Eating In and Out in Nice
Food is a fundamental part of any stay in Nice. One of the best things about France is the passion shown by its inhabitants for their food. It is this enthusiasm for all things edible that attracts so many tourists to the French Riviera year after year. Eating is one of the many tourist attractions in the South of France. Whether you choose to eat in or out, you can't go wrong with the fresh Mediterranean produce the region has to offer.
Renting an apartment in Nice is a great way to experience Niçois food. With a kitchen you have the option to eat in as well as out. You will find that eating in can be a real treat.
Local Markets in Nice
Any visit to Nice is incomplete without a trip to a local market for a real taste of the Mediterranean. The bustling atmosphere of a local market is the real France: the locals' France rather than one of the lavender selling tourist-traps.
We suggest heading to the Cours Saleya in the Old Town (the Old Town is also called Vieux Nice). From the market you'll catch a glimpse of the sea through arches that lead to the Promenade des Anglais. If you only visit one market in Nice, make it this one. The Marché des Fleurs (flower market) as it is known, has much more than flowers to offer. Here you will find a wide variety of fresh, local fruits, vegetables and herbs. The market provides mostly in season fruits and vegetables. By eating according to the season, as nature intended, we get the best tasting produce possible.
Another market to visit is the fish market in Place St Francois, also in the Old Town. There is a wide variety of fish to choose from the catch of the day, though be sure to arrive early for the best selection.
Just North of Nice's train station is the less well known Liberation Market. As well as often being cheaper than the Cours Saleya, it is surrounded by very good local shops for fish, meat, cheese and bread. It is also where you will find more organic produce and a more local flavour to market shopping and bartering. If you are staying in Nice for a while, this is definitely a market to try. From the central core of Nice it is five minutes away on the tram-line (Liberation stop), or a walk up the Jean Medicin high street if you want to make a day of shopping and have some troops to help carry the bags.
Food Shops in the Old Town of Nice
Markets aside, the Old Town is a great place to shop and avoid the multitude of processed goods found in supermarkets. Choosing quality over convenience is the way to go, and there's no shortage of quality, homemade produce in the Old Town.
- A good baguette is the perfect accompaniment to any meal and the tempting odours drifting from the Artisan Boulanger (Rue du Marche) can't fail to lure you in. The pain au chocolat and the brioche make for a perfect breakfast à la francaise.
- Another little gem is Clé aux Pâtes (8 Bis Rue de la Boucherie, tel: 04 93 85 65 86) to pick up some fresh pasta. Choose from tagliatelle and ravioli to gnocchi and homemade sauces.
- Cheese is a French favourite, and a great selection can be found at la Poulette, (12 Rue de la Préfecture, tel:04 93 85 67 96) selling not only cheese, but also cooked meats and roast chickens.
- Visit a local boucherie to pick up fresh meat. The bustling Boucherie St François (11 Place St-Francois, tel:04 93 85 80 88) has a good variety of products.
- For dessert, take away a tub of Nice's most famous ice-cream from Fennocchio's (2 Place Rossetti, tel:04 93 80 72 52) or some traditional homemade biscuits from Lou Canice (7 Bis Rue Mascoinat, tel:04 93 85 41 62).
- Finish up with a cave à vin where staff will point you in the right direction for a bottle that compliments the food, satisfies your palate and suits your wallet.
It's this personal touch that comes with shopping in the Old Town of Nice that makes it all the more authentic and the pride each shopkeeper takes in his products ensure you have all the ingredients for a great meal.
If you really want to immerse yourself in cooking as a local, then you can't beat Rosa Jackson's cookery courses or market tours of the Old Town. Rosa's website is Les Petits Farcis.
Recommended Restaurants in Nice
If all that shopping and cooking seems like too much trouble, or if you don't manage to get to the shops, you need not be disappointed. Nice is a goldmine of quality restaurants that are often reasonably priced. The chefs here know how to make the most of the region's produce, some modern and creative and some sticking to the traditional Niçois recipes. Everyone is able to find something to tickle their taste buds.
Traditional Niçois Restaurants
Traditional Niçois food is easy to come by, especially in the Old Town. Whether you are looking for fast food, such as Lou Pilha or a traditional dish in a well established restaurant such as Cote Marais (Rue Pontin, tel:04.93.80.95.39) or Au Petit Gari (Place Garibaldi, tel:04.93.26.89.09), everyone should have a taste of the local specialties made by the people who know them best.
If you're on a budget head to Lou Pilha before trying pricier restaurants. Here you'll find a relaxed, self service style introduction to local food. Farcis (stuffed vegetables), pissaladière (caramelised onion topped bread) and socca (a type of chickpea pancake) are displayed behind glass. Great if you want to see what you are getting as you dip your toe into the local cuisine, rather than waiting with some trepidation ordering from a restaurant menu with no idea what will be served up before you! Although for the more adventurous, sometimes this can be half the fun.
Once you've figured out what you like and want to experience a nicer setting, one of the many local restaurants is waiting for you. La Merenda (Rue Raoul Bosio, no telephone), Taca d'Oli (Rue Pairoliere, Vieux Nice, tel:04.93.80.70.93) and Acchiardo (Rue Droite, Vieux Nice, tel:04.93.85.51.16) are great places to start. Be sure to book a table ahead as these family run restaurants are full even in mid-week, low season.
Other Restaurant Recommendations
Here for a while? You'll probably fancy a bit of variety. Being so close to Italy, Nice is a hotspot for great Italian cuisine. If you want to be really authentic, you can pop across the border to the land of pasta, though Nice has an array of Italian restaurants, run by Italians who have made Nice their home.
Try La Voglia in the Old Town (Rue Saint-Francois de Paule, tel:04.93.80.99.16) or try the award winning pizzas at Au Vieux Four at the Port (Rue Emmaneul Philibert, tel:04.93.89.00.89), or try our favourite new Italian restaurant slightly off the beaten track – Lena (Rue Arson, tel:04.93.56.27 46) for creamy pastas and risottos.
Oliviera (Rue du Collet, Vieux Nice, tel:04.93.13.06.45) specialises in olive oil. Each dish has its own particular, complimentary olive oil, even the desserts! You may even leave with a bottle of local olive oil to make your own creations.
Eating a fresh crepe is a must and there's no better place to do it than at Tat-O-Titon (Rue Chauvain, tel:04.93.92.58.17). With the tropical decoration and nutella aplenty it's a hit with the children as well as the adults.
La Zucca Magica (Quai Papacino, tel:04.93.56.25.27) is a must for any vegetarians or veggie lovers. A select menu of veggie delights makes it the most popular vegetarian restaurant in the area.
Further into the New Town there are fabulous new restaurants springing up, with young chefs trained by some of the best Michelin starred chefs around. For fining dining experiences at a fraction of Michelin starred restaurant prices try our favourites Luc Salsedo (Rue Maccarani, tel:04.93.82.24.12) or Flaveur (Rue Gubenatis, tel:04.93.62.53.95).
French, Japanese, Italian, Lebanese - the list goes on and on. There has to be a restaurant for everyone and you're sure to find some favourites of your own while in the area. All in all, Nice is a great place to not only explore the French Riviera, but to enjoy eating out and cozy dinners in. Whether breakfast, an afternoon treat, or a three course meal, your taste buds can't fail to be impressed.
Stay in a Vacation Rental from Riviera Pebbles
We hope this gives you a flavour of the Mediterranean. We have full restaurant recommendations, including more information on the restaurants we have suggested here, on our websites Nice Pebbles and Riviera Pebbles. Our guests enjoy complimentary offers at many of our favourite restaurants when staying in one of our vacation rental apartments in Nice, Cannes or Antibes.
Our Guide to Nice for the French Riviera explores the markets and gives you tips on the area. You can download many of our articles from the website (in PDFs).
Read the Slow Europe Profile for Riviera Pebbles.