Cours Saleya, just off the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France
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Nice is attractive, accessible, tourist friendly and enjoys generally fine weather which makes it a popular holiday destination.
However, the quality of the food can suffer in consequence, especially in busy areas where the main objective of restaurateurs is to separate visitors from their cash as speedily as possible.
The other factor to bear in mind is that prices vary considerably depending on the location and services offered.
For breakfast near the sea front Promenade des Anglais, there are plenty of delightful places a block or two back in streets such as Rue Halevy, Rue de France and Rue Massena.
By and large, they offer a variety of Formules, fixed price meals, with quick service oriented to the tourist trade, typically a croissant and toasted baguette with butter and jam.
One point to look for is that the juice is pressé, freshly squeezed.
Another is to avoid ordering a café au lait unless you really want a bowl of milk with a dash of coffee; café noir or café crème will give you more caffeine with less liquid, while a noisette, a favourite post-lunch drink, is an expresso with a dash of milk. Known as a macchiato elsewhere.
Lunch and Dinner: Cours Saleya is crowded for both lunch and dinner due to its central position near the sea/old town/Jean Medecin shopping/Rue de France pedestrian street etc, and its variety of restaurants, bars and interesting daily market.
Regrettably, more means worse in this case as too many undiscerning punters has lead to a decline in both food standards and service in the square. The maitre d' may also over-promote the house speciality because it is pre-prepared or does not take so long to cook.
choose your dining spot carefully, away from the huddled masses and preferably a spot that is hosting a French clientele. Le Safari at the far end of Cours Saleya is attractive and offers interesting dishes as well as...
...Rue Saint-Francois de Paule, which leads to Cours Saleya, also hosts some fine dining spots such as Terre des Truffes, which has truffles in every dish on the menu, including dessert, though some think this is more of a novelty than great cuisine.
In the same street is Les Dents de La Mer which specialises in fish in an over the top nautical environment; simple dishes such as oysters or Mediterranean style seafood are excellent and good value.
La Merenda, a bistro in nearby Rue de la Terrasse, receives consistently favourable reports.
If you like ice cream and enjoy exotic offerings there is only one place to go – La Place de la Halle aux Herbes – which has a huge stall selling pretty much any flavour you can imagine. Even Heston Blumenthal would be impressed.
For a truly memorable meal, if you can afford it, go up market. The Cote d'Azur has 10 restaurants with two Michelin stars and one with three.
Probably the most economic way of having a great gastronomic experience without breaking the bank is to have a set lunch – and to be very careful with extras.
For instance, the sublime and famous Chevre d'Or in Eze, about 15 minutes from Nice along the spectacular Moyenne Corniche towards Monaco, offers a sensational three course lunch on the terrace with a stunning view and excellent service for euros 59 - though wine, water and coffee could easily double the bill.
By comparison the tasting menu could set you back euros 130 and a la carte could cost around euros 220.
On the subject of upmarket, some publications recommend the Hotel Negresco's terrace for drinks. Wrong! While the Negresco is a spectacularly beautiful building its proximity to constant heavy traffic means poor air quality and noise on the terrace.
Furthermore we have heard that the bar management are excessively sniffy about attire, rejecting sensible, dressed-down business visitors because they were wearing jeans with collared shirts.
Best to admire the Negresco from a distance!
By Daniel Nash II
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