Where to Start
If you're a serious food shopper you must start at the Cours Saleya open-air market in Old Nice. It's a great market with the stalls running down the middle of the old square, and pavement cafes and bars along the side. Your senses are assaulted by the colour and the scents of the freshest fruit and vegetables.
But don't stop there; the food shops all over Nice are a revelation. Supermarket shopping will never hold quite the same attraction again.
Nice and its surrounding region produce some wonderful products and olive oil is one of the most important. Not suprisingly there are numerous specialist shops to tempt you with their precious golden oils and glorious olive oil soaps.
Take a tour around the olive oil shops and you'll soon come to grips with the subtle differences between different oils, vintages and producers. As the oils are sold in beautiful bottles which make great gifts and in litre cans for the true devotee, you're likely to come out rather poorer.
There are two parts to Oliviera. Start in the shop where you can taste a range of olive oils from small producers before deciding which to buy. The range is wide and the staff very helpful. There’s also a restaurant where you can get starters like aubergines, mozzarella cheese or vegetable flowers and main dishes which run from mushroom cannellonis to pastas with rabbit, or with pesto sauce. And of course, each dish comes with a different olive oil, which you can buy in the shop.
8 bis rue du Collet, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 13 06 45
Alziari is a well-established olive oil specialist, with two shops in Nice, and the range at both is mind-boggling. Everything from grands crus to appellation controllée oils are here for the tasting. Also worth looking out for are their pretty olive-oil based soaps. Visit their other shop with the oldest working mill left in Nice to see the production and have a tutored tasting. There’s also the excellent La Table Alziari where you can try cod cooked Nicois style (cod with potatoes, olives and tomato sauce) or perhaps the sweet local lamb.
14 rue St-Francois-de-Paul, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 85 76 92
And at: 3128 Boulevard de la Madeleine, La Madeleine
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 44 45 12
Preserves, bonbons and all sweet things
Confiserie (confectionary) is also an important part of Mediterranean life, and the shops display an astonishing number of tempting varieties from preserved fruits to candied almonds.
This is a real treasure of a shop with great chocolates and those wonderful preserved fruits where you break through the crisp sugar into a soft-center tasting of pear, apricot or blackcurrant. The Auer family has been making bonbons (sweets) since the 1820s and you’ll find it difficult to tear yourself away from the pretty shop.
7 rue St Francois de Paul, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 85 77 89
More sugar-coated flowers and fruit, sweet syrups, caramelized almonds, candied clementines, chocolates and other delights are on sale at Florian. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory. Taste the products first, then spend a small fortune on the delicacies. Florian has two shops, one in Nice and the second at Pont-de-Loup, about 10 kilometers from Grasse where you can see the products being made (and take part in a workshop to make them youself).
10 quai Papacino, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 55 43 50
Le Pont du Loup
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 59 32 91
There are 3 LAC shops in Nice and you can see why when you venture into them. Speciality cake and chocolate shops, they're the place to go for delicate cakes, while the chocolate shop offers a multitude of delights in different tastes (including without sugar for the body-conscious); macaroons in those impossibly wild colours, pralines, hot chocolate powder and more, all beautifully boxed, fill the spaces.
49 Rue Gioffredo
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 82 57 78
18 Rue Barla
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 55 37 74
113 Route de Laghet (slightly out of town)
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 85 10 60
Website for all addresses
This is a famous place for ice creams. But there’s more than frozen delights here: try nougats, fruit jellies, calissons (candied fruit and ground almonds), cakes – well, you get the idea. There’s also a delightful salon de thé on the first floor with genuine English tea served in a setting of murals on the walls and a proper old-fashioned feel.
Address: 21 rue du Marche, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 62 51 79
Buy the ingredients then learn to cook what you've bought
Canadian-born Rosa Jackson runs a great cooking class in the Old Town in Nice. You meet at a cafe for coffee and a croissant then go with her around the market stalls, checking and buying produce, and learning what to look for at the same time.
Then you return to her apartment with its professional cooking, learn how to cook what you have bought (and what Rosa has in advance), then sit down to a convivial meal with your fellow chefs.