killed during a bout of madness at a Barnum and Bailey circus in 1902, over 12,000 works of art, and the Cedar of Lebanon.

Tours is also considered a special place for Catholics who follow the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This is because in 1843, a Carmelite nun, Sister Marie of St Peter, decalerd a vision that started the devotion to the holy face of Jesus in reparation of the insults Christ suffered in his Passion. The Golden Arrow Prayer was also started by the same nun. The Venerable Leop Dupont also lived in Tours around the same time. He started the nightly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of Tours, which soon spread throughout France. He also helped spread the devotion of the Holy Face of Jesus throughout Europe.

The City of Nimes, France

Nimes is a very old and culturally significant city in France. It derives its name from a spring in the Roman village, which was named after Nemausus – a local Celtic god of the Volcrae Arecomici. The history of Nimes dates all the way back to 4,000 BC, where it was a Neolithic site of Serre Paradis. It went survived the Bronze age, the Gallo-Roman period, multiple invasions, and the French revolution. Today, it is a peaceful and historically beautiful city of  culture and textile production, including the denim fabric used to make jeans.

While in Nimes, there are several important architectural sights that you’ll want to see:

  • The Roman Ampitheatre: Built in the 1st or 2nd century AD, this is one of the best preserved Roman arenas in France. It also contains medieval housing within its walls. Today, the ampitheatre is still used to host concerts and bull fighting.
  • The Maison Carree (Square House): This is a small Roman temple that was built in 19 BC, and is one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world. You can even view a short history film of Nimes inside the temple.
  • Pont du Gard – A well preserved aqueduct that at one point was used to carry water across the Gardon river valley.
  • Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Fountain): Gardens that surround some Roman ruins
  • Mont Cavalier: A ruined Roman tower
  • Carre d’Art: A museum conceived by Norman Foster that features modern art.
  • Kisho-Kurikawa: a building built in the shape of a hemicycle to reflect the ampitheatre.

Charming Lyon, France

Located in East-Central France, in the Rhone-Alpes region, is the city of Lyon. Lyon is well known for its historical and architectural landmarks, and is considered the gastronomical capital of France. It’s also well known for its place in the history of cinematography, as Auguste and Louise Lumiere invented the cinematographe here.  Chemical, pharmaceutical, banking, and biotech industries also thrive in the city. There’s a large software industry here, with a large focus on video game production. The headquarters for Interpol, Euronews, and International Agency for Research on Cancer are also located here.

South of the city centre, the Rhone and Saone rivers converge, forming a beautiful peninsula. On the west and north of the city centre are two large picturesque hills. The hill to the west is known as ‘the hill that prays’ and to the north is ‘the hill that works’. On the western hill are several convents, the palace of the Archibishop, and the basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. On the northern hill lie silk workshops, an industry for which the city has always been known. East of the Rhone river lies the more modern part of the city, and where most of the city’s population resides. North of the latter district is the 6th arrondissement, which is home to the wealthiest residents and Interpol’s headquarters.

Lyon has had the reputation of being the French capital of gastronomy for several centuries, due to a large presence of many of France’s finest chefs in the city and its surrounding areas. The restaurants located here are mainly focused on serving local food and dishes. It is also home to two of the best known wine-growing regions, the Beaujolais to the north and the Cotes du Rhone in the south.

Visitors from all over travel to this city just for it’s architectural sights. Roman ruins as well as an old Roman ampitheatre can be seen here, and are one of the most popular attractions. Also found are:

  • Cathedral of St.John
  • Basilica of St Martin d’Ainay
  • Eglise Saint-Nizier
  • Vieux Lyon
  • Eglise Saint-Bonaventure
  • Opera National de Lyon
  • Basilica of Notre-Dame de fourviere
  • Gare de Lyon Saint Exupery
  • And much, much more

The city also features 9 museums and a slew of parks and gardens, including the Parc de la Tete d’Or (Golden Head Park). It is the largest urban park in France and located in the 6th arrondissement. It features a lake for boating, a zoo with giraffes and elephants and tigers (and more), and has horse riding, and a mini-golf course.

Michelin Star Restaurants in Nice

When a restaurant is awarded the coveted Michelin star by one of its critics, it says a lot about that restaurant. It says the food is phenomenal, creative, and perfectly cooked. It says the staff is attentive, timely, and pleasant. It says the chefs are well trained, gourmet, and inventive with their menus. Nice happens to have several Michelin starred restaurants – that’s how loaded with gourmet cuisine this beautiful French city is. Today, we’d like to show you a couple of our favorites.

L’Aromate

LAromate

Michelin Star: 1

This restaurant is small, quaint, and run by a couple that really knows food. The chef/owner was trained in some of the best restaurants in the world, and it shows in his cooking. You won’t walk out of there without spending about 70 Euros per person, but it’s well worth it. Try the citrus sea bass, or perhaps the stunning pea soup (not as simple as it sounds). Very creative cuisine.

Flaveur

flaveur restaurant

Michelin Star: 1

This charming restaurant is run by 3 friends – 2 are brothers and 1 a family friend. Here you can enjoy no frill classic French cuisine at its best – finding a hint of exotic hidden within every meal. One big key to this restaurant’s success is their strict use of only the freshest ingredients. With this restaurant as well you won’t walk out of there without spending at least 70 euros per person, but again it’s well worth it. Try the fish cooked in duck sauce, or the Croustillant Rose-Litchis for dessert.

L’Univers-Christian Plumail

L'Univers-Christian Plumail

Michelin Stars: 1

This restaurant is far renowned for its delicious Nicoise type cuisine. You’ll definitely need to pre-book your meal, as people come from far and wide just to sample a dish. It’s known to creatively tease the palate with its smoked salmon, or anchovy mousse, or smoked eel filled with sea urchin. The prices are about 15 euros less than the previous two restaurants we’ve listed, but it seems as if it should be more. Book a table, dress nice, and enjoy a delicious evening at L’Univers-Christian Plumail.