Brand Spanking New: The Gare de Nice Gets a Makeover

The Gare de Nice

The Gare de Nice. Photo: Mary Kay Seales

If you’ve travelled to or from Nice on the train, you may remember the train station there as a rather dismal and somewhat confusing place. People crowding together to get through to the platforms, bumping elbows and closely guarding pockets and purses. Always a “traffic jam” by the entrance to the platform as a horde of travelers tried to navigate through the crowd to stamp their tickets, as required, in the little yellow machines.

The ticket office stood off to one side, awkwardly designed so as to require queuing up in a long line to wait for an agent.

Outside and below this office, a lone and uninviting restaurant with few other options nearby.

In fact, I think many would agree that the whole area in and surrounding the Gare de Nice was one to simply get away from as quickly as possible.

Now, dear past and future visitors to Nice, all that has wonderfully changed! This once disheveled building and its environs has had a major facelift.

Gare de Nice

The main hall with a beautifully restored ceiling. Photo: Mary Kay Seales

The building itself has been lovingly restored. The ornate grillwork over the main entrance has been polished up, and the lovely set of arched doors now enter into a spacious, open and light-filled room. The large square ceiling has been painted like a chapel and the platform doors to the trains are now opened up, giving travellers the freedom to come and go. No more crowds squeezing through a limited area.

The train schedules are projected onto the side of one wall giving it all a clean updated feel, and there are other bright new schedule signs throughout.

And those little yellow machines to stamp the tickets now sit rather sheepishly by the platform doors, still pretty but humbled.

To the left of the main waiting room is a new Relay store for your magazines newspapers and candy; to the right, a shiny new sandwich shop where you can stock up before boarding your train to Paris or Avignon.

Gare de Nice

The new deli inside the station. Photo: Mary Kay Seales

The far end of the station is now the ticket office, complete with a ‘take-a-number’ machine and bright décor – purple and yellow chairs for waiting and tables where you can plug in a laptop.

All these changes are refreshing and welcome! But there’s more. The exterior of the station has also had a makeover. The huge open plaza in front is now home to a modern tourist office and a Paul boulangerie/patisserie.

These changes to the station have had a larger impact on the entire area near the Gare, with people relaxing at restaurants across the street. From super sketchy to stylish, it is a remarkable transformation!

The overhaul of the Nice Gare is not complete; the work goes on. But already the new look and feel of this busy station on the Côte d’Azur will make landing in this charming city a treat.

Gare de Nice

The exterior of the Gare de Nice. Photo: Mary Kay Seales

CREDIT/SOURCE: By Mary Kay Seales – FRANCE TODAY

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The Queen Mother’s Favourite Fruit Cake

For the cake:

  • 225g dried dates chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g dried walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 275g plain flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 75g butter

For the icing:

  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Grease and line a 23cm x 30cm tin.  Heat oven to 180ºF.

To make the cake:

Put the chopped dates in a bowl and pour over a breakfast cup of boiling water. Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir in. Set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar in another bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter, sugar and egg mix, then the dates and incorporate well. Scrape the batter into the baking pan and spread it right to the edges. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. To make the topping: In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and cream over a low heat. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil gently for 3 minutes, stirring all the time. Pour over warm cake. When cool, store in an airtight tin.

Credit/Source:  Julia Watson, The Bugle

 

Where to Invade Next & Crazy French Laws

French school dinners hailed, as restaurant quality Oscar-winning documentary maker Michael Moore haswhere-to-invade-next
heaped praise on French school dinners in his most recent film, “Where to Invade Next”. In the documentary, which came out in September, Moore visits countries around the world to investigate aspects of life and culture and to see where America can learn to do things better.
In the light-hearted film, Moore sits down with children at a primary school in northern France to enjoy a meal of scallops, followed by lamb and a cheese course, a menu he says would not be out of place at an upmarket American restaurant. “I entered a small village in rural Normandy and went to one of the finest kitchens in the country,” explained the film-maker during the documentary. “By my standards, it was a 3, maybe a 4-star kitchen. It was definitely the bestplace to eat in town… it was the school cafeteria!”
Watch trailer HERE
A Few Crazy French Laws: 
  • It’s illegal to name your pig Napoleon
  • Drinking alcohol at work is forbidden – unless it’s wine, cider or beer
  • Unlimited self-service ketchup is banned in school cafeterias
  • It’s illegal to kiss through the window of a train while it’s on a platform
  • You “can” marry a dead person, but you first need to get the president’s permission

Source/ Credit:  The Bugle

Festive traditions in France & Christmas Vocab List

  • L’Avent – Advent
  • Un ange – angel
  • Une chandelle – candle
  • Une carte de Noël – Christmas card
  • Un chant de Noël – Christmas carol
  • Le jour de Noël – Christmas Day
  • Le réveillon de Noël – Christmas Eve dinner
  • La veille de Noël – Christmas Eve
  • La fête de Noël – Christmas party
  • Un cadeau de Noël – Christmas present
  • L’arbre/Le sapin de Noël – Christmas tree
  • Le père Noël – Father Christmas
  • Un santon – figurine in a Nativity
  • Un jeu – game
  • Un jouet – toy
  • La crèche – manger
  • Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas!
  • La Messe de minuit – midnight Mass
  • Le gui – mistletoe
  • Le jour de l’An – New Year’s Day
  • La Saint-Sylvestre – New Year’s Eve
  • Le réveillon du Nouvel An – New Year’s Eve dinner
  • Un cadeau – present
  • Un renne – reindeer
  • Un ruban – ribbon
  • Un traîneau – sleigh
  • La neige – snow
  • Une boule de neige – snowball
  • Un bonhomme de neige – snowman
  • Une peluche – stuffed animal
  • Noël sous la neige – white Christmas

French children traditionally leave their shoes in front of the fireplace on la veille de Noël (Christmas Eve) before they go to bed. Père Noël (Father Christmas) visits them while they sleep and if they have been good leaves presents in and around the shoes. In northern and eastern France, there is a parallel tradition which celebrates Saint Nicolas on December 6th. Adults traditionally wait until le jour de l’ An (New Year’s Day) to exchange gifts, although, increasingly, families are exchanging gifts on Christmas Day.

Festive traditions An important aspect of Christmas in France is the Nativité (Nativity) with its crèche (manger) and santons (figurines). The latter are often hand-made and passed down through the generations. Mistletoe is hung above the door and is considered to bring for good fortune. Note that it does not have the ‘kissing’ connotations of other countries! The sapin de Noël (Christmas tree) is not as important in France as, for example, in the UK, but it does still form part of the Christmas celebrations. Christmas trees are decorated a few days before Christmas and Père Noël will often leave sweets and treats on its branches in addition to the present in the children’s shoes. Unique to Lyon is the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights), where every house in the city will place a candle in their windows, producing a spectacular effect. The celebration usually lasts four days, culminating on 8th December.

Le réveillon de Noël The most important Christmas event in France is la Messe de minuit (midnight Mass) followed by the eating of a meal known as the réveillon de Noël (from the verb réveiller, to ‘wake up’ or ‘revive’). Although fewer and fewer French attend midnight Mass, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families. The ré- veillon represents a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth and is one of the most important meals of the year. Traditionally the réveillon is a family affair and the meal is eaten immediately after midnight Mass at home or in a restaurant. The meal varies from region to region, but typically will involve seafood, followed by a cooked bird and the traditional bûche de Noël (Yule log). This cake is made from chocolate and chestnuts and represents the log burned from Christmas Eve until Epiphany in parts of France. The log-burning is itself based on an ancient pagan Gaul tradition of burning a log for the duration of the winter solstice. La Saint-Sylvestre – 1st January French New Year is celebrated with a feast called the réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre.

On New Year’s Day friends and family exchange good wishes and sometimes gifts. The president also uses Saint-Sylvestre to make his annual address to the nation. L’Épiphanie – 6th January The final celebration of the festive season in France is Épiphanie (Epiphany) on 6th January. The tradition on this day revolves around the eating of a special cake known as the galette des Rois (literally ‘cake of the kings’). A small figurine or fève is placed inside the cake. The cake is cut into pieces and distributed by a child, known as le petit roi, or l’enfant soleil. Whoever receives the piece of the cake with the gift inside is declared King or Queen for the day and gets to choose a partner.

en Français

Ala veille de Noël, les petits enfants français laissent traditionnellement leurs chaussures devant la cheminée avant d’aller au lit. Le Père Noël leur rend visite pendant qu’ils dorment et s’ils ont été sages, il laisse des cadeaux dans leurs chaussures. Dans le nord et l’est de la France, il existe une tradition similaire : c’est la célébration de Saint-Nicolas le 6 décembre. Traditionnellement les adultes attendent le jour de l’An pour échanger les cadeaux, bien que les familles le fassent de plus en plus le jour de Noël.

Traditions festives En France, la Nativité est un moment important de Noël avec sa crèche et ses santons souvent faits main et transmis d’une génération à l’autre. Le gui est suspendu au-dessus de la porte afin de porter chance mais sans la tradition du baiser des autres pays! Décoré quelques jours avant Noël, le sapin tient une part importante dans les célébrations mais moins cependant que dans d’autres pays tels que le Royaume Uni. Le Père Noël laisse souvent des friandises sur les branches lorsqu’il dépose les cadeaux dans les chaussures. Célébrée uniquement à Lyon, la Fête des Lumières se tient sur 4 jours, le moment phare prenant place le 8 décembre. Les habitants dé- posent une bougie sur le rebord de leurs fenê- tres, ce qui produit un effet spectaculaire.

Le réveillon de Noël Pour les Français, la messe de minuit suivie d’un dîner appelé «le réveillon de Noël» (du verbe «réveiller») est le moment le plus important de la célébration de Noël. Bien qu’en nombre décroissant, de nombreuses familles se rendent toujours à la messe. Le réveillon permet de revivre symboliquement la naissance de Jésus et c’est l’un des repas primordiaux de l’année. Le réveillon se passe généralement en famille et le repas est consommé juste après la messe de minuit, à la maison ou au restaurant. S’il varie d’une région à l’autre, le menu typique se compose de fruits de mer, d’une volaille rôtie et de la traditionnelle bûche de Noël. A base de chocolat et de noix, le gâteau symbolise une bûche qui se consume de Noël à l’Épiphanie dans certaines régions de France. C’est l’héritage de rites païens qui consistaient à faire brûler une bûche pendant le solstice d’hiver pour garantir une bonne récole. La Saint-Sylvestre – 1er janvier La nouvelle année est fêtée lors du réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre.

Le jour de l’An, familles et amis s’échangent leurs meilleurs vœux et s’offrent parfois des cadeaux. Le président choisit ce jour pour adresser son discours annuel à la nation. L’ Épiphanie – 6 janvier La saison festive se conclut le 6 janvier, lors de la célébration de l’Épiphanie. Les familles et amis se partagent alors une galette des rois. Une fève y est dissimulée et un enfant désigné comme «le petit roi» ou «l’enfant soleil» distribue les parts. Celui qui trouve la fève devient le roi ou la reine d’un jour et doit choisir un partenaire de sexe opposé.

Credit/Source: Sophie Arsac for The Bugle