Sunday, 24 May 2009
Cours Selaya, Nice: By Day and By Night
On a recent weekend in Nice I was taken aback by the Cours Selaya. This broad street is market by day and frenzy of restaurants by night, with the central stalls becoming outside seating. In fact, I am not sure I have ever seen so many restaurants on one street. The large, beautiful ochre-coloured building pictured right sits up high at one end and dominates the street. I was warned that it was a tourist haven, but although there were plenty - it also seemed to me to have the entirety of the population of Nice shopping, eating, sauntering and drinking.
I was impressed by the intense regionality of the food offering. They really only sell Nicoise dishes and in the market you can have any type of olive you like, so long as it's black (see the extraordinary selection on stall below left).
By day the restaurants are pumping out Pissaladiere (a pastry-based Pizza with confit onions, anchovies and olive) and Socca (chickpea pancakes). Then by night, out come the aioli (poached cod, hard-boiled egg and raw vegetables served with an eye-wateringly astringent aioli - below) and the seafood platters. With so many restaurants the competition is intense and an element of showmanship is evident - not to mention hard-selling from the restaurateur's prettiest daughter as you pass. Although not a purist's gastronomic destination, and just a tad on the tacky side, there is enough of beauty to make it worth a detour when in the neighbourhood.