We love living in the Washington D.C. metro region, but the pace of life can be rather demanding. A trip abroad where we can relax, rejuvenate and decompress is the perfect antidote, and nothing says R & R for us like the magnificent Mediterranean city of Nice, the very hospitable capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department and the fifth most populous city in France. Denis and I have made it our favorite vacation spot for years (see some of our previous articles, like The Niceties of Nice back in 2013!), and our love affair strengthens at every visit. Let me elaborate …
LES VILLAGES PERCHÉS
The vibrant heart of France’s glamorous Côte d’Azur, Nice and the surrounding environs offer some of France’s most spectacular views from the region’s Medieval villages perched on hilltops known as villages perchés. These villages make fascinating day trips from Nice, especially when we include a delicious two to three-hour lunch along with time to enjoy the cultural, historical and boutique browsing opportunities that these villages offer as well as the interesting walks in the area.
LA BAIE DES ANGES AND ITS SPECTACULAR BEACHFRONT
When we are in the mood for a day at the beach, Nice offers a 10 km beachfront along the arc of the stunning Baie des Anges (“Bay of Angels”), showcased by the extensive boardwalk, fondly referred to since the annual visits of Queen Victoria and many of the British upper crust as the “Promenade des Anglais”. In one single glance, I can gaze upon the azur blue Mediterranean and the purple Alpine Hills accentuated by the Niçoise architectural palette of pastel oranges, pinks and yellows. I am always enchanted. Each time we return, I am struck by the beautiful harmony of man and nature that is here in Nice.
Plus, for your joie de vivre, the city’s lively beachfront features a multitude of beach clubs to choose from as well as an impressive array of water sports, not to mention beach volley-ball. These “clubs” are actually open to the public for a fee, with the services and quality of the cuisine varying from one beach club to another. I recommend you take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in the area of the beach which interests you and compare the facilities, including “Le Menu”, to determine which Beach Club best suits your interests, needs and appetite.
PLAGE BEAU RIVAGE … OUR FAVORITE BEACH CLUB IN NICE
Some beach clubs seem to lose their panache as the years go by but Plage Beau Rivage just keeps getting better as every year brings more improvements and more ways to enjoy the good life on the beach at Nice.
So, what do we love most about Beau Rivage? The location in the heart of the Baie des Anges is perfect for us … just a short 5-minute walk from the apartment where we regularly stay in a central square in Nice known as Le Cours Saleya. Plage Beau Rivage has a wide range of offerings and services. Some of our family members like to spend the day primarily lying out on a comfy covered beach chair just 10 feet from the waves lapping on the beach. Not only are these beach chairs perfectly situated for people-watching both on the beach and in the water, but the Beau Rivage wait staff is happy to serve breakfast, drinks, snacks and lunch to the pampered inhabitants of these chairs. The club charges reasonable fees for the privilege of either half- or full-day rentals.
Denis and I usually opt to take a beachfront dining table, set up our iPads, and do some serious people-watching, philosophize about life in France vs elsewhere, decide what we want to eat for lunch, and do some writing. When lunchtime does come around, we enjoy a long, leisurely French meal, always with a bottle of well-chilled local Rosé de Provence. The food at this “beach club“ is quite delicious, sometimes even superb by French standards. There’s plenty of fresh salads, veggies, and fish, and the desserts are well worth the calories!
We highly recommend the view, the location, the sea breezes, and the food. Together they provide the ideal components of the perfect beach experience for us. Plus, in particular at Beau Rivage, we can enjoy the many activities going on, have a massage or take a shower at the Club, enjoy a cocktail at sunset served by the very knowledgeable bartenders. This beach club is a “happening” place. You can find R & R if you wish – have a “zen” experience as they like to say at “BR”– or simply enjoy a myriad of activities.
# 13 COURS SALEYA … “OUR” APARTMENT IN NICE
Exceptionally well located in the heart of Le Marché des Fleurs, yet surprisingly quiet and strikingly luminous is our beloved 4-bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1625 square-foot Cours Saleya apartment with huge windows and light streaming in during the entire day that would have surely inspired Monet or even Vermeer to pick up a paintbrush! High ceilings add an impressive aura of spaciousness. Now close your eyes for a brief moment and imagine a French, not an English or an American, apartment.
The layout of this apartment, a first-floor walk-up situated above a restaurant, is clearly designed for comfort, privacy and efficient use of space. A huge salon, or living room, runs almost the entire length of the apartment, and is adjacent to a sizable kitchen with very comfortable breakfast seating for 6, a full-size refrigerator, an oven with four burners, a dishwasher, and most everything you would need for preparing and serving meals to your family. The kitchen also features a large window overlooking Le Marché des Fleurs. Just around the corner from the kitchen is a large dining room comfortably seating 8 people.
Off the dining room is a door which leads to a small hall giving onto a full bathroom with a shower, a bedroom with a queen-size bed which we use as the “master bedroom”, a second bedroom with a double-bed that gives onto a large glass-enclosed veranda, and a laundry room with washer and dryer. Also off the dining room is a third bedroom with a queen-size bed.
The second WC and bathroom are along a small hallway off the far end of the Salon and behind the dining room. Beyond the 2nd bathroom, which features a bathtub and shower, is the 4th bedroom with twin beds. All 4 of the bedrooms have windows and built-in closets with a good amount of space, and the three bedrooms which do not give onto the veranda have windows which give onto an inner court-yard. Quiet and serenity reign in the bedrooms!
Also at the far end of the Salon is a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious terrace overlooking Le Cours Saleya, Le Marché des Fleurs, and in the distance, … the azure blue Mediterranean. Charming. Ideal for le petit dejeurer or cocktails at sunset or even a digestif prior to bed.
While prior to our first visit we had had major concerns about noise and even smells from the restaurant below, we quickly realized that our Swiss owner had all these concerns and more well under control. Moreover, each room has its own air conditioning unit which enables us to individually modify the temperature for sleeping … an awesome feature.
Should you think that comfort and practicality were the only hallmarks of #13 Cours Saleya, you would be pleasantly surprised. When you walk into this very comfy and luminous apartment, your mood is automatically impacted by the owner’s extraordinary collection of paintings and objets d’art. A true fin de siècle paradise. When I arrive back after a long day or wake up in the morning, #13’s bon vivant art collection cannot help but put a smile on my face and amuse me. This collection fills the walls with eye candy and speaks to the joy of life. And isn’t that a major reason why we go on vacation?
We thank Carine, the owner of this wonderful vacation rental apartment at #13 Cours Saleya in Nice, for another very enjoyable stay on the Côte d’Azur. As always, our focus at BonVoyageurs is on the joie de vivre we experience when we travel, and all opinions expressed in our articles are exclusively our own.