Dear fellow travelers,
Summer is approaching, and many of you are surely already thinking about a good destination for the upcoming holidays. We would like to dedicate some articles to Nice & the Cote d’Azur, as this this area could be the perfect place for you to spend some time during the summer, either for a long holiday (there are many things you can do in Nice and its surroundings, if you have the chance to stay for one week or more), or for a weekend city break.
Nice is with no doubt the “capital” of the Cote d’Azur; with a population of 345.000, it is the 5th biggest city in France. Part of the Counts of Savoy since 1388, Nice was ceded to France in 1860, as a reward for French assistance in the II Italian War of Independence against Austria. Still now, Italian influence is evident in many aspects of the life of the city; from architecture, to culture, to the local dialect (nissart), to food. It’s difficult to get bored here: beach, amazing restaurants, clubs, museums and animated squares will keep you busy, and it’s impossible to resist to the azure color of the water of the baie des Anges.
Here are the things we suggest you to do in Nice!
Promenade des anglais. The iconic walkway extends from the airport on the west to the Quai des États-Unis on the east, for approximately 7km. «La Prom» is with no doubt the most famous place in Nice, and it’s always full of families, runners, bicyclists and skaters. Here you can have a long stroll, take few steps down and approach the beach, have lunch at the famous Negresco hotel or sit on the typical blue chairs (or cabanas) to contemplate the azure water of the sea.
Place Garibaldi. Maybe you don’t know that Garibaldi, the Italian general and politician, considered one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland” was born in Nice. The city dedicated him a square, situated north of the Old Town and not far from the harbor. This semi-pedestrian square, entirely renovated between 2008 and 2012, is the oldest big square in Nice, and one of the landmarks of the city. Rue Bonaparte, one of the centers of the nightlife, with its trendy bars and restaurants, it’s just few steps away.
View from the Castle. The Château de Nice, situated on the eastern end of the Promenade and overlooking the harbor, was a citadel used for military purposes. Today, it’s a park, one of the most famous in Nice and, from here, everyday, you will hear a cannon exploding at midday. It’s just a firework, manually setoff to keep a tradition started in 1861 by a British gentlemen that used to set off a cannon to… call back his wife, who was wandering around on the Promenade des Anglais or in the Old Town! On a bright day, tourists climb the steps up on the hill and enjoy a fantastic panorama.
Vieux Nice. This is an absolute must-visit! Get lost in the narrow streets of the Old Town; here you will find plenty of inspiring shops and restaurants, and you will be able to taste a bit of everything, from local nougat de provence, socca and pissaladière, to seafood or pizza. Every time of the day is a good time to visit Le Vieux Nice, which is one of the most colorful and animated areas of the city.
Place Massena & Miroir d’Eau. Designed by Joseph Vernier in 1843-1844 and surrounded by red buildings, this is the most famous square in Nice. It was recently rebuilt and it’s now fully pedestrian, exception made for the tramway rails. As part of the square’s renovation, the Promenade du Paillon, that cuts the square into two, was also rebuilt as a green belt. Le Miroir d’Eau, ensemble of spectacular fountains right in the middle of the green belt, is now a great attractions for children and tourists. Rue de France and Avenue Médecin, both starting from this square, are two of the main shopping streets in Nice.
Apéro at the Hotel Le Méridien. If you fancy a view from the top, you should head on to the terrace of Hotel Le Méridien right before dusk. Have a seat outside at La Terrasse Restaurant: you will then have the opportunity to enjoy a fantastic view on the baie des anges alongside with your drink! A webcam permanent view is available on their site, it will give you an idea of what you shall not miss!
MAMAC. If you are interested in modern art, you should spend an half day at the MAMAC, Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain. Open everyday (with few exceptions on public holidays) until 17.45, MAMAC displays more than 1300 pieces from over 300 artists, with particular attention to the work of two prominent figures of 20th century’s art: Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle.
Beach Life. Obviously, you don’t want to miss the occasion to get tanned and take a bath in the azure water of the baie des Anges. Nice offer over 7km of beach, public and private. The beach is composed of smooth pebbles, called galets. A mat and plastic “jelly” shoes will make you more comfortable. The water is normally clean and has the typical azure color. The best time of the day to take a bath is in the morning, when few people are around and the color is more intense. The water may be colder, but you’ll find it difficult to resist!
Musée Chagall. This museum, also known as musée national message biblique Marc-Chagall , displays the work of the painter Marc Chagall and, in particular, his work inspired by religion. The museum is located in Cimiez; a neighborhood where you could also find the Musée Matisse and the ruins of Cemenelum, capital of the Ancient Roman province Alpes Maritimae on the Ligurian coast.
Cathedrale Russe. A short walk behind Nice main station and you’ll find yourself in Russia. How is that possible? Well, the Russian aristocracy that started visiting Nice regularly in the mid-19th decided to establish an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in the French Riviera, and this is now the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in Western Europe. Opened in 1912 thanks to the generosity of Tsar Nicholas II, the cathedral is now property of the Russian state, after a long dispute about its ownership.
So many things to visit in Nice, but we are not done yet! Stay tuned to check out our best addresses and the day-trips that we suggest you to take outside the city.
… Eat The Road! 😉