A pink taxi

A pink taxi

July 29, 2010

Culinary Nice

Of all the towns on the French Riviera, my favorite one is Nice. In fact I know Nice better than I do Paris because I frequent it more, having spent every summer in the area since I was an early teenager.

I love this city with a pretty name, abutting the great blue Mediterranean, with a board walk ironically named "La Promenade des Anglais". Despite their historical antipathy toward the Anglosaxons, the French gave the English their due for creating the aura of the Cote d'Azur.

Nice represents "l'ecole de Nice", the school of art that groups the French artists I know best: Yves Klein, Cesar, Ben, Niki de Saint Phalle, Venet, Sosno, Arman and Moya. I have enjoyed visiting the many museums of the city. I have toured the hills of Nice (Cimiez), savored lavender ice cream in the Old City, bought fruit at the market with my father, walked the Promenade for exercise, shopped at Les Galeries La Fayette, FNAC and Faconnable. I have even been to Madonna and Michael Jackson concerts in Nice.

But the first reason for us to go to Nice weekly is to satisfy our stomachs. As a  family, almost every Sunday and sometimes twice a week, we embark onto Nice to devour the most delicious pizza you would ever have eaten at the infamous "La Pizza" restaurant.

The pizza there is incomparable to any other in the world,  because not only is it baked in a wood oven but the ingredients of flour, tomato and cheese are sourced meticulously and are of very good quality. The waiters sport a typically French attitude (Jean Paul Sartre has written essays about them), and are career waiters who remain at the same restaurants for decades.  For example, to request a "carafe d'eau", those narrow recycled jugs of water filled with tepid faucet water, we used to toss a coin, of fear of angering these venerable waiters.  Where are the smiling young American waitresses with large ice filled water jugs when we need them?

While La Pizza is a delicious meal on a budget, La Chaumiere is another amazing restaurant, one of my very favorites, with a significantly higher "douloureuse" at the end of the meal (agonizing name French give to the bill). La Chaumiere sits in the high hills of Nice, on the Grande Corniche. The menu is simple: meat, lamb or chicken cooked in the fire place, preceded by delicious appetizers of crudites and salads. For dessert, one of the highlights of the meal, you are served unctuous caramelized apple pie with cream served directly from a big pot.

One of the special attractions of La Chaumiere, aside from the food of course, is that there is a good chance you will get a Bono (from U2) viewing, seated two tables away from you.  Like me, he loves Nice (to the point of making it his residence) and La Chaumiere is his neighborhood hang out (the way  LaPizza is ours). My brother saw him at Chaumiere once, and I saw him there last night. My husband, sister and I saw him once before at the famous Jimmyz nightclub about ten years ago.

The two times I have seen Bono, I always assume he is a look alike of the U2 singer, not the real pop star.  The  last time, we approached him and he was gentleman enough to kiss my sister's hand. I, standing beside her, requested the same treatment. He was equally kind so I chose not to bother him this second time.

Nice and La Chaumiere, (RED) Gap Tshirts and art......and of course his music, it seems I have more in common with Bono than I would have imagined.


  1. What better way to get me excited about my upcoming pilgrimage to Paradise then to read your latest entry! I'm literally like a child anxiously awaiting Christmas or his birthday! This summer holiday will be extra special as it will be my son's first time in France visting his grandparents. By next year, he'll be having the time of his life with his cousins! I remember going to the Chaumiere for the first time 9 years ago and spotting Bono there. He's very down to earth despite his public image and a true gentleman and family man. From that delicious dinner onwards and that special encounter with Bono (who I happened to have seen in concert with my brother, younger sister, and brother in law in DC), la Chaumiere is one of my top favorite restaurants in the word. And La Pizza is legendary. They truly make the best pizza in the world! I was just telling Nissreen the other day how much I was craving pizza in Nice! Finally, one has to give due to our Blogger for introducing me to the school of Nice art. I promised Nissreen to visit as many museums as possible during our trip.

  2. Going out to restaurant is becoming a difficult task,since a surprise can await you if the bill is high and the standard of food and service is bad!So you tend to go shopping for the best ingredients at the " marches" of San Remo,Menton and Nice.Home cooking,if available,can be the best treat ever during the lovely days of the French summer.Of course you can't forget buying the best baguettes,pain au chocolate,and the delicious croissants from the Monaco baker who daily supplies the Palais on the Roche!The variety of fruits in these markets,sometimes picked the same by the old ladies,from their small gardens and potagiers!When these fruits get too ripe,they end up as delicious organic homemade jams of every taste.