Enjoying the local food where ever you go on a trip to France is part of the adventure, especially in Nice. If you really want to feel the culture of Nice, experiencing it through the food and wine is one of the most fun and memorable ways to get under the skin of this sunny city.
Fun filled food tour of Nice
Tour company A Taste of Nice run several tours of the city including one to discover wine and one to discover food. I mean who can resist – I promptly booked myself on both, foregoing bike tours in favour of the tasty stuff.
Nice is famous for its gastronomy and a food tour is a brilliant way to get to the heart, or rather the stomach, of this city.
My group was mainly American and a sprinkling of Brits and Europeans and we met at the beach, introduced ourselves and right from the start, it was friendly and fun and everyone got on. Lucy the guide is a true foodie who adores the cuisine of Nice and seemed to know everyone as we made our way round. She talked about culture, history and architecture as she led us round with her shopping trolley which we discovered very soon into the tour, was filled with goodies. We started with a tourtes aux blettes, a local speciality, a sweet and delicious tart filled with of all things, the vegetable Swiss Chard!
Tip: if you take this tour don’t eat a big breakfast because there’s a lot of tasting to do.
From here we went on to La Maison Auer Confiserie-Chocalaterie which opened in 1820. A 5th generation sweet shop where Queen Victoria used to hang out, apparently sometimes in disguise, leading a donkey (I have a feeling everyone might have known who she was). Utterly lush chocolate covered almonds and crystallised fruit delivered another sugar hit as the staff tempted tour group foodies to dip into bowls of deliciousness.
Over the course of the next few hours we tasted wines, pissaladiere, a sort of Nicois pizza with juicy onions, socca and loads more. We visited some of legendary food and wine stores for tastings and to be told the secrets of the food.
At one point Lucy herded us all on to a tram and took us to a local market. Cours Saleya is of course the most well-known one and packed with tourists, but we went to the market the locals go to for a hit of real authenticity. As we stepped off the tram at Stop Liberation, an old man came over smiling widely and kissed Lucy before bursting into the song of Nicois ending with a rousing “Viva Viva Nicois”. By this time passers-by were joining in, it was an enchanting welcome. It turned out that the nearly 90 year old singer, Giorgio used to be an opera singer, a true character with a twinkle in his eyes and a sharp pair of trousers. I’m told he knows what days the tours take place and often waits to meet the group!
The market was awesome, noisy, vibrant and with a terrific little café where we stopped to have a cool drink and a snack with the locals.
Lunch was back in the old town. We sat at long tables in the sun, with plenty of a very delicious rosé and some typical Nicois delicacies including the most garlicky peppers in oil I’ve ever had, one mouthful, and I’m pretty sure that I could light a fire without matches but with my breath instead. Even tour group member Pete from Texas who said he can eat anything was rather taken aback.
Lunch was followed by olive oil and truffle salt tasting and finally we headed to the beach and a famous ice cream parlour. We were served enormous ice creams, and sitting on the wall of the Promenade des Anglais everyone chatted away as if we had known each other a lot longer – sharing food does that to you.
The Pure Nice Food Tour (3½ hours)
Wine Tour in Nice
My evening wine tour was held in a wine warehouse and on a hot day it was wonderfully cool inside. We were a mixed bunch, a couple from Texas, my friend Caterina from the tourist office, a Korean student studying science in Germany and seven dressed-up-to-the-nines London girls on a hen weekend.
The tour leader Kayley, a Canadian who lives in Nice and who studied wine in Europe and further afield took us through the basic process of wine making from champagne, white, rosé and red. Of course there was a lot of tasting going on, some of the best wines I’ve ever had, real top quality. Kayley explained that the “heart, soul, family, tradition, culture and history” of wine is at the centre of wine making in the area, it’s so much more than just a drink.
Rosé is the drink of choice here in Nice, you can drink at 11 o’clock in the morning, with lunch, dinner, as an aperitif, on the beach… It doesn’t matter, the southerners love rosé any time of the day. The paler the pink the better the wine, sometimes it’s barely a blush.
It’s an educational but fun and delicious introduction to wine and perfect for a pre-dinner actitivity. I reckon we had at least half a bottle each in total and the giant bowls of olive bread and fougasse on the table were scrumptious. I left with 10 more friends than I arrived with and a lot more knowledge.
Note: being completely trollied in France is illegal!