Nice is the fifth largest city in France, and boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. It has something for everyone and this makes the chic and cosmopolitan capital of the French Riviera such an interesting place to take a holiday in. The premier city of the Côte d’Azur is a place where holidaymakers can relax and sip cocktails along the pebble beaches, take a pleasure cruise through the waters of the Bay of Angels, where the landscape is defined by exotic palm trees that surround the Promenade des Anglais.
Nice is not just about relaxation, there are also plenty of tourist attractions that you can visit. Interested in taking a holiday in beautiful Nice? Read on for more…
The origins of Nice are to be located in the Gallic and Roman ruins at Cimiez which is a former settlement located in the hills above the Boulevard de Cimiez. Nice was once part of Italian Savoy and also the Kingdom of Sardinia until it was returned to France in 1860. The Mediterranean climate of Nice has been attracting visitors for well over 200 years.
In fact the main promenade on the seafront is called La Promenade des Anglais (Walkway of the English) after the many English aristocrats that holidayed here since the 18th Century. Receiving on average 4 million tourists a year, Nice is the second most visited place in France after Paris.
Nice is well located to the other main urban centres of France – the A8 autoroute is the most common way to get to Nice from the western France in Cannes or if you are coming from Italy by road. If you are coming from the west take the Exit 55 route which brings you into the city centre. Take Exit 50 if coming from the east. Nice is well served by bus and train, and Nice Airport is the second biggest in the whole of France, and services all the main European routes from Terminal 1.
Things to Do and See in Nice
There is plenty to see and do in Nice. The following are what we recommend that you definitely check out during your holiday there:
Promenade des Anglais: Started out as a small coastal road that was used by upper class English families, it is now one of the main roads used in Nice. Now it is an eight-lane highway, 8km long.
Colline du Chateau: Overlooks Baie des Anges and gives a magnificent view of the whole city, from 90 metres above. There are little remains of the castle, except for walls that are crumbling. The castle was felled in the 8th century. The view alone is worth the trek to the top. The hills now are home to a beautiful park, with typical Mediterranean foliage of pine trees and aloes, an alluring waterfall, and a play area for children. If you want another great view of Nice from a high vantage point, check out Mont Boron.
Vieux Nice (Nice Old Town): Nice Old Town is a wonderful maze of streets and alleyways. It is a colourful neighbourhood with tiny alleyways with charming and quirky shops, art galleries and eateries located between many traditional old style houses. The centre of Vieux Nice contains Saint Réparate Cathedral. There are some wonderful museums, including Palais Lascaris to the north east of the town, and decorated in a 17th century style. Rue St. Francois is home to some lovely little shops where you can pick up a bargain!
The very heart of the Old Town is to the south; along Cours Saleca, where the market is. You can smell the fresh fruit and flowers here. Grab a bargain any day of the week here, from antiques to clothes to ornaments! At the Palais de Justice you can pick a book from extensive market library on Saturdays. To the east of Vieux Nice is Colline du Chateau. Colourful houses define Vieux Port, which is reached from Place Garibaldi, and a charming church called Notre-Dame-du-Port.
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Nice: This impressive building was built in 1859 and is regarded as the oldest Russian cathedral in Western Europe.
Nice is home to some impressive museums including:
Parc Phoenix: Home to nearly 3,000 different plants in a botanic garden and an antique tropical glasshouse. There are some animals located here too.
Museé Chagall: With stained glass and art collections by the artist.
Museum of Asian Art: Located just across from the airport, and contains some wonderful art from the Asian continent.
Museé Matisse: Features a wonderful art collection in a 17th century Genoa style house.
Museé et Site Archeologiques de Cimiez: Located next door to Museé Matisse and features the relics of the Roman-Gallic settlement that was in Cimiez.
Nice Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: Near the central bus terminal, and features modern contemporary paintings and sculptures.
Museé des Beaux-Arts: Features work by various local artists such as Jules Cheret.
Beaches in Nice
One of the main reasons people go to Nice vacation is for the long hours of sunshine. Please note that in the main, the public beaches in Nice are quite stony and containing plenty of pebbles. However, the stunning light blue waters that lap the stony beaches are more of a compensation, and there is nothing like a swim in these warm clear waters.
If you prefer the sandy type of beaches there are other beaches that you can visit in the locality such as Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cannes and Antibes. Villefranche is only a twenty-minute drive away and is a charming and aesthetic port town with a vibrant history.
Nice cruises and Nice vacations: Nice is one of the most loved cruise holiday destinations in France and it is easy to see why. Find Cruises from Miami to Nice, France Now & Save!
Shopping In Nice
The main shopping street in Nice is Avenue Jean Medécin, and the Virgin Megastore is located here. Designer labels are very expensive here so if you are on a budget you will shop around for bargains. Gallaries Lafayette is a place to check out for more bargains.
A short drive over the Italian border to Ventimiglia will bring you to their massive open street market, which takes place every Friday.
The aforementioned Cours Saleva has wonderful markets, and is something you have to experience on your Nice holiday. The flower, fruit and vegetables markets are a joy to behold. Monday is flea market day – you might pick up some antique furniture, linen ware and china.
Eating Out In Nice
Dining out in the capital of the Côte d’Azur can be quite expensive, so as always it is best to shop around. Remember that lunch time meals can be quite good value so check these out. The Port area of Nice is a place where you can find good value budget restaurants. Mid value restaurants include Indian, Italian and local cuisine styled restaurants. If you want a real treat but at a huge price, try the Chantecler in the Negresco Hotel.
Festivals In Nice
Nice Jazz Festival: A local festival that dates all the way back to 1974, with a Grande Parade du Jazz when the main acts perform in the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre, which was built in the 3rd century BC. It runs from the 17th-24th July 2010 and offers high quality jazz music for fans.
La Fête des Mais: Takes place every Sunday in the month of May, with music and dancing in a family style atmosphere in the Amphitheatre of Cimiez.
Nice Carnival: Takes place for two weeks in February every year, and is regarded as one of the most important events in the French Riviera. There is a marvelous programme of entertainment on offer, with colourful carnival processions and fantastic floats. The major activity takes place on the Promenade des Anglais and the wonderful floral displays are well worth viewing.
Taking a holiday around Nice this summer or later this year? Remember that the best way to explore the city and the surrounding regions is to hire a car. For the very best deals in car rental, visit our Car Hire Nice Airport page.