Today I’m sharing the ins and outs of falling head over heels for Nice, France. Plus where to stay, and what to do when you visit!
After Monaco, the second stop on my recent girls getaway trip to the French Riviera was Nice, France.
Nice is the largest city in Côte d’Azur and has a lot to offer. For starters you can fly straight into Nice, France from New York, without having to stop in Paris. Nice is lined with popular beaches along the Mediterranean coast, with mountains behind acting as a beautiful backdrop to the city.
On top of convenient transportation and beachfront scenery, there is much to do in Nice. From museums to historic architecture and cathedrals, there is eye candy in every direction. Because we had only two short days to spend in Nice, France before moving down the coastline, we decided to focus on taking in the main city attractions.
Colline du Château, or Castle Hill in english, is a hill right in the middle of town overlooking both the beach to the west and the port to the east. It takes several minutes to hike to the park at the top, but is definitely worth the effort. (You can also drive to the top or take an elevator, but I suggest walking.)
We had a tour guide with us on the morning of our first day in Nice, set up by a company called Friend-in-France.com. Friend in France helps arrange amazing experiences along the France Riviera or in Paris, to make your travel plans as easy and memorable as possible.
Our tour guide and new friend Cyril, told us Colline du Château in Nice was first founded by greek explorers and was named after the greek goddess Nike. There used to be greek ruins there, yet nowadays, the best feature of Castle Hill is the expansive views.
Promenade des Anglais, or English Walk, is a wide path that runs along the beaches of Nice. It’s a great stroll for sight seeing on the city side, and people watching of the beach side. It also makes a wonderful running trail.
Both public and private beaches line the Mediterranean in Nice, France. Most of these are pebble beaches, a unique feature that feels good on your feet, however not so much on your back. (A few hotels have brought in sand for their beaches.) You can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas at the private beaches and lay in the sun to your heart’s content. Or experience one of the many water sports along the sea, including parasailing, jet skiing, and sailing.
The Iron Man Triathlon was taking place while we were in Nice, using up the majority of Promenade des Anglais and the parallel street. Locals and tourists alike came out to cheer on the competitors as they raced down the coastline. It was amazing to be so close to the action!
Port de Nice is a marvelous place to walk around and take in the color and action of Nice, France. There are shops and restaurants lining the edges of the port, however the main attraction is the wide array of boats, ranging from small vividly painted fishing boats, to lavish yachts.
Vieille Ville, or Old Town Nice, is another place to roam and take in the sites. The original architecture of the city has been well preserved, yet with thriving businesses lining the streets. There are spice shops, restaurants, and boutiques everywhere you look.
Old Town in a part of the city where meandering is welcomed. It’s a place to get lost for a few hours without concern. A place to find regional snacks like socca a savory chickpea pancake, and fougasses a sort of calazone.
A place to hunt down the best ice cream shop in town… After testing out a few (for research purposes) we felt Fenocchio was the best.
Cours Saleya, is an open air street market in Nice that runs parallel to the Promenade des Anglais, making it very easy to find from the beach or Old Town.
It’s a vibrant market selling fresh produce, local meats and cheeses, bread, candies, and flowers, making it a great stop to buy picnic supplies before visiting on of Nice’s beautiful parks.
At Cours Saleya you will also find souvenirs and clothing, local artists, and if you’re lucky, street musicians. This particular band was playing American jazz as they strutted down the street.
Once you’ve climbed to the top of Castle Hill, walked the promenade, played on the beach, visited Port de Nice, explored Old Town, and the open-air market… You are going to be very very tired. So it’s important to stay somewhere restful, so you can get a good night sleep.
We stayed at the Palais de la Mediterranee, a 5-Star Hyatt Regency Hotel. This marvelous hotel combines old-world charm and modern luxury, with 3 restaurants, 2 pools, a turkish bath, and a casino.
Our room looked over the second-story pool, which also overlooked the Promenade des Anglais and sea. It was wonderful to open the doors to the fresh air and sounds of the sea, knowing we had all the conveniences of a Hyatt Regency.
There’s truly something to be said for staying in a hotel you know and trust when you are traveling overseas. We could go out into the city for adventurous exploration, then come back to the hotel to experience all the comforts of home.
Another notable hotel we visited was the Hôtel Le Negresco. This privately owned hotel is a work of art, with art displayed on every single floor. Whether you stay here or not, the Negresco is worth visiting.
Just look at the inside…
The owner of the Negresco, Jeanne Augier, has been collecting art for decades and believes art should be enjoyed by all. You can actually touch, and even sit on, many of the pieces throughout the hotel.
Coincidentally, my favorite dining experience in Nice, France was at the Brasserie La Rotonde, located in the Negresco. It’s an eatery designed to mimic the look and feel of a french carousel.
I was dazzled by the detail around the restaurant. Then later when we sat outside to eat, I was dazzled by the cuisine of Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland.
This is where I experienced my first true Salade Nicoise… In Nice!!
My final thought on Nice, France is that what makes Nice such a wonderful city to visit in the French Riviera, is that it’s an extremely livable city.
I honestly could picture myself there full-time. From the nightlife, shopping, and restaurants, to the fantastic city planning (taking into consideration how old the city is) and laid-back mentality, it’s easy to imagine staying in Nice for much longer than a couple days.
Nice is a wonderful jumping-off point to explore the Côte d’Azur. From Nice you can easily drive or take the train to many surrounding cities, including Monte Carlo, Cannes, Antibes, Biot, Saint Raphael, Grasse and even some small medieval villages.
Amanda and I had the opportunity to pop over to the little hilltop village of Eze, France. This picturesque village was a quick 20 minute drive from Nice and was so photogenic I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Situated halfway between Nice and Monte Carlo, Eze is a wonderful place to stop for a few hours to peruse boutique, wonder cobblestone streets, and enjoy a glass of wine with a view.
Stop by next week for more travel tips and photography from Saint Tropez, France!
Disclosure: We were hosted in Nice by the Hyatt Regency Hotel. All opinions are my own.