With its mix of urban atmosphere, old-fashioned charm, year-round sunshine, beautiful Nice sights, vibrant street life and breathtaking seaside location, Nice is unlike any other place in France. The city has numerous museums, churches and ruins that will keep history lovers entertained for days.
There is no bad time to visit Nice. Because of the mild winter temperatures and the famous carnival, Nice is one of the best places to visit in France in winter, but you will enjoy the city all year round. Nice is one of the best places in France to experience the good life.
Tip 1: Promenade des Anglais
If one were to crown the landmark of Nice, the choice would probably fall on the Promenade des Anglais. Built in 1824, the boulevard with such eye-catching buildings as the Hotel Negresco is the city’s most important thoroughfare – and the favorite promenade of residents and tourists alike. The pedestrian area of the promenade, known as Prom for short, is more than 10 meters wide in places and attracts not only strollers but also plenty of sports enthusiasts. After all, the nearly 5-kilometer-long street is a wonderful jogging, biking or skating route.
In fact, the Prom is the meeting place for numerous inline skaters, roller skaters and skateboarders. Especially towards evening, the experts among the skaters show their best tricks: then they jump over jumps and other obstacles and the darker it gets, the more fascinating their game of speed and skill appears.
But the Promenade des Anglais is much more than “just” a stage for fans of skating & Co. Almost along its entire length, it is lined with a pebble beach that is interrupted only a few times. Water rats who want to take advantage of the water sports on offer or simply jump into the water quickly should note, however, that in addition to the public beaches, there are also almost 20 private beach sections.
Tip 2: Old Town
Old Nice is best explored on foot. The oldest quarter of the city consists of a series of charming squares and streets with yellow and red houses with green shutters. The many cafes, restaurants and stores provide a lively atmosphere until late in the evening. Stroll through the cozy Cours Saleya market early in the morning.
With its baroque monuments, ochre-colored houses and narrow streets with clothes dryers and other important Nice sights, Vieux Nice exudes a Mediterranean atmosphere that sometimes seems more Italian than French.
This is not surprising, as over the centuries Nice has repeatedly fallen into the hands of Italian rulers. It was not until 1859 that the Kingdom of Sardinia officially handed the city over to France. Even today, we can find many remnants of these Italian eras in the dialect and culture of Nice.
Tip 3: Colline du Château
Colline du Château (Castle Hill) is known to most visitors to Nice as probably the most beautiful, romantic viewpoint in the city. Especially in the evening, many people are drawn to the “castle mountain” to let their gaze roam over the harbor, the red roofs and gleaming domes, the narrow streets and the gardens and parks of Nice. The most beautiful thing is to have an evening picnic on the “mountain”, which is about 100 meters high, while the sun bathes the ships, houses and beaches in warm light for the last time and the flickering lanterns of the city tell of a long evening in the mild air of the Côte d’Azur.
What newcomers to Nice often don’t know is that the Colline du Château is much more than just a beautiful viewpoint. The Greeks and Romans already settled here, and from here the city spread out over the centuries. Today, only the ruins of a fortress and the Notre Dame du Château cathedral, which once dominated the panorama of Nice, bear witness to the old, fighting times. But not only are the excavations worth a detour: here, in addition to the Cimetiere Israélite (Jewish Cemetery) with beautifully decorated tombs from the 19th and early 20th centuries, there is also a wonderful park. Here, in the typical southern French park, it is easy to relax among pine trees, rare hardwoods and a waterfall, even in the hottest weather. In addition to walkers, it is also hikers and joggers who appreciate the lovingly maintained grounds.
Tip 4: Place Massena
Massena square is the most important square in Nice. The large square is located between the old and new town and is lined with stores and restaurants. It is at the intersection of several main boulevards, including the grand Avenue Jean Médecin.
Locals flock here on their way to school and work. You can grab a coffee and watch the hustle and bustle in one of the cafes on the edge of the square. The streetcar runs through the middle of the square, but otherwise it is only accessible to pedestrians.
The old buildings surrounding the square are all painted red and have blue shutters typical of the area. Large stone archways lead to stores and restaurants, including Galeries Lafayette. In France’s famous department store you can buy perfume and designer clothes.
A fountain in one corner of the square depicts several stories from Greek mythology, with a 7-meter-tall statue of Apollo in the center. A modern art installation by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa is most striking at night, when the seven statues are illuminated in bright colors. Statues of kneeling men representing the seven continents are set up on tall poles along the tramline. The fountain and the buildings around the square are also illuminated at night.
Tip 5: Musée National Marc Chagall
The Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice attracted a great deal of public interest in France, if not beyond. It is unusual in that it was opened by Chagall himself – and his works completely fill the building. Normally, such museums are established only after an artist’s death.
The Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice (Musée Marc Chagall) was opened in July 1973 by Chagall on his 86th birthday. It was the first time in France that a living artist opened a museum with his own works. The museum is housed in a purpose-built building surrounded by a garden with Mediterranean flora.