There is something about the Cannes Film Festival that always represents the beginning of summer for me (despite the rain this year!) and my thoughts turn to the Côte d’Azur and the French Riviera region where you will soon find a large concentration of tourists in St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Monaco – all ready to embrace the sunshine and unique lifestyle of that region.
Of all the notable towns I like Nice the best. It has just the right influence of Italian from across the border, it’s a paradise with soft light to inspire artists and photographers alike, amazing food to satisfy the most discerning foodie, as well as sights and sounds that will keep you occupied morning-noon-and-night!
As high season begins I thought I would share a sampling of what you can do in this amazing city by the sea.
It is no wonder that Nice is called Nice la Belle (Nice the Beautiful) because it is absolutely gorgeous year-round allowing any visitor the opportunity to explore every corner without worry of bad weather getting in your way. If you visit nowhere else, you must take a stroll on the Promenade des Anglais that runs the length of the seafront where you will find beaches, cafes, and lovely places to stop and take in the world.
If you need to get out of the sun for a bit there are several museums to take-in including the amazing Matisse Museum, the Chagall Museum as well as the Nice Archaeology Museum and Roman Ruins, where you can see the ruins of a Roman arena and bathhouses.
Strolling along the Promendade des Anglais will lead you to two places that you’ll want to check out. One is the Cours Saleya, a fantastic market where you can see and buy delicious foods, beautiful flowers and, on certain days, antiques.
The other spot to visit is the Place Massena considered Nice’s main commercial street, not only will you find plenty of shopping but you can also take in the neoclassical architecture which are great photo opportunities.
Another must-do walk when visiting Nice is to climb the steps of the Colline du Château to “Le Chateau” which rests on a summit that offers an amazing view of the Baie des Anges, Old Nice, and the Port, which are some of the most photographed panoramic viewpoints in France. There are idyllic paths in the shade of the trees, great views and a large grassy park with Roman ruins and a waterfall.
Eating, oh my! The best thing to do is two take advantage of Nice’s coastal location and Mediterranean life-style to enjoy seafood and Italian inspired menus. Some of my favorites are Boni (15 rue Tonduti de l’Escarène); Le Savanna (6 passage Emile Negrin); Au Petit Gari (2 Place Garibaldi – 66 bd Rosso); and La Gauloise Brasserie (28 ave Malaussena).
Besides where to eat there is what. Don’t forget to try out these local specialties: Socca (a rustic chickpea-flour crepe); Nicoise salad; Pissaladiere (an oven-baked focaccia topped with caramelized onions, black Nicoise olives, and anchovies); farcis niçois (tiny stuffed vegetables); and sardines.
There are tons of hotel options for visiting Nice. You can choose a seaside hotel or one in the hills, you really can’t go wrong whichever you choose.
On the luxury side there is the Palais De La Mediterranee Hotel Nice and the Hotel Château Saint-Martin & Spa. In an intermediate price rage you will find the Le Meridien Hotel Nice and Hôtel La Pérouse. For those more budget conscious there are still many choices including Villa Saint Exupéry Gardens and Ibis Nice Centre Notre Dame.
On a last note, there are many great highlights on the AFAR website with more on things to do, eat and see. I like this one from Genevieve.
These are my notes on Nice, what about you?
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