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Discovering Nice & the French Riviera: One Day Trip at a Time

Sunny, sweet success! After carefully planning a Côte d’Azur getaway in 2010 and being thwarted by an angry Eyjafjallajökull, I finally managed to reach Nice on a fresh attempt nearly a year and a half later. And oh là là, was it ever worth the wait.

I’d been to the French Riviera before — Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Villefranche, Monte Carlo — but not to Nice and never for long enough to really dig in, explore, and feel at home. So this was my glorious two-week opportunity and I intended to make the most of it from a home base in the charming, tangled streets of the colorful Old Town (known locally as Vieille Ville or Vieux Nice).

Nice is nice. Really nice. Really.

Old Nice was just as lovely as all the pictures and write-ups lead you to believe, only more so. The painterly churches and architecture of all kinds, featuring shuttered windows and trompe-l’oeil surprises are more than mere eye candy — it’s guilt-free dessert for the soul! Which is pretty handy given all the ice cream, gelato, and tempting local treats on hand around every corner. And as corners go, one street was sweeter or more brilliant than the next. But after 12 days I whittled down my favorite flavors to a short stretch near the top of the Old Town where a seemingly single building melted effortlessly from lemon yellow into burnt orange, then a rusty red, and finally a pale peach with celadon shutters, door, and matching mailbox. Truly a Technicolor work of art, Vieux Nice.

When I wasn’t snacking on socca, salted caramel crêpes, Niçoise salads, Fenocchio ice cream, or the most amazing variety of vegetables and other delights seasoned to perfection à la Provençale, I was trekking up to the top of Castle Hill (Colline du Château), tucking into the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC), shopping for local art and other items you can only find in Nice, or soaking up the sun and people-watching à la plage. And beyond that, I was taking the most enchanting day trips to nearby towns, both inland and along the coast. Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 15 Comments »

Lactose Intolerance in Paris: The Plight of the Dairy-Challenged

Gelato from Amorino in Paris is a no-no for the lactose averse, unfortunately! (Josh Leo)

Hello.  For about ten months now I have been grappling with intolerance in my life, something deeply rooted and painful to me and to loved ones.  I feel that it’s time to come out with it, to share this issue publically in order that others may not suffer as well.  Here it goes:

My name is Bryan.  I live in Paris.  And I am lactose intolerant.

I join the roughly 30 million Americans who, by the age of 20, develop some sort of negative reaction to dairy products.  If I were in America, I probably wouldn’t worry so much, since there are more soy alternatives available in the grocery store than stars in the sky.  The real problem is that I live in France, a country that can proudly boast a different cheese for practically every day of the year.  Cream-filled pastries line bakery windows.  Ice cream and gelato can be found on every corner.  How’s a guy supposed to deal with such blatant intolerance of his own intolerance?

Double-dairy: for extra creaminess, do as the French: spread a little butter on your bread before heaping it with brie (Bhamsandwich)

I’ve learned to cope.  I don’t take it personally that most French foods are riddled with lactose molecules.  Every time I get the urge to grab some Camembert or ask for a double scoop of pistachio ice cream, I remember the pain.  Consuming the dairy sends a ticking time bomb into my gastro-intestinal tract.  Mere hours later, it feels as though a family of rabid meerkats are tirelessly trying to burrow their way out of my stomach.  It’s not good.

So for the past few months I have resisted, swearing off cheese and opting for meats on my picnic sandwich instead.  No more butter, just olive oil, please.  Yogurt?  Sure, if it has those bacteria in it that will help me digest the evil lactose (look for bifidus at the supermarket yogurt aisle).

Erica Berman

Bye bye ice cream, hello sorbet – with the added vitamins helping to fight scurvy, who could complain?  It’s difficult to pass up the fruity seasonal sorbet varieties at Pozetto or Grom (like fig and blueberry) once you try them.  The alternatives, seemingly less tempting but altogether surprising, are there if you choose to look. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 25 Comments »

Jonesing for Gelato in Paris – Caramella – rue des Martyrs

Caramella

I’ve been back from Italy 8 days now. I am settling nicely into my Parisian rhythm, but I still heed the call for gelato. As I thought luck would have it, there is an Italian-owned gelato shop, Caramella, right around the corner from me on the rue des Martyrs. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 3 Comments »

Pozzetto – finally, fabulous coffee & gelato in Paris

Pozzetto

Photo Erica Berman

Despite my recent tirade and blog post ranting about the poor quality of coffee in France, I am pleased to announce that I recently had a fabulous cup of coffee in Paris. It was a coffee surprisingly worthy of any I have had in Italy, right in the heart of the Marais! Last Saturday after being jostled about in the Merci boutique (had to check it out – and found it overrated, overpriced, and overcrowded even if for a good cause, but lovely!) my friend Francoise and I made our way to the Marais and ended up at Pozzetto gelateria on rue du Roi de Sicile.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 5 Comments »