Nice Holiday Gift Guide
If you’re feeling nostalgic for Nice or know someone who is, here is your holiday gift guide to bring the Cote d’Azur a little closer. Many ship from France (but not all: scroll down) so you will want to get a jump on it…
Let’s start with stocking stuffers
Local Nice artist Sylvie T prints her architectural watercolors on note pads, sketch books, gift cards, etc., but my favorites are the sets of 10 bookmarks with 10 different scenes of Nice (out of 24 possible) for just 12€, and obviously super lightweight so mailing cost is minimal. 14 Rue Droite in Old Nice, tram stop Cathedrale.
A little sack of dark chocolate pebbles will be a sweet way to remember sunny days spent on Nice’s pebbled beaches, and are only 10.50€ from Le Galet Bleu in Old Nice at 29 rue Benoit Bunico (no e-store, but does speak English and does ship). For chocolate covered toasted almond pebbles, Maison Canel at 21 rue de France is the place, and also has a modern e-boutique in English on their site, and ships worldwide.
Few things say country French like a colorful Provencal table cloth, napkin set, placemats, pillow covers, or lovely fragrant lavender-filled sachets (which make awesome stocking stuffers btw). They also sell fabric bow-tied bread baskets (both under 10€), which are perfect for holding a lot of smaller items to assemble your own personalized made-in-Nice gift baskets. MCTissus has been running their little fabric boutique from a corner shop in Old Nice since 1942, and sends out online orders the same day. 1 rue du Pontin, tram stop Opera.
Give a taste of the green fairy! Absenthe is the green-hued spirit that inspired Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Modigliani, Hemingway, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others. Nowadays the active ingredient thujon is a fraction of the original dose, limited to 35mg/kg in the EU, and still illegal in the US and Canada. But if you live in the EU or UK, a tiny taster bottle with its special sugar-cube melting/flaming-spoon could be a very original stocking stuffer, and it’s less than 10€!
For wine and cheese lovers, here is a special Cheese Box for storing your Camembert or Brie without totally stinking up your fridge. You won’t find this in America, but they’re all over in France, and under 10€.
Tchotchke heaven: Zazzle has pages and pages of Nice gift ideas… including an entire page dedicated just to the iconic pink-domed hotel Negresco! Go deeper and peruse their 500 (!) Nice-themed doodads, from jigsaw puzzles, vintage travel posters, to the requisite mugs and totes, to more modern gadgets like iPhone covers and mouse pads. This website kind of blew me away!
…And if that’s not enough, check out Bonjourlaffiche for a colorful mug selection by artist Eric Garence… Or visit ArtNice for stocking-stuffers that riff on Nice’s emblematic blue chairs at 2 rue Droite in Old Nice (no e-site but takes postal orders by email).
Give the taste of Provence with olive oils from Olivera, home of the famous Old Nice restaurant where everything is about the oils. Nadim knows all the olive growers and the pressers personally, and curates his oils like a symphony. This year’s press is just about to arrive, so this is a timely and thoughtful gift for the cook in your life. Prices start at 24€ and he ships worldwide. 8 Bis Rue du Collet, tram stop Cathedrale.
Here’s a different kind of liquid sunshine from Nice: Pastis made by a priest. Father Gil Fiori Florini is a real renaissance man: he runs his local church, feeds the poor with a free restaurant in the basement, is an accomplished jazz musician, and is the founder of his own pastis factory… I kid you not. 3 rue de Oristis, tram stop Port. (Caveat for Americans: the US Postal Service doesn’t allow mailing alcohol, but it can be sent to the US via DHL.)
Want to create the most impressive cheese board ever? Give the blade a twirl on this European-style Cheese Curler/Shaver to make feathery cheese flourishes that literally melt in the mouth. It’s an obscure item but available worldwide, just google it. Works best with a cheese called Tête de Moine, monk’s head, named after its resemblance to the shaved head of a Benedictine monk.
Shopping for a jazz aficionado? How about a vintage Nice Jazz Festival poster? Cinephiles will love a retro Cannes Film Festival poster… and racing fans will flip for a Monaco Grand Prix poster, most just 15-20€. For art lovers, just google ‘old French art posters‘ and see what kind of treasures pop up; every gallery prints posters for every exhibition, so there are literally thousands of them floating around.
Make your own little Nice beach at home with a one-of-a-kind rug woven with with cushy felt ‘stones’… They are soft and warm and will remind you of sunny days on the beaches of Nice… but will be a lot easier to walk on with bare feet! Handmade in Austria by Martina Schuhmann, they can also be found on Etsy and other sites. Not cheap but very original.
If you know someone in Nice that needs a little pampering (hint, hint…), consider a gift certificate from Spa 27 where the Best Spa Deal in Nice is only 99€ or 125€ for a morning or afternoon of pure relaxation. Go in stressed, come out blissed.
This thick coffee table book on Matisse: The Early Years in Nice is long out of print, but you can still find it via online used booksellers (just google it), which is how I got mine. It’s a retrospective (in English!) of Matisse’s masterpieces from his nearly 20 years in Old Nice, which was his most joyous and prolific period. Most of the artworks in this book were painted in his apartment at the top of Cours Saleya, where he lived with his family in a top-floor apartment with a view on the market on one side and the Mediterranean sea on the other.
More Gifts under 15€ that ship locally
Give a little French fashion savoir-faire for under 10€ with this indispensable guide How To Tie A Scarf
McCormick’s all-natural Summer Truffle Salt from France is big on truffle flavor but light on the pocketbook at under 10€, and ships locally. Amazing on potatoes (esp. French fries!), pasta, risotto…
This Home Cappuccino Foamer/Frother is the bomb… just pour in some milk hot or cold (any kind, even skim milk works great) and pump for maybe 30 seconds, and voila you have a thick foam to transform your morning coffee into a heavenly frothy cappuccino. …And with the money you’ll be saving on Starbucks, you can save up for your next trip to France…!
While you are savoring that cappuccino, pop some French Café Music into your player to complete the experience…
All the above links can provide shipping, but if you are here in Nice buying locally and then shipping internationally, the best deal by far is to use the fixed-price prepaid Colissimo box that you buy at the post office.
The sturdy XL box is about the size of a large computer briefcase, and you can stuff in up to 7 kilos/15.5 lbs. A big advantage is that you don’t have to worry about packaging, tape, etc., and the box can be tracked on the La Poste site (albeit in French).
The cost to anywhere in Europe is 28€, and to anywhere else, including the US, UK (thanks Brexit), and Australia, it’s 73€. This might seem high but actually it is a great deal because if you used your own box and then paid the postal fee based on weight, the same size/pounds to the US would cost around 130€.
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