I hope that your 2015 is off to a great start! I spent New Year's Eve and the first week of the year in the Cote D'Azur, France with my wonderful husband exploring, relaxing and eating (not necessarily in that order!) The weather was gorgeous every single day and we had a terrific time.
The city of Nice was a part of Italy until 1858 when it became a part of France. It still retains a huge amount of Italian influence with architecture, cuisine and language. Sometimes I had to remind myself I was actually in France because it felt so similar to Italy. Here I am in Garibaldi Place.
Many famous artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Bonnard and Chagall spent time in Provence and the Cote D'Azur and I can see why. The art, the architecture, the landscape, the Ocean and the light are really something! I was charmed by this art store in the city center.
My daily breakfast while in Nice usually consisted of a "pain au chocolat" or chocolate croissant and coffee. I decided to take a break from kale smoothies - I was on vacation after all!
Apparently, colored toilet paper is not extinct in France. I haven't seen pink tp since the late 70's! When we ran out of tp, my efficient husband ran out to the store across the street and picked this up - it was all they sold and the color was quite alright by me.
Pretty cool architecture at the train station, no?
All the gorgeous flowers and potted trees on street stands were tempting and the flower market at Cours Saleya made me drool. Too bad bringing back plants is too unwieldy and forbidden in customs.
We were happy to see that all of the Christmas decorations were still on display. This was one of the main shopping thoroughfares on Avenue Jean de Medecin. One of our favorite places was Monoprix - a French department store similar to a Target. Most of the merchandise is not anything to write home about, but their great food selection is another matter. We spent a long time just perusing all of the unique culinary offerings and especially enjoyed picking out a few pastries. Very hard to settle on just 1 dessert, but my pick was the tart citron with meringue and I was far from disappointed!
Who knew that Nice and the Cote d'Azur is famous for its anchovies or "anchois"?!! My husband has a new nickname for me - "Anchois". Never gonna live that one down.....
I couldn't get over this.......is this suckling pig afraid of the flu or are they concerned his snout might crisp up before the rest of him?
This charming and tiny umbrella shop was founded in 1850 in the historic center of the old town. Loved the neon umbrella over the awning.
This impressive edifice is the court or "Palace of Justice". The architecture and coloring of the buildings here is amazing.
This delicious concoction is a regional specialty called "socca". The line for this vendor was long, but it's definitely worth the wait. French Riviera street food at its best. Socca is made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil. Simple, but amazing. We bought a copper socca pan and flour and lugged it back home with us. We have already tried making socca at home and it was actually almost just as good. I guess it's hard to mess up a recipe with only 3 ingredients.
Our private little oasis in the city.
The famed Negresco Hotel on the main drag, the Promenade des Anglais.
I was amused by the vending machine at the airport - French style necessities and no bag of Doritos in sight!
Hanging out in Monte Carlo, which is beautiful and immaculate but also has a sort of Disney-esque, surreal amusement-park-like quality to it. There are some real unique characters crawling all over. Definitely not the sort of place for the understated or discreet anything. People come here to see and be seen and it's pretty entertaining, let me tell you.
Cap Ferrat was much more my speed and my favorite spot...had an amazing lunch here at La Goelette. The risotto fruits de mer was incomparable and the service warm and exceptional.
I loved the floating creche in the port at Cap Ferrat.
Back in Nice at the Musee Matisse. An interesting place as I am a long time fan of Matisse but a few of the employees were not exactly reflective of the cheer and warmth in Matisse's work. Ahem....they do not seem very happy to be sharing his work or life with the museum goers - even after you pay to get in and however much you are quiet and keep to museum etiquette. We found almost all of the French to be very courteous and helpful, but this place had a distinct pallor of sadsack snobbery and resentful coolness about it, especially in the museum shop. Maybe we were just there on a "grouchy" day?
Having French ancestry in my background, France is always an especially great place to visit and the food and weather were especially delightful. Next time we want to visit Antibes, Cannes, Menton and St. Tropez but meanwhile it's back to reality and translating some French inspiration into artistic expression back home at the studio.