Nice is one of the most beautiful cities in France, nestled by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Founded by the Greeks long ago, it has changed hands many times—for centuries it was part of the Duchy of Savoy, then part of France, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia in Italy, before finally joining France again in 1860. The city’s cuisine reflects its French and Italian origins, especially those of the nearby regions of Provence and Liguria.
One of the highlights of any visit to Nice is the chance to enjoy some of its delicious dishes. Let’s look at five of my favorites.
No trip to Nice, or France for that matter, is complete without a salade niçoise. You get to choose which version you want because this is a dish with many variations. The original salad, served in Nice over a century ago, was a simple combination of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil. Over the years, other ingredients have been added like tuna, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and green beans. Today there are as many variations as there are chefs—would you like corn? Olives? Seared ahi tuna? Take your pick and choose the one you like.
The pan bagnat sandwich, popular in Nice, is like a really good salade niçoise on bread. To make it, take a boule or other round loaf, cut it in half top and bottom, and drizzle each piece with olive oil. And by drizzle, I mean pour it on because you really can’t have too much good olive oil! Then layer on hard-boiled egg, tuna, anchovies, tomato, onion, cucumber and more. You can stop there, knowing that it will be messy to eat, or do as the good people of Nice do—squish it together tightly and store it in the fridge for a few hours so it holds together better. Either way, it’s a perfect picnic food. Here’s a delicious recipe you can make at home: pan bagnat (meat and vegetarian varieties).
This Provençal favorite originated in Nice, where it is sometimes called ratatouille niçoise. It’s a stewed vegetable dish, typically made with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, onions and garlic, though there are many variations on this dish. Some chefs cook all the vegetables together from the start, but purists insist they be cooked separately and then combined at the end. Like a lot of stews, ratatouille improves if you keep it in the refrigerator overnight and then eat it the next day.
This snack food has a crust like a pizza, but it’s square instead of round and there’s no cheese or sauce. Instead, a pissaladière is topped with caramelized onions, black olives and anchovies. The name comes from the ancient Ligurian word for “salted fish.”
Another snack food, socca is a flatbread made from a simple batter of chickpea flour, olive oil and water. This is cooked into a kind of big pancake and then cut into triangular slices, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Eat it warm, when it’s at its best. The dish originated in Genoa and is called farinata in Italian. Read more about socca, the superfood of Nice.
More on the food of Nice