Nice, France: Travel tips from expert expat Chrissie McClatchie

Freelance writer and wine educator Chrissie McClatchie moved to Nice 15 years ago, selling fine wines to superyachts cruising the French Riviera. Fifteen years on, she now lives in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a fishing village next to Nice, with her Irish husband and two young daughters. See chrissiemcclatchie.com

SEE

Visit the Matisse Museum (Musee Matisse) for what's inside, what's outside and for the building itself. Matisse lived in or around Nice for nearly 40 years: the city and its famed light and colours were definitely his muse. The permanent collection is housed inside a grand, ochre-red 17th-century villa with the most wonderful trompe l'oeil facade. We usually pack a picnic to enjoy in the shady olive grove that surrounds the building, and take a walk through the peaceful monastery gardens next door. See musee-matisse-nice.org

DO

You can't beat the beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer, just around the headland from Nice port. The sheltered bay is one of the most spectacular along the coast — framed by the leafy (and uber-exclusive) Cap Ferrat peninsula on one side and a cascade of pretty pastel village houses on the other. The shallow waters close to the shore are clear and refreshing, it's the perfect way to start the day. If you're a SUP enthusiast, this is also one of the best spots for it on the Riviera.

EAT

Artisan bakers are taking bread and pastries to the next level right across France, and there are some stand-outs in Nice. For fresh-from-the-oven croissants, I head to Frederic Roy's Boulangerie Roy Le Capitole. His are a true labour of love that take three days to make! He also is the only baker in the country — as far as he knows — to make a lavender croissant, using an infusion of lavender grown in the Cote d'Azur hinterland. He doesn't make them every day, but when he does they sell out fast! They have a slightly green, herby flavour and just the faintest violet hue. See facebook.com/boulangerieroylecapitole

DRINK

My favourite wine bar hasn't changed in all the years I've lived here. It's tiny but the real attraction to Cave de la Tour in Vieux Nice is the selection of local wines… this is the place to come if you want to buy Vin de Bellet, or wines from Nice. There are just nine vineyards in this teeny appellation in the hills of the city that even many locals are unaware of. Here, there's usually the entire selection, most by the bottle but some by the glass … and a glass is often the perfect match to a lunch menu of local specialities such as stockfish (a slow-cooked fish stew). See cavedelatour.com

AVOID

Overpriced tourist restaurants are easy to pick with their big, laminated menus in five different languages out front, found especially along the Cours Saleya in Vieux Nice or rue Massena near the main shopping street, Avenue Jean-Medecin. Look out for Le Mallard, Lavomatique, Babel Babel and Le Canon.

THRIVE

Embrace the apero, or the pre-dinner aperitif. With so many sunny squares and rooftop bars — as well as the restaurant-lined beachfront, the Promenade des Anglais — Nice is the perfect city for a sundowner. You'll find people drink rose here all year round, although in summer it's often served over a big ice-cube, in what is known as a rose piscine (a pool of rose!).