Nice, France: What I’ve Learned so Far

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I arrived four days ago to start a month-long winter adventure in Nice, France. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. 

The Food

This is a no brainer, the food in France is exceptional, no matter where you are.  AND – I can’t pass a patisserie without taking a picture of the artistry of these little treasures.  

Lunch by the Promenade

Food in shops and store window displays 

The Weather

It’s been warmer than I thought it would be. I knew it would be in the 50s and 60s, but I didn’t account for the sun. The weather is like May in the northern US without the rain. It’s cool early and when the sun goes down but mid-day I’m carrying my coat on my arm.  

The beach on a sunny day.  Good day for a nap on rocks!

Meeting people 

I’m learning the value of meeting people through formal groups like Meetups or local small group tours and experiences. Many English speaking people are living or visiting long term in Nice. I’ve met people who are looking to retire here or at least spend half the year in Nice. I’ve met younger people who made a life here and can work remotely in this tech world we live in now. I”ve met numerous people who have made the transition and either own or rent in Nice and have no regrets. In all cases, they are actively looking for community and make an effort to connect with people.  

A discussion Meetup I went to called  “Own Your Impact” featured an interesting historian giving a brief, but interesting, lecture on the history of Nice.  

Speaking French

The only way to learn a language is to practice. I have a good understanding of the French language but have been timid about using it. I was afraid of making mistakes, feeling foolish, or trying the patience of servers or store clerks. In actuality, I find most Nicoise are willing to help and be patient with those learning their language.  

Getting around Nice by bus, tram, uBer, and taxi

The new Tram system has been a godsend to both locals and tourists. I’ve also found out the city has retired many of its buses. Less bus traffic has allowed the city to widen the sidewalks for pedestrians and bikes/rollerblades/electric scooters. As they expand the sidewalks, they’re also adding trees and plants for beauty and the environment. Good on, Nice!

They are still buses running to extend the range of the tram system. I haven’t taken a bus yet but plan to do so. 

Locals advise calling Uber rather than a Nice taxi, citing the taxi’s “bad reputation.”   

The New Tram cars

UPS delivery Nice style

Getting Around on Foot

All I can say is thank you, GPS. I’m clocking about 6 miles a day walking around Nice and haven’t gotten lost yet. I feel very comfortable walking in the evening, but I stick to the main streets, which are well lit and busy.  

Sundays are family days

On Sundays, the French have this beautiful tradition of doing things as a family. Most stores and businesses close for the day, so people and families, and people love to be outdoors as couples and with children. The Promenade des Anglais is packed with people running, biking, playing with their children, or just strolling. The restaurants are crowded – so here’s a question how do you get young kids to sit at the table, eat from the adult menu, and allow their parents to lounge over wine. Then there are the dogs, everyone has a dog, and they sit quietly under the table even as other dogs walk past. Fascinating.

Oddities

What is the French aversion to queues? Twice someone either blatantly got in front of me or stood beside me to jostle for my place. Is there something I’m missing? Very odd. Americans can be aggressive, but they know the rules of the queue. 

Coffee

I’m learning to like those tiny cups of espresso. Even better a Cafe Noisette, the same small cup of espresso but with a dollop of steamed milk on top. 

There are many variations of coffee in France. However, they don’t include flavored syrups and whipped cream. A typical filtered American coffee is a “Cafe Americain.”  

From what I see, the French live on that tiny cup of espresso.  Espresso keeps them awake for the late, long dinners!

Distilleries Ideale – My Favorite Cafe in the Old Town 

History

Nice has a fascinating history: Greeks, Romans, etc. – like most of Europe. However, at the end of the 18th century, while Nice was still part of what is now Italy, Nice became the place to be if you had money and needed a cure for an ailment. The sun, the sea air…… Many were suffering from the effects of cold, damp climates, and smog of the industrial revolution. The Brits, including Queen Victoria and family, the Russians, including the Tsar and family, other nobility, and wealthy industrialists, found their way to what is now the Cote d’Azur. After the war, the Americans came, writers, artists, and then movie stars.  

What is more interesting to me is the artifacts found and dated at 400,000 BC.  

Passing the time on a bench in the sun or strolling the Promenade. 

I now understand why I was so keen to spend time in one place this winter. Usually, when traveling, I try to fit everything there is to see into the time I have a few days to a week. I’m up and out early to check things off the list. This time I have a month and no plan! This morning I went wandering to find a market described as being more local than the Cours Saleya. I passed the beautiful Russian Orthodox church and not only went inside, but I sat on a bench in the sun for a while, taking in the beauty of the church. It’s another sunny day in Nice! 

About

I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

19 Comments

  • Cheryl Cross February 5, 2020 at 11:30 am Reply

    Great information, well done Kathy. I hope you find time for writing often-I will look forward to following your adventure!

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 9:05 am Reply

      Thansk Cheryl. The french is hard! I find I do better after a couple of glasses of wine – but that may be all in my addled head. Love it here and I’m finding I’m meeting so many great people through Meetups and AirBnb “experiences”.

  • Gail Duffy February 5, 2020 at 12:42 pm Reply

    Time is a taskmaster when you work and an opportunity when you retire. Go you for using your time in such an engaging way. I love seeing what you see! The combination of your pictures and your narrative helps me picture what it’s like there. I hope you blog some more! I’m looking forward to your next post!

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 9:02 am Reply

      Thanks Gail, your support is important and urges me on. Love it here! K

  • Re Gibson February 5, 2020 at 12:53 pm Reply

    Loved, loved this. Great to share with you. Was there for 6 hours once. Not enough, please keep sending. Brave you!!! Re

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 9:01 am Reply

      HI Re, I rented my house in Fort Myers to a neighbors brother and sister-in-law for two months and came here. I’m thinking of making it an annual event! Love it here.

  • Rosemary Eilers February 5, 2020 at 12:54 pm Reply

    Kathy,

    This was my first introduction to your blog and I truly enjoyed your photos and accompanying text. I also loved Nice and can’t wait to read about the rest of your time there and in Aix! I wish I had spent more time on our trip with Patricia and Deb to learn more about you and your other travel adventures.

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 9:00 am Reply

      Hi Rosemary, It’s so wonderful to be here for a month. I’m taking my time and living each moment. I came without an itinerary or an agenda, just day to day.
      I didn’t realize how many English speaking people live in Nice and I’m astounded at how friendly and inclusive they are. I can see this becoming an annual trip for 2-3 months (without an extended stay visa 90 days in the limit. There are severe consequences if you overextend. (I was told 500 euro and inability to come to European countries for 5 years!!)

      I love seeing you on Facebook. I wish you were coming in June. We never had the chance to get to know one another in 2018. I hope we have another chance. Kathy

  • Linda Kerne February 5, 2020 at 2:37 pm Reply

    Love this blog! Are you painting? Looking at your photos makes me want to jump on a plane with my paints. Enjoy!

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 8:52 am Reply

      Hi Linda, I’ve discovered that I can either travel or paint and travel comes first. I pack very lightly so I can get around easily. I’ve brought paints before and not used them so this time I have my camera only. I’m having a fabulous time and have already met so many fun people. This may become an annual trip.
      Kathy

  • Rhonda Hunter February 5, 2020 at 8:05 pm Reply

    Kathy, thank you. I loved reading your blog on Nice. So interesting! I loved reading the history and information attached to your fabulous photos. Please add me to your list. Look forward to seeing you again in June.

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 8:48 am Reply

      Thanks Rhonda. I hope everything is okay with you and yours re the fires in Australia. I hope it hasn’t effected you to much. Really looking forward to returning to France in June!

  • Kare February 5, 2020 at 11:38 pm Reply

    I love reading about your adventures. Please keep them coming, Kathy!

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 6, 2020 at 8:45 am Reply

      Thanks Karen, so nice of you to respond. I do like to write the blogs and have more time to do so this trip. Hope you and family are well. I had a great time with your parents in Florida last month.

  • Bev February 7, 2020 at 7:33 am Reply

    Love it, Kath. Beautifully done and so fun to be vicariously on the trip with you! Very glad it’s all working out so nicely. xo

    • Kathryn Schlitzer February 7, 2020 at 3:18 pm Reply

      Thanks Bev. It’s working out quite well. Nice is very different from Paris. Nice didn’t even become part of France until 1860, before that it was part of what would become Italy in 1861. I’m sure there are some swank hotels and glitzy people but in general its a city of working people from all over the world and very friendly. Lots of Brits, Americans, Australians and Scandinavians – many coming for the sun, many out of a dream to retire in France. The expat community is very much alive and well here.

  • Sharen February 10, 2020 at 11:54 am Reply

    Looks like you are enjoying lovely weather, Kathy. I enjoy your pictures so much and will look for you on Instagram now!

  • Sharen February 10, 2020 at 11:56 am Reply

    Looks like you are enjoying lovely weather, Kathy. I really enjoy your photos and will look for you on Instagram now!

  • Dottie February 12, 2020 at 6:28 pm Reply

    Well! I guess I will now be searching for (and practicing) French recipes for the next few months!! Accompanied by French wine. My best to you.

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