Stars gather at Cannes for the film festivals, supermodels saunter along the beach at St Tropez, but the draw of Nice is undeniable. Despite of the image of glitz and glamour, in reality the beach is made of pebbles not sand, which was the first surprise. The second surprise, this time pleasant, was the colourful old town with narrow streets, alfresco dining and vibrant nightlife. It was possible to find tranquility in Nice, sitting quietly out on the beach watching the waves. But at night the bars and clubs opened their doors to the nightowls. It was in Nice that I first tried this cocktail (forgot the name) that was a shot glass with crème de menthe at the bottom and Bailey’s on top, in 2 distinct layers. One gulp of mint and coffee and cream combined, neato. It’s easy to do at home too, just have to pour very carefully so not to mix the layers.
At an outdoor restaurant we had French styled tapas. A giant outdoor counter with all sorts of different foods – bread, roasts, salads, seafood and something new: socca, which is olive oil flavoured chickpea bread. We placed our orders, received them on small plates, paid and ate at one of the pavement tables. Sigh. All sorts of yum.
Drove from Nice through the Corniches to Monaco. Probably one of the most spectacular coastal drives in Europe, if not the world. Beaches spread out along the shore, luxurious houses on the hillside and yachts moored in the bays.
Monaco is, well, decadence central. The smell of money is prominent and kind of scary. It’s more built-up than the rest of the Côte d’Azure, the yachts just seem that little bit bigger and the shops more exclusive. The casino has a dress code and charged an entrance fee, so we skipped it. There is a small area inside the lobby for slot machines that is free, so we played a little there, to bolster our claim of having gambled in Monte Carlo.
The harbour and the casino