Margo Lestz from the US lives in Nice, South of France. Having lived most of her life in the Midwestern states of Illinois and Missouri, Margo and husband Jeff have always loved to travel – particularly in Europe. Margo studied French and always thought that the south of France would be perfect for retirement.
Margo says “I had just succeeded in convincing Jeff to take an early retirement and move to France, when a job opportunity came up for him in London. He got excited about it and I saw my dream flying out the window. But then I thought ‘Well, London is much closer to France than St. Louis, Missouri’ so off we went to London”.
The couple sold everything they had in the US and what they had left was packed into just two suitcases and taken to London for their new life. They loved it – they even took British citizenship and Margo told us “London is an amazing city and we love it, but there is only one little problem with it, and that’s the weather. We needed a place in the sun, to escape to when the grey skies got to be too much for us. And voila, Nice was perfect…”
What bought you to France and why Nice in particular?
We really chose Nice for practical reasons. First of all, because of the weather – the sun shines here (an average of 360 days of sunshine per year). And secondly, because it is very easy to get into and out of. The airport is just a short bus ride from the city centre so it is an easy commute from London.
What is your home like in Nice and what do you love best about it?
We have recently moved into a new apartment in the centre of the pedestrian/restaurant area. It has large French doors and little Juliet balconies across the front. We almost have a sea view. If you step out onto the little balcony, lean out a bit, and look to the left you can see the sea. It is about a 3 minute walk to the beach and it is lovely to walk along the waterfront in the early morning or in the evening.
The thing I like best about it is the location. I know that many people like quiet locations, but I like to hear a little buzz of activity and our street is always buzzing.
Where are your favourite places in Nice to eat, drink, play and people watch?
I’m not really a foodie and most of the time I eat at home, but I would have to say my favourite place to eat would be Fenocchio’s ice cream stand. They have 61 flavours of ice cream and 34 flavours of sorbet. Some of the more unusual ones are: chewing gum, poppy, olive, tomato-basil, cactus, beer and Swiss chard pie (sounds yummy doesn’t it?). I normally have more conventional flavours like chocolate ginger, chocolate orange, but have also had lavender, rose, and violet.
There are many Italian restaurants and lots of Italian influence in the cooking here since we are so close to Italy. The pedestrian streets are just lined with restaurants so there is lots of choice.
What inspired you to set up your blog? How else do you spend your days in Nice?
I started my blog last year when I went to Italy for 3 months to study Italian. I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch with family and friends and let them share in my experience. When I finished my Italian course, I just continued my blog. Now I am writing about the things I find interesting in Nice.
Even though my husband can’t quite bring himself to retire, I had no problem with it. Now I’m not sure how I ever had time to work. I am a perpetual student and am always taking some sort of course. I like to study languages. I take French courses to keep up my French. I have finally accepted the fact that I will never fully master this language but I don’t want to regress so I have to keep at it. I studied Italian in Italy last autumn – which means that now I have to continue to take Italian courses or I will forget everything.
There is always plenty to do in Nice, especially in the summer. There are concerts, museum expositions, tours, conferences, etc. Nice is also just a short train ride from Italy and the other French cities along the coast.
What are your favourite places that you’ve rambled in France?
Well, I am partial to the south for its slower pace of life which is wonderful unless you need to get something done. But it is so beautiful being next to the sea with the mountains behind. I also really enjoyed exploring the Loire valley, with all of its chateaux, several years ago with my husband. I think we need to do that trip again.
Any anecdotes/wonderful memories of Nice you would like to share?
Our first day here we needed to go to the prefecture. We stopped in a shop and I said, in my best French, “Excuse me sir, we are looking for the prefecture” and he responded to me in French saying “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English”. My ego was completely deflated and I thought, “This is a very bad beginning”. Fortunately things got better after that.
Margo Lestz lives in Nice, France where she likes to bask in the sunshine, study the French language and blog as thecuriousrambler. Margo says “Life is never boring and I learn something new every day… and there are always surprises”. Margo writes regularly for the Good Life France and illustrates with her quirky and fun drawings!