Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
Feature Image via Flickr: Federico Grechi, edited by me.
A Luxury Guide to Nice
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Nice and the South of France.
Hi, I’m Namrata. I was born in India but have lived most of my adult life traveling and exploring the world. I run my own clothing label, Doe Designs, initially a stylist and still do it when I find the time, I love traveling and sharing m experiences with everybody! I am also currently enrolled at the London College of Fashion for an MBA program in Fashion.
As enchanting as India seems to people from the outside, I am a terrible case of the grass is always greener on the other side. I love Europe and Australia I studied my under graduation in Melbourne and fell in love with the city that I still consider one of my top places to live and visit.
Today, however I am writing about one of my favorite holidays in the South of France, I wouldn’t say I am exactly an expert of the region but having spent a considerable time over the summer a couple of years ago I would love to share my insights and thoughts on one of the most spectacular places in the world. It’s the perfect blend of beauty, European charm and classic French style vacationing.
What makes Nice a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
Nice is definitely one of the most glamorous places to visit amongst the other beautiful cities along the coast of the South Of France, Monte Carlo, Cannes, Antibes and St. Tropez are a must visit on this trip. I would recommend making Nice the base of the vacation with its ultra chic vacationers, and gorgeous hotels to stay at, not to mention the absolutely breathtaking ocean. Although they have pebble beaches once you turn on your music lay back take a dip in the pristine water and soak up the sun you’ve long forgotten about the pebbly terrain.
I have to mention the absolutely fabulous food and restaurants in the city, at the top of the list is the two Michelin starred restaurant Le Chantecler at the famous Hotel Negresco. Located right on the famous Promenade des Anglais overlooking the breathtaking ocean, it’s an absolute gastronomical delight!
The beauty of Nice however doesn’t quite only lie in visiting high-end restaurant or strutting the high-end shopping streets, there’s a plethora of cute and delectable restaurants throughout the city, one such gem is a classic French restaurant, Bistrot d’Antoine in the Old town Nice. It’s extremely popular amongst the locals and why wouldn’t it be with its delicious Mediterranean cuisine and reasonable prices.
What 5 star hotel is the best in Nice?
Located right on the famous Bay of angles Hotel Negresco would definitely be my pick for when you are in Nice. The hotel boasts some of the most spectacular views of the city and each room has been tastefully designed by the owners themselves who are self-confessed art connoisseur. As a family owned hotel for more than 50 years, the striking white and pink building complete with its gorgeous domed tower is a National historic Monument. You can be rest assured that your breakfast views from the gorgeous balconies overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean sea will leave you breathless and what better way to start your day! The service is exceptional as expected and for art lovers it’s an absolute treat. Click here for rates and availability.
photo via flickr:Román Emin
What about boutique hotels in Nice, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
There are so many gorgeous little boutique hotels to choose from in Nice, mostly to fit in any budget. People have this misconception that the south of France is extremely expensive and overpriced but honesty barring Monte Carlo and perhaps Cannes during the film festival in May, my sister and I ended up spending so much time at the beach that we didn’t overshoot our budgets at all (not that we had one in mind).
Some of the places to stay that I would personally recommend would be Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée: gorgeous views and the if you can get yourselves to book the Sea Side Suite with its insane sea view and floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to your private terrace, marble bathrooms –basically you get my drift – THE WORKS! For something perhaps a little bit more pocket friendly NH Nice and Hotel la villa Nice Promenade are great options as well !
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler in Nice?
Nice has heaps of options for the adventurous traveler, I would be kidding myself and my readers if I said I was conventionally adventurous, but one can be adventurous in different ways right? My sister and I hired bicycles for our time in Nice and did a lot of cycling in and around the city, went up to the famous Castle hill, rode across the beach, went towards the outskirts of the city and found it super fun and a great way to burn those extra calories we were adding up eating all the delicious food.
Besides this, one can parasail, snorkel, paddle board, go out and dive and I am pretty sure there are areas around the south of France to sky dive and bungee jump. A few travelers we spoke to during our breakfast at the hotel were on their way to sky dive one morning!
Where are the best hang outs during the day in Nice?
I’m an absolute sucker for a day at the beach, so if I’m a in a city where there’s an ocean then that’s where you’re gonna find me. People often complain about the pebble beach in Nice and although being very bias to Australian beaches and soft sand, the water is so immensely stunning and the temperatures and tides just perfect for a lazy swim and hours of sunbathing!
You can choose between the public beach or the private beach, sometimes if you eat lunch at one the restaurants on the beach, the allow you sit on the private beach. We did both and both were equally fun.
If you’re looking for something more stimulating you could always stroll around the many alleys of this enchanting city, some parts of it aren’t as modern and have been preserved, as a symbol of “Old Nice”, when you head inland from the sea front you start to notice these row of low cottages (Ponchettes), some renovated partly that have been converted into quaint cafes and gorgeous art galleries.
You can also browse around one of the most famous markets in France which is normally set up behind these cottages.
images via flickr: Luca Nebuloni
People watching is one of my favourite ways to pass time in a new city, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and just soak in sights and sounds of a different culture, understand what makes its heart beat: children playing in a park, couples falling in love some arguing their ways in and out of a situation haha….its a wonderful thing to be able to absorb things raw and untouched.
Check here if you’re looking for some lovely Nice day trips.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Nice and what are their best dishes?
People have this misconception of Nice being a very expensive holiday destination, and as a regular traveler I can assure you, it could be and it doesn’t HAVE to be. You can make it work just wonderfully within your budget-high, low or medium!
So yes, there are a ton of restaurants, some even Michelin star, that could be a perfect date night dinner serving up exotic French delicacies but you could also grab a picnic basket, chose a spot in one of the many beautiful parks and have a lovely night under the stars enjoying local favorites such as “SOCCA” local crepes made from chickpea flour with a million toppings to choose from.
Ratatouille is another specialty of the region and available at many restaurants, With Italy being such a close neighbors it’s not surprising that pastas and pizzas find itself on many menus in restaurants in nice and they DO NOT disappoint!
Let’s talk desserts in Nice- what place makes the best?
I can’t really say what’s the BEST place and the BEST dessert. I have an extremely sweet tooth (I am gorging on chocolate as I’m writing this blog) so yeah…my recommendation would be to walk down the street Rue de France and discover all the little desserts offered by different patisseries and boulangeries. The displays are so colorful tempting and very promising. Definitely eat some Macaroons, try the chocolate and almond stuffed croissant, I will mention the crepes again, my favourites are the strawberry with butter lemon and sugar but there are lots to try from and honestly I don’t remember where I ate them because every place was really really good!
At restaurants, I usually order a crème brulee, and try not eating too heavy a main haha!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers in Nice?
I’m not sure why, being a designer and a stylist, shopping wasn’t at the top of my list when I first arrived in nice, it never actually is once I see the ocean BUT we did shop towards the end of our trip. Nice is a lovely place to shop both high-end designer stuff, local trendy boutiques and markets and the regular high street brands. Its got everything! A good place to start would be the old town and the markets that we spoke about earlier for little collectibles, souvenirs and jewellery. To find regular stores, like Zara, Bershka , Pimki you should head straight to avenue Medecin which runs the north-south length of the modern city centre.
The famous French department store Galeries Lafayette is definitely worth a browse. I always try to buy something local from the place I am in, a painting, a hand-made souvenir or a local brand. I did find very interesting stuff at the local evening markets that get set up in the summer and remember buying a gorgeous leather bracelet/band.
Time for a great sunset view in Nice… where would you go?
Negresco would be a great place to go for a sunset view I would imagine and it is highly recommended, but we took this little train that runs from the end of Promenade des Anglais costs approx 10 euros and takes you through the flower market, the Maseena Square and the Castle hill and a couple of other spots, it stops for ten mins at the Castle and that’s pretty much where our ride ended since we were so mesmerized by the views, the sunset and the beauty of that place that we had long forgotten how we got there haha! It was a wonderful walk/trek down the hill but I think we saw more that way.
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via Flickr
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
Bar De Oiseaux is a great little spot in the old town, although it may be a little difficult to find it has great live jazz music, sometimes a comedy act amongst other entertainers, named for the birds that inhabit the area for 5 bucks on entertainment nights it’s a great little spot to start the night and mingle with some locals in a relaxed atmosphere!
Often people gather around promenade des anglais for live music events that take place over the summer months and make for a fun and entertaining way to start a night
If you end the night at a fancy club, which one do you head towards?
Voulez vous danser avec moi? Haha I had to throw in a bit of my French here, well there are plenty a fancy clubs to choose from and although I am not a party/clubbing person I do have a few recommendations for those who would like to go !
Le Trois Diables which translates to the three devils has been a popular spot with locals and tourists for years, happy hours run from 5pm -9pm. Another one that’s popular is Le Ghost: comfortable and interesting interiors create an excellent atmosphere for the skilled in-house DJ’s, who play at this small speakeasy kinda vibe club, great energy and great music cover up for a small dance floor ;) if you’re looking for something fancy and classy, to mingle with the high-end nice locals , L’ambassade is probably the best place to go and splurge!
Namrata Puri is a Delhi girl who’s lived abroad and has a taste for all things fabulous from fashion to food. Other than being an extreme foodie, she’s a stylist, fashion consultant AND has her own line as head designer for the very popular Doe Designs where she whips up modern neon saris and long silky maxi skirts. Check out her designs on the Doe Designs Facebook page, Doe Designs Instagram, and to follow her personal instagram for more food pics click here.
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