Welcome back to my honeymoon in France! After starting our trip with an eventful layover in Montreal, my husband and I landed and started our honeymoon in Nice, France.
Nice is a seaside city in the French Riviera (also known as the Côte d’Azur), on the southeast coast of France. The city is located on the Mediterranean Sea and the weather was beautiful! It was warm and sunny when we got off the connecting flight from Paris. Nabil and I made our way to pick up our rental car (we decided that driving through France would give us the most flexibility, in addition to providing us a place to store our bags between hotels).
After checking into our hotel, we headed out immediately to do some exploring. We were so excited to see the city. We walked down the busy streets and shopped a little (i.e., bought a SIM card that we could use while in France). Eventually, we made our way to the beach.
French Riviera Beach
The pebble beach was incredible! The water was bright blue, and we were lucky to go at a time where we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. It was awesome.
We put down towels, tried to find a comfortable spot on the beach (pebbles aren’t the most comfortable to sit on), and relaxed while listening to the waves. It was a very calming beginning for our time in France.
When it started to get dark, and I was too cold to sit by the water anymore, we began walking back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped at a small bakery called Le Vanillier where we ate a canelé, macaron mandarine, baba au rum and a sablé topped with caramel and “exotic” fruit.
Cannelés are Fench rum cakes from Bordeaux. They are very interesting desserts because they have a crispy exterior and a soft, custardy interior. They are best within a few hours of baking. This one tasted very good, but the texture was not quite right, probably because we bought it shortly before the store closed. I’m sure that it would have been perfect if we visited the bakery first thing in the morning. If you’re interested in making cannelés at home, I have an award-winning cannelés recipe and instructions for how to make them.
The “macaron mandarine” (aka an orange flavored macaron) was delicious. This delicate sandwich cookie has shells made of an almond flour meringue that rises in the oven to have a crispy exterior and a delightfully chewy inside. The “macaron mandarine” was very tasty and the orange flavored filling packed a punch! Macarons were one of the things I was most excited about when visiting France because they’re my favorite cookies. To learn more about how to create Italian Meringue Macarons, check out my step-by-step tutorial with a technique taught to me by a pastry chef in Paris, France. I also recently started a monthly macaron series (i.e., “Macaron Monday”) and posted a recipe for Lemon Macarons that are exquisite!
Baba au rum
Baba au rum (or a “Rum Baba”) is a yeasted cake that has been soaked in a rum syrup. I had heard about these on the Great British Baking Show and I was excited to try it. If you REALLY like rum, you will probably like this dessert. It had a strong rum flavor and there was probably enough rum syrup to take a shot. This wasn’t my favorite dessert that we bought from Le Vanillier, but I tend to prefer “hints” of alcohol rather than full alcohol flavor.
The “Exotique passion,” the last treat we tried, consisted of a sablé (i.e., a shortbread cookie) topped with caramel and dried fruit. They used a mixture of raisins, cranberries, coconut flakes, bananas, apricot and papaya. This cookie was fantastic! I could have eaten 5 of them and still wanted more. It reminded me a lot of the “Caramel Nut Shortbread Cookies” that I have a recipe for on my blog, just with different toppings. I’ll definitely be making this in the future.
Dinner at Olive & Artichaut
After eating our first French desserts (yay!), we realized we were hungry for an actual meal. Dinner that night was at Olive & Artichaut, a small restaurant in an alleyway by the Palais de Justice and Palais de la Préfecture. We each ordered a different prefixed menu so we could share everything. This is one of the benefits of marrying a foodie – getting to eat a huge variety of delectable food.
We sat next to the kitchen, which couldn’t have been more than a 5×5 foot square and watched while the chefs expertly made our prefixed dinner. The food was incredible, the portions were appropriately sized, and everything tasted light and fresh. We finished the meal by splitting two desserts. Yes, you heard right, we ate another round of desserts. That will a common theme throughout our honeymoon – eating sweets non-stop.
Dessert at Olive & Artichaut
For dessert that night, they served “riz au lait, coco & caramel” and “cake au citron, mangues & ananas.”
Riz au lait is a rice pudding that they topped with toasted coconut flakes, coconut ice cream, and caramel sauce. Normally, I don’t really like rice pudding or coconut flakes. It’s definitely a texture thing. This rice pudding, however, was fantastic! The flavor was incredible, and I probably ate more than my share.
The second dessert, cake au citron, mangues & ananas, was a lemon pound cake topped with mangos, pineapples, and a sweet syrup. I really enjoyed this as well. The cake was moist, and the fruit provided a burst of freshness next to the sweetness of the cake and the syrup. This cake reminded me a lot of my mother-in-law’s Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake, which I will be posting shortly (keep an eye out!).
With that meal literally and figuratively under our belts, we ended our first day in France! Stay tuned for the next “Honeymoon Series” post.
Windy City Baker Around the World: Honeymoon Series
If you missed the beginning of our food journey, click on the links below: