Nice Etoile is Nice's main shopping mall, situated in the heart of the modern shopping area of the main street av Jean Medecin.
The only other malls of note are TNL in the suburb Riquier (home to a giant Carrefour) and out of town CAP3000, near the airport.
Opened up by an atruim to natural light , whizzy lifts cast as scifi-style pods glide silently up and down the interior walls, escalators, chandeliers, modern hotel-style seats, and atmospheric deployment of pink and purple lighting. Oh and shops. Not to forget the purpose of a mall. Shops.
What to buy: Nice Etoile is home to dozens of frock-shops including C&A (yes, you read correctly, "C&A". A marque I thought had been despatched decades ago to a home for aged and retired retail brands, but still live and kicking here) and many shoes, bags and other girly essentials. Also for domestic lifestyle enhancement there's Habitat (even more expensive in France), and Maison du Monde should you feel a need for a pair of green and orange scented candles.
Eating needs are catered for by several establishments ideal for casual coffee and pastries, and the icecream kiosk is actually rather good, as well as being cheaper than the standard tourist tarrif.
And there's parking for serious shoppers.
What to pay: French priced for locals. Which means fashions generally inexpensive, everything else a bit fierce.
...and join the yacht set with this high quality wonderful clothing range from Saint James.
Saint James is a French clothing company that originally started in Normandy in the north of France and is home to the famous Breton fishermen's sweaters.
The Nice branch of Saint James is appropriately sited on Ile de la Beaute right by the Port of Nice. This small and lovely shop has a limited range of smart casual clothing. The colours and cut have a nautical slant - lots of whites and navy and plenty of stripes. The women's clothes extend from basic tops, shorts and trousers to knitted suits and linen dresses. The men's range is mostly cotton tops and gorgeous chunky wool sweaters - the husband looks particularly Cary Grant-ish in his. The collection reminds me a bit of the classic Ralph Lauren sport style but at less cost.
If you are near the Port, well worth a visit. The window displays are very good (like most French shops) and the prices are also displayed so you can suss things out before entering the shop if you're a bit shy. Closed Sundays and lunchtimes.
What to buy: This mid to high- priced clothing would appeal more to the mid-30s plus age group I should think.
However, at any age, if you want to buy a classic stripy French T-shirt you are in the right place - Saint James has a gorgeous lightweight striped cotton boat-neck T-shirt with three-quarter sleeves. These tops come in a range of colours, although for me, the original navy and white stripe is the best. These tops start at around 20 euros and are available for children as well as adults. My husband and daughter have a T-shirt each (see photo left) and as chief launderer in the family, I am happy to report that the tops wash and wear very well. Also, in my humble opinion, they are infinitely more tasteful and desirable as a T-shirt than the tacky 'I love Nice' touristy T-shirts for sale in the Old Town and Cours Saleya. They would make a great present for back home too - classic French - style, from France.
What to pay: The Saint James website (reference given below) is very informative and can give you a full description and photographs of all the clothes in the collection. You can order a catalogue too. The only draw-back - no prices are given but as a very rough guide, for ladies, individual items are priced approximately between 40 and 150 euros each and children's tops start at about 15 euros.
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.
Should be titled 'a scarf costs HOW much'?
Hermes (pronounced 'er-mezz', with a French accent) is a world-recognised leader in luxury goods. Originating as saddlers in Paris, many of the newer designs still reflect the equine beginnings.
Under the recently appointed artistic director, Jean Paul Gaultier, it will be interesting to see how he exerts his personality onto the new range.
Hermes in Nice is on avenue de Verdun behind the Albert 1er Gardens just around the corner from rue Paradis and very much at home alongside all the other designer shops here.
OK, it IS expensive but have you noticed how chic those French women look ? have another look - they accessorise nearly all their outfits with a scarf, tied beautifully and the scarf is from, well, you've guessed it. If you can brook the expense, one luxury item that is perfect and will last a lifetime (you WILL take care of it at that cost!) is good value. The French may get a few things wrong, but their sense of style is beyond reproach. Theirs is a motto of 'less is more' and they apply this philosophy to their outfits (though not to the prices!)
What to buy: Scarves mainly. Hermes is very fashionable at the moment, a fact over which the staff are slightly disparaging; Hermes has always been a classic name in France and rises above the vagaries of fashion. Anyway, it IS popular right now and their classic handbags, the Kelly (Grace) and the larger Birkin (Jane) both have several years' waiting lists. And at several thousand euros a bag, you need this time to save up. (Either that or hot-foot it to Ventimiglia market in Italy on a Friday morning where you can pick up a decent copy for under 200 euros) tip: try www.bagladies.co.uk too.
In Hermes, you can also buy ready to wear clothes for men and women plus leather goods, jewellery, shoes, towels, beachwear and perfume. The new perfume for women, 'eau de Merveilles' is rather good actually (hope the husband reads this)
The staff in Hermes are always very helpful and friendly and will spread out any number of scarves to admire with no pushiness. You do need to have the scarves spread out to take in the designs. There is a very clever one at the moment (in the window but I don't know for how long) called 'cheval surprise' - horses theme again. An apparently random pattern contains about 15 horses, some with riders, and you can start to pick them out after a while. This design has a few different colour variations and comes in scarves, pareos (sarongs) and even some of the clothes.
I am sure you will find something covetable here. Have a look, they don't mind if you do not buy. The sales are good in Hermes, although in Nice, the scarves are never in the sale -they don't need to be. Sales are in January and July and the you may pick up a bargain in the clothes, shoes and gloves section. It's worth buying clothes out of season as they will be life-time classics. Leave something for me though!
The website below allows a very small number of Hermes items to be bought on the internet in the USA only. It is useful though as a store locator and to see some of the designs and colour ranges in the scarves and ties.
What to pay: Anyway, briefly, you are here to admire and buy the scarves which come in silk, cotton, chiffon and pleated silk. Silk squares come in two sizes, the smaller one (about 100 euros) for neck and handbag, the larger one (about 280 euros) is more versatile and can even be tied cleverly into a summer top. 'Twillies' which are a new-ish idea, are small, silk, tie-shaped scarves that go around the neck, wrist or handbag or hair and are fairly reasonably priced, about 70 euros. They make delightful presents as they come in a miniature hat box in the Hermes signature orange and tied with the signature brown ribbon. It would be very easy to take one home as a present, even in hand luggage; imagine the pleasure you will be giving...I have to say that I am always VERY grateful to my gorgeous husband when he has treated me. (all those cheap meals in the Old Town do pay off eventually!)
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.
An alternative to the Flower Market for all your fruit and vegetable needs is the morning street market in the Malussena, as the Avenue Jean Medicin heads north under the road and rail bridge near the Station.
What to buy: Like grapes that actually taste like grapes - picked fresh from Italy, or clementines fresh from Corsica? Kaki fruit, figs, whatever is seasonal. You will taste the advantage of Frances colonial past - exotic fruits in from former French colonies around the world.
UPDATE! Tramworks have disturbed the Malusenna - Fruit and veg market displaced, I suspect further North
What to pay: Cheap but browse all the stalls - price and quality vary for no apparent reason from one stall to the next - part of the charm of French shopping
Nice has only two music store leviathans, the French FNAC and the British Virgin Superstore, both in the Avenue Jean Medicin.
FNAC always won on points on account of having listening posts where most CDs in stock can be auditioned (Not at Virgin) and it carries a much richer canvas of musical styles. Virgin shelf space is dominated by transatlantic contemporary pop and rock.
As of the end of October 2004 FNAC has moved out of its old home in the Nice Etoiles mall, and into the magnificently restored and rejuvenated Marionaud building a hundred metres north. Bigger and better, on five floors, everything in media - CDs and DVDs, books and consumer electronics. And new listening stations.
The French colonial legacy means imported artists not available elsewhere around the globe, and Paris as multicultural music capital means French goodies galore.
What to buy: In addition to the usual youth outpourings (yawn) a rich selection of contemporary Arab, African and Paris Lounge > Paris-Dakkar, yes! Brazillian and Cuban sections also good. Cabo Verde interesting - alternatives to good old Cesaria from the place where that afro-portuguese musical stuff grew.
Alteratively they still have 500 million identical grunge, garage and rap artists latest output, each hardly distinguishable one from the other. Lots of warbling sulky or angry young men. Whatever. You decide. Just spoil a Virgin accountants day, buy at FNAC.
What to pay: Plenty of special offers and reasonable prices,(unlike Virgin).
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.
There a lot of markets in Nice, especially in the Old Town
- Flower market at Cours Saleya(6am - 5:30pm, daily, except Mondays that is a Second-Hand market)
- Flea Market at Quai Lunel, port of Nice
- Second Hand and Ancient Books Market at Place du Palais de Justice (1st/3rd Saturday of each month)
- Paintings and Art Craftmen at Place du Palais de Justice (2nd Saturday of each month)
- Old Postcards Market at Place du Palais de Justice (4th Saturday of each month)
- Fish Market at Place St François (every day, except on Mondays)
Shopping Hours:Usually from 9am to 7pm. Many shops close for lunch between 1pm-3pm
At Avenue Jean Medécin you will find many famous clothes stores, big markets, Virgin, Fnac, Sephora etc What’s more at Avenue de Verdum some designer’s shops. There are also many shops around Rue Massena.
For rock Cds, Lps, shirts: HIT IMPORT at Rue de Lepante, 11
Otherwise big collection of cds/dvds at Virgin Megastores and Fnac
In the Old Town you can find some nice souvenirs in small shops.
If you have some millions to spend buy your clothes at Galeries Lafayette! Good quality but paranormal prices!
Buy your lunch here for just 2 euros...
Monoprix is a top quality supermarket in France and there is a small 2-floor store at Place Garibaldi at the back of Old Nice. In a separate building across a small road and next door to the main shop, is the Monoprix bakery and Boulangerie. It is one of the best bakers and patisseries I have found near my studio by the Port. It wins no prizes for window displays, there are none, but trust me, go in and try some bread, pastries and sandwiches. My daughter is addicted to the pain au chocolat maxis (twice the length of a regular) for 1,15 euros. I love the choice of different breads available, many variations of grains, textures and toppings. It is all top quality and baked in-house.
What to buy: My top tip for this bakery is lunch actually. All around Nice particularly in the old town there are many little sandwich bars, some with a table or two outside, that offer a 'formule' for lunch. This usually comprises a sandwich and a drink. The price is usually around the 5 euros mark. Monoprix bakery offers a superb value lunch formule. A large 'jambon au beurre' that's a ham baguette, plus a half-litre of cold bottled water (or a tin of coke) PLUS a beignet - that's a doughnut or you can have a piece of brioche-y -looking cake with dried fruit instead of the doughnut. There's no choice of sandwich, it's always ham, but you can choose from chocolate, raspberry or apple filling for your doughnut. A bit of fresh fruit from the market wouldn't hurt either. It's really handy for a picnic, comes in a carrier bag with a paper napkin, great for the beach or park and you can use the money you save on real shopping or a fancy restaurant later.
What to pay: This lunch, a ham baguette, drink and a doughnut is just 2 euros. The sandwiches are freshly prepared on the premises for 10:30 am and sell out quickly. There are other formule options available at more cost, but I think this one offers the most outstanding value.
Agnes B (pronounced 'annie-ez bay') is a gorgeous clothes shop tucked around the corner from the Cours Saleya. There are branches in other parts of France (it is a French chain) and I have found one in London but coming from Liverpool, the nearest for me is in Nice.
The collection is simple and stylish and there is always a fast turnaround of new stock - so if you see something you like, buy it - it won't be there next visit.
The materials used are high quality and luxurious - cashmere, velvet and natural fibres and the style is usually simple and understated but with a contemporary edge. Many of the basics have the signature metal 'b' buttons attached.
Like most french sizing, they are aimed at fairly slender women, which just about rules me out unfortunately - the sizes only go up to a 42 or 44 - about a UK 14, I think. The price of the clothes is reflected in the quality - quite high (good for quality, bad for price)
There is also a delightful section at the side of the shop for children and babies. It's hard to drag the daughter away.
Agnes B also has a small but lovely collection of jewellery, hats, make-up and shoes.
There's a nice big bench by the till where himself can wait. There's often a pot of fresh coffee to be had. The staff are utterly charming, must be something to do with being surrounded by gorgeous clothes all day long.
Chaps can get their own back - there is an Agnes B for men - off rue Longchamp, not far from Galeries Lafayette.
What to buy: I have bought simple black tops in silk/cashmere mixes and a gorgeous cross-over cotton wrap in the summer. I've done quite well in the sales here too. I bought a black linen skirt that was still quite dear even at half price but it is still going strong several years later and many of the photos in my website show me wearing it.
The daughter has had several bikinis with matching head scarves and lovely dresses and leggings.
Anything in the sale that fits! Sales are in July and January
What to pay: Women's tops start around 60 euros and trousers from 90 euros, dresses from 120 euros but the top end of the price range eg for suits, the prices go up to 500 euros plus.
Children's clothes from 10 euros to 200 euros.
I've had posh velvet trousers costing 170 euros - a gorgeous Christmas present but many basics start at around 30 euros.
HOWEVER, they do have good sales and it's then that you can pick up some real bargains.
Quite frankly, I just adore shopping in Nice and could do it as a full time occupation of there weren't so many other wonderful things to get up to in the region and I had the cash!
Once again, the Amapola came home with an extra pair of shoes (white loafers). You need comfy shoes for trapesing around the cobbled streets. (My comfy shoes were not as comfy as I thought and I sufferred somewhat).
I don't remember names, but in the shops in the old town, there are some charming and quality things to bring home..
I wouldn't really know where to start trying to tell you where to buy what, but there is something for everyone and window shopping is a pleasure too.
What to buy: Shoes !
Lavender oil from the region, much stronger perfume and much cheaper.
Wine (of course!)
We bought a jar of baby garlic cloves, mariated in oil, they were really sweet (no trust me!) and can be eaten just as they are, chopped up in salads and stews etc...Yum!
We also bought a lovely bottle of a strange drink for my Mum, can't remember the name offhand, but it is served ice cold, comes in a strange assortment of flavours and beautiful colours, including 'violet' and is most exquisitely packaged (as most things are in Nice).
Also bought a small cookbook of dishes from the region which was in French and English....
Some great recipes to try out. (Mind you, we're not so sure about the sheep trotters and offal one on page 10, especially me being semi vegetarian)!
What to pay: Variable.
This attractive shop is stocked with a small number of leather goods at excellent prices and in a range of colours. It is very welcoming - a wide front opens onto three sides split into gloves, scarves, belts and handbags plus some luggage. The stock is limited and neatly presented making it very easy to have a good look without feeling that you have neither overlooked anything nor too overwhelmed by choice. The shop is fresh and cool and clean. The chap who owns and manages it is Italian and all the goods are made at his factory in Naples.
You can have a good look in peace and there is no hard sell and he speaks english if required. He seems to be fluent in French too and Italian too of course.
What to buy: Gloves were the thing that lured me in, in the first place. Two rows of the softest calf leather gloves in a range of wonderful colours; pinks, oranges, olives, blues plus the ubiquitous black and neutrals.
I tracked down a pair of gloves I've been after for a while; longer than average not only covering the wrist but going up the arm slightly and in a perfect shade of muted orange - don't mock, the colour's gorgeous you can see a similar pair on Trinny in her what not to wear book 2 if you don't believe me.
The style of gloves range from regular unlined leather gloves, there are also silk-lined ones to fur-edged ones and longer silk-lined ones plus a few trendy fingerless jobs. You'll be asked to wear disposable plastic gloves before trying on any of the gloves.
The bags are extremely nice too, pretty good 'Kelly' types and good versions of other upmarket designs. Well worth a browse and a feel - the leather is very good quality. There are a small number of purses too.
A wall displays a range of belts in neutrals and more exciting colours to match the bags and gloves plus a choice of buckles in brass, shiny silver or matt silver finish. The chap fits the belt to your choice of buckle and cuts it to size there and then.
I got the impression if he didn't have it in stock, he could probably get it for you with enough notice.
I bought my gloves last week and today I bought a belt and a purse and he put in a matching leather key-ring as a freebie.
An English family popped in when I was having my belt cut and they were after another piece of luggage that they had bought two months earlier which I thought was a good sign. It is also a sign that if you see it and like it, then buy it as he had finished that particular line of luggage. (I saw her carrying one of the shop bags later on in the Old Town so luckily she managed to find something she fancied)
What to pay: Leather key rings from 10 euros, unlined leather gloves from 29 euros, my beautiful longer silk-lined leather gloves were about 70 euros, Kelly bags about 190 euros, purses from 38 euros and belts from 27 euros. The leather is excellent quality and it is well worth seizing the moment even in the heat of summer to think ahead to the winter, the gloves are hardly going to take up much packing space either.
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!)
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