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The iconic city of the French Riviera, Nice is very popular with foreign and local tourists alike. Every year, more than 4.5 million tourists come to visit this southern city. In July 2021, the city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the title of “winter resort town of the Riviera”. Are you planning on coming for a weekend or a longer stay? Here is our selection of the 8 must-do things and must-see places in Nice.
Walks in Provence. If you are looking for the most picturesque places in Provence, we’ve got exactly what you need in this article.
Discover la Promenade des Anglais
La Promenade des Anglais – or the Prom’ as the locals call it – is a must-see. This famous avenue runs along the beach of Nice and is very popular with tourists, especially the English (hence its name). It stretches for 7 kilometers, between Nice airport and the hill of the Castle. You can take a leisurely stroll or take a bike, a segway or opt for rollerblades. You can do the whole thing at once or in small chunks. As you walk (or ride), you will be able to admire the sea, the beaches and the Port of Nice, the Quai des Etats-Unis, the Art Deco buildings as well as the luxury hotels.
But why is it called “la Promenade des Anglais”? This name runs from the 19th century. It was at this time that a strong English community developed on the Nice seaside. So all the Englishmen you see are not newcomers here, they have been here for over a century.
Getting lost in Vieux Nice
The Old Town of Nice is like a real-life postcard with its colored houses that are typical for La Provence and its narrow and steep streets. You will love getting lost in here! Start your visit to Old Nice by walking through Cours Saleya, a lively alleyway with a fruit and vegetable market in the morning and a flower market in the afternoon. Make sure to visit the Place Rossetti and the Sainte Reparate cathedral, as well as the Lascaris Palace, a museum dedicated to ancient instruments housed in an old baroque mansion. In summer, eat an ice cream at the famous Fenocchio. And in winter, take a break in one of the many restaurants of Cours Saleya. Here are three we recommend (for any budget):
- Le Petit Écailler De La Douce | 26 cours Saleya, Nice
- King Marcel Nice | 20 cours Saleya, Nice
- Molo26 | 26 cours Saleya, Nice
Visit the Place Masséna
With its colorful buildings and checkered pavement, la Place Masséna is another must-see place in Nice. It is here that the Fontaine du Soleil and the Opéra de Nice are located. And if you’re looking for a place to shop, avenue Jean Médecin, which starts here at la Place Masséna, is your go-to place.
One of the most emblematic places in Nice. La Place Masséna was named after Marshal of the French Empire André Masséna, originally from Nice. It was inspired by the Vittorio Veneto Square in Turin, Italy. Over the decades, it has become the center of life in Nice: it is ideally located between Old Nice and Avenue Jean Médecin. Plus, it is not very far from the Promenade des Anglais either!
Chill out on the Promenade du Paillon
The Promenade du Paillon is a green boulevard that stretches between Place Masséna and Place Garibaldi. Take a stroll here to admire trees, shrubs and plants from all continents. In summer, children love to cool off between the jets of the reflecting pool. And all year round, you can relax on the lawn in the public garden (because the weather is almost always nice in Nice). If by any chance it’s not, you can pass time in the Nice Contemporary Art Museum on the Promenade du Paillon.
📆 Opening hours of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Nice (Mamac) :
From November 1 to April 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from May 2 to October 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The museum is closed on January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, and December 25.
Enjoy the sunset from the Castle Hill
The Castle Hill is the best place to admire the sunset over the Bay of Angels. You can get to the top by taking stairs at the end of the Promenade des Anglais or in the Old Town. The hill offers a breathtaking view of the sea, as well as of the whole city of Nice. On the top of the hill, take a moment to take a break before resuming your journey.
A few words on the castle itself. The place takes its name from the strong fortress that was standing here before it got destroyed by Louis XIV in 1706. A few centuries before, the medieval city was entirely built around it. Later, though, the dwellings and local shops moved to the lower part of the hill. There are some remains of the castle in the park overlooking the city, although they are difficult to identify.
Visit the Cimiez district
Sometimes forgotten by tourists because it is far from downtown Nice, the Cimiez district is a must-see for culture lovers. You will find the Henri Matisse Museum, the Marc Chagall National Museum, the Nice Archaeological Museum, as well as the Roman Baths of Cimiez and the Arènes de Cimiez, the remainders of the district’s Roman past. The gardens of the Monastery of Cimiez are also magnificent and offer a beautiful view of Nice and the hill of the castle. A definite must-see.
Hike to Villefranche-sur-Mer
The Côte d’Azur has some of the most magnificent coastal paths in France. Nice too offers a great walking itinerary to the picturesque village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The trail starts from Coco Beach and runs along the coastline, with its hidden bays and impressive cliffs. You should plan an hour and a half or two for this hike. Unless, of course, you want to stop for a swim in one of the bays on the coast! You can get back to the city by bus. If you want more information on hiking paths in the area, take a look at the Visorando site.
Discover the flavors of Nice
The Nice cuisine is recognized worldwide. Take advantage of your stay in Nice to taste its most representative dishes: the socca (a thin pancake made with chickpea flour and olive oil and cooked in a wood oven), the pissaladière (a kind of tart made from bread dough, onions, anchovies and black olives), or the surprising sweet chard tart.
Here you go! Hopefully, our small selection of 8 things to do during a trip to Nice will inspire you to really get to know this beautiful city. If you have other suggestions, do let us know in the comments!