Cradle of the sun, Castle Hill, Nice, France

On a walk up to Castle Hill, Nice, France.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

“Shall we go for a short walk?”, was the question that came just about before the 93m climb of a large limestone rock called Castle Hill in Nice, France. The walk was indeed short, but unfortunately more or less straight upwards.

Because it offers such spectacular views of Nice from sunrise to sunset, the place is romantically called ‘cradle of the sun’. I’ve been on walks before, but this vertical experience was challenging under the clear skied Mediterranean summer. Once at the top however, the panoramic views of the pebbly beach of Nice is priceless, on condition you’re not too out of breath or cross-eyed to view the scene after the climb.

Castle Hill is the grounds on which the Castle of Nice stood. The castle was established in the 11th century. Despite its hilltop location, the castle was attacked several times, and in the early 1700s and eventually destroyed by command of Louis XIV. Castle Hill today is a public park popular to both locals and tourists. You can drive up or as I did, climb the stairs to the top of Castle Hill. The effort made me wonder how this worked out in the Medieval times, when there were no modern means of transportation.

This old part of Nice dates back to medieval times and I would not be surprised if you would find some first century Roman marble building details inside the walls if you look carefully under some old pieces of fallen masonry as is the case in Istanbul, a city that belonged to another part of the old Roman empire.

The climb up and the discovery of the view of Nice, and the coast of the Riviera, from the old Ville Haute above is well worth the effort. Besides you’ll work up a nice appetite before encountering the wide variety of interesting looking food outlets in the Old Town or, Vieux Nice. All from butcheries to fromageries and shelves upon shelves with interesting looking bottles of this and that, of which Rosé wines makes up a significant part.

Once back down from Castle Hill and in the old city, you’re presented with a choice of an excellent variety of foods at the coziest of restaurants located at the foot of the hill. One such restaurant is La Mama located at 17, Rue Pairoliere.

Our choice of food, was 300g worth of good beef that came with a Gorgonzola cream and butter sauce on the side. The fries had a nice quality touch to it. On the side we ordered a plate of and greens the chef felt would complement the beef. This is always a good idea to not request anything that is out of season, but to let the chef decide.

To drink, we choose a bottle of light rosé wine that was presented in a large ice bucket. Much appreciated on a hot day like this. The rosé wines of Provence are fun. Maybe a solid red wine, a cold beer or even a coke would have been better with the meat, but somehow an ice cold rosé felt like more what we wanted.

Admittedly this sounds like a large meal and we guess it was. There were full set meals for less than what this ended up like, but we would still like to recommend that anyone having the time and wanting a pleasant afternoon will not go wrong with just sitting down at this place, and ordering whatever sounded nice.

It is an amiable place and the staff will help you with what you want, even if it so happens to be something that would need to be sourced from a different, nearby restaurant. We had initially wanted some frozen yoghurt from an the shop across the street, but I think it would be unfair to the really nice people who are running this place to follow through on this offer, so I ordered two scoops of their artisan crème glacée instead. Such heartwarming service could only happen in France.

When here, the thing to do is to sit down, and take your time with ordering your food and drink, and you will soon get a fair glimpse of what French hospitality and food culture is all about.

Located in the heart of Nice, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) with its white marbled walls was the landmark from where we began our inner city exploration. MAMAC was opened in 1990.

MAMAC is located near Place Garibaldi, in walking distance from the Old Town or the Port.

A scene right out of the 2006 movie, A Good Year.

A much appreciated, and needed, public watering place.

A view from the top.

Parasailing. Love this.

Houses and streets located between the foot of the hill and the top of Chapel Hill are resplendent in saturated colours of the Mediterranean. Romantic overhanging vines soften the straight walled architecture of the houses, providing too, a brief respite from the summer heat.

Ruelle Saint-Augustin, 06300 Nice, France.

La Mama

A canopy of green.

Tasquier Côtes De Provence is a Provence Rosé with a gorgeous light salmon hue that is as decorative on the table as easy on the palate.

Entrecôte with a side of salad. Perfect done.

After landing from Chapel Hill, a much needed double scoop serving of La Mama’s house chocolat et café crème glacée.

At La Mama, with an order of chocolate and coffee ice-cream.

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