Mixité is a good word to describe this area which is one of the most happening places in town. Between the Port and Place Garibaldi this humble street with a BIG name is nicknamed Le Petit Marais Niçois, a nod to the trendy gay area of Paris. It has been steadily earning its label as gay friendly over the years with bars, restaurants, hairdressers and shops proud to be part of Nice irisée naturellement, a charter for equality and a movement to offer a warmer welcome to all. Its name recalls the time it gave a warm welcome to the then General Napoleon Bonaparte in 1794.
The Place du Pin, a small pedestrianised area at the heart of the neighbourhood is perfect for lunch in the sunshine and hosts evening events from time to time. For Fête de la Musique on midsummer’s eve the whole street turns into one big dance party. In my early days in Nice I was drawn to this little triangular square by the sound of a live rockabilly band. Surrounded by vintage Cadillacs a couple of apron-clad grandmothers were jiving their hearts out with two young tattooed cool cats! I knew immediately that this was my kind of neighbourhood.
Bonaparte is currently the scene of a coffee battle. Deli Bo on the corner has a wonderful café crème and is served with a tiny homebaked cookie. Brasilia, a relatively new contender, has the appeal of speciality espressos and Le Petit Napoleon serves a great café au lait while you sit back and wonder how exactly it differs from un crème or perhaps une noisette?
This neighbourhood is increasing in boutiques that can tempt even the most reluctant shopper (me). Lucien Chausseur sells fine leather shoes in rainbow colours for him and her, Mon Oeil for some beautifully creative jewellery, accessories and ladies clothes, and a number of design and interior decoration shops have sprung up recently. These include Mon Bazar, Babalux and Au Bonheur des Cocottes, a museum-cum-workshop selling vintage clothes and objects with some quirky flair. And keep an eye out for the magic wand seller, Atelier Bonaparte, below Napoleon’s residence.
Eating out in the area is a delight, there really is something for all tastes, budgets and moments of the day. Brunch at Deli Bo not to mention its teatime patisseries is extremely high on my list, an organic Italian grocery shop/café O’Quotidien caters for vegans and meat eaters alike and is truly innovative, La Flara and Chez Pippo for a Niçois feel, not to mention Jan, a Michelin starred restaurant, Rosalina and L’Uzine for cocktails and…. If only there were more days in the week and meals in the day!
Article by our guest contributor and Nice expert Zenna Marshall
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