Books on ProvenceCarolyne Kauser-AbbottInspire

Curious Histories of Nice by Margo Lestz

The funny thing about life and travel is that we are often more curious about a new environment than our status-quo location. According to Margo Lestz, “Life in a foreign country is never dull and each day is a new learning experience.” She launched her blog The Curious Rambler in 2012 as a way to share novelties and interesting tidbits from her travels.

Margo Lestz @margo_lestz

Lestz is an American with Midwestern roots; she grew up in Southern Illinois. In 2003, Lestz and her husband moved to London, England, admittedly an interesting place to live. However, one could argue the weather is a bit spotty. After two rounds of pneumonia, Lestz determined that the climate in the south of France might be a better fit for her health. She and her hubby now have two homes – London and Nice.

Almost everyone who has visited Nice can understand why you might fall in love with the city. We asked Margo Lestz what keeps her coming back to her Cote d’Azur hometown?

“Nice is a wonderful city. It’s just the right size – big enough that there is always something going on, but small enough to walk everywhere. I like the weather in the winter, and I find the people to be friendly and laid-back. That’s not always a good thing when you are trying to get something done, but in general, it makes for a nice lifestyle.”

The Curious Rambler came to life when Lestz headed to Florence, Italy, to for an Italian language course. After three months, she had mastered some Italian and discovered that she loved writing about history.

Apollo statue, Place Massena @margo_lestz

According to her website, “She believes history is fascinating, often funny, and should never be dull.”

Now, those stories are making their way into books that Margo Lestz has coined her Curious Histories series. Since November 2014, Lestz has published two books:

French Holidays & Traditions, made up of twelve chapters, one for each month. In each chapter, you find a little-known, and often amusing, story behind a holiday or tradition for that particular month.

French Holiday Traditions Book @Margo_lestz

Curious Histories of Nice, France contains tales about historical events, people, or places in Nice. Lestz tries to find stories about something interesting that happened at a certain place, or a colourful character associated with an event. These are not just your “names and dates” type histories – they are curious histories.

Curious Histories of Nice France @Margo_Lestz

Now we are a bit curious, can you share a couple of the Curious Histories of Nice?

One story that I love is about Queen Victoria in Nice. She would spend her winters here and ride around in a little cart pulled by Jacquot, the donkey that travelled with her on her private train.

And I love the Niçoise heroine, Catherine Segurane. She was a laundry lady who saved the city from a Turkish invasion by whacking the soldiers with her laundry paddle and then lifting her skirt and mooning them.

Then there is the story of the Victorian Scottish lord whose wife would get carried away chatting with the other ladies on the promenade and lose track of time. He convinced the city of Nice to fire a cannon every day at noon to remind his wife to come home for lunch – a tradition that continues to this day.

Nicois Traditional dance @margo_lestz

If a reader were to ask you about your must-do “where the local’s go” in Nice what would you recommend?

I would say visit the market in Cours Saleya in the Old Town for the colourful fruit, veggies, flowers, then wander through the winding old streets for a bit of shopping.

Be sure to try some socca and other Niçois specialities: Chez René Socca in the Old Town has a decent selection for a snack or light meal.

There are way too many good restaurants to mention them all, but Bistrot d’Antoine, and Oliviera are always good choices.

For dessert, there is Fenocchio Maitre Glacier with two shops in Nice and almost any flavour imaginable. Or the La Maison Auer a beautiful chocolate shop full of temptation, located across from the Opera.

Promenade du Paillon @margo_lestz

Take a walk through the Promenade du Paillon park with the dancing jets of water, go to the top of the Colline du Chateau for great views over Nice, and of course, walk along the sea on the Promenade des Anglais.

For museum lovers:

You can visit the Marc Chagall Museum, the Matisse Museum, the Massena Museum for a bit of Nice’s history, and the small Palais Lascaris, a 17th-century villa in the Old Town.

If taking in the local sites is not enough, chances are there will be some other events going on that might strike your fancy.

Photo credits: all photos provided by and published with the permission of Margo Lestz


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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).


  1. September 1, 2016 at 1:09 am — Reply

    Lovely interview, Margo. It has inspired me to look into historical stories in my own little town. I always enjoy reading your anecdotes. Where do you find them? Do you talk to locals or rely on books & the internet?

    • September 1, 2016 at 10:19 am — Reply

      Hi: Thank you for reading the Curious Histories post! You are right we don’t need to look very far to find stories in our “backyard.”

    • September 2, 2016 at 1:51 am — Reply

      Thank you, Harriet, and thanks to Carolyne at #PerfectlyProvence for this lovely interview.
      Investigating the history of your town really does help you to get to know it better – and it’s fun. Taking some of the guided tours by the historical society are helpful for ideas and I also read magazines put out by historical societies. Then if I hear something that piques my interest, I investigate it further. I use internet and the library too. Have fun looking into the history of your town.

      • September 2, 2016 at 10:20 am — Reply

        Thank Margo, clearly it helps to be interested and as curious as you are to investigate the histories, legends and fables of Provence. Thanks for sharing them with our readers.

  2. September 1, 2016 at 4:25 am — Reply

    I love Margo’s blog, she always finds the funniest, quirkiest stories to tell. Thanks for linking this to #AllAboutFrance

    • September 1, 2016 at 10:16 am — Reply

      Hi Phoebe: I agree some of Margo’s stories allow us to discover another side of Provence.

  3. September 1, 2016 at 11:46 am — Reply

    LOL! Margo’s blog posts are ALWAYS fascinating and filled with little known facts that are just fun to read! Thanks Carolyne for inviting us to get to know Margo just a little bit better and learn some of her insider tips. I also love the Promenade du Paillon Park in Nice for its awesome people watching and beng hypnotized by those jets of water!

    • September 1, 2016 at 11:37 pm — Reply

      Thanks GGG we agree.

  4. September 4, 2016 at 12:11 am — Reply

    I too love Margot’s blog and she certainly knows how to bring history alive (Unlike my history teacher!!) #AllABoutFrance

    • September 4, 2016 at 3:25 pm — Reply

      LOL thanks Rosie – yes history was boring until Margo came along.

  5. September 4, 2016 at 6:00 am — Reply

    I read Margo’s blog:) #allaboutfrance

    • September 4, 2016 at 3:26 pm — Reply

      Hi Tanja it’s always great to have fun reading Margo’s blog AND learn something too.

  6. September 17, 2016 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    Thanks for this lovely interview with Margo. She is as delightful as the stories she writes.

    • September 18, 2016 at 2:38 am — Reply

      Thanks Patricia, we agree Margo’s stories are fun and interesting – just like the lady herself.

  7. Sally H. Kauser
    November 13, 2016 at 8:38 am — Reply

    Thanks Caro for a most interesting article. I of course love Nice and the Côte d’Azur. I will certainly read The Curious Histories of Nice. Well done Margo.

    • November 13, 2016 at 9:55 am — Reply

      Thanks! Margo Lestz is certainly an interesting lady with a curious mind.

  8. Susie hall
    July 21, 2018 at 3:55 pm — Reply

    Is there a book available on the history of provence fabric?

    Thanking you


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