Facing the Bay of Angels at La Pérouse
Friday, 11:00 – Upon my arrival at Terminal 2 of Nice airport, I take a cab to reach the hotel overlooking the Bay of Angels – a 5.2-mile ride of barely 15 minutes, running along the Promenade des Anglais. The exquisitely charming maze of this atypical hotel leads me to the terrace of my elegant room, facing the sea. I enjoy the mildness of the climate. Here, I'm the young and vibrant Jeanne Moreau, impersonating Jackie with her dyed blonde hair, as filmed by Jacques Demy back in 1962. The only difference being: I don't share her passion for gambling.
Hôtel La Pérouse
11, quai Rauba Capeu
Tel : +33 (0)4 93 62 34 63
“Stockfish” at Restaurant Acchiardo
Friday, 11:45 – Now is the time to climb down the hill for a lunch at Restaurant Acchiardo, a mere mile away. I'm leaving early to enjoy a promising afternoon along with today's special – the one dish every Nice resident, respectful of culinary traditions, has been waiting for a week: the “stockfish”, cod in tomato sauce. I prefer to come when the restaurant opens, so I can sit at the counter, instead of the main hall, under a chimney brush used as a chandelier. I savor the delicious local cuisine served by the fourth-generation Acchiardo family, along with a glass of white Provence wine.
38, rue Droite
Tel : +33 (0)4 93 85 51 16
The Old Town ocher festival
Friday, 13:00 – Well, since I'm in the Old Town of Nice, I might as well make the most of it. Narrow streets, alleyways and facades reveal a palette of ocher tinges; now, all that's missing is an easel for me to mimic Sylvie T. And so, I make a brief stop at her workshop gallery to take on the spot her watercolors, pastels and India inks, capable of turning Nice into a marvelous city.
Atelier-Galerie Sylvie T.
14, rue Droite
Tel : +33 (0)4 93 62 59 15
Italian treats at Fenocchio's
Friday, 15:30 – Following my early lunch, I feel I need a snack. I sit at a table outside the Fenocchio Ice-Cream Parlour, on Place Rossetti, just before school it out… As the weather still is a bit chilly, I choose an ice-cream cake to warm me up: a Norwegian omelette, similar to Baked Alaska, prepared with Grand Marnier and hazelnut meringue ice cream.
2, place Rossetti
Tel : +33 (0)4 93 80 72 52
Renaissance at Palais Lascaris
Friday, 16:30 – Back on Rue Droite to visit one of the most glorious symbols of Baroque architecture, the Palais Lascaris (17th century). I find myself meandering one hour and a half in its monumental staircase decorated with frescoes, its volley of richly-adorned salons, its “trompe l'oeil” where your eyes wander, and its rocky decors added in the 18th century. It feels like a Genovese palace. I'll have to come back to take a look at the stunning collection of period musical instruments, spreading all over the exhibition area.
15, rue Droite
Tel : +33 (0)4 93 62 72 40
Sundown at the Riviera
18:50 – Back to my room, I go out on the terrace to treat myself to a splendid sundown. As the solar disc vanishes far away, the Promenade des Anglais lights up. It's time to take a shower and put a dress on, then leave for a night walk – for now is when Nice finds again the old-fashioned charm of the French Riviera, like in the roaring twenties, as seen in Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight…
The night feels soft. I remember a few words from Jiro Taniguchi (Sampo mono), echoing the Mediterranean backwash: « Promenade is not tourism. It's the pleasure of a quiet stroll, wherever the mood takes you, without defined purpose. »
Pictures of yesteryear unfold on the Promenade des Anglais. Rebuilt in the seventies, the former Hôtel Ruhl was the most beautiful building of Nice, a century ago – along with the Massena Museum, the Palais de la Méditerranée and the Negresco, whose illuminated facade and stars (2 awarded by the Michelin Guide) welcome me with open arms.
Promenade des Anglais
Seaside dinner at Chantecler
20:50 – Before joining my table, I can't help but admire the bar for its woodwork – left intact since the palace was built in 1913 – and its jazzy mood. In a few short steps, I sit down and discover the fantastic menu of Jean-Denis Rieubland, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2007 (Best Craftsman of France in 2007). My first course consists of roast langoustines with Espelette pepper, with calf's head in cromesquis (croquettes) and arugula leaves. Seawards, I opt for roasted sea bass with seasonal vegetables, and a small Mediterranean fish soup cooked with shellfish reduction. A glass of strongly mineral vintage champagne makes my dinner check skyrocket. No matter, I'm in the cosmopolitan Nice of my dreams…
37, Promenade des Anglais
Tel : +33 (0)4 04 93 16 64 00
In the arms of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Saturday, 00:30 – I fall asleep under Bob Dylan's gaze of tragicomic memory. He fires my « mercury mouth » and « flesh like silk ». « And [with] your saintlike face and your ghostlike soul / Who among them do you think could destroy you? » (Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, 1966). I throw myself into my playlist's arms, in the stream of surrealistic love songs written by the native of Duluth (Minnesota), who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016.
The socca by René Socca
Saturday, 13:00 – I struggle a bit to surface. The magnifying glass in the bathroom reflects a face slightly marked by the party. After an invigorating shower and some “morning rescue” cream, here I am again, trotting about in Nice. At the crossroads of two paved alleys, I crawl over a high stool to taste a bit of the local socca.
Chez René Socca
2, rue Miralheti
Flower Parades, Place Masséna
Saturday, 14:30 – Let the show begin on a new, enclosed route around the highly secure Promenade du Paillon. I got myself a numbered seat at the grandstand, Place Masséna, for a magnificent spectacle highlighting the floral heritage of the area. Right before my dazzled eyes, stand sixteen carriages of fresh flowers parade in a festive atmosphere, with a myriad of colors and fragrances. On each float, young costumed models submerge the audience under – literally – tons of mimosa, plus all the flowers decorating the machines… that is, around 3,000 stems by vehicle – the result of a painstaking 72-hour work. A show unlike any other, also featuring street performance with artists of all kinds (dancers, acrobats and musicians).
Bataille de Fleurs
Keisuke Matsushima's revisited Provençal cuisine
Saturday, 20:50 – Tonight, I have dinner in a definitely more intimate and minimalist atmosphere, in a Zen restaurant. Keisuke Matsushima, the visionary chef dubbed Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit in November 2016, creates traditional courses derived from French gastronomy in line with the seasons. Starting with a subtle white Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages wine, I have a taste of oyster foam inspired by Ferran Adrià, served with seaweed jam and wasabi – followed by an amazing gilt-head bream tartare with yuzu, Espelette pepper and broccoli foam… A tasting menu in which foodpairing is secured by the sommelier.
Restaurant Keisuke Matsushima
22, rue de France
Tel : +33 (0)4 04 93 82 26 06
Baroque devotion to come
Sunday, 11:00 – The suitcases are packed; I'm leaving the beautiful historic capital of the Niçard County, located between the mountains and the sea. Cross my heart, next time I'll visit the Matisse Museum, the Massena Museum (local art and history), and I'll undertake a tour of the numerous religious edifices of Italian inspiration – especially the Cathedral of Saint Reparata… probably to make amends for my excess of hedonism.
3, place Rossetti