Final days in Nice: France Edition

Yesterday we decided to take the train to Ventimiglia, Italy because we heard the little coastal town had a fantastic market on Fridays. They were right! 

But, first we found the most fantastic gelato. Seriously. I have never had such good gelato. I had chocolate, and Martin had the strawberry.

The market was quite large. The food was actually in a separate building from the rest of the merchandise.  We picked up some kind of cheese (the man said it was good for sandwiches - and it was), I picked up a cheese pizza on focaccia bread, and Martin picked up some salami (we were in Italy after all!). 

We knew no Italian at all and so ended up mumbling some French and English and somehow they understood us. 

Along the beach were hundreds of merchants selling brand-name knockoffs. It was so busy. We weren't really interested in any of the merchandise, so we travelled down to the water and had a blissfully peaceful picnic lunch. Best picnic lunch ever. It rivals our picnic supper the other night under the full moon.

Today was our last day in Nice. So, we wandered around the city all morning and ate lunch at the best restaurant we have visited our entire trip. It was called La Zucca Magica (the magic pumpkin). It is a vegetarian restaurant - probably the only one in all of Nice - and it has no menu. It only has a plat du jour (plate of the day). 

It was small and filled with decorative gourds. When we first sat down, we had no idea what we were in for. The waiter poured us each a glass of rose wine and brought us some multigrain bread (a rarity in the land of baguettes). With each course, he would explain to us what the dish was, but since I only understand about 1% of French (on a good day), I only caught bits and pieces of what he said.

The first course was a scoop of fresh cheese (probably ricotta?) in a herb butter broth. It was kind of like a soup and we sopped it up with our yummy bread. We were sold. 

Then, we were served the main course. It had a risotto layer, a zucchini layer, and tomatoes with cheese throughout. It kind of looked like lasagna. 

The third course looked a lot like the first course, but tasted much differently. It was a ball of cheese and leeks in a tomato broth. 

The final course was a fantastic chocolate layered dessert with a berry drizzle. 

We ended this perfect meal with a lovely shot of espresso. I was so full from this gigantic meal, that only now eight hours later am I hungry enough for supper. I wish we could have eaten there every day!

We spend the rest of the afternoon in the nearby town of Villefranche. It's only a 15 minute bus ride from Nice, but it feels much different from Nice. Villefranche is quaint and much less filled with tourists than Nice. While we were only a 10 minute walk to the beach in Nice, Villefranche's beach was amazing. The water was clearer and cleaner (there wasn't as much trash in the water) and it was filled with families relaxing the afternoon away instead of college students trying to make their tans last a little longer.

The photo below is of Villefranche and the beach we visited. The beach begins in the middle of the photo and extends off the right. The train to Monaco and Ventimiglia is just above the beach and goes through the tunnel. The city expands up the hill and has crazy winding streets as a result. The sun and blue sky was out earlier; the clouds slowly moved in as the sun began setting.

Tomorrow morning, we take the long train to Paris. We won't arrive until late in the afternoon. We had hoped to couch surf, but we haven't yet been able to find a couch again. After spending the last five nights in a hostel, I'm tired of living in a college-like setting. What I would give for a clean bathroom.... I'm hoping to convince Martin that we can splurge on our last night and stay at a fairly nice hotel/bed and breakfast that is near the metro line we will need to take the airport on Monday. I guess we'll find out what we'll do when we arrive in Paris tomorrow!