With its beautiful coastline, pebbly beaches, its Cours Saleya flower market, Matisse museum, Italianate facades, splendid dining and a Russian cathedral with tropical palm trees in the foreground, Nice is the princess of the French Riviera. Blessed with a mild, sunny climate, Nice still has that sophisticated touch and the seaside promenade stretching along the water attracts visitors all year round.
The city only became French in 1860, having been part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and before that the Duchy of Savoia. Like everywhere on this coast, traffic is heavy and slow and walking often proves faster.
Centrally located for the exploration of the French Riviera, from Cannes to Monaco, Nice not only offers a wide choice of hotels and prices available to suit all kinds of traveller, but they also come in a surprising range of architectural styles. Art Deco or Parisian classical, Provencal rustic and contemporary chic, Nice has them all.
Top Things About Nice
The Russians weren't the first to give in to the allure of Nice. The ancient Romans also called the area home, and to this day visitors can see the ruins of a Roman arena and bathhouses at the museum in the Nice Cimiez neighbourhood, right next to the Matisse Museum. Inside, the archaeology museum houses an interesting mix of historic and archaeological exhibits on the area.
English aristocrats began spending their winters in Nice in the 18th century, followed by artists such as Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse.
France's fifth largest city and one of the all-time favourite holiday destinations on the Côte d'Azur, Nice is dripping with Mediterranean atmosphere. No longer the excusive territory of the aristocrats, the less jet set minded will enjoy the old town. The heart of the old town is a web of narrow streets heaving with inexpensive restaurants, charming markets, cafes, artists and local street vendors.
Westward, Nice takes on a very different look, featuring 18th- and 19th-century stucco villas, neo-classical hotels, a series of garden squares with fountains and the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
The port is an excellent spot to watch the ferries lift off to Corsica and some of the hippest bars are located here.
The nearest sandy beach is just 20 minutes away by bus at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Local dishes include Salade Nicoise with tuna, Socca, a chickpea flatbread, Soupe de Poisson and Tourtes aux Blettes.
Nice accommodation tends to be concentrated around the old city and so is handy for the tourist attractions and nightlife. The more expensive hotels are along or adjacent to the glorious waterfront, the Promenade des Anglais. More reasonably priced hotels will be found near the railway station, which is not far from the centre of the action. Cheap hotels in Nice are of a good general standard thanks to the level of competition from so many hostelries.