Nice is a chic and sultry seductress of a city. She spends her days lounging on the French Riviera shore, gracefully glistening in the warm sun, giggling as the Mediterranean whispers sweet nothings in her ear. Nice la Belle may be drop-dead gorgeous, but she never lets that go to her head. She is laid-back, friendly, doesn’t take herself too seriously and certainly knows how to have fun.
She adores the finer things in life: great wine, delicious food, music, dance, and especially art. Many of the world’s great artists have had wild, passionate love affairs with her over the years – Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Arman have all fallen head-over-heels in love with her – but none of them have ever managed to win her for themselves. Nice is her own woman.
If you are lucky enough to land a date with this French stunner, some smart planning in necessary. So have a look at our list of recommendations for a great time in Nice and put your favorites in your BUCKiTDREAM planner.
Explore the Nooks and Crannies Of the Old Town Nice’s Old Town, or Vieille Ville as it’s known to locals, is full of cool boutique shops, quaint and unusual little bars and restaurants serving lovely local cuisine. There are exciting things to see and do that will capture your attention from early morning until late into the night.
Stroll the Glorious Promenade Des Anglais La Prom is the main road running along Nice’s shore. It winds almost 5 miles along the Bay of Angels. Grab an ice cream and enjoy the warm sea breeze and sound of lapping waves on the pebbly beach. It’s a beautiful place for a walk and the road is alive with tourists and locals late into the evening.
Relax In the French Riviera Sun On One of Nice’s Plush Private Beaches Nice’s public beaches are very pleasant…but they are also rather pebbly. The area has many private beaches that make up for the stones, with hessian carpets that lead to the sea, locker service, waiters, food and drinks, and watersports. Castel Plage is one of the best private beaches in the city.
Inhale the Sweet Aromas at The Cours Saleya The fruit, vegetable, and flower market in Nice is sweet-smelling, colorful, vibrant and romantic. Located in the Old Town, it is the perfect place to visit on a bright sunny morning to pick up something healthy and exotic from one of the many fruit stalls.
Visit the Most Stunning Orthodox Cathedral Outside Russia The Russian Cathedral in Nice was commissioned by Tsar Nicholas ll in the early 20th century. Its spires and domes are a sight to behold and certainly worth a visit. The amount of bling on display inside the cathedral is breathtaking. Tours operate daily, apart from Sunday mornings when religious services take place.
See Nice’s ‘Greatest Hits’ From the Top Deck Le Open Tour is the hop on, hop off bus tour of Nice and at €22 for a day pass, it is the best way to make sure you see all of the most important sites on your list in record time. Even if you are staying for a while, spending one day of your trip riding around on the open top bus will be very memorable.
Explore the Work Of the Greats in Nice’s Array Of Fantastic Art Museums As mentioned before, Nice and art have quite the past; they have been in love and lust with each other forever. The city is packed with great (mostly free) art museums. The Musee Matisse and Musee Marc Chagall in Cimiez Hill are must-sees.
Dig Into Nice’s Ancient History Humans have been living at Nice for hundreds of thousands of years. It is one of the oldest continually occupied places on Earth. The Musée de Paléontologie Humaine de Terra Amata, built on the site of a prehistoric settlement, displays many fascinating artifacts that show how people lived way back in the barely discernible deep past. On Cimiez Hill there are the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement called Cemenelum. The ruins are showcased beautifully and are free to access.
Climb Castle Hill For a Sweeping, Panoramic View Of the City Castle Hill, or Colline du Château, is the highest spot in Nice and the view from this lovely park is certainly worth the climb.
Take a Food Tour of Nice A 4-hour food tour is the best way to sample the hidden culinary gems of Nice that most visitors never get to experience. Eat and drink your way around this delicious little city…yum!
Nice has plenty of plush, salubrious hotels, as well as a bunch of very reasonably priced budget hostels.
High-end Hotel du Petit Palais is a charming boutique hotel in a graceful mansion in the heart of Cimiez. The rooms are elegant and comfortable and afford a great view down onto Nice. This hotel is close to the Matisse and Chagall museums.
Medium Hotel la Perouse is built on a hillside overlooking the Bay of Angels. The terrace and pool area are perfect for relaxing in the sun and enjoying the view with a tasty cocktail. The rooms are airy and simple, ideal for the warm Mediterranean location
Budget Antares Hostel is a very relaxed and friendly hostel in downtown Nice, opposite the main train station and only a 10-minute walk to the beach. With comfy dorms, free WiFi, and cooking facilities, this is a great place to meet fellow travelers.
French cuisine is world-renowned and Nice flies the flag with aplomb. It has a great food culture with several native dishes that have taken the world by storm. Due to its warm climate and position on the Mediterranean the city has particularly good seafood and fish, as well as deliciously fresh fruit and vegetables.
The most famous Nice dish is Salad Niçoise. This hearty salad of leaves, tomatoes, potato, egg, tuna and anchovies is a big local favorite and the versions of it available in Nice are the real deal.
Ratatouille is another dish that came from Nice and proceeded to take over the world (including Hollywood). This vegetable stew in a rich tomato sauce is delicious on its own or as a side with some locally sourced meat or fish.
Socca is a crêpe made from chickpea flour and olive oil and is best eaten hot and generously topped with pepper. There are socca stalls everywhere in Nice. They are a simple, staple snack that fuel this constantly-peckish city.
Le Panier serves French cuisine with a hint of Italian influence. This place is extremely popular with locals and it’s best to book in advance. Fresh, simple local seafood dishes are the order of the day here. For a fresh, colorful and inventive take on Mediterranean cuisine, visit Citrus. Again, it’s best to book ahead as this place is cute, diminutive and very much in-demand.
Drinks and nightlife
The main nighttime action in Nice happens in the Old Town, where you can find all sorts of venues to unwind and have some fun. Sipping a glass of wine at an outdoor table and watching the world go by in the balmy Cote d’Azur air is one option. The area also has lots of loud, sweaty music bars and clubs should you desire to mingle and get your boogie on.
Cave de la Tour is a proper, old-school Nice bar. It’s a great place to eat and drink with the locals and has the best selection of Provencal wines in town.
Wayne’s is the self-styled “busiest bar on the Riviera”. It is situated in the center of the Old Town, has live music every night and is very popular with younger tourists and locals.
Le Staccato is a stylish little bar that has high-quality live jazz in the cellar every Friday and Saturday night.
Le Klub is a wild, raucous and super-hip nightclub that plays cool techno, deep house, and electro. It only kicks off around midnight and stays open until 5 am.
Tips and Culture
- Nice Cote-d’Azur airport is four miles west of the city center and hosts flights from many British, European and American cities.
- Bus 98 takes you from the airport into the city in 30 minutes.
- The main tourist office is a great resource and is located at 5 Promenade des Anglais.
- Basic English is spoken by many of the younger locals, but a smattering of French will come in handy and be well appreciated.
Click Your Fingers Like a Super-cool Cat At the Nice Jazz Festival International jazz superstars as well as hordes of jazz lovers from all four corners of the globe descend on Nice in mid-July for its world-famous jazz festival. The atmosphere is electric during this week in high summer, and the city gets very busy, so book early to avoid disappointment.
Nice is a beauty alright, and without doubt worth moving mountains to get to. So while you explore her delightful Old Town or gaze down, besotted, upon her splendor from Chapel Hill, why not inspire your friends by sharing your dream Nice experiences on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?