We spent the last couple of days exploring our own hometown of Nice – although we forgot to take many pictures. I am proud to report that we can now navigate the bus system with relative ease and pretty much find our way home from anywhere in the city. Mom even buys our pain chocolat (croissant pastry with chocolate squares baked in) all by herself at the boulangerie – in French!
A highlight was the Matisse Museum (the peach colored home in the picture). It is in a villa that Matisse lived and worked in while in Nice and is set in a very peaceful olive grove on a hill overlooking Nice. It includes a variety of works from the beginning of his painting, which was more realism, through his more Impressionist period to his brightly colored paper cut-outs. Even more interesting, they has several of his personal possessions, including the palette with which he painted. We loved it.
Daube a la Provencal
We also had our very best meal of the trip so far. We were trying for a lunch restaurant in Vieux Nice (Old Town) that was recommended in the guidebook. It was around 2:15, and some places stop serving around that time, so we were hurrying through the cobblestone streets in a cold drizzle. We spied the place, and it was full – whew. However, as we walked in, they rather snootily told us that we were too late and the kitchen was closed.
Defeated, we wandered around for a back-up and stumbled upon Bistro Marie, which was tiny and a little frayed, but looked open. Only a couple of locals were there, and they welcomed us warmly. They were featuring the plat du jour (plate of the day), which was gnocchi daube. We weren’t exactly sure what that was, but were hungry and tired and said ok. It turns out “daube” is a speciality of Provence – a beef stew cooked with carrots, onions, and red wine. The owner is Italian so his daube comes over gnocchi potato/pasta dumplings. He proudly served our daube in individual red Le Creuset pots, so it was steaming and smelled and tasted amazing.
Frank struck up a conversation with him (in Italian) and discovered both are Sicilian, so we were like family. The owner even brought out Limoncello at the end. We have decided maybe we are more bistro people than restaurant people.
[If anyone goes to Nice, remember Bistro Marie near the Opera. It only has 4 tables inside – more outside – and tres delicieux.]
Next Up: Cannes – Can they make it by train??