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FRANCE 10 YEARS ON: Paris Dordogne Albi Toulouse Arles S Rhone and Nice

FRANCE 10 YEARS ON: Paris Dordogne Albi Toulouse Arles S Rhone and Nice

Old Oct 31st, 2017, 10:30 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,118
This report has become so long, I can't believe I'm finally at the last entry!

Back at our hotel, we got spiffed up for our big night out at Restaurant Jan. As we waited for our taxi, I asked the front desk clerk if she had heard anything about this restaurant, good or bad, and she replied ”I hope you have a reservation! I’ve been trying for months to get one, and haven’t been able to!”

Looks like we’re in for a treat!

The restaurant is in the up and coming bohemian district of Nice Port, very edgy, very slightly gritty. The valet greets us as we exit the taxi and we are ushered into the outdoor patio, which is covered, heated, and set up as if all the tables were to be full. Candles and flowers on all the tables. At the end of the night we realized that they opened the patio just for us!

The service was better than any I can remember. The genuine friendliness, attention to detail, explanation of all the courses and the wines, we were made to feel so special that it was almost embarrassing! It really appears that everyone loves working together, and loves what they do.

The food is South African influence. We have had pretty food many times before, but this is pretty food that tastes every bit as fabulous as it looks.

Here’s the menu. Yep, that’s the English menu:

Biltong / Buchu and cucumber / Sago and scallop / Cape seed loaf with butter from Beillevaire / Mieliepap and Chakalaka / Rooibos and ratte potato / Mosbolletjie / Crab and Passionfruit / Lamb bobotie / Meringue fumee, atjar and Epoisses / Anise, Amasi and Lemon / Malva pudding, basaar pancakes, milk tart, amarula and chocolate / Wholewheat cookies to take home for breakfast

The first three were amuse-bouche, or a term which is similar that I don’t remember. The portions were small enough that we were full but not uncomfortable. The wine pairings were spot on, and absolutely delicious. The meal was 4 hours long, but we did not want to rush.
This was a 6 course tasting menu, but there is a 4 course as well. If you’re going to Nice, start saving your nickels now!


Here are the food photos, I tried to match the names with the dish but with no success.


Next morning was a sleep in morning, then we decided to climb Castle Hill to wear off some of those calories! The views are worth the climb! There is an elevator that takes you to the top if you don’t want to climb up.

It’s a nice park-like area, with a playground, a snack bar with a nice patio, and benches here and there, placed to take advantage of the view. It appears that some reconstruction works are taking place, and hopefully it will be even nicer when done, and will include a real bathroom.

Around one side of the park is a waterfall which is quite busy with everyone taking photos. We had seen this waterfall from the Promenade des Anglais, and it looks from afar like it is splashing down from between the trees and shrubs of the mountain, so it was pretty cool to see the source of this waterfall.

After climbing back down the stairs to the road level, we walked around to the Port, to have a daytime look at the neighborhood. It’s not nearly as touristy as downtown Nice, and I thought quite quaint and very Italian looking with the pastel colored buildings. We wandered along until we came to Place Garibaldi, which is a lovely open square with buildings all around in the same yellow color.

I’d like to explore this neighborhood a little more on a future trip.

The place is very busy with traffic though, and the tram runs right through. We followed the tracks back to Blvd Jean Jaures, and got onto the Promenade du Paillon, featuring a park between the boulevards, which took us back to the old town.

This park is such a nice green space that is used so much by locals and tourists alike, and when you get close to Place Massena it then features the ground level fountains where the water comes on intermittently and keeps the kids entertained. It was at one time a river, the Paillon, until it was covered over, and I take it, runs underground, but not sure about that.

Our walk took us along the Promenade down to the Negresco, where we took some photos as the lights came on at dusk, and watched the lights twinkling around the Bay. Nice is such a nice city for walking, as nothing is really very far, and everywhere you look there is something pretty or fun.

We had a light dinner at Mon Petit Café, associated with Le Sejour, just up the street from our hotel. This is a sweet little place, make reservations, the food was good.

We were down to our last day in Nice, with one day left in London on our way home. So a bitter sweet day for us, as we loved Nice and hated to leave. So after another yogurt and granola breakfast in our room, we headed for Cours Saleya, and the market.

This was Sunday, and there were loads of people around. I think that makes a market more interesting, as I love to watch the interactions of the sellers and the buyers, people enjoying their food purchases, and choosing their vegetables and fruits, olives and soaps and flowers.

Ah the flowers; the bouquets are so so pretty, and the prices are so reasonable, I am tempted to buy some but it would be a short lived pleasure. So we linger and enjoy them in place, and take photos to bring home.

With the afternoon in front of us, we jump on the tram and head up to the train station. Our destination is Beaulieu-sur-Mer, where we want to tour the Villa Ephrussi and Villa Kerylos, the latter being closer to the train station, so where we decided to tour first.

The Villa Ephrussi is often recommended, but I read perhaps on her trip report, that thursdaysd had really enjoyed Kerylos, so we made a special effort to see this one, and I am so happy we did. This place really resonated with me. It is build right on the sea, and the villa is just what I would wish for if I had a rich husband with a passion for Greek antiquities.

Theodore Reinach in collaboration with his architect, reconstructed successfully an ancient Greek dwelling, along with its furniture, fabrics, tablewares and decoration. It combines the luxury of ancient Greece with the comforts of the Belle Epoque period as it was built between 1902 and 1908. This was a vacation house for the family, so is a relatively modest size of Villa.

What I loved; the central courtyard with its frescoes, the mosaic floors, the beautiful colors of marble, the bespoke bathrooms, (madame’s included a marble shower, almost unheard of at the time) beautiful banks of windows with a view of the sea just meters away, the beautiful colors, the simplicity, nothing over the top or too ornate, the use of columns and wood grid ceilings. This villa just gives one a feeling of instant relaxation.

After our tour, we fell to talking with a German lady, a tourist who has spent a lot of time in the area. The time was ticking by, and we didn’t feel the need to rush up to Villa Ephrussi, so we looked for the seaside walk that PalenQ had mentioned when I was planning. I don’t think this was the exact one but close enough.

All along the edge of the sea at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat there is a delightful path where we were forced to stop every minute to take another photo. It’s not until you get away from the neighborhood and the villa that you can see the sharp hillside up above the town, making a fantastic background for the villa and the Mediterranean Sea. Just breath-taking.

I wanted to walk clear around the peninsula, but we made it about an hour’s walk and realized we would miss the last bus if we didn’t head back.

The bus was packed like a sardine can, and had to pass by others who were waiting, but DH got the driver and our new close companions laughing, and that made it a fun ride back to the train station.

Now we knew why the hotel concierge told us to take the train instead of the bus that runs along the coast. I’m not sure I would have thought a half hour ride in such close quarters was so fun, or safe for that matter. I believe the train was 2,20 euros each way, which is more than the bus, but not much really.

I very generously let DH choose the restaurant for our last night in France, and he chose Le Maquis, in the Old Town. Although there are many touristy places there, this was really quite good, and we enjoyed the party atmosphere of being in the crowded alleys of Old Town with many other hungry people. Craving burrata and tomato salad, we must have been hungry, because DH forgot the food pics. Euro 100 for a decent meal with dessert and wine.

Our flight in the morning was at 8 am so that meant getting up at 4:30 am. So that meant an early night. So, back to the hotel to pack, but this was a gloriously good last day in France!!

Well, all I’m going to say about our relaxed day in London is… the Palomar! No comment necessary.

A Sofitel bed at LHR and a lovely business class flight home on Air Canada. Until next year!
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Old Oct 31st, 2017, 11:21 PM
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Enjoyed your report very much! Thanks!
joannyc is offline  
Old Nov 1st, 2017, 06:17 AM
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Great report, sdt! Thanks for sharing!!
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Nov 1st, 2017, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Loved your TR -- thanks for taking the time to write it. It was fun to relive our very similar trip and to pick up new places for whenever we get back to that area.
yestravel is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2017, 12:45 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2013
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Thank you Joan, Russ, yestravel!

Here are the last of my photos, shot all with mobile phones, my iPhone 6 and my DH’s Samsung, which I hate to admit is the superior camera

From Arles to Cote du Rhone to Nice:

https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2017, 02:35 AM
Join Date: Nov 2017
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Vow. This is amazing detail on Paris. Thank you. I'm planning a trip early next year and learnt from a friend who visited recently how things have changed. Hope the city still has its old world charm.
columbus75 is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2017, 02:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 76
Hello Sundried,

I was notified by Flickr you had submitted new photos as I have been following your work since we discussed our mutual trips to Sicily last year. Had assumed you would write a TR so went to Fodors and have been spending the afternoon reading it. Your writing skills, as well as your photographic acumen, continue to impress. Great job!

After I returned from Sicily last year, I went to Spain and France. I spent 3 nights in Sarlat with my daughter before we proceeded to Carcassonne then on to Barcelona. Interestingly, about 15 years ago I traveled from Nice to Sete and back. I loved Sete for two reasons. There was very little English spoken which I found refreshing- inasmuch as it made me really try to use and learn what little French I knew. The second had to do with going to a local bar and having a beer. At the time I was living in Portland, Maine which was also a fishing port. A friend had a bar which catered to fishermen that I attended occasionally. I realized that the bar is Sete was so similar to the bar in Maine that I just smiled the entire time I was there. Some things are universal.

Loved your trip report and I appreciate that you reported prices for various meals. Very helpful. If you would like to see some of my photos you can find me as one of your followers on Flickr (boolanger or JB) and look at my Spain/France Trip. I meant to separate them but never got around to it. We have some of the same photos which I found interesting. Oh, sorry about your camera!

Thanks again for the great job of sharing your trip.

PS: How did you come by Sundriedtopepe here and Pi not me on Flickr?
Boolanger is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2018, 08:26 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Thanks so much for this trip report, and for a serious "aha" moment today! I loved traveling along with you and learning from your experiences.
kja is offline  
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