Nice and Surrounding Areas

Features

Inland, Provence offers beautiful scenery, superb views of both mountains and sea, fields of lavender, quiet perched villages, dramatic river gorges, olive groves and to the west the historic towns of Arles, Avignon and Aix en Provence.  The Côte d’Azur with its glamorous resorts is well known for its beauty inspiring many artists, sun-soaked golden beaches, ports and marinas and entertainment including film and jazz festivals and casinos.

View of the sea – Key Sights/Places to Visit – Provence – Aix, Arles, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Avignon, Orange, St Rémy de Provence, Marseilles, Cassis, Toulon, Hyères and Le Lavandou.  Côte d’Azur – Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cap d’Antibes, Eze, St Paul de Vence, Biot, Grasse, St Raphael, Fréjus, St Maxime, Port Grimaud and St Tropez.

Further Attractions – Touring – Gorges du Loup, Gorges du Verdon, Luberon Regional Park and Maures Massif.  Monaco, summer festivals of the arts, vineyards and winetasting.  Aqualand water park, Fréjus, OK Corral theme park, Bouches-du-Rhône, Marineland near Antibes.

Regional Food

Features – herbs, garlic, olive oil, fresh vegetables (peppers, aubergine, courgettes, onions, asparagus), olives, lamb, fish, seafood, fresh fruit (melon, figs, grapes).

Specialities – salade Niçoise, ratatouille, pissaladière (pizza), bouillabaisse (fish soup), rouille (mayonnaise with chilli and garlic), tapenade, daube de boeuf, pistou soup, tian de courgettes, boeuf Avignonnaise, papeton d’aubergines, porquerolles (sea bass with herb stuffing), ragout au artichauts, ravioli à la Niçoise, oeufs durs farcis à la tapanade, tarte au citron, fougasse bread.

Regional Wine

Provence wines are characterised by the warm and sunny climate producing above-average alcoholic content.  Predominantly warm earthy reds and spicy rosés.

Wine regions – Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, Côtes de Provence, Cassis, Bandol and Côtes de Provence, Coteaux Varois and Bellet.

Transport

Look for the cheapest car rental reservation before you arrive to ensure the best deal possible. When I visited Trieste last summer I used this website – http://www.carhiretriesteairport.org.uk/ and they seem to also have an option to find Nice on their booking engine.

Sporting Holidays in France

France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with a wealth of attractions – Paris for its cultural and romantic delights, the rich diversity of coast and landscape, history and culture, food and wine and continental climate with long hot summers and reliable alpine snow for winter skiing.  In sum, a comprehensive range of holiday options to suit everyone.

In addition to all this, if you are looking for something different on holiday, France offers an outstanding range of attractions whether you are seeking special interest, activity, adventure or sporting holidays.

When planning your holiday you may like to choose holiday accommodation where the owners offer courses, excursions or organised activities.  Alternatively, you may prefer to be more independent by picking and choosing your preferred activities and interests in your own time whilst on holiday.  Either way, it is well worth spending a little time finding the right location in order to ensure you enjoy your holiday to the full.

As an indication of the type of special interest and activity holidays offered by owners of holiday accommodation, we have compiled a list of options which you may find appealing:

    • Painting and Creative Arts weeks
    • Language courses
    • Therapies / Health
    • Cookery courses
    • Gourmet / Food & Wine holidays
    • Equestrian holidays / Horse-riding
    • Walking / Hiking
    • Cycling tours / Mountain Bike riding
    • Rock-climbing / Mountaineering / Caving
    • Coarse fishing / trout fishing
    • Classic Cars / Motoring
    • Rugby and corporate hosting weekends

To complement the above list, most of which also lend themselves to informal participation, there are lots of other options which are usually more suited to inclusion as part of your holiday, using your chosen holiday accommodation as a base from which to make excursions. If you need to rent a car then perhaps a car hire Carcassonne Airport service may be worth seeking out.

You will find both the regional and local tourist offices very helpful in giving you the information on availability and costs.  Many property owners will also have details available on request and / or at your holiday home:

  • Kayak / canoe
  • Watersports including water ski-ing, windsurfing, sailing and paragliding
  • Hang-gliding
  • Tennis
  • Adventure grounds / water fun parks
  • Music Festivals, Carnivals and Ceremonies – choirs, brass bands and orchestras
  • Bird watching
  • Thalassotherapy
  • Thermalism / Climatism
  • Health & Beauty Spas / Fitness Centres
  • Hot springs

The following are also well suited to independent travel.  Booking holiday accommodation direct with the owners saves money and gives you greater flexibility on your holiday dates, whilst the budget airlines offer competitive flights to a wide range of destinations.

Golf holidays

France is a great destination for golf holidays with a wide choice of over 500 golf courses ranging from American style courses to landscaped courses, high altitude courses and seaside courses – plenty of variety to suit players at all levels.  For details on discounted golf passes enabling you to play a variety of different courses in your chosen region, a list of golf clubs in the regions (pdf or brochure), golf lessons and a central booking unit.

Skiing holidays

France offers a superb choice of skiing centres not only in the Alps – including Les Arcs, La Plagne, Alpe d’Huez, Courcheval, Val d’Isère, Les Portes du Soleil, Chamonix, Meribel, Verbier, Tignes, Les Deux Alps and Montgenèvre – but also in the magnificent Pyrenees including Font Romeu, Pyrénées 2000, Les Angles, Puyvalador and Formiguères for both downhill and cross-country skiing.  The resorts offer ski passes valid for all their pistes as well as fixed price passes for cross-country skiing.

Canals and Rivers

In addition to all the above, you may like the idea of a canal boat excursion or holiday on the canals and rivers of France.  There is a wide choice available in Brittany, Charente, Aquitaine, Camargue, Loire, Alsace, Burgundy and Champagne, the Seine, the Ardennes, and the Canal du Midi in the south.

Details on boat hire, etc., are available on the Regional Tourist Office sites, the local tourist offices and also from some owners of holiday accommodation.

French Cooking

Once you are back home and missing all that lovely French food, keep yourself going until your next visit to France with our monthly recipe to try at home. By the way, I found good cheap offers for badly needed transport at www.automaticcarhire.org.uk before my last trip.

If you have tried one of our recipes, let us know how you got on!  Or, if you have your own favourite traditional French recipe and would like us to publish it on this page, send it to us:

Turbot Vallee D’auge

Turbot with apple and cider sauce – Any large flat fish can be used in this recipe, although a whole turbot is traditional

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

1-5 kg/3 lb turbot (cleaned, fins removed and the tail trimmed to a “V”, washed and dried)
1 leek, trimmed, split and sliced
2 apples, peeled and sliced
400 ml/¾ pint dry cider
400 ml/¾ pint fish stock or water
250 g/½ lb mushrooms
300 ml/½ pint double cream or creme fraiche
125 g/4 oz butter
few drops of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Method:

Set the oven at 200C/400F.

Butter a very large baking dish or roasting pan and sprinkle it with the sliced leek and apples. Lay the turbot on top with its white side up, season and pour the cider and stock over it. Bring to a boil on the hob then transfer to the oven for 35-45 minutes (basting often) – the fish is cooked when a skewer inserted into the thickest part and left for 30 seconds comes out hot.

Transfer the fish to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Strain the liquid with leeks and apples into a shallow pan and press down to release the juices.

While the fish is in the oven, put the mushrooms in a small saucepan with a few tablespoons of water, salt pepper and a little lemon juice. Cover and cook over a high heat for 5 mins until the liquid bubbles up and the mushrooms are tender. Drain and reserve the liquid and sprinkle the mushrooms over the turbot and keep warm.

Then make the sauce – add the mushrooms liquid to the fish liquid and boil until reduced to about 125 ml. In another small saucepan boil the cream until reduced by half then add it to the other reduction and continue to boil until the mixture has reduced by about a quarter. When it is thick enough to coat a spoon lightly whisk in the butter a little at a time over a very low heat (remove it from the heat from time to time if necessary) so the butter softens and thickens the sauce without melting too quickly – if the sauce gets too hot it will separate.

Season to taste, spoon the sauce over the turbot and serve the remaining sauce separately.