- shop for a new pair of boots to take back to rainy Seattle for the coming year
- swim as many times as possible in the glimmering, salty Mediterranean Sea
- explore a new trail or museum or town
- eat and drink the delicious fresh food and wine only France can provide
If eating and drinking are at the top of your list, then one lovely way to spend a day in Nice is to shop for a picnic lunch in the Old Town. Afterwards, you can head for the beach, always a good idea, or the hills. Le Parc de la Colline du Château on the towering hill behind the Old Town has spectacular 180-degree views of Nice, the Port and the sea– perfect for a picnic.
Le Palais d’Osier Vannerie
First, you’ll need a basket for your picnic items, which you can find at Le Palais d’Osier just off the Place du Palais de Justice in the Old Town. At this 100-year-old establishment you will find an array of quality handmade baskets, woven by the shop owners who are working as you shop. Of all the souvenirs I have brought home from France over the past twenty years, these sturdy baskets (mine are eight years old now) are among my favourites. I use them daily to shop in Seattle, and they never fail to bring compliments and queries about where I got them. These baskets come in all shapes, sizes, colours and prices, the most basic at just 14 Euros. It’s a bargain, and you can use it for the rest of your stay in Nice.
La Rôtisserie du Palais
Now you’re ready to fill up the basket with your picnic. Head straight from the basket shop to rue de la Préfecture, just 100 yards east, where you will find the Rôtisserie du Palais. Here you can buy hot dishes wrapped and ready to take out – paella, lasagna, and whole roasted chickens – enough for two hearty eaters. Most of these dishes are around 8 Euros. Another bargain. Try the paella!
Les Grandes Caves Caprioglio
Just to the left of La Rôtiserrie on rue de la Préfecture is a century-old, family-run wine shop. You will find a wide range of excellent wines here at every price range. The friendly owners can help you select a bottle of red, white or rosé for your picnic. On another day, you can come back and ask for a tour of the caves below the store. Of course, you can spend hundreds of dollars on a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but a decent bottle of wine can also be had for 5 euros.
Of course, no French lunch would be complete without dessert, so choose a pastry or two and some chocolates from Lac Chocolatier just to the right of La Rôtiserrie, on the corner. This is designer pastry, perfectly created to please the eye and the palate. My personal favourite is the tarte aux framboises, a petite custard-filled pastry with sugared raspberries piled neatly on top. These pastries run about 4 to 5 euros each.
Keep heading down Rue de la Préfecture for your next stop at Le Fromage, one of two cheese and charcuterie shops owned by the very charming Mr. Froumaï. Pick up one of the delectable cheeses from his beautiful display along with a few slices of prosciutto. A small wedge of cheese and the Prosciutto di Parma will probably cost around 10 euros.
Cours Saleya Market
Finally, you can go two streets over to the amazing Cours Saleya market, Nice’s huge outdoor market area in the Old Town near the beach, where you can round out your picnic lunch with olives, a crusty loaf of bread, and tomatoes. Another 5 to 6 euros.
Et voila! The most perfect picnic lunch you can imagine, and a fine way to spend a few hours of your lovely vacation in France.