Nice is the city that would steal your heart and you will always want to go back. Whether for the beautiful weather or the perfectly turquoise sea or simply for the fact that you are in South France… Nice is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. This is a town where you can free yourself from worries and enjoy the weather and the beautiful Mediterranean architecture, cuisine and mentality.
Nice origins go back to the Gallo-Roman ruins of Cimiez, in the hills up the boulevard de Cimiez from downtown. Nice was part of the Italian Duchy of Savoia and then the Kingdom of Sardinia until it was ceded to France in 1860 by a rigged ballot, against the population’s will. The ancient local language is Nissart, although of course everybody in the city speaks French. This may be a little problem for tourists who don’t speak French; people of Niece simply won’t bother to speak English to you (carry a French basic dictionary just in case).
How to get to Nice
Nice Airport is one of the busiest in France and has frequent daily flights to Paris, as well as to all bigger European cities, including Moscow. Flights to New York, North Africa and the Middle East are also included on regular basis. The airport is located at the western end of Nice. Arrival and departure in good weather often provides beautiful views of the French Riviera. To get to Nice from the airport you can take bus number 98 that will take you the Nice center (the bus runs every 30 minutes and you can get a Pass du Jour for it). Also you can take the local bus for 1 euro only.
If you are already in France you can take a train from any larger city (from Paris it will cost you about 100 Euros for adults). Trenitalia also runs their trains to Nice. You can departure from Milan, Genoa, Rome and Venice and their tickets are much cheaper than the French ones. Buses go to Nice from almost every larger European city. Nice is located by the coast, so people are able to get there easily by boat too. Make a phone call or visit the official website of the Nice port for departures and arrivals info.
What to see and when to visit
The Colline du Chateau is the first thing that you should see when you go to Nice. It is overlooking the Baie des Anges and harbour and offers a spectacular look of the city and the bay. Not much is left of its ruined castle besides crumbling walls. Still, climbing up the stairs to reach the platforms 90 metres above Nice is well worth the view. There is also a lift if you don’t feel like climbing the stairs. Go there during the day because the castle closes around sunset.
Nice has some good museums that you can visit such as Museum of Asian art located on 405, Promenade des Anglais where you can see Indian, Chinese, Southeast Asian, and world art in great architecture. The entrance is free. Musee Matisse works every day except for Tuesday, 10am-16pm. Here you can see a wonderful collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 17th century. Also the entrance is free. Parc Phoenix located on 405 Promenade des Anglais is the place where you can see 2500 different plants in botanical garden and exotic animals and tropical glass house. The tickets cost 2 Euros. Nice is best for visit during spring and summer. From mid April till late September you can enjoy the nice weather.
The old town (Vieux Nice) beneath the hill is literally a labyrinth of old narrow streets and authentic houses. If you let yourself get lost in the old town you will see the picturesque houses, boutiques, small shops and restaurants as well as the daily flower and fruit market of the Cours Saleya.
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) is close the central bus terminal. It has four connected towers featuring modern and contemporary artists and their sculptures, paintings, and conceptual installations. Here you can have perhaps the best view of the city, because MAMAC has an open-air roof terraces.
The Cliff Walk is located about probably 15 minute walk past the old port. Heading east toward Monaco, there is a little pathway that leads from Coco Beach along the side of the cliff, the “Sentier Littoral” which you can follow around Cap de Nice half way to Villefranche, but be prepared for several hundred steps up to rejoin the road. It’s a very beautiful walk and you will find mostly local people using it.
You simply can’t miss it. Before Nice was urbanized, the coast at Nice was just bordered by a deserted band of beach. In the second half of the 18th century, the English started spending the winter in Nice, enjoying the panorama along the coast. In 1820 when the English winter was very harsh, a lot of of beggars found their way to the warm Nice. Some of the English proposed a useful project for them: the construction of a walkway (chemin de promenade) along the sea. It was paid for by the Rev Lewis Way. The Promenade was first called the Camin deis Anglés (the English Way) by the Niçois in their native dialect Nissart. After the annexation of Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais. Here you can walk and enjoy the Mediterranean, ride a bicycle or roller blades, run or simply bask in the sun (the beach is literally below your feet). The beaches are pebbled, but it doesn’t stop the people of Nice nor the tourists to come along and enjoy swimming and tanning.
Places to stay
Starting from luxurious hotels (located on the Promenade such as the popular Negresco, Sheraton, Westminister…) where movie stars stay, to small hostels and rooms, Nice has a lot places for tourists. The smaller hotels offer reasonable prices per person starting from 50 Euros and higher. Always book in advance if you want to make sure you will get a good price and nice room.