Ah, the French Riviera. Home to beautiful beaches and even more beautiful celebrities, there’s no doubting its got some glitzy charm. Nice (that’s ‘neece,’ by the way) certainly has all the glamour you’d expect from the French Riviera, but there’s also so much more than that. For those who love this place, it is not just nice (sorry – low hanging fruit), in fact, Nissa la Bella – Nice the Beautiful, is the name of the city’s unofficial anthem. We have to agree with the moniker, so, to help you enjoy Nice the Beautiful, here are our favorite things to do.
Stroll down Promenade d’Anglais
The main promenade in Nice overlooks the pebbly but beautiful Bay of Angels; however, we’re willing to bet that you’ll spend more time observing the characters strolling, skateboarding and cycling down it.
Promenade d’Anglais (English Promenade) has been the heart of Nice for centuries and was especially popular amongst English gentry escaping their chilly winters. Since they appreciated the finer things in life, many ritzy establishments appeared, such as the striking hotel La Negresco, favorite haunt of painter Salvador Dali – oh, to have been filthy rich in 18th century Europe!
If the walk can’t tempt you, perhaps head to one of the beachside bars to grab a cocktail (the fancier, the better), listen to some jazz and pretend you are part of the aristocracy!
Taste your way around the Cours Saleya Market
Markets are a way of life all around France, and we approve. The Cours Saleya Market in Nice is the ideal place to pick up some fresh produce and delicatessen goods. Try brushing up on some basic French before you go – “tout le fromage, s’il vous plaît” (all the cheese, please) is handy – and get ready to enjoy some free samples! The market is open every day except for Mondays when there is a bustling flea market instead. Don’t forget to try a “socca” (chickpea flour crepe) from the famous stand Chez Thérésa.
Visit an art gallery
Say what you will about the nobility of days gone by, but they had pretty decent taste in art – which is reflected in Nice’s many museums. Whether you love Matisse or Warhol (or have no idea who either are), there’s sure to be a museum for your tastes. From the impressive collection at the Musée Matisse to the modern treasures at Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, there is terrific variety. Or, head for the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice, and ponder how art thieves managed to take off with four paintings in 2007, the latest in a string of daring heists affecting the museum.
Explore the Vielle Ville (Old Town)
One of the reasons for Nice’s unique charm is the city’s strong Italian influence – it actually wasn’t officially part of France until 1860. This means that Nice’s “Old Town” is unusual throughout France, although it has all those beautiful hallmarks like cobbled streets, chic cafés and stylish cocktail bars. It’s also an excellent place for picking up some souvenirs, whether of the trendy or tacky variety.
It’s also the place to go if you’re looking for some Instagram shots – the colorful walls were just made for the ‘gram.
Spend an afternoon in Cimiez
Just a bit uphill from downtown Nice is Cimiez, where the Roman’s ruled over the area from about 14 B.C.
Not only does the site have remnants of the Roman settlement, including an amphitheater, but there’s also the Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez, which features artifacts that are thought to have belonged to the elephant hunters’ camp that inhabited the area a cool 400,000 years ago. History buffs will love this place, although everyone can appreciate the beautiful views out over the city of Nice.