If you are an adventure seeker who wishes to explore what France has to offer, then the city of Nice is a must. Whether you desire to sit on the pebbly shores of the Mediterranean or stop by in Nice as part of your road trip in Southern France after you've rented a car, it is a friendly and relaxing place to visit. It has many options for accommodation, ranging from family-run hostels to top-starred hotels. It is also a great place to treat your senses thanks to its beautiful spot right beside the sea and in between the heights of the mountains and hills.
Nice’s best-known avenue is the Promenade des Anglais, which is where you can walk or bike from one end to the other and never run out of things to see. A few steps away from the Promenade is the Vieux Nice or the Old City. A series of museums, historical sites and entertainment houses can be found here and are best explored at your own pace.
A long walk along the Promenade des Anglais is a highlight for anyone intending to admire the beautiful French Riviera. Also known as the “Walkway of the English”, the Promenade is Nice’s most famous boulevard. As you walk down the Promenade, be prepared to experience the sights, tastes and sounds of Nice: in Villa Masenna, at the flavours at Hotel Negresco, and the nights of great entertainment at Opera De Nice. Make sure to make a quick stop at the Vieux Nice to see the breathtaking views of the Promenade and coastline.
Colline du Chateau is French for Castle Hill. Parc de la Colline du Chateau covers the spot where ancient Greeks established the city of Nikaia, which they dedicated to Nike, the goddess of Victory. Aside from its storied heritage, Castle Hill also offers the best view of the French Riviera. A wide-shot photograph of the Promenade des Anglais is most probably taken from this place atop the hills. It is ideal if you are looking for some quiet time to take in all the beauty of Nice and just be left with your thoughts.
From Castle Hill, take the light rail at Garibaldi Station to Opera Vieille-Ville, which is where you can walk for about a minute to reach Place Masséna. If you’re coming from the Promenade des Anglais, it will take less than three minutes to reach this Square. This special part of town is considered one of the main squares in Nice. Once in this spot, you can easily walk around to reach the Old Town, Albert I Garden and more. Closer up, the Place Massena is also a remarkable crossroad where main roads in the city intersect, such as avenues, boulevards and rues.
From Place Massena, take a very short walk to J. Médecin / Hôtel des Postes and then bus to Gambetta / Promenade. From there, walk for a few more minutes to Hotel Negresco. People often make a beeline for this hotel due to its gastronomic offerings. So whether you’re heading there for a drink or set course lunch or dinner, this hotel is a must-try. Try its two Michelin-starred restaurant, The Chantecler, to have a taste of the best of Nice and experience its 18th-century interior. Or, for a more relaxed atmosphere, try the hotel's pop-up restaurant called the 37 Pop, which offers meal sharing options for great quality traditional meals. In the evenings, you can also enjoy the Negresco Bar as it offers premium spirits, music, and vibes that can be enjoyed even if you walk into the bar alone.
After lunch or an early dinner, take a stroll back to Gambetta/ Promenade and ride the 70 Bus (Cathédrale - Vieille Ville) to Albert 1er / Phocéens. From there, walk to the Opera de Nice where you can either catch an opera, ballet or concert. For solitary visitors, you can cap the night with classic entertainment at the opera house. Tickets can also be bought from the Opera de Nice’s website, so be sure to book in advance to have a smooth viewing experience.
A quick walk around the Old Town will leave you with a strong understanding of Nice’s historical heritage. From timeworn infrastructure and longstanding traditions, Nice has everything to offer when it comes to showcasing its rich legacy. To fully experience it, a day of museum hopping should be integrated into your itinerary. Fortunately for visitors, Nice is packed with various museums that would excite anyone looking for an informative time. Plus, Nice is often regarded as a great place to explore not just on foot, but by bike as well. The city offers great bike rentals that will make city tours more memorable. In the afternoon, a side trip to Eze is also an exciting mix to this day dedicated to culture.
Step aside from the bustling city centre and head over to Cimiez, where you can experience a slice of upper-class Nice life. Cimiez is where the nobility used to live and allows you to experience an affluent neighbourhood in Nice. Hop on the Number 15, 17, or 22 Bus and alight at Musée Matisse, which sits atop Cimiez’ hill. A treat for art lovers, Musée Matisse houses the works of French painter Henri Matisse among other donated artworks. Outside, it is surrounded by ornate Italian gardens ideal for photographs and leisurely walks.
Often regarded by historians as one the last of the first generation European Modernists, artist Marc Chagall lived a life dedicated to his craft. See more of his life work at Musée Marc Chagall, including why it is also called the "National Museum Marc Chagall Biblical Message". Inside, Chagall illustrated various Biblical encounters found in the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Song of Songs. His creative take on stained glasses also lines the museum’s halls. It is a 20-min stroll from Musée Matisse.
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) is a short ride from Musée Marc Chagall. Housing various eye-catching works-of-art from recent decades, this museum offers a fresh take on art as well as a look into Nice’s deep historical heritage. From the outside, this museum is made of modern architectural design in the form of a tetrapod that spreads across the Paillon river.
Solo travellers might find it rewarding to make a side-trip to Èze. It is a beautiful commune just 12.5 km from Nice.
After a day of museum hopping, a quick excursion to Èze is a must. It offers a majestic view of the sea and towns below it. Check out the Jardin Botanique d'Èze and bask in the breeze and calm offered by the garden of cactus and succulents against the backdrop of the sea. Also, thread the Nietzsche path going to Èze for a spectacular view of the Mediterranean.
To go to Èze, walk from MAMAC to Boyer for the Bus 82 for Plateau de la Justice to Èze Village. From there, you can walk towards the botanical garden and catch the awe-inspiring view from above. You may also have supper in this village before heading back to Nice.
After exploring Èze, if you are still in the mood for further day trips, there are many other beautiful villages in the south of France that are worth visiting. Or, if you're up for a longer drive, why not check out Bordeaux?
For your last day in Nice, be sure to also check out its majestic churches and market offerings. The Chapel of Mercy features 18th-century design right in the city centre. After admiring Nice’s church structures, it is time to get trinkets and produce of the freshest kind at Cours Saleya. Take your time shopping and eating like a local in the Old City and then wind down for a quiet afternoon at Palais Lascaris. Before heading out of Nice, spare some time for its popular Bar Crawl and end your trip on a high note with a unique Nice party!
Nice’s perfect scene with sand, sun and sea is what makes tourists flock to this Mediterranean paradise. But what makes them come back for more is the dedication and veneration to deeply rooted tradition. One such tradition is religion and Nice makes a case for beautiful churches open for anyone who wishes to pay a visit.
Should you be in the Old City, drop by the Chapelle de la Misericorde (Chapel of Mercy) to say a little prayer and enjoy its rich Baroque architecture.
A few hours at Cours Saleya will exponentially grow one’s shopping list. But if you're on a budget, it also offers gems that fit any price range. Visit Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya for the freshest options for flowers, fruits and vegetables. Cafes line the extended terraces where you can peacfully sip a hot drink and watch the world go by. Once you’ve seen the best of what Saleya has to offer, you’ll come home not only rich with knowledge and experience, but also with treats uniquely Nice.
At Palais Lascaris, one can see a wild collection of over 500 musical instruments under a seventh-century aristocratic building. This trip to the Palais Lascaris is a great way to wrap up the cultural aspect of Nice. Despite hundreds of musical items in this museum, a trip here eases the mind thinking of the dedication the people of Nice poured into their passions.
Days spent in Nice are bound to enlighten all the senses. From the food to the scenic landscape to the rich cultural heritage, Nice has a unique blend of the modern and the past to create a truly unique experience. For your last night, hop on the famous Riviera Bar Crawl along the Promenade de Anglais to soak up Nice’s ever-popular festive vibe. After all, Nice’s Carnival and Jazz Festival party culture is not world renowned for nothing. And trust me, a party in Nice is the best way to part with an equally great city.
This article was first published on May 19, 2019 19:49 UTC.
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