|What to See & Do in Nice, France|
|The heart of the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera), Nice has many attractions for visitors.|
Waterfront & Beaches
Nice is known for its beautiful coastline, and in particular the Promenade des Anglais, a long coastal walkway built by the British in the early 1800s. No matter what the season, on a sunny day people will stroll along, enjoying the beautiful blue water of the Baie des Anges on one side, and interesting architecture on the other (with multiple traffic lanes in between).
All along the promenade are small beaches, many featuring restaurants. The beach is not soft sand, but rather small stones and coarse sand, so be sure to have some footwear. In summer expect crowds.
Tourist trains depart from the east end of the Promenade des Anglais, not far from Place Masséna. The 45 minute tour, with commentary in multiple languages, provides a good introduction to Nice.
The Promenade continues as the Quai des États-Unis, so named after President Wilson brought US support to World War I.
Vieille Ville (Old Nice)
Inland from the Quai des États-Unis, and west of Château Hill is the Vieille Ville, or Old City. Old Nice is a warren of narrow streets that is fun to explore on foot. There are many shops and restaurants, and it's a good place for inexpensive shopping and eating, in a charming setting. Many street signs are written in both French and Provençal.
Towering above the Quai is Château Hill, site of a former fortress, destroyed in the early 18th century. Reached via an elevator or stairs, the Hill provides panoramic views of the Baie des Anges and the City.
From the top you'll also see the Port Lympia (or Vieux Port), with its many yachts, fishing boats, and ferries to Corsica and elsewhere. The port is lined with colorful historic buildings, many of which hold restaurants.
Old Nice is also home to some of Nice's famous churches. The Basilique-Cathédrale Sainte-Marie - Sainte-Réparate (often called simply Sainte-Réparate) is known for its bell tower and tiled dome. Sainte-Réparate was a young martyr who died in 250 and who is also the patron saint of Nice.
The Chapelle de la Miséricorde, a notable yellow building overlooking the Cours Saleya in Old Nice, was built by the Black Penitants in 1740, and its facade was recently restored.
Since the mid 1800s, Nice has attracted Russian aristocracts and other visitors, who left their mark on the city's architecture. Most notable is the Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas. With its ornate domes and sumptuous interior, the cathedral stands out in Nice (note that there is a small admission fee).
Cours Saleya Market
The Cours Saleya, a central part of Nice's Old Town, is the site of a wonderful market. The colorful blooms of the Marché aux Fleurs are on the west end, while the rest is a lively display of produce, prepared foods, soaps, and more. It's open every morning except Monday, when there is an Antiques (Brocante) market. The market is lined with restaurants that provide wonderful spots for enjoying the winter sun (or summer shade) along with a Salade Niçoise or a cup of coffee.
From the Cours Saleya it's just a few steps through an arched doorway back to the coast.
In addition, Nice is home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules-Chéret (Fine Arts Museum), and the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain.
If you're interested in visiting several museums (and other attractions), check out the Nice Museum Pass or the French Riviera Pass and see if one of them makes sense for you.
Located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, just 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) from Nice, the Villa and Gardens Ephrussi de Rothschild make a wonderful day trip from Nice. The pink Belle Époque villa and its sumptuous furnishings and decorative items provide insights into the extravagances of the era. The nine gardens showcase a variety of styles from formal French to exotic plants to roses. It's easy to reach by car or bus from Nice. More...