Published on 16 Mar 2017
Nice, situated on the beautiful Cote D’Azur in the south-eastern tip of France, is a top destination for those looking for sun, sea and French-style luxury. You might not expect to find much in the way of vegan eats, but over the past year the vegan scene has exploded – and it is très bon indeed! Rachida Brocklehurst is your guide…
Where to eat
As many of you will know, French cuisine is quite heavy on the meat and cheese, although they do use a great deal of seasonal produce, which is good news for us vegans. Nice is very much a Mediterranean city, so it’s quite different from Paris – you won’t see as many pastry shops as you would in the capital, but beware of much more seafood in front of restaurants and along the promenade.
Nice has really seen a boom in veganism over the past 12 months, and there’s a solid unit of French vegans down there dedicated to making the city vegan-friendly, and putting it on the vegan map! In the space of around six months, three completely vegan eateries opened up, so if you’re planning a visit, be prepared for even more vegan-friendly places to eat when you arrive.
Vegan Gorilla is super stylish, and super delicious as well. There are lots of raw options, along with a good selection of cooked food. Right in the city centre, it’s advisable to book a table if you plan to eat there at night. The perfect spot for a big group of people due to the communal tables.
7 rue du Lycée
Koko Green is completely vegan and totally organic with a menu that changes from week to week. This is the place to grab a raw vegan cake, sit back and relax. It also offers a range of gluten-free nibbles too.
1 Rue de la Loge (at Rue Centrale)
Caju offers juices and smoothies galore, and is an ideal spot for lunch due to their incredible selection of vegan salads and wholefood platters. Offers almond and soya milk too.
2 rue Sainte Claire
Badaboom is the place to head if you want to try a French vegan cheese platter. Yup, you read this correctly. French. Vegan. Cheese. Go. Now!
11 rue Francois Guisol
For a quick bite
If you’re not in the mood for a slap up meal, then there are, of course, plenty of spots where you can either grab something to go and continue your city exploration, or spend half an hour people watching with a tasty light bite. The choice is yours.
Mera Viglia is known for its fantastic selection of vegan ice cream; it even has non-vegans drooling over it. I recommend a scoop of the chocolate and a scoop of the peanut butter – together it’s just like a Snickers ice cream – enjoy!
2, 10 Rue Pairolière
Chez Pipo for a socca, which is a chickpea crêpe and traditionally accidentally vegan! You have the option to add extra ingredients, so go wild with tomatoes, basil and onion – or enjoy it au naturelle.
13 Rue Bavastro
So Green offers vegan options as you can mix and match your salad, giving you complete control over the ingredients, which is pretty ‘nice’ to have. Why not have your salad to go and enjoy dining al fresco in the sunshine?
11 Place Massena
Eating out at non-vegan places
Along with the obvious French style food, there is also a real Italian influence on the food available, so if you find yourself stuck, or out with people who want to go somewhere mainstream, opt for a cheeseless veggie pizza, or a pasta dish (just ask whether the restaurant offers dry pasta first). You might not find a vegan option in a standard eatery, however if you tell your waiter you are végétalie(ne) they will hopefully understand what you mean. Look for options that are easily veganisable – pizza with no cheese, veggie burgers with no mayo or cheese, salads etc. If you can offer a suggestion first, the chances are the experience will be more enjoyable.
The chef here is vegetarian, and knows and understands veganism. There are vegan options for starter, main and dessert. Oh, and vegan pastries too.
3 rue Alsace Lorraine
I was pleasantly surprised to find this restaurant offered a standard menu, a vegetarian menu and a separate vegan one.
11 Place Garibaldi
It’s always nice and polite to greet, say thank you and say goodbye in the local language, and you’ll find that generally most places will be able to speak fairly good English. However, it’s always wise to know the basics when it comes to making sure you get what you order, so here are my top French vegan phrases:
- I am vegan – Je suis végétalien/végétalienne
- I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy – Je ne mange pas les viande, les poisson, les oeuf ou les produits laitiers
- With soya milk please – Avec du lait de soja s’il vous plaît
- Please use olive oil and not butter – S’il vous plaît utiliser l’huile d’olive et non du beurre
- Without milk – Sans lait
- Without cheese – Sans fromage
Top 5 sites to visit
1 Promenade des Anglais
The famous stretch along the seafront, named so because of the English who would visit and enjoy the sea air whilst taking their daily stroll. There are plenty of beach clubs where you can hire a sun lounger for the day, but these can get pricey. Another option is to take your own lounger or towel down to the free sections of the beach. Be warned – there is no sand, just small rocks, so make sure you take a pair of shoes with decent soles with you!
2 St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral
A little bit of Russia in Nice, and a little walk away from the centre of the city. It has stunning architecture and you can book a guided tour that includes a private chapel visit and an introduction to the cathedral’s history.
3 Musée National Marc Chagall
A fascinating glimpse into the famous artist’s life, with a grand selection of his work. The museum’s gardens are very picturesque and offer a different side of Nice to appreciate.
4 Old Town (Vieille Ville)
Explore the colourful, authentic back streets of Nice, and see life through a local’s eyes. Head to the daily Farmers’ Market to buy some fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Pop to Monaco for an afternoon… or even Italy! Get the train from Nice station and within 25 minutes you’ll find yourself in the principality of Monaco. Head to Eqvita, the vegan restaurant owned by famous tennis player Novak Djokovic. Just another 20 minute train ride will find you in Ventimiglia, a small, quirky Italian town with lots of cats, and very good authentic Italian food.
For day trips, walking tours, Segway tours and more check out the amazing excursions on offer with Isango! so you can have a memorable trip.
Getting to Nice
Easy Jet offers flights from all major UK airports. If you book in advance you can get flights for as low as £40 each way – flight time is around 2 hours. On arrival at Nice Airport, follow the signs to the bus station, buy a ticket from the kiosk and ask which bus takes you into Nice Ville. The journey takes 15-20 minutes – a relaxing way to view the surroundings.
Where to stay
Hotel Le Grimaldi by Happyculture
Currently there is no vegan hotel in Nice, but by the way things are progressing I’m sure it won’t be long until there is. Le Grimaldi is so central, just a gentle 10 minute walk from the beach, and the breakfast is very fruit-based, with breads, juices and cereal options. The hotel is directly opposite an organic supermarket, which is where you can grab nut milk, soya yoghurts, snacks and some French-style vegan cheese by a company called Sojami.
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