Let’s play a game of word association. French city? Paris. Famous landmark? Eiffel Tower. When it comes to travel, we often seek out the sparkling capitals, but as travel blogger and graphic designer Sarah Mantelin proves, venture to paths less trodden and you’ll discover a countries heart and soul.
“I was lucky enough to travel from a very young age thanks to my parents”, she says. I still have vivid memories of walking through the Venezuelan jungle or riding camels in Jordan. They often chose the off-the-beaten-path destinations and we stayed with locals whenever possible. I believe these experiences have shaped me into the open-minded person I am today.”
Residing in London but born and bred in Nice, Sarah often returns to the city where blue sea meets orange rooftops, rolling hills and culture.
On this trip, she takes us to her favourite foodie spots and lets us in on the best views around. Spoiler: there’s restaurants built into the rocks and stunning beaches at every turn.
What to Pack
“If you’re visiting Nice during the summer months, bring a long white dress, a straw hat and some sandals to wander around in. Add a pair of trainers as the narrow streets of the Old Town (Vieux-Nice) can be quite steep. You’ll also want to be able to climb to the top of the Castle Hill (Parc de la Colline du Château) to admire some panoramic views of the city.”
Best Time of Year to Visit
“The best time of the year to visit Nice or any other city in the South of France is between May and September. If you can, try to go in June to avoid the summer crowd.”
Where to Stay
“Stay in a charming Airbnb in the Old Town — it’s the best way to soak up the energy of the city. And in the morning, you’ll be steps away from a local boulangerie, the epitome of slow-paced life of the South.”
Where to Sightsee
“Climb to the top of the Castle Hill to take in sweeping views of the city. Do not expect to find a castle though — it was demolished in 1706. Go there during the day for a walk through the lush vegetation and come back in the evening to observe the beautiful city lights.”
Where to Eat
“If you’re looking for the coolest brunch spot, head over to La Popote d’Ondine. Everything is delicious and they have a lot of healthy options. Try the avocado toast and the banana pancakes – they’re my favourite.
You don’t want to miss out on Paper Plane, a tasty vegetarian restaurant. Everything is homemade and the interior is insta-worthy (think bamboo furniture and hanging plants).
Stop by Chez Thérésa and try out the local street-food specialty: la socca, a traditional dish made from chickpea flour. For dessert, grab a frozen pistachio macaron at Angea and eat it by the sea on the Promenade des Anglais.”
Where to Wander
“During the day, walk through the vegetable and flower market on the Cours Saleya. It’s open every day except on Mondays where you’ll find a flea market instead. Have a coffee outside and feel the atmosphere of the city.”
Where to Photograph
“The Castle Hill is your best chance to capture the beauty of the orange rooftops of Nice. Go there early to avoid the crowd, it’s worth it!
Just beside the Port of Nice, you’ll find Le Plongeoir, a famous restaurant built on a rock and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Attached to it is a diving board that is still used from time to time by the locals. Something very unique you’ll want to photograph.
Don’t miss out on the Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais. The historic hotel boasts iconic architecture with neo-classic facades and an emblematic pink roof. “
Where to Shop
“If you want to spot the latest collections from well-known French fashion brands, walk up the Avenue Jean Médecin. It’s the main shopping district and you’ll find everything you need there. If you’re looking to buy some souvenirs or products made by local artisans, visit the little shops in the Old Town.”
Best off-the-beaten-track Gem
“If you need some time away from the city buzz, spend a day in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a picturesque village only 20 minutes away from Nice. You’ll find some colourful streets and a charming fishing port. If you feel like it, go for a stroll along the “sentier du littoral”, a seaside path that goes between Nice and Villefranche.”