Nice is Nice

This item appears on page 42 of the November 2016 issue.

In our ongoing series of essay contests, the topic for our last essay — Nice is nice — was announced in our May 2016 issue, and we began to receive submissions from travelers with clear affection for that city on the French Riviera. In spite of the unfathomable assaults that occurred there in mid-July, we continued to receive contest submissions, reflecting travelers’ recollections, impressions and emotions and what that city was, is and will continue to be.

With ITN staff having judged the entries, the essay that received the highest marks was that of ELLEN RADO of Hollis, New York, who will receive a 3-year extension to her subscription to ITN (or she can pass her prize along to a friend or friends). At a close second was the essay of SANDY ELLIGERS of McLean, Virginia, whose subscription will be extended two years. Both of their essays are printed below.

ITN essay contests are open to subscribers only, and the next topic on the list created by ITN’s founder and original publisher, the late Armond Noble, is “I Go Togo.” If you have been there, in no more than 300 words (note: 300 words), describe what you experienced in the West African nation of Togo that evokes a sense of the country’s atmosphere, culture, people and attractions. Can you put us there and inspire us to visit?

Email your essay to or send it to Essay Contest/I Go Togo, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include the address at which you receive ITN. The deadline is December 31, 2016. A prize will be given for the winning essay, which will appear in ITN.

Nice is a perfect blend of cosmopolitan and small town, of urban France and relaxing Riviera. In June 2016, my husband and I took a self-guided day trip from Monte Carlo, Monaco, to Nice. The central train station in Nice was thronged with visitors speaking many languages who, as we did, enjoyed emerging into the welcoming bright sunshine.

A convenient tram rolled down the central Avenue Jean Médecin through an arcaded shopping district to the Old Town area and the justly famed daily farmers’ market. Rows of vendors sold fresh produce, spices and beautiful flowers amid centuries-old multicolored buildings with patioed cafés. 

We did our own “food tour,” stopping at a socca stand (buckwheat pancakes fried in giant pans) and sampling salade Niçoise.

A book fair near the Palais de Justice and City Hall showcased vintage volumes. 

We ambled along the wide, wonderful Promenade des Anglais past an all-France food fair, grand hotels and pebbly beaches.

A bike taxicab and a local bus whisked us to the newly restored Russian Orthodox cathedral, the largest outside of Russia. The onion-domed cathedral, surrounded by Nice’s Russian neighborhood, featured golden icons and fragrant candles.

We taxied across Nice to the amazing Chagall museum, housed in a very modern building and displaying a world-class collection of the artist’s Impressionist works.

We walked back to the train station through compact neighborhoods with winding hillside stairs and beautiful greenways, continuing through eclectic commercial areas.   

Throughout our visit, we were impressed by the friendliness of the Niçois — giving directions, offering their tram seats, chasing after us to hand us a forgotten snack, and trying their best to help us non-French speakers. 

As we left the city, we agreed: Nice is more than nice. 

Sandy Elligers, McLean, VA

After years of hearing how cold and aloof French people are, I was surprised how friendly and helpful the residents of Nice were and how really. . . “nice.”

On a Saturday in November 2002, our day began with a big buffet breakfast at our hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It was glorious.

We walked to the flower market — beautiful, with an amazing array of gorgeous flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc., and vendors preparing and selling various dishes, like pancakes and specialized butters. They kept urging us to try free samples. What could be better?

In the local Galeries Lafayette department store, salespeople spontaneously gave helpful suggestions on purchases. 

I am a museum buff, and Nice did not disappoint. We reveled in wonderful collections, from the Gallo-Roman remains to the Musée Matisse, the latter with every period represented, from early copies of paintings in the Louvre to his last cut-outs. It was fabulous. The archaeological museum followed. 

We walked downhill heading for the Chagall museum. I asked a woman in the street for directions and she became a font of information, pointing out Queen Victoria’s house and also the Musée Marc Chagall, opened by Chagall in 1972. The 12 large-scale paintings from Genesis and Exodus are outstanding. Other works are too numerous to mention.

As we waited for a bus, a couple seeing us as tourists volunteered, “Would you like to see the Jewish temple?” 

The temple was just around the corner. The door was open and people were just completing their prayers ending the Sabbath. They beckoned us in.

No wonder I say ‘Nice is nice’!

Ellen Rado, Hollis, NY