Nice (pronounced “Neese”) is a gorgeous and romantic city with a unique spirit in southeast France. Located on the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) the city of Nice is a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its uniqueness, history, architecture and natural spaces. Local people talk about their town as “Nissa Bella” (which means Beautiful Nice in the local language, Occitan), and once you visit you will understand why!
In this article, we provide all the information about what to see, where to eat, where to shop, and where to stay in Nice, to help you plan a great stay in Nice.
One of the many great things about Nice City is its climate. With a mild Mediterranean climate and over 300 sunny days a year, you can visit Nice pretty anytime and you will be sure to have a great moment. Summer can be very warm so don’t forget your hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. It is better to avoid going out between 1p.m and 4p.m to avoid the heat. Winter in Nice is sunny and crisp, with no crowds, lower prices, better service, and a real village feel. One of the key moments of city life is the Carnaval de Nice (Nice Carnival), one of the world's major carnival events. It is held annually in February and sometimes early March. Spring and Autumn are also a great time to visit.
About the length of the stay, 2 days and 2 nights seems to be the very minimum to have an overview of the city. But id you really want to feel the spirit of the town, discover the hinterland, and other nearby places of Côte d’Azur, a week is needed.
With such a rich history and vibrant city life, Nice has plenty of amazing places to discover. Here are our favorites and the most emblematic ones.
The Nice coastline length, la Promenade des Anglais, stretches about 7 km. The name means "Walkway of the English": during the XIXth century and early XXth, Nice was a winter resort for the European elite escaping from the bleak winters elsewhere in Europe. Many of them were British and loved to walk on the coastline, that's where the name comes from.
It is very relaxing to walk along the promenade and capture all the wonderful sea views. There are several great restaurants and shops around the Promenade des Anglais. Nice is full of Mediterranean beaches that are armored with pebbles, not sand. If you're not a fan of pebble beaches, don't worry, stepping on these pebbles won't hurt your feet. You can sit on benches on the Promenade, or just lie down on the beach and take a quick nap under the warm sun. Nice is the perfect place to relax due to its laid-back atmosphere.
The Castle Park (Parc du Chateau), also referred to as the Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau), is the highest altitude in Vieux Nice (92 meters above sea level). This is the place where the ruins of the former Chateau de Nice can be found. You can access it on foot from Old Nice and Place Garibaldi at the end of Quai des États-Unis or on the Little Tourist Train. You can take the elevator to go up, but there are not many stairs.
It is also one of the best spots to enjoy a view all over Nice city.
On the right side of the Castle Hill entrance, you can find the famous hashtag "I love Nice" installation art. This landmark is also a popular photo spot.
The Old Town of Nice (or Vieux Nice as the locals call it) is one of the city's main attractions and a must-see for any visitor. This area is what makes Nice different and special, with its narrow cobblestone streets and pastel-hued buildings. The Old Town of Nice is full of historic tenements, churches, and squares. One of the most remarkable is The Cathedral of St. Reparata (Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate), whose colorful dome is perfectly visible from Castle Hill.
When you pass the market in the Old City, don't miss the sea view between the arches.
Flanked by pastel historic buildings, with a view of the Castle Hill waterfall, the wide pedestrian-only Marché Cours Saleya in Old Town Nice is one of the most picturesque markets in France. It hosts a unique Flower Market (open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00-17:30 and Sunday 9:00-13:30. Closed Mondays) as well as a fruits and vegetables market (Tuesday-Sunday 6.00-13.30. Closed Mondays). Every Monday from 7:00 to 18:00, the Nice Antique Market or Marché à la Brocante Saleya takes over the Cours Saleya. With many traditional restaurants around, Cours Saleya is also a delightful place to enjoy the local dishes.
MAMAC Nice (Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Nice. MAMAC includes more than 1,200 works of modern and contemporary art, ranging from abstract art to pop art to the New Realism movement. Interesting permanent exhibitions from Yves Klein (creator of a unique ultramarine blue, which he named IKB, International Klein Blue), Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Ben Vautier, and Arman are displayed.
The roof of the museum is open to visitors and offers stunning panoramas of the orange rooftops of Nice's Old City.
Address: Place Yves Klein, 06000 Nice
Opening Hours: closed from Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 - 18:00.
Tickets: 10 euros for adults, free admission for students or under 18 years old.
Place Massena is Nice’s main square, made of pavement tiles across its entire surface surrounded by neoclassical buildings with vibrant red facades and pastel green shutters on the windows, to keep out the bright sun. Whether you’re here during the day or at night, this square is a true feast for the eyes, and it's the beating heart of Nice. There are seven yellow statues on pedestals, made by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. They represent the 7 continents and the communication between the different communities of today’s society. The name of this creation is “Conversation à Nice”. Plus, the statues are illuminated every night, and colors change smoothly in a very beautiful and poetic way. There is also a fountain depicting Apollo, the God of sun and light, one of the most famous photo spot in the town.
The Marc Chagall National Museum is the biggest public collection of works by Marc Chagall. It is organized around the set of works produced by the painter on the Old Testament themes, supplemented by a large number of works of secular or religious inspiration.
Address: 36 Avenue Dr Ménard, 06000 Nice. Chagall Museum is located close to the Nice train station.
Opening Hours: Wednesdays to Mondays, 10 AM–1 PM, 2–6 PM
Tickets: 10 euros for adults, free for those under 18 years old and students
The Villa Masséna is a Museum located right next to the famous Negresco Hotel in Nice, presenting the history of Nice, as well as valuable memorabilia of Napoleon. The ground floor of the building has kept its original, delightful decor from the late 19th century neoclassic style, emblematic of "Belle Epoque" aristocratic mansions.
Address: 65 Rue de France, 06000 Nice
Opening Hours: Wednesdays to Mondays, 10 AM to 6 PM
Tickets: 10 euros for adults, free for those under 18 years old and students
Nice cuisine is quite famous and unique. In Nice, there is a mix of flavors only available in this region, influenced by traditional Provençal and Mediterranean cuisines. Seafood and fresh ingredients play an important role in the tasty regional specialties. Among the most famous local dishes, you should not miss: Socca (thin, crusty chickpea pancake with a soft interior), Pissaladière ( a tart topped with onion, anchovies, and olives sold in most boulangeries for a couple of euros), Petits Farcis (vegetables such as eggplant or tomatoes, stuffed with ground meat, garlic, and bread crumbs) and of course the world's famous "Salade Niçoise (raw tomatoes, olives, anchovies, and hardboiled eggs with an olive-oil-based vinaigrette) and it's sandwich version, "Pain Bagnat". There are also great Provençal dishes that are great to taste in Nice such as Ratatouille or Soupe au pistou (bean soup enriched with cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil).
Cours Saleya market and nearby restaurants offer a lot of occasions to try local dishes. You will find plenty of traditional restaurants in the old town as well. If you want to enjoy sead food dishes in front of the seaside, the restaurant "Le Galet" and it's waterfront terrace (3 Promenade des Anglais, 06200 Nice), is a really great option.
Nice is the perfect place for shopping! You will find plenty of occasions to bring unique local products such as ceramics, lavender products and of course food (olive oil, local rosé wine, candied fruits...).
But if you are more into High-end products, do not miss Galeries Lafayette Nice. Located Place Massena in a beautiful mid-19th century building, Galeries Lafayette has been present in Nice since 1915. Visitors can enjoy shopping across four floors, featuring a diverse selection of 800 brands. Notably, exclusive brands like Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Chloé, and Valentino can only be found at Galeries Lafayette in Nice. Click here to get more information about it and enjoy a special offer.
Address: 6 Av. Jean Médecin, 06000 Nice
Transportation : Tram L1 Masséna station, L2 Jean Médecin station
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-20:00, Sun 11:00-20:00
Last but not least, the shop "Trésors Publics" is the best place to find souvenirs. All the products there are made in France, and are everyday life products characteristic of French "Art de vivre". The shop atmosphere is like in France 1950's traditional shops, and really worth the visit.
Address: 11 Rue du Pont Vieux, 06300 Nice
Opening hours: every day, 10:30 AM to 7 PM
There are plenty of areas where to stay in Nice, the choice will depend on your center of interest, the length of your stay, and of course your budget. For a short stay, and to be near to the main places to visit, the Old Town is of course the best choice. If you are a beach lover, you can choose to stay on the Promenade des Anglais. The port area, at the foot of Castle Hill, is also a great area to stay, especially if you plan to enjoy nightlife. The residential neighborhood Gambetta tends to have somewhat lower prices on accommodations. If you have a car and plan to stay for a longer stay, you can also think about renting a place in the majestic countryside, hinterland villages around Nice.
If you want to enjoy a luxury stay in the city center, Anantara plaza Nice Hotel (12 Avenue de Verdun, 06000 Nice) and Boscolo Nice (12 Bd Victor Hugo, 06000 Nice) are great options. Anantara is located in a historic building with a Belle Epoque facade, in the heart of the city and luxury shopping area, facing the Place Masséna. It has 151 elegant rooms and suites, and also a stunning rooftop restaurant and bar with a panoramic view of Nice. Boscolo is a luxury 5-star hotel in a "Belle Epoque" building, situated in the central Boulevard of Nice. It has a fitness area, SPA, and offers private access to the beach "Ruhl Plage".
Author: O'bon Paris team
Photos: Thuy and Yuka