Christmas in Nice
Christmas shopping with the sun shining in a deep blue sky is one of the pleasures of Nice. It might not feel particularly 'winter wonder-land' but there is still something very pleasing about the season. The city returns to the locals after the summer wave of tourists. Nice's Vieille Ville (Old Town) is a pleasure in winter. One can actually navigate the narrow, windy streets in peace and really enjoy the architecture and sense of history. A stroll along the Cours Saleya market picking up seasonal vegetables, followed by a lunch at Le Cambuse is a regular out of season Saturday morning for our family.
With Christmas only a week away, it seems a good time to share some of my favourite Christmas shopping spots in Old Nice.
Maison AUER patisserie and chocolatier
7 rue François de Paule
A little chocolate delight of a shop that has been in existence since 1820. A Florentine-Rococo style interior is lined with every sweet chocolate treat imaginable plus their famous 'fruits confits' (honeyed fruit), a speciality that originated in Provence but is now adopted by the Southerners on the coast. There are perhaps smarter, more modern chocolatiers like Lac, but there is something lovely and old fashioned about Auer.
|A selection of fruits confits at Auer in traditional earthenware bowls|
|The enticing Rococo interior of Auer|
Nice has many wonderful markets but the Cours Saleya on the edge of Vieux Nice is the best known. Seasonal vegetables, bunches of flowers and sellers with local produce - honey, olives, olive oil and lavender soaps - nestle side by side. Watch out for the small, more local stall-holders selling 'Bio' (organic) harvested from their gardens. For the Christmas feast, this is where I will be buying my side of salmon to marinate (in dill and orange), fresh beetroot to roast with lemon thyme, and celeriac to make a traditional remoulade.
|The small stalls are often the best as the produce is grown locally and organic|
Compagnie de Provence
rue François de Paule
We love this soaps and lotions shop for the fact that everything smells good, is lovely to use and is beautifully packaged. They will even gift wrap the tiniest bar of soap to make it look like a million-dollars. The lavender based range is divine - from organic hand cream to crisp linen spray. And there is nothing old lady about it.
rue de la Préfecture
A concept store that feels more Paris than Nice in its cool style. Eschewing the Provencal look for something more earthy and funky, the shop is an eclectic mix of household ware, clothing, decorative objects and linen.
The proliferation of fresh pasta shops in Nice is a reminder of its Italian past. Maison Baral is one of the best. The display of fresh ravioli changes everyday and is constantly inventive - from the more traditional daube to newer flavours such as roquette, ricotta and pistachio. They also have a good selection of oils, pasta sauces in jars and truffle paste that make great presents.
Caprice is our favourite vintage shop in the Old Town. Two floors of clothes, bags, accessories and small pieces of furniture. For something original, this is the place to pick up a snakeskin clutch or a pair of Chanel shoes from the 70s. Nostalgia with a modern twist.