Hotels and Restaurants in Nice
Every year, millions of tourists rush to the metropolis at the Côte d'Azur. This clutch of millions of people of course have to be accommodated somewhere and need something to eat in the evenings. I found some cheap and good possibilities of accommodation more or less by chance. The very good and cheap restaurants were recommended to me by the local people.
Hotels in Nice
In Nice, there are more than 200 hotels that all together have more than 10.000 rooms. From the 5-star hotel up to the simple dosshouse, everything is available. The posh hotels string together alongside the Promenade des Anglais. Gorgeous buildings with several floors, an own beach and partly also an own pool on the roof attract those with a deep pocket.
The centre of attention is, of course, the legendary Hotel Negresco that today is under monument protection. The hotel was opened in the year 1913, but during the First Worldwar, it had to be missused as a military hospital. The huge glass cuppola was built by the same person who built the Tour d'Eiffel, Gustav Eiffel. The room prices are from several hundred euros for a simple room up to several thousand euros for the suites. Each room is individually arranged and has an own name. Once a year, the Negresco is accessible to the public for viewing and one can have a look to the expensive realms.
Of course, numerous celebrities and rich people from all over the world come to Nice. But Nice also offers a lot of hotels for those who have less money. The apartments of Citadines are highly recommendable. Citadines is a chain that operates apartment hotels all over France, that means one rents a room, a studio or a complete apartment without any service. In Nice, there are several houses that are all available for a cheap price and also are very clean.
Within the main station area, there are a lot of cheap hotels. Those who only need a roof over their head during the night will be right in this area. There is an absolute renouncement of luxury; the simply arranged rooms have often only a window to the inner patio.
Going Out in Nice (In General)
In Nice, one can eat very well and for a cheap price. "Excuse me?", will some people say now who already spent some days in Nice. "The restaurants in Nice provide mediocre meals for a lot of money, isn't it so?" By walking in the evening through the typical touristical areas of the city, almost any few metres one comes across to a signpost in which the "menu touristique" of several courses is offered for a sensational price. But this has nothing to do with the French delicatessen.
I keep saying that in Nice it is possible to have very good food for cheap money. The thing is one has to know where! In order to get this information I have been asking the local people where they do go out in the evenings. I have collected some tips in the following text. But before that I would like to mention again where one should not go for dinner in any case.
Throghout the whole promenade, the restaurants string together, partly right at the promenade or down at the beach. Of course, dining right at the beach is a romantic experience. But after several trials I did not discover any restaurant right at the promenade that offers a good cuisine to an acceptable price.
The worse ones are the tourist restaurants in the oldtown at the Marché aux Fleurs. Here, there is indeed hustle and bustle in the evenings and thousand of tourists eat their tourist menue at the same time. Those who take a seat here can be sure not to meet any local person. There is also no need to be afraid to be spoiled by the famous French cuisine. One gets the apparently cheap three-course menue served non-stop: the only aim of the waiter is to dispatch you quickly so that the table gets free for the next.
As a rule of thumb one can keep in mind that one should not have dinner there where the crowds cavort. Most of the times, a menue card in four different languages indicates a dispatch of mass tourism . Even though one is approached by a nice waitress when passing by, this is an indication to a tourist local. The really good restaurants do not need this. The very good restaurants proudly have their stickers of awards fixed at the entrance.
Now I have warned and trash-talked enough. Let's get to some restaurants that I can really recommend after those 6 weeks that I have spent in Nice and I repeatedely go to each time I am there.
Restaurant-Recommendations for Nice
How can a good restaurant be found in a foreign city as Nice that, in the summer time is really overcrowded by tourists? The small stickers or boards with the awards at the entrance are a good sign. A very good sign is when one finds a crowded restaurant in an isolated alleyway. And if additionally, the guests only speak French (just listen by passing by or while having a look in the menue card), then one can be sure to have found a good place. But now I will mention my favourite restaurants of Nice.
Those who still cannot beliebve that in Nice it is possible to get very good food to a cheap price should visit the restaurant L'Escalinada. It is my absolutely favourite restaurant of Nice; any time I spend a night in Nice I dine there. The L'Escalinada is not easy to find: it is located in a small alleayway rue Pairolière 22 at the very north of the oldtown at only a few hundred metres distance from the bus station.
Not many of the tourists come up until there. In the L'Escalinada, French is spoken, either the waiters as also the guests. There is no menue card in English language. But what is available is best French cuisine that is really enjoyable. The meal of the house is a Daube nicois with gnocchis in a piquant sauce. The meat is boiled for hours and is really soft and tender. The house-made lasagne is not less good.
As aperitif, one gets any time a kir royal with a small piece of onion cake at the expense of the house. What does the name L'Escalinada actually mean? The house is located at a small hill and in order to get the tables even, some wide stairs have been arranged and this is the reason for this name (French: escalier = stairs).
The prices at L'Escalinada are so low that one likes to give a generous tip to the hearty waiters. The restaurant does not have many tables, but every day, it is filled up to the last table. If one arrives before 08.00 a.m., it won't be a problem to get a free table. At the entrance, there are several small boards with the awards that the restaurant already got. The L'Escalinada already exists since the 60ies!
In Nice, there is pizza available at each corner. There are some big pizza chains that serve standard-pizza in touristically excellent places and literally dispatch the guests. Once, in the very proximity of such a tourist road (Rue Masséna) I found a pizzeria that I always use to get to: the restaurant's name is La Trattoria, and it is only a at a few hundred metres outside the rue de France 37 (extension of the rue Masséna).
The restaurant is very large and animated. Many French people do visit this restaurant and oftenly, they desperately try to park in the proximity. From the outside, one can already see the huge wood stoves, in which the almost over-sized pizzas are baken. The pizzas of La Trattoria are so good due to the reason they use fresh ingredients and because they are really thickly topped. Those who then pour a shot of the very hot oil over the pizza will surely have the best pizza of their life.
Although La Trattoria is only located at a few metres distance from the Rue Masséna, the prices are, compared with the ones of the pizzas offered there, clearly cheaper although the pizza is much bigger. Of course, La Trattoria also offers other dishes than pizza, but I could only abstain once from having a pizza there.
Le Saf Saf
In Nice, numerous Tunisians and Moroccans do live. If one is laying on the beach, one will be permanently disturbed by them, as they sell leather belts and figurines of carved wood for a living. But what about some Northafrican cuisine? There are numerous north Africans who opened a restaurant in Nice; I have discovered a very good one named Le Saf Saf in a small side alleyway in the oldtown. Le Saf Saf is located at the Rue Sainte Claire 1, quite in the north of the oldtown, close to the bus station. In this labytinthine alleyway there are barely tourists coming to.
In Le Saf Saf one gets some typical north African dishes served. No matter if one has cous-cous or something different, one will be stuffed in any case. The friendly waiters, by the way, do not expect you to eat everything what is on your plate. One gets so many served that one will be stuffed in any case; the rest will be simply returned or one can ask to get it wrapped for taking away.
Baud et Millet
Now we get to a cheese restaurant the way only a few people will probably have ever seen. The fact that the French people like to have cheese with red wine is known worldwide. But the fact that there are restaurants that only offer cheese seems to be almost unbelievable. The restaurant Baud et Millet cannot be found as a normal tourist, as the main events take place in the cellar. On the street's level, one only finds a sort of wine shop, which one confidently will leave behind in case one is looking for a restaurant.
The restaurant Baud et Millet is located on the Rue Benoît Bunico 28 and really appears to be unimpressive from the outside. How does a dinner work in such a restaurant? One enters the restaurant at the street's level and is first in a wine shop. Here, one chooses the wine one wants to have during the evening. One has a choice of several hundred sorts of red wine from the middle up to the highest price category. After the choice of wine, one gets downstairs into the actual restaurant.
The restaurant rather reminds on a wine-cellar than on a gourmet-restaurant. Once one had taken a seat in one of the cameras, one gets the cheese-menue card. There are indeed some warm cheese dishes on the card, but the actual reason why one dines in this restaurant is the cheese-cellar: one simply orders an empty plate, white bread in abundance and the cheese buffet. This cheese buffet is rich in content:
One gets through a glass door to the adjacent cheese-cellar. The temperature in this room is like the one in a fridge. In this grotto, there are some shelves all over the walls where the cheeses string together. There are hundreds of different sorts of cheese from which one can cut a piece by oneself with the cheese-knife. One finally only has some white bread, cheese, and drinks the wine choosen before.
A dinner in Baud et Millet is not cheap, but it is an experience one will never forget. Of course, one has to take much time for it in order to really enjoy the cheese, as, as known, cheese fills one up soon.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz