August 12, 2016 We'll Always have Paris...or Nice and Nantes! August 12, 2016/ Kathryn Walton Channelling my inner Grace Kelly on an afternoon visit to Monaco! As the title of this post implies, my week in France was filled with romance. But let's just set the record straight. While the main purpose of the trip was attend a very good friend's wedding, the romance I am referring to is a cheese-affair. I have concluded that France must have a different cheese for every day of the year. I never ate the same cheese twice and it was love at first bite every time. I know we have talked quite extensively on the blog about our 'amour de la France' before on the blog (see guest blogger Sam's posts) but I cannot stop gushing. We (5 girlfriends from high school and university) started the week off in Nice. Our mornings started with strolls around the Nice's Old Town, eating breakfast on patios that spilled out into the winding and narrow cobbled streets, taking a caffé americano to go and picking up pain au chocolat for mid-morning snacks. Our days were then spent on the beach enjoying the Mediterranean views and soaking up the rays, and our nights were filled with glasses of rosé over, you guessed it, platters of cheese! Before I get to the restaurants we went to in Nice, I want to give a shout out to my friend Jenni, an elementary school French teacher. Her patience with my desire to learn French was amazing. While I can read menus just fine, I quickly learned how to actually order my meals in French! "Je voidrais quatre macarons s'il vous plait," quickly became one of my favourite (and most used) phrases. Le Bistro du Fromager- the restaurant is on an old wine cellar! Here is a run down of the places we ate and drank in Nice: Le Bistro du Fromager (pictured above). Is a very small and beautiful (down in an old wine cellar) restaurant in Old Nice that, as its name would confirm, focuses on cheese. Interestingly, in France they call their appetizers the entrée which really makes sense as it is the 'entrance' into the meal. For my entrée I had a four cheese platter that featured some of the best blue goat cheese I have ever experienced. To give you even more of a taste for the theme of this restaurant, one of the mains that was ordered at our table was literally a wheel of melted camembert! The first picture below is my cheese platter! L'atlier du Port is a small family-fun restaurant along Nice's port. It focuses on local organic ingredients and serves the best balsamic I have ever tasted (the son makes it in house!). One of the things I really enjoyed about eating in Nice was that the menus often changed daily based on the availability of local ingredients and our waiters would bring the menus out on chalk boards and explain each item to us ingredient by ingredient (a foodie's dream). The second picture below is the truffle risotto I ordered, topped with rocket and drizzled with the famed balsamic!Fenocchi-Meître Glacier. You can't go to France without enjoying a little (or a lot) of gelato! This place has 94 different choices of flavours!Le Parier. Another small restaurant with a 25 person capacity! We sat at a bistro style table outside in the narrow alley way- very cute! The third picture below features yet another risotto- topped with fresh calamari. Yum! The fourth picture shows the evening's menu. From Nice we travelled to Nantes (meeting up with another university girlfriend and her boyfriend) where my friend Karin (the bride) lives with her now husband. Aside from the beautiful wedding a highlight was the afternoon we rented boats. While catching up and discussing the excitement of the upcoming wedding, we enjoyed glasses of wine and an extensive charcuterie spread during a relaxing cruise down the river (I swear I also ate vegetables on this trip, not just cured meat and cheese!). Nantes is a smaller and less touristy town still with all the beauty we'd come to expect of France. A large market runs daily and there seems to be a patisserie around every corner. Interestingly while we were there, many shops were closed. It seems while the locals take their summer vacation, so do the shop keepers (a lovely work-life balance I'd say!). My people. (a.ka. my long-time cheese loving, champagne drinking partners-in-crime) Pass the cheese, please! Weddings in France are a bit different than here in Canada. The only legal way to be married is to tie the knot at City Hall. Even if you want to get married in a Church, you still have to make the trip over to City Hall to make it legit! It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been to. After the ceremony, we boarded a bus that took us out into the country side. The reception was in an old stone barn. The cocktail hour included mini crème brules and the meal had an entire cheese course (read: if you are getting married this year and I am invited to your wedding, you should probably consider this!). But aside from the delicious food, there was nothing more perfect than being able to make the trip across the Atlantic to see a long time friend marry the man of her dreams! Its those moments that make life so amazing. Félicitation Karin et Jérémi! So here's to love and good friends. Because that is what it is really all about. Sharing food with the people that matter most! xoxo Kath p.s. A sad story. Do not ever try to fly home to Canada with French cheese. Ever. No matter what the friendly market lady tells you about the protective rind of the cheese. It will not end well for the cheese or anything in your suitcase....p.s.s Stay posted next week for a run down of my week in Scotland!