A Guest Blog from our friends at Cafe du Cycliste.
The beauty about city life is that it can serve you what you need when you need it. But what makes a city beautiful? The buildings, the people, the size, the location, the diversity? One thing is for sure, you need to live there to discover the best bits. We teamed up with London bag makers Hill & Ellis to trade some insider tips about our home town of Nice and the Big Smoke.
Only two hours apart by cheap as chips baggage restricted airlines, these cities are close by air travel but refreshingly different enough to ensure a long weekend provides the required culture shock and entertainment in equal measure.
So we took a Hill & Ellis Jasper bag on a special Café du Cycliste tour of some of the hot spots and lesser known attractions of our hometown.
#1 - Bicycle Corner
We had to start with a bike shop, right? Bicycle Corner on the busy side street, Rue Lascaris, is a stone's throw from our Café and is a treasure trove of custom built and refurbished urban vélos. It is a truly local shop serving single speed fashion from around the world but with its own unique take on this genre of cycling, as exemplified by the Porter style conversion we borrowed for our jolly about town. Bruno, the man behind the fixed wheel, turns refurbished frames into unique head-turning city bikes with only the finest components, finished with stunning yet functional leather accessories, made by his own fair hand.
#2 - Boulangerie Lagache
Just around the corner from, em, Bicycle Corner, on Rue Arson is Boulangerie Lagache. Eric Lagache learnt his trade in Paris but has perfected it in Nice. In 2011 he won the award for the best traditional baguette of Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur region. Being serious cyclistes, we obviously don't eat pastries, but based on the reputation of Lagache it's where we decided to source our croissants and pains au chocolat for our Café. But the speciality of the house is arguably the Olive Fougasse - an olive bread perfumed with garlic, olives and the herbs de Provence. Are you hungry yet?
#3 - Chez René Socca
Food to the left of you, alcohol to the right, stuck in the middle of Nice....Chez René Socca might be on the very edge of the Old Town but once you're at your table with 5 plates of delights and a large pression it feels like the beating heart of the Riviera. It is Niçoise street food at its best - Mr Jamie Oliver would do a double-flip. Socca is our food from our region and it's simple and effective. Just remember to season it generously with pepper.
#4 - Maison Quirino
Four generations and 90 years of experience providing fresh pasta to the people Nice, you'll find not only the best pasta in town but also a weekly menu of Niçoise speciality dishes like stuffed cabagge and, the weekend treat, the pissaladière. The secret of Maison Quirino is passion for the region and its produce and the use of trusty mechanical pasta machines from, of course, our Italian neighbours. The family have had requests from holiday makers to open a shop in Paris but have refused because they say they have to be beside their fresh ingredients. So you'll have to fly before you try.
#5 - Fenocchio Maitre Glacier
A true institution of Nice, especially in the Old Town, located as it is on Place Rosetti. There are apparently 94 flavors of 59 ice creams and 35 sorbets such as Thyme, Rosemary, Cactus, Beer, Black Olive... the list goes on. All we know is that indecision will be a huge disadvantage amongst the queues of tourists and locals waiting to grab a cornet during the summer months.
#6 - Café du Cycliste
We don't know much about this place but we are told it has the best coffee in Nice, sells some nice cycling clothing and has very special bikes to rent. On top of that it's located right on the water's edge in the Port so is arguably one of the best-located cycling cafés in the world. But that's just what we've heard. We can neither confirm nor deny if it's true.
#7 - Le Plongeoir
Location, location, location. As a place to relax and imbibe, this has to be the #1 spot in Nice. And yet, because it is around the cap and away from the Promenade des Anglais, some visitors never find it. We'll not lie, we're happy for this to remain the case. The diving boards facing the sea are as iconic as the restaurant and bar perched on the rocks are spectacular. It would be interesting if the next development was to recreate the first incarnation of the hostelry with a gazebo and fishing boat restaurant.
Et Voila; a small picture of Niçoise life, coloured in by the people that have made it their home, their life and their passion.
Our cycle style was made up of Bernadette trousers, the Steve McQueen-esque Geraldine jacket, a soon-to-be-released city shirt and, of course, our Hill & Ellis companion - the Jasper Bag.
Show us your cycle style on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the tag #mycyclestyle for a chance to win a luxurious prize of the Jasper Bag and a Café du Cycliste jacket (a Heidi for the ladies or a Geraldine for the gents)