This famous chocolate and confectionary shop (the front is a listed historic monument) is mentioned in many Nice guide books and this December we were finally lured in by the gorgeous Christmas window display.
It has been a chocolate and confectionary shop since 1820 and the Belle Epoque building is beautiful inside and outside - the traditional old-fashioned look has been carefully preserved and it makes a delightful backdrop to all the temptations on offer. The smell of chocolate alone is worth a quick walk around the displays.
The main choices available are:- home-made chocolates, preserved fruits, marrons glaces, jams and cakes. There was also a plate full of of yummy-looking chocolate-filled croissants - very nice for the people who live near enough to do the morning run. In December, you can order a 'Buche de Noel' - a chocolate Christmas log - a very traditonal part of the French Christmas celebrations.
We were only in for a few minutes and it was quite busy BUT I think I have read that there is a coffee shop at the back of Auer. I quite like the sound of this (any excuse to get back there). additional note Feb 2004... Alas, no coffee shop -apparently there used to be one about five years ago.
What to buy: The chocolate here is top quality, made on the premises and comes beautifully packaged. You can buy bags of chocolates of different weights and specially packaged chocolates and glazed fruits that come in wooden hand-painted boxes that are works of art. This is serious chocolate and I suspect most is bought as presents (I can see potential problems in the Summer heat!)
The prices are quite serious too. I couldn't leave empty-handed so I bought a very small bag of chocolate-coated almonds called 'Amandes Princesses' which cost just over 5 euros. They are sitting looking at me as I type this but I am saving them for Christmas Day - I'm not sure if I can hang on another three days, I've survived so far by sniffing the bag every now and again. Additional note post Christmas Day... They were gorgeous.
What to pay: From a few euros for a small bag to over 200 euros for the large hand-painted boxes filled with chocolates. After you have been helped by the staff, all the goods are paid for at the huge old-fashioned till by the door.
Have a look at the Auer website (below) for more photographs. It will make you drool too. There is an option to shop online - I've not tried ordering anything but it will give you an idea of the products and prices.
Chocolates, ice cream and cakes - all made in the traditional style.
What to buy: The ice cream made in the French traditional style is exquisite, and outstanding value. Normally only Italians make ice cream this good, but this original French producer has managed to rival it.
"La cure gourmande" is only one of the shops in Old Nice where you can buy wonderful biscuits. The shop in itself is beautiful, with all these biscuits and chocolates displayed.
You make your own selection, put it in a bag, and then you pay ... and you eat.
Another shop, same style is "les péchés gourmands" (http://www.peches-gourmands.fr). I don't know which one I prefer :-)
What to buy: It all depends on what you like, but they have delicious lemon, chocolate and pistachio biscuits. Everything is fine. The chocolates are also good, but not as terrific as the biscuits.
What to pay: It is expensive, because each type of biscuit is heavy, and as you are tempted to buy one or two of each, you can easily reach 10 euros or more for a bag!
The aptly named rue Paradis is a pedestrianised road running north-south linking Place Magenta with Avenue de Verdun one block west from the central Place Massena.
This is where the luxury designer shops are located and it is wonderful to window-shop and even better to spend.
There is a gorgeous children's clothes shop along this road called 'Bonpoint' with exquisite clothes (at exquisite prices) - if you have a baby or young child to to buy for - this would be the place for a very special present.
I can not remember all the shops along rue Paradis, but to give a few examples - Sonia Rykiel for women and girls, Faconnable for men and Armani for men and women. There is also a Mont Blanc shop (fountain pens) and Louis Vuitton (luggage and bags)
Towards the sea and left on to Avenue de Verdon, the designer names continue with Marina Rinaldi, Cartier and Hermes - Hermes is the classic French name in the very best quality and is famous for its scarves, accessories and bags - in particular the 'Kelly' bag (there's a 2 year waiting list for this bag and prices start at 3,500 GB pounds)
What to buy: Rue Paradis is really a place to window-shop and dream of a lottery win. The shops here are mostly clothing and jewellery. You may be able to pick up a bargain in the sales - January and July.
Tip: the Hermes sale starts on 8th January 2004 for about 2 weeks with reductions on the ready to wear clothes and some of the accessories like gloves and shoes.
What to pay: Husbands, be very afraid.
Foodies rejoice! Premium quality olive oil is one of the 'must buys' on your shopping list because there's some unparalleled, absolutely to-die-for olive oil in the Provence/Côte d'Azur region. Fancy yourself a connoisseur? A foolproof expert? An unparalleled authority on the art of olive? Whatever your test, our method is infallible: TASTE IT.
The best place for you to sample oils is at an open market. Try the Cours Saleya Open market in Old Nice or one of the several others in town. You can also buy outstanding olive oil in a supermarket (but don't sample it in-store!), just look for the premium oils. Prices compared to what you pay back home, are hard to beat.
While we're on the subject of oil, grab some grapeseed oil while you're here. It's also superior and costs much less than outside of Europe.
What to buy: olive oil (l'huile d'olive), grapeseed oil (l'huile de pepins de raisin)
What to pay: reasonable prices
i saw this ad recently and thought HOW CHEAP! you can get 10 bottles of wine for less than 10 euros. it might not be the creme de la creme of wines but it's not horrible (in other words, most of the wine is quite fine; it won't kill you, hopefully :-)). it also made me realize how cheap alcohol is in france. not long ago, i was in a supermarket waiting in line and a guy cut in front of me to buy a can of beer and it was like 25 cents! also to note: a glass of beer in a cafe is cheaper than a cup of coffee. fun, non?
What to buy: BOOOOOOOOOOZE
at these prices, it may be worth buying a couple of cases and sending some back home. possible gifts for your co-workers, friends or family. the french export tax on alcohol is high but it may still be a bargain. but please check out the wine first to see if it ok!
What to pay: 99 cents a bottle (when it's on sale!)
There are tons of little shoe shops all over nice that sell amazing shoes for 10-20 euro. You can probably find them in the U.S. for about $70, but also, don't you want a pair of shoes from NICE?
What to buy: Shoes and little sundresses.
What to pay: as much as you want.
It is not a typical shopping tip, rather a remark on an amazing choice of spices and colourful salt. You can buy e.g. black, volcanic Hawaiian salt.
What to buy: Spices
Avenue Jean Medecin and Place Massena are great shopping places. You`ll find many designer stores and departament stores here.
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