Nice is one of the most popular destinations on the Riviera, attracting visitors from all over the world. Unfortunately, it can also be quite expensive and finding Nice city accommodation at reasonable prices in the heart of the city can sometimes be a challenge.
If money is no object, the city’s famous Promenade des Anglais is home to some of the Riviera’s most luxurious hotels, many dating from the city’s glory days in the late 19th century. More reasonably priced rooms can be found in the old town, a picturesque neighborhood of winding streets, and small cafes and bars, but still within easy reach of the beaches.
Although Nice is expensive, there are strategies to save on the cost of your room, especially if you are prepared to stay out of the city a little way. The Riviera has a well defined tourist season, and visiting off season can potentially save you money on your room. Contacting the hotel directly, rather than booking online can often get you a lower rate, and you should also take advantage of any discounts, including student, military or senior citizen.
Famous Nice City Hotels
The city’s most well known hotel is probably the Negreso, which occupies a prime position on the promenade overlooking its own private beach. The amenities and service are just what you would expect, and rooms here start at around 250 Euro.
The Negresco welcomes pets, as do many other hotels in Nice, and visiting pets are treated as well as their owners. Other expensive hotels with Victorian character and charm include the Westminster, the Palais de la Méditerranée and the Splendid, all offering an equally convenient seafront location.
Cheap Nice City Hotels
However, you can get an adequate hotel room in Nice for around €80, although your room may be small, and the building may have no elevator. Some smaller European hotels also feature a shared bathroom, although even the smallest Nice hotel usually provides a basic breakfast.
Staying in the old town allows you to feel more like a local and to immerse yourself in the daily life of the city and some of the best cheaper Nice hotels include the Albert 1’er hotel, the Saint Georges and the Windsor, designed by devotees of Gustav Eiffel. The Windsor is not only one of the best thrifty Nice city accommodation options, it is also one of the most unique, with rooms decorated by local artists and a garden full of exotic plants.
Recommendations for Eating Out in Nice
Nice, on the Cote d’Azur has long been a magnet for holiday makers. Its location on the Mediterranean coast, coupled with its relative proximity to the Alps, put it in a prime location for anyone who wants to explore what Provence can offer.
For anyone who visits Nice city eating out is a great way of getting to sample local cultures and traditions. Thankfully, there are venues available to suit all budgets, from high end luxury travellers, to families with kids, and right down to backpackers looking for their next value meal.
Travellers on a luxury budget will certainly enjoy eating at Restaurant Aphrodite, where David Faure is the chef. The ethos here is to use molecular gastronomy to create a sensual eating experience for diners. All senses and emotions are engaged and evoked by the superb dishes on the menu here at this restaurant, located at 10 boulevard Dubouchage.
Those with more modest tastes, who require a good quality meal for a reasonable price, can also find plenty of choice in Nice. There are plenty of decent bistros and bars in the city where you can find a great meal for a good price.
The eponymous restaurant located at 26 Cours Saleya is an example of this kind of venue. A really good meal can be had here for around €40, with many children’s dishes also on the menu. With English and Italian spoken in the restaurant, and a good variety of French food on offer, almost anyone can feel welcome here. A takeaway service is also offered for anyone who wants to enjoy what the venue can offer at their leisure.
One of the most popular fast food dishes in Nice is a kind of local filled pancake called a socca. If you are travelling on a backpacker’s budget to Nice, it is likely that you will end up eating quite a few of these during your stay. They are available from a wide range of venues, The streets around the Cours Saleya market is the best place to find low cost, good quality soccas.
As well as French and Provencal food, there are a range of other restaurants in Nice that offer cuisine from around the world. Italian, Greek and North African restaurants can all be found in this Provencal city, meaning that whatever you enjoy eating, in whatever kind of environment, you should be able to find it in Nice.
Best Nightlife on the French Riviera
Although Nice is perhaps best known for its beaches, the city also has some of the best nightlife on the Riviera. There is an excellent selection of bars and clubs, many concentrated in the old town and around the colourful Cours Saleya market area. Many lively nights out begin with a drink or two in a cafe, and the most popular nightspots in town open late and stay open until the small hours.
Nice is also home to the region’s premier opera house, designed by Garnier, who designed the more famous Paris Opera. There are several elegant bars and cafes close to the Opera House, which are ideal for a quiet and relaxing pre-opera drink.
The Cabaret du Casino Rul brings a touch of nearby Monte Carlo to Nice, with its casino and burlesque show, while several cinemas, notably the Mercury on Garibaldi Square show films in both French and English. Nice also has a thriving gay scene, with many gay friendly bars and clubs conveniently located in the old town.
However, to many visitors, Nice nightlife means enjoying some of the many bars, clubs and discos that can be found all over the city. Some bars and clubs have been in business for so long, they have become fixtures.
These include Le Before, often the first stop on a Nice pub crawl, as well as Le Relais, once the haunt of the actress Lillie Langtry. One of the longest established nightspots is La Bodeguita del Havana, which offers a Latin American atmosphere, complete with salsa and reggae music.
If you want to meet people from the UK who live in and around Nice, several places are popular with British expats. These include William’s Pub, Big Ben and the Scarlett O’Hara Irish pub. Another popular place offering reminders of the UK is Chez Wayne’s, which is lively most evenings, with sporting events on television and a regular schedule of live bands. On the other hand, La Civette is popular with locals, and is a good place for an aperitif.
If dance clubs are your idea of nightlife, Nice has plenty to choose from. Les Trois Diables offers dancing both indoors and outdoors on its terraces, while the Blue Boy Enterprise has been around for years and attracts a varied crowd. Le Grand Escurial claims to have the largest dance floor on the Riviera and covers three floors, while La Polousa also claims to be the area’s largest.
Although Nice nightlife is exciting year round, one of the best times is to visit is during July, when the city hosts a jazz festival, regarded as one of Europe’s best. The event has been held since 1948 and past acts have included Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton and Ella Fitzgerald.
Shopping In Nice City
The City of Nice is a shopper’s paradise, with many opportunities not just to buy things but to enjoy the spectacle in every window or along each pedestrian-only area. In a nutshell, when it comes to Nice expect to do as much gaping as shopping.
For instance, Magenta Square is known for designer fashions. Shoppers gaze longingly at gowns and suits they cannot afford. The shops cater to a variety of price brackets because even though this is the French Riviera, not everyone who visits is rich. If you cannot afford a designer label, you will still find something unique.
At an outdoor market, bring your small notes and loose change to buy flowers, antiques, and crafts. Enjoy a sunny morning near the beach picking up fruit and bread for a picnic. Prices get higher the closer you get to the beach, so consider sticking to markets at the center of the city before venturing closer to the sea.
Art and jewelry are sold by designer boutiques and artisans with small shops or stalls. You could discover a one-of-a-kind item at a decent price. Other art for sale includes posters and postcards including some antique and hand-painted items.
Since this is a retail Eden, consumers will frequently find items which have been imported from outlying regions such as rural Provencal pottery with its distinctive colors and patterns. No matter where you go in France, you are sure to find a quaint coffee shop selling hot drinks and fresh pastry.
If pastry is not to your liking but you enjoy a bit of sugar, remember that French chocolatiers are among some of the best in the world. Stop by a confectioner’s shop for fine chocolate, jellied fruits, and les confitures: jam. No doubt you will also discover some great wine to go with your sweets.
If you are visiting, just walk from your hotel and get some exercise which will help you burn off the calories from your chocolate indulgence. Learn a few words in French, but remember that this is a cosmopolitan area where people from all over the world gather to enjoy the warm sun, beaches and to spot celebrities.
Chances are that many shopkeepers will speak at least enough English to help you make your purchases. Try to do some research before your next trip to Nice if you plan on spending some big money. Sometimes spur of the moment decisions may not work out so well.
Best Beaches Near Nice, France
France is a wonderful holiday destination, especially in the summer. One of the major tourist attractions is Nice. Nice is one of those few cities that have beaches just minutes from the centre of the city. You can easily drive in your cheap Nice Airport car hire.
It has, not one, but up to 30, stretching from Cote d’Azur Airport all the way to the Port. However, all of them are stony, which does not make them the perfect place for tanning. Add to that the fact that they have steep slopes, which also makes them unsafe for beginner swimmers.
All is not lost, however. There are many beautiful beaches near Nice that can be reached with car hire in Nice. Here is a list.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small resort close to Nice. It doesn’t have very fine sand, but it’s still better than the Nice beaches. Since the town is really small, there are fewer people – and tourists – here which makes for a nice and quiet experience. Still, this town does get a lot of traffic during summer season.
Antibes has a large number of beaches as well. Old Antibes is small and sandy. It gets quite crowded as well. It faces the sun (westward) so you can see the sunset perfectly from here. It has a breakwater which makes it a safe place for children to swim in.
The Ponteil and La Salis are also very popular in Antibes. La Salis is very large, but crowded during summers. Ponteil has a breakwater like Old Antibes.
Juan les Pins is located on the other side (of the peninsula) and has a huge sandy area. The large amount of space here makes it a popular place. You can also find shops here selling inflatable toys for the tourists. The fancy beach on Antibes is the Garoupe beach on Cap d’Antibes.
Protected from the wind, it faces east which means you’re not looking into the sun. All the beaches close to Nice are easily reached with car hire which is obtainable here on this website all year round. There are restaurants, paid beach chairs and also a public section.
Cannes has both public and private beaches. The public ones are clean, just like the private ones. They can be crowded during the summers, but you can also get quiet days towards the start and end of the summer holidays. One of the free ones is located behind the Palms casino.
The private ones are located at the Croisette and you pay a premium for the privacy. All the beaches in Cannes face south, and the sand is quite fine, which makes them very popular. Private beaches on the Plage de la Croisette have beds as well as drinks. One of the best private areas is Midi beach.