Nice, the capital of the Cote d’Azur and France’s fifth largest city, has a sophisticated charm all of its own. Set against a backdrop of the beautiful Baie des Anges, you’ll find clear blue waters, good restaurants, lively markets and eye-catching Belle Époque architecture, everything you could want on a city break.
It has undergone something of a renaissance in the past few years with a whole host of cultural attractions popping up all over town and is a great city break destination.
Getting there/around Nice
KLM and bmibaby are among the scheduled airlines which fly to the city, in addition to low cost airline easyJet. Flights go to Nice Côte d’Azur airport, which is only about four miles from the centre of town.
Frequent buses run to the main SNCF railway station in town, or you can hire a car, jump in a taxi or take a train from the Gare St Augustin, the closest station to the airport.
Nice is a fairly compact city, which can be easily negotiated on foot. The main areas are Vieux Nice (the Old Town), the port, and Cimiez, an affluent suburb, home to many of the city’s museums.
Beaches in Nice
If you’re coming on holiday for fine sandy beaches, Nice isn’t the place for you. Beaches here are pebbly, but as long as you bring your flip-flops and something to sit on, you’ll be happy.
The waters of the Baie des Anges are very clean and safe for swimming, and if you want sand, there are a few private beaches you can head for.
Further along the coast, beaches like Antibes and St Tropez’s beautiful Plage de Pampelonne offer wonderful sandy stretches.
Divers can explore the coast off Nice, which is a warm 26C in August. Expect rich and colourful marine life such as barracudas, octopus, moray and conger eels as well as sponges and other smaller fish. Diamond Diving offer a day’s diving including equipment hire for 90 euros or try dives for 50 euros.
Sightseeing in Nice
If it’s rest and relaxation you’re after, take a stroll along the palm-lined Promenade des Anglais or spend a laid-back afternoon exploring the Old Town.
The ruins of the old castle offer great views over the harbour, and if you’re after some culture, head to a top museum, like the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art or the Matisse Museum, which emerges from a make-over this June.
Otherwise you can simply admire the grand villas, Belle Époque hotels and winding medieval streets.
Family attractions in Nice
Roller skaters will be in their element showing off on the Promenade de Anglais.
Water babies can swim in the clear waters, hire a pedallo or take a glass-bottomed boat tour around the Baie des Anges.
The Train des Pignes is an old-fashioned steam train that travels from Nice to Digne four times a day in the summer. It takes in some stunning alpine scenery and makes a great family day out.
Day trips around Nice
The mega rich playground of Monaco is only a stone’s throw away. One look at the boats in the harbour will have you dreaming of wealth. And as for the casino…
On the way to Monaco you might want to stop off at Eze, a small village perched on a mountain. Look out for the underpass that takes you to a secret beach!
If you fancy a change of scenery, take a trip to the Friday market at Ventimiglia, just across the Italian border.
Eating out in Nice
Salade Niçoise is a regional speciality in Nice, as are candied fruits (fruits glaces). You’ll find these at the daily fruit and flower market on Cours Saleya.
Oyster lovers will be in their element, with lots of restaurants offering a dizzying array in all shapes and sizes. Le Grand Cafe de Turin is a favourite with locals.
A trip to the Riviera wouldn’t be complete without whiling some time away on a sun-drenched cafe terrace – the place to see and be seen. And don’t forget the ice-cream parlours either.
Nightlife in Nice
If you’re visiting in July make sure you catch some of the prestigious international acts at the Nice Jazz Festival.
Those who like a flutter should head to the Casino Ruhl at the Hotel le Meridien.
Le Relais, the bar at the magnificent Hotel Negresco, attracts a chic crowd, and from here you can move on to the Cours Saleya and the surrounding bars and restaurants.
Shopping in Nice
Head to the market on Cours Saleya for fresh, local produce. The night market (Marche Nocturne) held between July and September is good for handmade jewellery, arts and crafts.
If you’re after high street names and luxury labels, take a stroll along Avenue Jean Medecin, Rue Paradis, Avenue de Suede and Avenue de Verdun.