Nice Travel Diary Part 1: Eats
By William Satloff
Nice, France. While my best friend, Grace, and I are here for a month in a French immersion program we’ve had a lot of time so explore the local dining and attractions. While it’s only been ten days since we got here, there’s already a lot that I have discovered.
First off, there’s a currency difference. France uses the Euro (€), which as of August 1, 2017, is approximately 1.17 United States Dollars USD. This is considered a good exchange rate for Americans, since both the € is very strong and the € is considerably weak right now. For most of the last 15 or so years the € ranged from about 1.3 to 1.7 USD. The closer the USD and € are, the cheaper it is to eat and shop here for Americans.
I’ve been budgeting myself on 40€ per day for all eating, drinking and shopping. Before coming to Nice, I thought breakfast would be 5-10€, lunch would be 10-15€ and dinner would be around 20-25€. With some simple math, that would’ve left me with up to 5€ to spend on shopping, which is practically nothing in a city like Nice.
Now, let me walk you through some of my foodie-in-France highlights, boulangerie to boulangerie, brasserie to brasserie..
La Lorraine - €
Almost every day since I’ve got to Nice, I’ve been going to La Lorraine for breakfast. Located in the chic Jean-Medecin neighborhood, La Lorraine is an authentic Provenciale boulangerie (bakery). On our way to class every morning Grace and I stop there for a croissant-beurre (1€) and pain-au-chocolat (1€), respectively. We’ve also tried their baguette (1€) and many of their other pastries -- flans, tarts, macarons -- all of which were just as scrumptious as the last. Tasty breakfast doesn’t need to be expensive. Their most expensive menu item is “La Collection”, a 14€ tasting menu of each of La Lorraine’s small pastries. While I haven’t ordered it yet, Grace and I are planning on getting it our last morning here as a last meal on the French Riviera.
Le Makassar - €€€
While I love all the fun French food, I was getting a bit homesick for America’s favorite meal: brunch. French people --as most Europeans do-- eat three proper meals each day without much snacking or leisure grazing. As Americans we try to structure our diets like this, but there’s no denying that we all eat brunches, snacks, and midnight confections. I did some research online trying to find a restaurant to brunch at on our first Sunday morning here. Most stores and restaurants are closed on Sundays throughout most of western Europe, but Le Makassar in Vieux-Nice, the historic district of Nice, proved to have its doors open. Grace and I took our new Dutch friend, Meike, and we were pleased to find that Le Makassar offered a luxurious four-course “brunch complet”: sucre-de-jour, the bruncherie’s rich confection of the day; le plat principal, the main course such as chicken, fish, pastries, or duck; les fruits, a selection of dates and sliced melons; and fromagerie, a cart of artisan cheeses from which one selects as many slices as they want. All of this comes with bottomless orange juice, breadbasket, tea, and coffee. We ate for 2.5 hours and we felt a bit rushed by the fruit and cheeses. When you come to Le Makassar for brunch, I would recommend giving yourself at least three hours to eat. Brunch is only offered from 11:00-3:00, so the earlier you show up, the better.
Peixes - €€
As the Cote Azure’s biggest and most culturally notable city, Nice is often referred to as “The Queen of the Blue Coast.” While for the most part the Mediterranean Sea has been overfished due to countless centuries of use, I managed to find an amazing poissonnerie by Nice’s coast. Peixes is a boho-chic fish restaurant located a block North from the Promenade d’Anglais and a block West from the Cours Saleya, the location of Nice’s famous weekend flower market. Grace, Meike, and I have only gone to Peixes for lunch, but we’ve sampled a variety of their ceviches. My personal favorite is the sweet potato and swordfish ceviche (pictured above). This eatery has proven to have the best plating of anywhere I’ve eaten so far in Nice.
La Voglia - €€
I never would have thought that I would come to find my favorite Nicoise dinner restaurant on accident. Only upon getting lost in Vieux Nice did I stumble across the Cours Saleya, Nice’s small vendor district. La Voglia was only three blocks from Jean Medecin, Nice’s high fashion shopping district, which is only five minutes from my apartment. Not only does the North Italy themed brasserie feature air-conditioning --a rarity in western Europe-- but it has massive platters from extremely generous prices. That first night at La Voglia, Grace and I split a foccacia and mussels. Aside from being delicious, each of the “starters” were grand enough to feed a family of four. As it happened, we went back to La Voglia from lunch and dinner three more times in the following 72 hours. When you go, make sure you show up before 8:00 PM, because a 20+ person line forms quickly.