City guide: Nice

NICE’S main draws are surely its glorious weather and endless waterfront, which have led to its reputation as a glamour destination.

Queen Victoria kicked it all off, and these days Elton John, Tina Turner and Sean Connery all have houses on the shady terraces above the bay, while the Brangelina brood live just up the road in an idyllic Provence village.

However, the sun-drenched climate is also responsible for the delicious wines to be found in what is the oldest wine-producing region in France. Ever since the first vines were planted by the Phoenicians more than 2,000 years ago, the industry has been going without a hic.

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Numerous grapes are used in Provençal wines, but the main varieties for reds and rosés are grenache, cinsault, mourvèdre, carignan, cabernet sauvignon and syrah, all of which are worth investigating. But why stick to wine when the region has one of the most atmospheric absinthe bars to be found this side of Toulouse-Lautrec too. A votre santé. n



CATCH up with the charming Franck Obadia, proprietor of Cave Bianchi, for a lesson in rosés, reds and why each wine is like a beautiful woman. He’ll kiss your hand, fill your glass and tell you fascinating stories of his Algerian family’s wine dynasty and their Californian wine-making cousins. Tastings include an explanation of how to taste the local wines, from the delicate rosés of the region (“a young, fresh woooman in ‘er twenties”) to the more robust reds (“a more mature, full-bodied woooman ‘oo becomes more beautifool with every passing year” – charmer), and a tour of the cellar where Château Lafite Rothschilds and premium vintages are garlanded in dust. Bet you can’t leave without buying a bottle of his family tipple, Bunan Bandol 2005 Moulin Des Costes. Tastings are the price of the bottle plus €7 each.

Cave Bianchi 1860, 7 rue Raoul Bosio, 06300 Nice (


IN THE heart of Vieux Nice, Le Hussard’s mixologists can’t help titivating the cocktails, while the huge rooftop terrace overlooks the balconies. Le Hussard, 1-3 Rue Saint-François de Paule, 06300, Nice


IF MICHELIN stars are your thing, l’Univers is well worth a visit. Chef Christian Plumail presides over a kitchen where each dish is a thing of beauty. On hand is a friendly sommelier to guide you through a list of regional wines from €25 to €1,000 – pack the plastic.

L’Univers de Christian Plumail, 54 boulevard Jean Jaurès, 06300 Nice (


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WITH its grand chocolate-box frontage and wedding-cake interior, Maison Auer, in the old town, has been serving up some of the finest chocolate on the Cote d’Azur since 1820. Its bite-sized white chocolate with rum and grapes, or marons au cognac, certainly hits the spot, with a divine double whammy of chocolate and alcohol that will leave your tastebuds reeling – and begging for more. Maison Auer, 7 rue Saint-Francois de Paule 06300 Nice (


JUMP on one of the various boat trips available and take a tour along the Bay of Nice and Villefranche. Up on the hills, you’ll see the beautiful people’s homes and, if he’s in town, Roman Abramovich’s new yacht in the bay – which you can’t miss as it’s the size of Corsica. Various trips cost from around €17, and children often go free.


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AS WELL as a being the place to try absinthe, the cavernous Balade en Provence bar also has a museum with all manner of paraphernalia devoted to the green stuff. Oh, and there are hundreds of hats all over the bar, one of which you are guaranteed to end up wearing.

Balade en Provence, 25 B Cours Masséna, 06600 Antibes Juan les Pins (00 33 4 93 34 93 00)