Nice Travel Guide
The mesmerizing turquoise beaches are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Nice. Also named Nissa la Bella, the city blends the mediterranean lifestyle with the French Riviera, offering its visitors a beautiful destination to explore with warm climates, a relaxed vibe and a rich cuisine.
Nice was part of what became Italy before it became French leaving a lasting cultural mark on the city. On top of this, the city breathes influences from Great Brittain, Russia and Middle East which can be spotted in the diverse architecture, food and even the Promenade des Anglais which was a gift from a British lord.
Nice is the second most visited city in France after Paris and is the perfect starting point for colorful travel adventures to Menton, Monaco, Cannes, St Tropez and more colorful cities in the Côte d’Azur.
But what can you do in Nice? Read & Watch my 12 Nice travel tips below
Ô voyageurs, sur quelles grèves
Trouverez-vous un ciel pareil,
Durant la nuit si plein de rêves
Et le jour si plein de soleil ?
1. Promenade des Anglais
The best introduction to Nice was the Promenade des Anglais. When we arrived our Uber drove by this seven kilometers promenade introducing us to a beautiful mix of turquoise and light teal water which blew my mind. Take a seat on the benches to admire the view, have a drink, walk, jog, skateboard or go for a romantic walk with your partner as this seaside walk has something to offer to everyone.
The Promenade des Anglais was also the 'runway' for the British aristocracy to walk on during their vacations. During the 19th century the Russian aristocracy and later the British came to Nice to escape the cold winters. To create work opportunity for the locals an english pastor, Lewis Way, build The Promenade des Anglais which shaped Nice's cosmopolitan identity. This marked the start of the Belle Époque and the rise of the luxury hotels and casinos along the boulevard.
2. Cours Saleya Market
Don’t stop at the glamour side of the city as Nice has different facets worth exploring. Such as the Old Quarter where you’ll find the Cours Saleya Market a flower and fruits & vegetables market which opens daily (except on Monday).
At Cours Saleya Market I spotted several fruits and vegetables I was unfamiliar with like the kumquat (a bite-sized fruit with a big burst of sweet-tart citrus flavor), mediterranean fruits & vegetables, typical foods & bites from Nice. Unfortunately I didn't spot the famous zucchini flower as it wasn’t the season yet.
3. Try Local Nice Foods
What I did try and love was the Socca and Pissaladière. The Socca is a savory pancake made with chickpeas flour (and vegan). Surprisingly it tasted like a tasty sausage to me but my friend didn’t agree. The Pissaladière, an onion pie/pizza, was also a delicious treat to my senses. Normally it’s also served with anchovies and olives but mine didn't have anchovies. Make sure they slightly warm it up as it tastes even better that way! The next few days I went again for another dose of local Nice foods at Cours Saleya Market.
And let’s not forget the Salade Niçoise, one of the most known local dishes. When going for this salad or any other typical plate, make sure they carry a “Cuisine Nissarde” label as this guarantees it’s made according to the traditions. When you visit a popular city like Nice, many restaurants don’t follow the rules so it’s important you try and savor it as it’s supposed to.
4. Castle Hill
If you want to get one of the best panoramic views of Bella Nissa make sure to visit Castle Hill. The name might be misleading as there’s no castle up there. Climb the stairs or use the free elevator to get to the top. Once you arrive, admire the view of Nice, the azure sea and the city’s landmarks like Hotel Negresco and the port to the east.
If you continue to climb you’ll be in for a treat as there’s an adorable park where you can go with your kids, or even for a morning workout routine. On the other side you’ll find another magnificent panoramic view of the city.
5. Hop on Hop Off Tour in Nice
If you only have 24 hours to spend in Nice or want to see the highlights in a quick glance, I definitely recommend taking the Hop On Hop Off Bus. If you don’t get off you’ll see everything in 1h30. One thing I would definitely invest in during a stay in Nice is the French Riviera pass which allows you to participate in this bus for free while it normally costs 23eu.
You can also visit numerous museums, do an old city tour, visit Nice on a Segway and much more. A French Riviera pass starts at 26 EUR and you can get it here.
6. Vieille Ville - Old Nice
The old city centre offers a colorful and architectural contrast to the modern glamour seaside walks. Start at Place Massená, an expansive square that is surrounded by several shops and a street with only restaurants (making it a perfect place for lunch and dinner). One of the highlights definitely were the seven Large luminous sculptures shining in the sky above the square at night. They were created by Jaume Plensa, a Spanish artist and symbolize the colorful “conversations” they’re having. The seven characters represent seven continents and the communication between the different communities of today’s society. The name of this creation is “conversation à Nice”.
Walking in old Nice will make you feel as if you're in Italy, which makes sense given the city’s history. Even at night you can walk around, have an ice-cream and admire the sculptures and the vibrant fountain show right next to the square.
Did you know the dish ratatouille is from Nice? I didn’t, so imagine my surprise when I found out! Nice’s local cuisine is rich and filled with vegetables making it healthy. One restaurant that I would absolutely recommend is La Rossettisserie. Don’t let it’s tiny size fool you as these are usually the hidden culinary gems that surprise you with the excellence of their food. Highly praised on TripAdvisor, La Rossettisserie is located in the old quarter of Nice. When we arrived we didn’t have a reservation but luckily we got a table. The Canadian customers leaving were so happy and satisfied they urged us to wait when we were still standing outside. And I’m happy we did! I had their vegetarian dish which was made of ratatouille, mashed potatoes, salad and oven baked potatoes. It looks so simple yet it was delicious. And the ratatouille was flavorful. To finish it off I had their pistachio creme brûlée which was divine!
Even though the restaurant was full the personnel were super professional, friendly and quick to serve everyone.
8. Matisse Museum
If you want to feed your eyes and mind visit Musée Matisse. Nice was home to many renowned artists we know today such as Matisse, Chagall and Raoul Dufy who came here and were inspired by Promenade des Anglais, the seaside walk’s charm. You can view Matisse’s work at the Matisse Museum, which offers a small selection of his work.
Before you leave, stop by the museum shop as it has unique gifts that you can buy as a souvenir.
9. Contemporary Art Museum
If you’re more into contemporary art, visit the Contemporary art museum located at the Yves Klein square. The collection is diverse, colorful and it even features information on Niki de Saint Phalle, the artist who’s work you can admire at the front of Le Negresco Hotel.
Make sure you walk all the way to the top. During the day it offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city which reminded me of Lisbon in a way.
Both museums are free to visit if you have a French Riviera pass.
On the Yves Klein square (next to the museum) you’ll find many restaurants. Nice’s blended cultural history of France and Italy can definitely be seen on the menus as there’s an overflow of restaurants offering pizzas and pastas.
10. Le Negresco Hotel
When you walk on the Promenade des Anglais, you’ll easily spot Le Negresco hotel from afar. It was even our visual reference point. With its white facades and pink roof, the Negresco exudes old charm and at night its colors stand out even more. Even though I didn’t go inside, this 5 star luxury hotel is said to have a large collection of arts and antique furniture.
11. Le Food & Culture Market de Nice
Although Cours Saleya Market is definitely a must-see and visit for travelers, locals mostly go to the Marché de la Libération (market) to shop for fruits, vegetables and more. I wasn’t that impressed but in the future they will open Le Food & Culture Market de Nice right next to it which will offer food, dining options and more. This future hotspot is inspired by Covent Garden in Londres and Time Out Market Lisbon. So even though I wouldn’t recommend it for now, keep it in mind when it opens.
12. Monaco - Menton
What I loved about Nice is that it’s a perfect starting point for a French Riviera adventure. You can easily combine your stay with a day trip to Cannes, Monaco, Menton, Antibes and much more.
In my upcoming video I’ll show you the highlights of 24hours in Monaco & Menton, two destination located close to Nice. We took the train which was quick and affordable.
So make sure to tune in next week to see what I discovered in Menton and Monaco.
Whether you're visiting Nice during a long weekend or one week I hope this article proved that there's plenty to do and see in the Côte d'Azur.
For more travel tips visit www.nicetourisme.com
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