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Things To Do In Nice
The gorgeous old city of Nice is one of the loveliest gems of the French Riviera, situated along the Mediterranean coast in the southeast region of France. A beach town that experiences more than 300 days of sunshine, Nice is bustling with tourists almost all year long. While its main highlights are its scenic locales and vibrant culture that is a brilliant mix of Italy and France, art lovers will especially love this city for its spectacular museums and art galleries. Add some delectable French cuisine, a splendid Mediterranean climate and some wonderful old markets, and you’ve got yourself the perfect holiday destination that is brilliantly suited to all age groups. Here are our recommendations for some of the top things to do and explore on your next trip to Nice.
Stroll on the Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is easily the most recognizable landmark of Nice and an integral part of the city’s life that dates back to the early years of the 1800s. This vast paved walkway stretches for seven kilometres and faces the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and lovely beaches on one side, while regal 19th-century landmarks, parks and restaurants surround it on the other side. Soaking up the sea-scented atmosphere as you stroll along the promenade is one of the top activities tourists like to explore. There is a separate lane for cyclists and skaters and you can join them on rented scooters, skates and cycles from Roller Station.
Relax on the Beaches
If you visit Nice and don’t end up spending a considerable amount of your vacation on the beaches, suffice to say, your holiday has remained incomplete. Most of the beaches in Nice are unique in a characteristic manner such that instead of sand, most of their surface is covered in small pebbles. Sunbathing on such surfaces may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, most of the beaches have sun loungers and occasionally, some sandy spots as well that will prove to be a comfort for all beachgoers.
There are also a lot of private beaches in Nice with changing rooms and even waiters. Most of such private beaches are often properties of fancy hotels in the area. One of the most highly recommended ones is the Plage Beau Rivage Beach across the Beau Rivage Hotel. Castel Plague is another private beach with bright white sand and sparkling blue water that creates one of the most picturesque settings in the city.
Visit the Museums
Artists have always had an ongoing relationship with Nice, which is evident in its numerous museums and art galleries. The three most significant ones worth a visit are the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC), the Matisse Museum and the Chagall Museum. Avant-garde artworks belonging to different movements can be seen on display at the Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art, while the artistic creations of famous painters Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall are showcased in the Matisse Museum and Chagall Museum respectively.
The Palais Lascaris showcases a lovely collection of musical instruments, while Charles Négre Museum is a must-visit for all photography lovers. A comprehensive collection of Asian artworks can be seen at the Asian Arts Museum located on Promenade des Anglais. A true art buff can spend an entire day in Nice just exploring the different museums and soaking in all the history.
Explore Nice on a Velo Bleu
Velo Bleu is a bike sharing program in Nice that serves as a great travel option for tourists. There are 175 Velo Bleu stations all over Nice from where travellers can simply grab hold of the bikes after registering on the Velo Bleu website. Moreover, apart from being a cheap and convenient way to go about the city, peddling through the different interesting lanes of Nice is a fun activity in itself and explore the nooks and crannies of the city at your own leisure.
Hike up Castle Hill
Also known as Colline du Cháteau or the Parc du Cháteau, this hilltop park is located in the old town of Vielle Ville and offers some of the most panoramic views in the city after a climb of 92 metres, which is easily the point of highest altitude in Nice. This region is known to have been occupied since Celtic and Roman times, and there was also a medieval castle here that served as a military fortress and was eventually destroyed by Louis XIV in the 16th-century; today, only the Tour Bellanda remains where the castle once was.
There is a winding staircase that leads to the top of the hill along with an elevator for those who might not be fit to make the climb. Once you reach the top, you will be able to view all the key landmarks of Nice from a lovely vantage point among the greens of the gardens; there is also an artificial waterfall here that dates back to the 18th-century.
Attend the Nice Carnival
Dating back to the 13th-century, the Nice Carnival is probably the largest carnival in the world. It is held for two weeks on the Promenade des Anglais in the month of February and a different theme is chosen every year by the ‘Carnival King’. It consists of hundreds of cultural and sporting events; the Flower Battle or the ‘Bataille de Fleurs’ is a particularly delightful event that involves the tossing of colourful and fragrant blossoms from the carnival floats at the spectators.
Shop in Vieux Nice
This old town in Nice is a maze of narrow, winding alleys that has lasted for more than 300 years and hasn’t changed much since its original years. Tourists can find restaurants, shops, delis and bars all crammed close together; with the Cours Saleya market square being the highlight of the town. It is a great place to shop for fresh produce in the food market and enjoy the colourful blossoms in the flower market, with Mondays reserved for a flea market. Tourists will find the shops here to be a great place to purchase souvenirs and some local Nice specialities. Even if you are not looking to shop, it is simply a fun place to enjoy the local bars and cafes or just walk around absorbing the local culture.
Hike up to Mont Boron
If you are looking for some an active session after you’ve had your fill of relaxing on the beaches and lounging in the cafes, head down to Parc du Mont Boron, which is located in the eastern part of the city at a height of around 200 metres. With over 11 km of hiking trails to choose from, the summit of Mont Boron will leave you speechless with wide panoramas of Nice on one side and Cap Ferrat on the other. Travellers can also make the climb to Mont Alban where the remains of a 16th-century military fortress, Fort du Mont Alban, remains open to visitors during the summer season.
A trip to Nice is incomplete without experiencing the local Niçoise delicacies, which has made an immense contribution to French cuisine. Interestingly, the dish Ratatouille, a vegetable stew made famous by the animated movie of the same name, also hails from Nice and features as a must-try when visiting the city.
Bar des Oiseaux, Franchin, Chez Palmyre, La Rossettisserie are some of the top choices in restaurants if you are looking to try authentic French cuisine. The entire city is packed with numerous delis and cafes where you can try other local favourites like Socca (crispy pancake made with chickpea flour), Daube Niçoise (traditional beef stew), and Salade Niçoise (salad made with lettuce, boiled eggs, anchovies, olives and tomatoes). Don’t forget to visit the local bakeries as well for some amazing traditional French bread.
Wine Tasting at Cave de la Tour
The Cave de la Tour is one of Nice’s oldest wine bars and was established way back in 1947. Here, tourists will find wide varieties of some of the finest French wines and great food to go along with it as well. You can choose to sample the wines by the glass or even get an entire bottle of the one that catches your fancy.