French Riviera Rental Apartments - La Zucca Magica

serviced apartments in nice

Where to Get Your Greens: Vegetarians and Vegans in Nice and the French Riviera

La Zucca Magica: 4 bis Quai Papacino 06300 Nice,

Vegetarians have our sympathy when eating out in France. The words végétarien and végétalien (as vegans are called) most often meet with a blank or quizzical stare in restaurants, even if vegetables do play an important role in Provençal cooking. Alongside meat from every conceivable part of the beast, you're likely to find ratatouille, pâtes au pistou (pasta with pesto), salads aplenty, gnocchi and ricotta-filled ravioli in the more traditional restaurants. Fish-eaters have plenty of choice, from soupe de poissons with croutons and spicy rouille sauce to baked fresh sardines stuffed with chard.

bien_venue_nice_franceWhether you are vegetarian or not, a Nice restaurant on your hit list has to be La Zucca Magica (the magic pumpkin).

The larger-than-life Marco Folicardi runs this wholly vegetarian restaurant with a gourmet slant. Before opening this 40-seat portside restaurant he was an Italian TV chef, and the influence of his native country shows in the fixed three or four courses offered for lunch and five courses at dinner. There is no menu. After you are seated, you are promptly given a glass of wine, or water, and then you are simply brought the dishes one by one. At dinner you will get four savoury dishes and one sweet and you can expect dishes such as open ravioli, goat's cheese "meatballs", aubergine lasagna, pumpkin or courgettes stuffed with pesto and lots and lots of cheese. The dishes are explained to you before you eat.

We've now eaten here at least five times, and every time we have had something delicious and different. Its also a refreshing change to not have to bother choosing, knowing that what will be put in front of you will be simple, but divine. That said, there is always one course I am not keen on, or just pick at. Since there are several dishes, it really doesn't matter. It's also very cheap for what you are given at 17 euros a head at lunch, 29 at dinner, not including the inexpensive house wine – and children under 12 eat for free!

It is always packed with contented diners, and there's a small decked pavement terrace if you prefer to eat outside. We always go inside so we can count the pumpkin references. We're up to 47, but we're sure we've missed a few. Pumpkins hang from the walls and ceilings in all shapes and sizes. It's a fun and quirky place. Enjoy!

Other suggestions for vegetarians in the Nice area:

A more mainstream option for lunch is Le Haricot Magique (the magic bean) on Rue Alberti, just off Place Masséna. It's a bright contemporary restaurant and does serve one or two meat dishes, but mainly offers vegetarian dishes of soup, quiches and a self serve salad buffet of crudités. Specials might include curried courgettes and pumpkin pie. The health juices are fantastic. It's a shame it is only open at lunchtimes.

Useful addresses for vegetarians staying in our Nice apartments:

A vegan option in Nice: Speakeasy, 7 Rue Lamartine, Tel: If you are vegan you may want to head down to the Speakeasy. It is a little intimidating from the outside, and intimate inside with just 12 covers and animal rights posters on the walls. Don't let this put you off as the food is deliciously nutritious and all organic. You will be warmly welcomed. It is run by a woman from California and is open every day except Monday.

Vegetarians and Vegans who come to stay in one of our apartments in Nice or the French Riviera are welcome to ask us to book tables for them at restaurants or ask us to check on the restaurant's suitability for their dietary requirements before they book. Vegetarians and Vegans may also want to refer to Happy Cow for restaurants, reviews and health food stores on the French Riviera and across the globe.

french vacation rentals
If avoiding meat can be tricky in restaurants, the French Riviera's markets provide all the ingredients you need to whip up a thoroughly satisfying vegetarian meal at home. You'll find a profusion of vegetables and fruit even in mid-winter, when leafy greens, fennel, cabbage and root vegetables abound alongside some surprisingly good greenhouse tomatoes and local citrus fruit: the oranges and lemons, untouched by chemicals, are among the best in the world. Don't forget to buy some mesclun, the mix of baby salad leaves that is sold by weight. Next, head to a fresh pasta shop such as Maison Barale (7 rue Sainte Réparate, in the Nice Old Town, where you can buy ravioli filled with ricotta, pesto, pumpkin or even beetroot if you're lucky. These need only a couple of minutes in boiling water before being tossed with the local olive oil, parmesan and perhaps a little tomato sauce or some baby spinach, sautéed in a hot pan just until wilted. Takeaway pizza is also popular in Nice and to my mind simplest is always best: my favorite is the margarita at Nissa Socca (7 rue Sainte Réparate,, next door to Barale, where the wood-fired oven gives the ultra-thin crust a smoky taste.