picture postcard from Nice Cote d’Azur

by Sharon Santoni

facade building in Nice cote d'azur

I am in Nice for a few days, a wonderful mix of work and family, all bathed in Mediterranean spring sunshine, good food and happy encounters.

boats in port of nice

You’ll hear more about my happy encounters in a few days, but today time is short so I thought you may like to see a few of my favourite spots in this city that was my home for several years, many many moons ago.

view across coastline in Nice

And one place in particular holds a special tie for me.  The Plongeoir, or the ‘diving board’.   A restaurant perched on a rock protruding from the sea shore, a little way down the coast line from the port.   This area is a favourite with the native Niçois, a place to enjoy an aperitif or a meal, and soak in the sunshine, watch the boats bob in and out of the port, and for those who are brave enough maybe even take the plunge from the top board.


This unusual rock formation had its true glory time at the end of the 19th century, when Nice was an essential stop over for any self-respecting aristocrat, taking the Grand Tour.  At that time there were plenty of glamorous visitors from all over the world, and the restaurant on the rocks looked quite different.

restaurant on rock end 19th century

Isn’t that a wild piece of architecture, I love it!   This was the chic place to eat, the restaurant of the hotel La Reserve, part pagoda, and part boat.  And yet another reason for me to regret not having been born one hundred years earlier!

diving boards on rocks

The boat and pagoda eventually fell apart, and in the 1940’s the diving boards were built and for many years it looked like this.   It is a little known fact that one of my first summers in France was spent right here, running a pop-up restaurant and private beach on the famous rocks …  oh boy, the times we had! ….. the energy that I had! ….. but that my friends,  is a story for another day!




Mary Anne Simpson March 18, 2016 - 7:05 pm

What a lovely story Sharon. My husband and I were in Nice last Awptember but did not find this lovely spot. Thanks for sharing it so we can find it on our next trip. We drove the beautiful Grand Cornish.

Emm March 18, 2016 - 7:05 pm

Wonderful pictures and, oh, the color of that wall! And that deep blue water.

Do those little double-ended boats have a particular name? Asking because I have a painting of somewhere on the French coast that shows several, and I’m trying to learn more about it.

Sharon Santoni March 18, 2016 - 7:25 pm

Yes Emm, they are called ‘pointus’, and are specifcally Niçois 🙂

Emm March 19, 2016 - 4:41 am

Thank you. In New England, similar boats are called “peapods.”

Colleen Taylor March 18, 2016 - 8:01 pm

This is so incredible Sharon & definitely a must see when I get there! I’d love to hear your story from long ago, sounds fascinating. X

MissLilly March 18, 2016 - 8:08 pm

really beautiful!!

Linda Mahkovec March 18, 2016 - 8:10 pm

Thank you for the lovely tour! Much appreciated – especially since we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend here in New York.

Taste of France March 18, 2016 - 9:51 pm

Gorgeous photos! Did you really take them with your point and shoot camera? Amazing. I love the story of your past in Nice. How fun!!

tucsonbabe March 18, 2016 - 11:32 pm

Don’t forget to mention the restaurant La Reserve. It is divine and is a must stop for lunch whenever we are in Nice. We usually walk three km to and from. The meal is worth every step.

Vicky from Athens March 18, 2016 - 11:57 pm

Sharon – how wonderful . . . and magical! I can’t wait to hear your “story for another day”!

Holly Davis March 19, 2016 - 12:00 am

I am going to Nice next Monday for a week of immersion French lessons. I am so excited and seeing your lovely pictures and reading your anecdotes has made me even more excited. I look forward to more!

Wendy Dewar Hughes March 19, 2016 - 12:02 am

What a great place. It’s so interesting to see its past.

April March 19, 2016 - 12:04 am

Beautiful pictures with clear blue skies. You have the eye. So nice to see.

Dianne Adams March 19, 2016 - 12:47 am

I love Nice, have been there twice but missed this. I will make a point of stopping in next time. Great photos, Sharon, and loved the before & after shots.

Cathy March 19, 2016 - 1:55 am

What a beautiful place! I must put it on my “bucket list.”

Ann Jones March 19, 2016 - 2:44 am

My husband and I visited Nice in 2005 on a Windstar cruise from Rome to Barcelona for our 25th anniversary, and our favorite place was St. Paul de Vence. What a beautiful country you have! I hope to return and explore more!

Pam March 19, 2016 - 2:59 am

Thank you for the romantic pictures!! It’s so gorgeous!! What a beautiful place to live and to visit!!

Have a great weekend!!


Sally Leonard March 19, 2016 - 4:32 am

Sharon, what a marvelous post! My husband and I spent part of our 30th anniversary at La Reserve! I’d love to hear more about the early days of the hotel. It remains a favorite of mine.

Cathy Chapman March 19, 2016 - 7:27 am

Oh, how I remember that sapphire blue water of the Mediterranean! Breathtaking! I didn’t spend nearly enough time there…..but , I was there!

Lovely photos, looking forward to reading about those untold stories…

Bonne nuit,

Our French Oasis March 19, 2016 - 11:04 am

Like you, I have spent a lot of time in the south of France, also eons ago! Usually the beautiful weather and blue skies give me a slight twang of nostalgia, even a little envy, but at the moment the Charente Maritime is excelling itself with beautiful clear blue skies and temperatures around 18C, so I cannot complain! Susan X

Darina March 19, 2016 - 11:11 am

Lovely! Great pictures and story! Nice is such a wonderful place. I will be there in September again, can’t wait!

Nicky Owen March 19, 2016 - 11:36 am

Your photographs are fantastic. We spent many a happy holiday in the beautiful 1930’s house just to the left of Chateau d’Anglaise. In 2 weeks we move to Villefranche to start a new life but, looking across to the port, was where our love affair with the Riveira began. Thank you.

Marian from England March 19, 2016 - 1:43 pm

ah, the bucket list grows longer! A very happy sunny post! Just what we need right now.

Marilyn March 20, 2016 - 4:05 am

What a spectacular place to have spent time when you were younger.

Catherine Anderson March 20, 2016 - 8:31 am

Do go try the restaurant Jan while in Nice! First South African chef to be awarded a Michelin Star – I think you will love their choice of decor very much too! C

Bebe March 20, 2016 - 9:04 pm

I remember a wonderful, very memorable lunch at La Reserve at Beaulieu. We did not stay in the hotel – unfortunately – nor did we visit La Reserve Restaurant in Nice. (Are they connected in any way?) Our hotel was in Cannes.

I loved the scenery and we were able to drive the corniches up into the hills above that part of the Riviera. St. Paul, St. Paul du Vence, the fascinating perched villages. Extraordinary!

Your experience in Nice must have been great fun for a young person!

Laura March 21, 2016 - 2:16 pm

I love this post, even though I read it a few days old. I can’t imagine how fun it must have been running a restaurnat in such a glorious, sun-filled place! Please do tell us stories of that time some day. I wish I had written down some of the crazy and interesting things I had done while younger. I also wish I had that flexibility and energy now for my business —the things I could do….
We will all wait for your memories of that time to be put on paper for us!

Darina March 21, 2016 - 5:21 pm

Lovely story to read! Nice is one of my favourite places!

Rosemary Green March 21, 2016 - 11:40 pm

A beautiful stort. You are Blessed. <3

Ruby May 13, 2017 - 5:57 am

soo beautiful! someday soon…!

Kameela Hays August 31, 2018 - 3:14 pm

Lovely history. Must have been amazing to have been around then. I could feel a book coming on about your early days in tbe South of France


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