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On the first evening of our trip we had dinner with our friends Dmitri and Myra at La Baie d’Amalfi, which serves excellent Italian food. Why have Italian food in France? Well, for one thing it’s delicious! Also though, Nice wasn’t a part of France until 1860 – before that it was under the rule of the Counts of Savoy, and therefore basically Italian (though Italy itself didn’t exist until 1861…). Because of this the old parts of Nice look very Italian architecturally and the Italian border is only about ten kilometres away. Anyway, I had discovered this restaurant the last time we were here and I was keen to return. We weren’t disappointed. I had the antipasti platter,  followed by the veal saltimbocca and then lemon pie for dessert.

The next day Mark and I took a train the seventeen minutes to the town of Antibes. Founded by the Greeks two and a half thousand years ago, it was an important trading post to rival Nice. The name Antibes derives from this rivalry as it means “opposite” (anti-) or “the city across” from Nice (Anti-polis).

It was a beautiful day and the Mediterranean really was glistening in the sunlight.

We visited the covered market, Marche Provencal, in Cours Massena. There were plenty of fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables.

The heady aroma of herbs, spices and dried lavender.

The city was fortified in the tenth century and we wandered through the narrow streets up to the castle.

You can see the bell tower to the right. The castle, known as Chateau Grimaldi since the seventeenth century, now houses the Musee Picasso, the world’s largest collection of Picasso’s artwork. My favourite was the painting La Joie de Vivre.

Picasso lived in Antibes in the mid-1940s and donated a huge collection of his works to the town.

We then visited the Church of the Immaculate Conception next door.

It dates back to the 11th century.

We had a coffee near the market and then explored the pedestrianised streets of the town centre. We would have got a walking tour from the Office du Tourisme but they close for lunch from midday until 2pm. Very civilised.

We had lunch in a wonderful restaurant on Rue de Fersen called La Taille de Guepe. I had salmon and asparagus and Mark had the cod. The restaurant is well known for the use of edible flowers in their recipes and the meals were beautifully presented with marvellous, delicate flavours (I forgot to take a photo though – but click on the link above to see some other people’s pics). For dessert we had the Tarte Tatin which was scrumptious. So far it is the best meal we have had on this trip.

We returned to Nice and had a quiet afternoon. Dinner was at L’Autre Instant where I had the penne and Mark the lamb. Another fine meal.