France was our first stop on round three of this adventure.
We got the ferry from Poole to Cherbourg with friends and drove down to Nice. It took a bit longer than we expected (we might have underestimated how big France is). But it was a fun few days, guessing who picked what on our playlist, stopping in little towns to eat baguettes stuffed with cheese and salami.
Like anyone travelling to Nice this summer, we weren't sure quite what to expect. But what we found was a beautiful city, with incredible food and such friendly people.
Nice's old town is beautiful. Winding alleys lined with little restaurants and cafes, colourful buildings with open shutters. Find a seat outside and spend the afternoon people watching.
Marches aux fleures
Every day there's a big flower and food market in the old town with stalls selling colourful blooms and local delicacies.
We also loved the Liberation market. This one is definitely more local. It spills out over several streets with a huge fish section and lots of fruit and veg stalls.
It takes a while to climb up here, every time you think you've reached the top there's another sign pointing up. But the view of the terracotta roofs and the mountains in the distance and the sea is just lovely.
Nice's port is full of colourful little boats and huge expensive yachts. Around the edge are fish restaurants with outdoor seating – a nice place for lunch.
There's also an antiques market around here, but it was closed when we visited.
Every evening we had a picnic on the beach. We’d go to the market or the supermarket, pick up snacks and drinks and sit on the pebbles to watch the sunset. On our first night we laid on our backs for hours looking up and saw three shooting stars.
Where to eat
- Lou Pilha Leva: Order at the counter and then squeeze onto one of the outdoor tables – it gets busy. We had huge bowls of mussels and shared some socca (a kind of chickpea pancake).
- Voyageur Nissart: This was our favourite restaurant (I was too busy tucking in to get a photo). We had the €17.40 set lunch and we all loved it – a feast of grilled sardines, beef ravioli, aubergine caviar and fruity, creamy desserts.
- L'Eescale: An outdoor spot by the port that does good seafood.
- Emily's Cookies: If you're looking for somewhere to work, this is a nice coffee shop with fast wifi (the cookies are great too).
- Fennochio: Get the salted caramel ice cream, you won't regret it.
I have to be honest and say that Monaco is one of the few places I've been that I instantly disliked. It's all million-pound yachts and over-priced restaurants. I was expecting something out of James Bond but instead it was just kind of tacky.
Gorges du Verdon
The Gorges du Verdon is actually a couple of hours drive from Nice, but it's worth it. You could spend a whole day sitting by the lake, having a picnic, dipping your toes in the water or kayaking.
Nice is perfectly positioned for day trips. If it's July you could visit the lavender fields in Provence. The little hilltop town Èze looks lovely too. And it's not far on the train to Italy (where we went next!)