Nice is one of the most popular destinations in France – a favorite among tourists because of its stunning seascape, art-decor buildings, quaint shops and boutiques, wonderful bars, restaurants, galleries and museums. Here is a short guide on what to see and do when in Nice:
Visit the Cours Saleya Flower Market
This is one of the most famous flower markets in the region, always packed with tourists and locals looking for great deals on flowers and those who just want to (literally) just stop and smell the roses. There are also cafes nearby and some souvenir shops that sell knick-knacks and other curiosities. The flower market is open six days each week, although it becomes an antiques and flea market on Mondays.
Get to know the old city
Vieux Nice is a glimpse of life in the city many years ago, although it is mostly known for its shopping and dining these days. Explore the narrow streets with its many shops and look for wonderful surprises such as wine, clothing, Provencal wares and gourmet food. There are also hip and trendy bars, nightclubs and restaurants in the area, one of which serves some of the best ice cream in the city.
There are several noted museums in Nice. Drop by the Matisse Museum where French painter and sculptor Henri Matisse’s best works are on display. Some of the artist’s personal things are preserved here and a souvenir shop sells prints of his famous works. Also worth a visit are the Musee de Paleontologie Humaine de Terra Amata, the Musee des Beaux-Arts and the Musee International d’Art Naif Anatole Jakovsky.
Sit back and get your dose of French food
No visit to a French city is ever complete without sitting back and enjoying a cup of coffee. Try the offerings at Civette du Cours or Safari or Bar de la Degustation. Or go for the popular socca, a crepe made from chickpeas. Try the local treats and cuisine at Chez Rene Socca or Lou Pilha Leva where tourists can sit on chairs next to the street, enjoy their meals and watch the world go by.
Spend some time with vins naturel
Vins naturel refer to wines that have been produced with minimal use of sulphites and chemicals, so if you are the type to go natural or organic, these selections are perfect for you. Some wine producers offer private and public tours of their cellars, so visitors can enjoy their wines with a little guidance from a sommelier. Wine lovers can also check out local wine bars with their lively mix of locals and visitors, good food and local music.
Nice Is France’s Coastal Garden City
Nice is a city which is proud of its parks and gardens. There are currently over 300 hectares of park and garden land in the city, with 100 or more to be added soon. This means that there is always a spot where visitors can rest from the hustle and bustle, and find a quiet corner to enjoy the wonderful weather which warms this part of Provence.
A good place to start any exploration of Nice’s parks and gardens is at the Jardin Botanique. Located at 78 avenue de la Corniche-Fleurie, this three hectare sight contains over 3000 varieties of plants, many of them typical of the Mediterranean region. Its hillside location means that visitors are also rewarded with great views of the Rover Var and the sea. Guided tours take place each day for visitors who want to learn more about what is on view.
La Cascade de Gairaut
Another pleasant place is La Cascade de Gairaut, situated at the Avenue de Gairaut. Here, visitors can see a waterfall and a chalet which were built to mark the construction of a canal in 1883. This canal was built to move water from the Vésubie River to Nice. the waterfall drops into a symmetrical pool, while the chalet sits on some artificial rocks above it. It is a piece of charming local history which will appeal to people who like their landmarks to be a little quirky.
Jardin Albert 1er
The Jardin Albert 1er is one of the oldest parks in Nice, and is situated on the iconic Promenade des Anglais. Running from the sea front to the Place Massena, many different species of palm trees and roses create a lovely landscape here. Vast lawns are punctuated with ponds and fountains.
Walking through this park actually provides visitors with a green and pleasant route into the city centre, with the park adjoining the Place Massena. A bandstand and a theatre in the park provide additional opportunities for entertainment.
Close to the Amphitheatre, you can find the Jardin du Monastere, an Italian style garden which covers almost a square kilometre.
This used to be the vegetable garden and orchard, and there is much of the old layout still in place. Old pergolas are covered with climbing roses, and the fragrance of many thousands of flowers hangs in the air. Visitors can also enjoy some stunning views of the city.
With many other parks and gardens to explore in Nice, lovers of green spaces are unlikely to be disappointed with a trip to the city. The Cap de Nice itself, while not a garden, is a great way to end any visit, with its superb views of the sea and Cap-Ferrat. You can really can give your senses a feast in the city of Nice.
Museums and Galleries in Nice
Nice is a city where history lurks in every corner. Anyone visiting Nice has probably been drawn there initially by the marvellous weather and great lifestyle on offer to holiday makers. There are other reasons to visit Nice though, not least the great range of museums and art galleries which are located in the city.
The light in this part of the world has drawn artists to Nice for years, and the galleries in the city celebrate this rich heritage. Both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso spent time working in the area during their lifetimes and both artists have museums dedicated to them in the city of Nice.
The Matisse Museum is located just to the north of Nice city centre, and has an impressive collection of the artist’s paintings and drawings which visitors can enjoy. Two iconic works on display here are ‘Still Life with Pomegranates’ and ‘Flowers and Fruits’. For fans of the great Picasso, a short trip to nearby Antibes is necessary to see a museum dedicated to the artist.
The Chateau Grimaldi, a 14th century building, houses the museum itself, and there are around 150 works by Picasso on show, mainly paintings. ‘La Joie de Vivre’ and ‘The Goat’ are two famous works which visitors can see in the appealing surroundings of Antibes.
Art in Nice
There is more great art for visitors to Nice to discover at the Musee des Beaux Arts, or Museum of Fine Art. Fans of the Impressionists will find much to keep them occupied here, with works on show from Monet and Renoir, as well as Duffy and Sisley. For something more contemporary in outlook, it is a good idea to head for the the Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, or the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum.
This is located in a striking building situated close to Nice’s Acropolis Convention Centre. There is work here by some real huge stars of the art world, with works by Andy Warhol and Jean Tinguely on display to savour.
An added bonus for art lovers is the statue which is situated between the museum and the convention centre. Known as the La Tête au Carré de Sosno, this striking piece is a huge bust with what looks like a building for a head.
The Chagall Museum has yet more art to enjoy, with the largest collection of works by Marc Chagall. There is also a good collection of work by Matisse to see as well.
For those visitors who want to see a more nuanced picture of what Nice’s history was like, then a trip to the Massena Museum is in order. This is easy to find, being situated on the Promenade des Anglais by the sea. The Natural History Museum also helps visitors to gain a more environmental and nature orientated view of this gorgeous part of France.
Explore the Wilder Side of Nice
Nice may well be one of France’s more glamorous and cultured cities, but there is still plenty to do for those visitors who favour something more adventurous and rustic than shopping and sitting sipping coffee in nice cafes. For this kind of visitor, there are many discovery parks located within accessible reach of the city itself.
One of the most impressive of these parks is the Scenoparc Alpha, just an hour or so drive from the coast in your Nice Airport car rental. This magical place is the home of the wolves of Mercantour, and children and adults alike will enjoy this wonderful wildlife venue. Visitors are welcomed by people who give a great outline of the life of the local pack, before heading off to see the wolves themselves.
For a different kind of animal-related experience, visitors should head to Espace Marineland, located in nearby Antibes. This is the largest marine park in Europe, and you can thrill to marvellous maritime displays from dolphins, Orca and sea lions. As well as the displays from the outdoor animals, visitors can see a huge aquarium which includes the Tunnel of Sharks. There are even Polar Bears living in the warmth of the south of France here.
One feature of this part of France is its geological features, and visitors can explore this part of the local geography at the Souterroscope de la Grotte de Baume Obscure. The underground landscapes here can be explored via a 700 metre looping trail which takes visitors underground. There is commentary and audio provided, and the lighting makes the experience resemble that of the intrepid caver, using his lamp to illuminate ever more beautiful rock features.
If you fancy twisting and turning your body over various adventurous courses and obstacles, then you will love a visit to Labyfolies, in Villeneuve-Loubet. There are 40 games to discover here, as you make your way through a maze, picking up clues and meeting the physical challenges with which you are presented.
If you are looking for something a little more cosmic, then head to the Astorama in Èze. This venue takes advantage of the clear skies at night to allow visitors to view the stars and planets through telescopes and binoculars. Open Sky evenings are great for families here, while more serious adults might want to take part in one of the conferences which take place.
For an exciting and watery adventure experience, Aquasplash is the place to be. This is one of the largest water parks in Europe, and features 22 large water slides as well as a wave pool and pirate’s island. Get here to get wet and enjoy yourself.
With such a range of options on offer when it comes to discovery parks, no visitor should ever feel bored in the Nice region. If all that glamorous hanging about on the Promenade Anglais gets too much for you, head out to one of these great venues and see something different.
Nice: A Superb Getaway To Soothe Mind And Body
Nice is well known for its glamour and sun-soaked beach life. It is one of the best cities in Europe to cruise down the promenade, wearing sunglasses and looking cool. There is also plenty of history and culture to keep visitors of a more cerebral mindset busy.
There is another kind of holiday which can be enjoyed by visitors to this part of France though. As well as enjoying the glamour, shopping and history of Nice, visitors can relax in one of the many luxury spa hotels which are dotted around this part of Provence.
There are several luxury hotels offering many modern health and wellness treatments. For fitness lovers, a hotel with a gym might well be the prime target, and there are plenty of good hotels within easy reach of Nice with top quality gyms.
Body and Mind Relaxation
After exercise though, it may well be that you need some massage to help your mind and muscles relax and recover. Different kinds of massage are on offer at the various spa hotels within the region, with specialties such as Indian head massage on offer at several.
You can also pick up some good advice in a spa or health centre. As part of your trip, you may well be able to speak to health professionals who can provide you with tips and hints that you can take home with you to improve your lifestyle and health. Dietary advice can be especially valuable in this context.
Another great way of relaxing is to enjoy a sauna or steam room. The heat here will help to clear the stress from your body, as well as cleanse the pores of your skin and help your body to detoxify itself more quickly. A jacuzzi can increase this process further.
Once you have detoxed and unwound sufficiently, it might well be time to explore what Nice can offer in the way of healthy food and drink. There is a wonderful fruit and vegetable market which is held on the famous Cours Saleya every morning except Mondays.
This wonderful spectacle will delight anyone who enjoys eating wonderful fruit and vegetables, with long trestle tables loaded with marvellous produce. There are also some more sinful delicacies on offer for those who want a break from all that healthiness, with pastries and candied fruits sold for those who want to enjoy a treat or two.
Nice luxury spa breaks are a great way of seeing just what this part of France can offer. As well as enjoying the delights of one of France’s finest cities, you can also return from holiday feeling healthier than when you set off. Surely that must be incentive enough to explore what this kind of holiday destination can offer.
What is the Weather like in Nice?
Nice is one of France’s largest cities, and is one of the major population centres of the country’s southern coast. Located close to both sea and mountains, the town possesses a warm, inviting climate with magical light.
The light is something which has drawn countless artists to the city and the region. The sunlight in summer has a particularly glowing quality which serves to accentuate the natural beauty of the coast. This light is of course at its best in high summer, though the weather in the months of June, July and August can get very hot indeed.
If you want to experience what Nice can offer when the weather is a little cooler, then there is plenty of opportunity throughout the rest of the year. Extreme weather in winter is very rare indeed. While it can become damp and cloudy during the winter months, the sky above this part of Provence rarely delivers snow onto the streets of Nice.
Indeed, snow is so rare that when it does arrive it retains a place in local folk memory for years and years. This means that visiting in winter can be great for people who prefer things to be a little cooler, but still want to escape from the harsher winters of Northern Europe for a short spell.
Another advantage of visiting Nice in the winter is that you are not far from the Alps. This means that you can enjoy the languid lifestyle of the coast and also go skiing, on the same holiday. With many of the best French Alpine resorts located less than an hour’s drive away from Nice, winter can be a great time to get the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the culture, cuisine and coastline, while also having some mountain thrills to keep the chill at bay.
Visiting during the baking hot summer months often means that you must take care with the sun. For people from more northern climes, protecting the skin is essential in hot sun. Choose a high factor sun cream which also protects against ultra violet rays.
It is also wise to wear a hat and a cover your arms when the sun is at its peak during the middle of the day. Sitting out and allowing yourself to bronze on the beach without protection might get you a great tan in the short term; in the long term it can leave you with health issues, so take care.
Nice is a super city to visit at any time of year. For a slice of superb Provencal life, there are few better choices you can make.