Twelve months on from the terrorist attacks, Lee Sobot finds out how Nice is trying to step out of the shadow of tragedy.
It’s just over a year since the French resort of Nice was rocked by a terrorist attack that claimed 86 lives and injured 434. A town with 350,000 inhabitants, all Nicois people knew at least someone affected by the tragedy and life has changed.
In the immediate aftermath security measures were increased and a national memorial is a permanent reminder of the events of that summer’s evening. And yet it needs tourists and is keen to encourage British visitors back to the Mediterranean coastal town.
Our base for a stay exploring the French Riviera was the Chez Nous property Les Oliviers Nicois.
Based in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, the Les Oliviers property is owned and lived in by British-born Jane Magnaldo and her family.
“Last summer there was a pall over the whole town,” admits Jane. “The streets were relatively empty and absolutely everyone knew someone who had been affected by the tragedy. But there is a real will to turn the page, not forget but look forward.”
The Magnaldo property provides the ideal base to do just that with a stay in Nice from just £430 for seven nights and with regular flights from Leeds Bradford Arirport a week’s stay comes in at around £600 per couple.
Based on one of the hillsides surrounding the French town, it offers stunning views of Nice itself and the Promenade des Anglais, which is half a mile away and can be reached by an easy 20-minute downhill stroll.
While frequent flights make Nice a perfect mini-break destination, if you want to explore the area a little more then try set aside a week. It will be worth it and not least by because this part of France is blessed with superb weather, with temperatures rarely dipping below ten degrees centigrade – even in winter.
But by May the thermometer is reaching 20 with July and August the hottest months and on occasion nearing 30. The problem then is deciding whether or not to soak up the rays from Les Oliviers or in Nice town itself.
A combination of both is the ideal.
The Les Oliviers property is within a 10-minute walk of the local shops below Parc Mosca where food and drink is astonishingly cheap. A bottle of wine – which has to be rosé in Nice – can be purchased for around three or four euros and is perfect to accompany some French breads and cheeses on the terrace, which faces south and west and therefore enjoys maximum sunshine.
There is even a table tennis table for those feeling energetic but the best bet here is to just sit back on the loungers and take in the stunning views and particularly magical sunsets or head for the shade under the centuries-old olive trees.
The property is essentially a totally independent house that sits beside the Magnaldo’s home and consists of one large twin bedroom, a sitting room leading directly out onto the terrace and a separate dining area.
Once relaxed it’s time to explore Nice itself and the Promenade des Anglais boasts a myriad of impressive restaurants and bars where a pint of beer can range from anything from four euros to 10.
The town’s local, colourful cuisine is exquisite while the Belgian dish of moules-frites seems to be another particular favourite.
And while Nice’s beach is pebbled, that doesn’t stop it being a haven for sun worshippers and for those wanting to enjoy water sports.
Nice also boasts wonderful museums and art galleries, Italian influenced architecture, numerous well-maintained parks and gardens and the possibility of a trip to the mountains just one hour away, either by train or by road.
The region’s public transport is so impressive that ventures further afield are simple, be it to nearby Antibes or Cannes or even Monaco, nestled right beside the Italian border.
Take a trip to Cafe De Paris and expect your pint to cost €15! Worth having the one, though, and make it last, just to keep a look out for the rich and famous.
It’s that kind of talk of inflated price tags which can put some people off heading to the South of France, but it shouldn’t.
While it will always have an exclusive reputation, a stay here needn’t break the bank.
Les Oliviers can be found at cheznous.com - property reference 236614.
Jet2.com has regular flights to Nice Airport from Leeds Bradford Airport, with prices starting from £31.50 one way, including taxes. For more information jet2.com or call 0800 408 5599
Jet2.com flies out to Nice every Monday and Friday throughout the spring and adds in an additional Saturday flight throughout the summer.