Unlike the United States, free Wi-Fi is often hard to come by in France; much like free public restrooms which just aren’t a thing here. One day early in October I spotted a crushed Starbucks cup on the ground. Most people might overlook such litter but my Starbucks-obsessed self knew this could only mean one great thing – a Starbucks nearby! The Nice Etoile mall indeed has a Starbucks; a Starbucks that is always packed, with no available seats, and even more overpriced products than those in the States, if you can imagine. Onto Plan B.
Through a couple other very helpful blogs about life in Nice (Nice by Dark and Best of Nice Blog) I found a list of cafés with free (for paying customers) Wi-Fi. I have been meaning to try several of them out, and on Monday I finally got around to it. I will update this post from time to time as I visit new cafés.
I am currently sitting in a comfy armchair (sans arms – is it still an armchair?) with a framed photo of Fonzie giving a thumbs up on the wallpapered wall behind me. The café, as stated on their Facebook page, wants to create a homey, comfortable atmosphere. I feel they have achieved this. The traditional coffee shop noises can be heard in the background – espresso machine, running water, and dinging microwave – yet the delighted chatter of fellow patrons and the staff-picked playlist flowing through the speakers are in the forefront.
I ordered un café noisette (espresso topped with steamed milk) and a choconuts (milk chocolate chips and hazelnuts) cookie. Both the espresso and the cookie lived up to the reviews I read before coming in. A group sat down across from me at one point and ordered un café noisette, un thé, un cappuccino, a choconut cookie and a piece of cheesecake. The cheesecake was absolutely massive, as were the mugs of tea and cappuccino which both came with small slices of muffin on the side.
It might seem like the cookies are the real reason I came here (maybe they are just a bit) but I didn’t forget about the Wi-Fi. The signal strength is good. Just ask for the password and you’re all set. There are even a couple of outlets available for customers to use.
The menu can be found on the Emilie’s Cookies website. The smoothies sound delicious and I’m looking forward to trying one in the future. Next time I’ll visit the location in Vieux Ville to see if it differs at all.
After a six week hiatus I have finally made it to my second ‘Wi-Fi’ café in Nice; Bagelstein. If you’re noticing a theme (that most of the places offering Wi-Fi have heavy American influence) then bravo! Bagelstein is, you guessed it, a bagel restaurant. It reminds me much of Einstein Bagels in the States – coffee, bagel sandwiches, soups, and traditional bagels with cream cheese are all on the menu. However, a variety of fresh baked pastries, yogurt parfaits, and fruit salads are available as well. I also have to mention that in addition to the usual cream cheese garnish, Bagelstein also offers Nutella, salted caramel butter, speculoos, white chocolate, and (drumroll please…) peanut butter!
I had heard about Bagelstein during my research over the summer before moving to Nice, and planned to make it one of the first places I tried once I got here. Clearly that didn’t happen because it took me over three months to make it in; so many regrets. The atmosphere is great – the employees are friendly and have a great rapport with each other, there is plenty of seating space both inside and outside, and the walls are plastered with framed cartoons, photos, newspaper articles, and magazine covers. Even better are the tiny little signs posted everywhere with witty quips in French. The interior design is wood, steel, and subway tiles – I feel like I was transported back to Ann Arbor when I stepped through the door.
I ordered an expresso noisette (espresso with steamed milk on top) and a cassis et amandes muffin (almond and cassis, a black berry-like fruit). The espresso was served in a paper cup – something that doesn’t usually happen in France – and was covered in clever quips much like the walls. The espresso as well as the muffin tasted wonderful. I’m looking forward to coming in again and trying the bagels.
On to more practical matters: At least one employee speaks English for those of you travelling that are not well-versed in French, and the Wi-Fi password is discretely taped to the top of the register. This means no need to ask as long as you’ve purchased something! You can find Bagelstein at 10 Avenue Félix Faure, conveniently located just a short walk from the Opéra Vieille-Ville tram stop. The shop is closed on Sundays but remains open from 8am – 9pm Monday through Saturday.