While one can most certainly spend all one’s time in Nice when one is lucky to find oneself in Nice, it seemed crazy to ignore the other splendid sites of the Cote d’Azur. So one day I asked my travelin’ companion to look at a map and to choose someplace for a day trip. The only requirement was that it had to be accessible by the most wonderful Cote d’Azur bus line, which costs all of 1 euro 50 and travels up and down the coast as well as up into the mountain villages.
Since we knew that we wanted to visit a town on the Italian side of the Riviera another day, he suggested that we visit Peille, (pronounced PAY) a town about an hour (NE) by bus from Nice. I agreed that it looked like the perfect choice and after an hour of the most zig-zagiging, hair-raising scary turns…up up up some mountains (they don’t call them the ALPes Maritimes for nothing), we were there. Me a little worse for wear, just happy to be off the bus and hoping that it would be worth the take-your-life-into-your-hands bus ride. I kept telling myself that the driver has done this over and over and over again so no need to clutch my companion’s arm so hard that he probably still has marks. All that to say, we made it, yay!
Yes worth it indeed
A charming village blessedly not swarming with other tourists (said knowing that we are tourists and there were some fellow tourists there, but, well, you know what I mean, I hope).
We wandered through the charming cobble-stoned streets looking for a place to eat, as it was lunchtime, and well, really most of our time was spent thinking about eating and drinking or actually eating and drinking, truth be told. I had of course searched the internets for reviews of restaurants in town and unsurprisingly (remember the not so touristy bit above) there were few and far between. But there was a recommendation for the 20 euro lunch at Cauvin Chez Nana and since the only other place we passed didn’t seem all that inviting we gave it a shot.
I’m not sure how to describe the place…quaint and kind of charming in a quirky way on the one hand, and something just a bit off somehow on the other. The food wasn’t bad; some of the dishes were actually very good (including my obviously homemade richly sauced daube) but the service was Incredibly SLOOOOW, and absent minded to the point where, closing in on 2 hours in and no sign of the third and final dessert course (we were the only customers for the better part of the day), I asked the server in my best French if we could please just have the check and said that we’d pay the full price without dessert. She pretended not to hear me, slapped the menu down and pointed for us to choose a dessert, which, feeling like we had no say in the matter, we did. Resigned to spend the rest of the day inside the once charming but now suffocating dining room we were at least cheered when she brought us a strange bottle with some kind of homemade digestif, gratis. A kind of grappa or marc with unidentified herbs inside.
Several shots later we decided it wasn’t so bad there after all and we managed to wolf down our desserts, pay our bill and make our escape, laughing all the way.
Of course after all that food, wine and grappa, our original idea of hiking through the mountains to the pedestrian only really charming perched town of Peillon was totally out of the question. Besides, we only had about an hour before the LAST bus of the day was leaving and we were warned that we’d better not be one second late. So we hiked just a bit into the mountains and breathed in the glorious mountain air and basked in the sunshine and marveled at the beautiful mountain flowers.
We even found an ancient ruin!
Everything was bright and blue-skied!! Wheeee!! (and yes I’m quite sure that the digestif had nothing to do with our happy giddiness…)
We reluctantly made our way to the bus stop, full of mountain happiness (and ok, wine and grappa), climbed back on the bus and dozed on the somehow not as scary ride back down the mountain to the welcoming, as always, Nice.
As happy as we were to be back, we were glad that we had ventured out.
And next up, a field trip further afield…