While the French Riviera may not be thought of as a winter destination, I was lucky enough to spend my second Christmas abroad in Nice. I love the charm of the Christmas markets mixed with the holiday decor around town–not to mention the beautiful weather and sunshine. I spent the holidays perusing the markets, eating oysters and drinking champagne, and indulging in vin chaud (mulled wine) around town.
While strolling through the old town, I couldn’t help but look up. When you live in a place I don’t think you take the time to really see what’s right in front of you. Or above you. The narrow alleyways in the old town extend in a series of mazes, with bars, restaurants, and shops practically on top of one another. I love the way they decorated this part of the city with chandeliers extending into the middle of the alleys, almost like an image from Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête.
Nothing starts the day off in France quite like coffee and tarts. I always indulge in a tarte au citron whenever I’m in France. And what better place to do it than Place Garibaldi? My first landmark when I moved to Nice, this square is lined with restaurants and cafes, with terraces in a prime position to take in the sun and do a bit of people watching.
When I used to walk through the old town, I noticed this tucked away restaurant hidden on a side street. It always seemed like a romantic little spot, with a red interior and only a few intimate tables. I was surprised and taken on a date here one night. The restaurant, Côté Marais, was just as nice as I’d imagined, with a great wine selection and incredible French cuisine.
One Sunday we took the train from Nice and went across the border of Italy into the first town, Ventimiglia. This charming town has a market each Friday filled with all sorts of meats and cheeses, leather items, and other products, spreading along the coast. On a quiet Sunday, it’s the perfect place to grab a coffee and take in the view on the Italian Riviera. If you walk further up, you can head into the old town, a maze of narrow streets winding upwards. If you’re lucky, you may spot one of the old Italian women hanging laundry out to dry or just looking down at you from her window, curious as to what you’re up to.