Nice is a large city in France on the French Riviera. It’s a popular destination for vacationers both young and old, with something to offer nearly everyone. It is well known for the beautiful view on the Promenade des Anglais, its famous waterfront, and is an ethnically diverse port city.
Nice’s origins can be found among the Gallo-Roman ruins of Cimiez, in the hills up the boulevard de Cimiez from downtown. Cimiez also contains a monastery and some museums, but nowadays, most of the city’s inhabitants live closer to sea level. Nice was part of the Italian Duchy of Savoia and then the Kingdom of Sardinia until it was ceded to France as late as 1860. The ancient local language is Nissart, and some of the street signs are bilingual. However very few people speak Nissart, and even the elderly know and speak French. Don’t assume everyone you encounter will speak English — an effort at French will always be appreciated.
The creation of Nice dates back to Antiquity: the city was Greek then Roman, one can still see today traces of these presences. In 1388, the left bank of the Var (“New lands of Provence”) became part of the Maion of Savoy, this is what is called the dedication of Nice to Savoy. In 1526, the Terres Neuves de Provence took the name of the county of Nice, still used today. In 1543, following the siege of Nice by the French troops of the Duke of Enghien and the Turkish fleet of Barbarossa, bey of Tunis, the city surrendered, except the citadel. It was a woman, Catherine Ségurane who led the resistance. The besiegers gave up. During the following centuries, Nice will be episodically attached to France or to the House of Savoy. In 1860, the people of Nice voted for their definitive attachment to France.
The Promenade des Anglais (“Promenade of the English”) is a promenade along the Baie des Anges (“Bay of the Angels”), which is a bay of the Mediterranean, in Nice. Before Nice was urbanised, the coastline at Nice was just bordered by a deserted stretch of shingle beach (covered with large pebbles). The first houses were located on higher ground well away from the sea, as wealthy tourists visiting Nice in the 18th century did not come for the beach, but for the gentle winter weather. The areas close to the water were home to Nice’s dockworkers and fishermen.
In the second half of the 18th century, many wealthy English people took to spending the winter in Nice, enjoying the panorama along the coast. When a particularly harsh winter up north brought an influx of beggars to Nice, some of the rich Englishmen proposed a useful project for them: the construction of a walkway (chemin de promenade) along the sea.
The city of Nice, intrigued by the prospect of a pleasant promenade, greatly increased the scope of the work. The Promenade was first called the Camin dei Anglès (the English Way) by the Niçois in their native dialect, Nissart. After the annexation of Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais, replacing the former Nissart name with its French translation.
The Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais was named after Henri Negresco (1868–1920) who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. In keeping with the conventions of the time, when the Negresco first opened in 1913 its front opened on the side opposite the Mediterranean.
Another place worth mentioning is the small street parallel to the Promenade des Anglais, leading from Nice’s downtown, beginning at Place Masséna and running parallel to the promenade in the direction of the airport for a short distance of about 4 blocks. This section of the city is referred to as the “Zone Pietonne”, or “Pedestrian Zone”. Cars are not allowed (with exception to delivery trucks), making this avenue a popular walkway.
Old Nice is also home to the Opéra de Nice. It was constructed at the end of the 19th century under the design of François Aune, to replace King Charles Félix’s Maccarani Theater. Today, it is open to the public and provides a regular program of performances.
The greatest thing to see in Nice is the views along the Promenade des Anglais, which skirts the seacoast for over 5 km, then ends at Nice Airport. These are the views you will have seen in dozens of postcards and in paintings by the 20th-century artist, Henri Matisse, who spent so many years living in Nice, but whether you’ve seen pictures or not, you owe it to yourself to walk along some of this stretch if you have made it to Nice.
Promenade des Anglais
This is the Nice seafront, with its magnificent view of the sea and the mountains of the hinterland. It is also known for its large hotels such as the Negresco.
The city is limited to the west by the Var plain where the river of the same name flows. Very unattractive from a landscape point of view, it includes the recently built Allianz Riviera stadium and the large commercial area of Nice Lingostière.
This is the historic heart of the city. Among the corners not to be missed, we will mention the Cours Saleya and its famous flower market. TheSainte Reparate cathedral, a masterpiece of Baroque art is also to be seen. The chapel of Mercy on Cours Saleya, being restored, is classified as one of the ten most beautiful Baroque religious buildings in the world. It belongs to the Archiconfrérie des Pénitents Noirs founded in 1329.
Close to the old town, this public garden offers a breathtaking view of the town and its surroundings. Note that nothing remains of the castle itself. It can be reached on foot or by an elevator or even a tourist train. Beautiful waterfall. If the hill of the castle is one of the most famous sites in Nice, it is because we enjoy a very wide view: the old town on the right and the port on the left.
The castle hill overlooking the Baie des Anges and harbour offers a spectacular vantage point overlooking the city. Not much is left of its ruined castle besides crumbling walls. Still, climbing up the stairs to reach the platforms 90 m above Nice is well worth the view. There is also a lift (ascenseur) which will take you three quarters of the way up. The castle hill park closes at around sunset. Expect to be escorted outside if you stay longer.
From its past, Nice has a rich architectural heritage. During the Savoy period, several palaces and mansions were built, as well as churches in the Baroque style. During the Belle Époque, the city was enriched with numerous villas and hotels.
Remarkable buildings and public places
The Promenade des Anglais is the symbol of the city for the whole world. Nice has a large number of places. Many are located in the old town, such as Place Saint-François, Place Garibaldi or Cours Saleya. Place Courthouse, old place St. Dominic, and instead of the Prefecture, created in the xix th century, are also located in the old town. Most other town squares were designed to xix th century and are located on the edge or outside of Old Nice. This is the case of Place Charles-Albert and Place Massénaor the Place de la Croix de Marbre. Place Arson between Auguste Gal street and the street Arson, is from the end of xix th century a special place for the game balls.
Nice has also preserved few traces of its military past, except for the fort at Mont Alban. On the other hand, it has kept a certain number of interesting buildings dating from the modern era, such as the Nice Municipal Palace, the Nice Senate Palace, or the Nice Prefecture Palace, which once housed sovereigns from Savoie during their stay in Nice.
Several monuments and statues commemorate events or characters linked to the history of the city, such as the Marble Cross, the Pope’s column, or the Locksmiths monument. The city also has a number of statues. The best known are the statue of Charles-Félix, the statue of Masséna and the statue of Garibaldi. We can also cite the monument to Queen Victoria, the Rauba-Capeù war memorial, and the Centennial monument.
Palaces, castles, villas and mansions
The presence of fairly powerful families of notables, followed by that of winter visitors, endowed the city with a rich heritage of private residences: Castles, palaces and villas.
Some of these residences are located on the hills which surround Nice. The castle of Bellet is well located in the district of Saint-Roman-de-Bellet. It dates from the xvi th century. He belongs to a family of Nice aristocrats from Savoie, the Roissards de Bellet. The castle was enlarged in the xix th century and restored twice in the xx th century. It is now located in the middle of the vineyards that produce Bellet wine. The area also houses a chapel neogothic of the xix th century. In the Bellet vineyard, there is also the Château de Crémat, built in 1906 and of medieval style.
The Matisse Museum was originally a house built in the xvii th century Cimiez by Jean-Baptiste Gubernatis, Nice consul. Its style is characteristic of that of the rich Genoese mansions. The villa, known as the Gubernatis Palace, was sold in 1823 to a Nice aristocrat, Raymond Garin de Cocconato. It then belonged to a real estate company and was bought by the city of Nice in 1950. The palace then became the Villa des Arènes and was fitted out to house the Matisse museum, which opened in 1963, and the archeology museum. The building was renovated from 1987 to 1993.
Some palaces are located in Old Nice. The Palais Lascaris, located Right in the old town, was built between 1648 and the beginning of the xviii th century to the marshal Jean Baptiste Lascaris-Ventimiglia, nephew of the 55 th Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. – John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta. His descendants, the counts of Peille, completed the construction of the building. It is a baroque palace, whose architecture and decoration show the Genoese influence. The palace now houses a museum devoted to decorative arts and popular arts and traditions.
Several buildings have been constructed for wealthy families in Nice. The palace Marie-Christine Place de la Croix-de-Marble, was built in the xix th century, from 1800 to 1887. It was built for Saïssi Châteauneuf and has hosted many personalities including, in 1842, the queen Marie-Christine, widow of the king of Sardinia Charles-Félix. His style is neoclassical.
The Palais Masséna, rue de France, dates from 1899. It was commissioned by Victor Masséna and produced by Hans-Georg Tersling, architect of the Empress Eugénie. It is inspired by the Rothschild villa in Cannes. The style is neoclassical, Louis XVI and Empire. In 1920, the city bought the building to make it a museum of art and local history. Other famous buildings in the city include the Marble Palace, built FABRON the late xix th century and today housing the Nice municipal archives, and Maeterlinck Palace, an old palace of the Cap de Nice.
Most of the castles of the xix th century were built for wintering, French or foreigners. The Englishman’s castle was built in 1857 by and for Robert Smith, a former English colonel. It is the first castle built in Nice by a winter visitor. It is a pastiche of the palaces of Jaipur. The park and the castle of Valrose were built in 1867 by the architect David Grimm for a rich Russian winter visitor, Paul Von Derwies. It is in neo-Gothic style and now houses the presidency of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. Château Sainte-Hélène was built in the 19th century century for the director of the Monte Carlo casino, François Blanc. It then belonged to perfumer François Coty, before becoming the international museum of naive art Anatole Jakovsky, in 1982. The Château de Gairaut was built for Joseph Giordan. The Châteauneuf estate is also located in the Gairaut district.
Some famous estates have disappeared. Villa les Tropiques, an acclimatization park, was directed by a naturalist, Axel Robertson-Proschowsky (1857-1944) whose botanical contributions were featured in all the specialized periodicals. This space, expropriated by the city of Nice in 1966, is now conceded to an amusement park called “Parc des miniatures”. The Count of Pierlas, lover of exotic plants and the first propagator of palm trees in Nice, had planted in his Ray property, the Pierlas villa, from 1837, Chamaedorea elegans, C. sartorii, Phoenix sylvestris and Trachycarpus martianus.
Cafes, old palaces and hotels
Several institutions related to the tourism history of the city existed since the xix th century and are still operated more or less transformed.
One of the city’s best-known cafes is Turin Café, located in Garibaldi Square. Founded in the xix th century, it was originally a meeting place of Piedmontese immigrants. The Auer pastry shop, rue Saint-François-de-Paule, opened in 1860, testifies to the Rococo style, very fashionable at that time. La Trappa, rue Malonat, founded in 1886, was originally a fisherman’s restaurant.
The hotel properties, due to the growth of tourism in the second half of the xix th century, is considerable, many institutions including having been built in the Belle Époque. Palaces are gone (usually turned into residential condominiums), but several large hotels have been restored and modernized in the second half of the xx th century.
The old Regina hotel had been built on the hill of Cimiez in 1896, by the Nice architect Sébastien Marcel Biasini. The wrought iron crown of his left wing was made according to the plans of François-Félix Gordolon. The gigantic Regina, which had 400 rooms and suites, housed Queen Victoria, her little courtyard and her overcrowded staff (the sovereign, in love with Nice since 1895, attended its inauguration in 1897). Transformed into private apartments in the 1930s, it was inhabited by Henri Matisse.
The old Alhambra hotel on Boulevard de Cimiez was built in 1900 by Jules-Joseph Sioly. This architect, also known for the Lamartine Palace with its splendid Second Empire (rue Lamartine), delivered here one of the rare Nice examples of the Moorish Art style. It has also been transformed into a residential residence.
The Palais Donadei housed the “Grand-Hôtel Nice-Palace” and the “Restaurant Belle Meunière” of the famous Marie Quinton (1854-1933). The Villa Niçoise of La Mère Quinton is currently the hotel of “La Belle Meunière”. We find her at the Nice carnival with floats “Belle Meunière” like that of 1909. Finally “La Belle Meunière de La Belle Époque, La Mère Quinton des Roos Roches” follows its rich clientele of winter visitors, winter in Nice and summer in his hometown of Royat-les-Bains in Auvergne. At the end of the 1880s “La Bonne Meunière” by General Boulanger (1837-1891) “The emperor of lovers” had daisies shipped to the Nice flower market for the Feast of La Vicomtesse de Bonnemains (1853-1891) “The Lady with Red Carnations” as well as Carnations.
Several large hotel establishments have been built along the Promenade des Anglais.
The West-End hotel, originally the Hotel de Rome, was built in 1842 by English aristocrats. Subsequently enlarged and embellished, it is the oldest of the large hotels on the Promenade des Anglais.. Since 1878, the Westminster Hotel has been nearby, with its pale pink façade.
Not far from there, the Negresco was built in 1912 by Édouard-Jean Niermans, by the ex- Romanian chef and butler Henri Negresco, who was financed by wealthy gastronomes, his clients, when he worked in the Grand circle of Nice.. The exterior style is neo-Louis XVI. The interior is largely in the ” Late Second Empire ” style. Its noble part, renovated by Paul and Jeanne Augier, has been classified (facades) in the inventory of historic monuments since 1975.
Jeanne Augier (“the Lady of the Negresco”) succeeded, for almost 60 years, in making her hotel a museum where works by Largillierre, François Boucher, Raymond Moretti, René Gruau, Cyril de La Patellière, etc. rub shoulders.
The Mediterranean Palace, also on the Promenade des Anglais, was built in 1927-1928 by Charles and Marcel Dalmas. Its facade is decorated with female figures and sea horses sculpted by Antoine Sartorio. The complex, which housed a casino and a theater, was inaugurated in 1929. Victim of financial difficulties, it closed in 1978. The Art Deco facade was saved in extremis from demolition in 1990. A decade later, the building is completely rebuilt. It was inaugurated in January 2004 and today includes a luxury hotel, a casino and a performance hall, original facade preserved.
Outside the Promenade des Anglais, one of the luxury hotels is the Boscolo Exedra Nice, previously called “Atlantic”, located on Boulevard Victor-Hugo. Built in 1913 by Charles Dalmas on the order of a Swiss hotelier, its facade is in the Belle Époque style. Taken over in 2000 by the Italian hotel chain Boscolo, it was completely renovated from 2005 to 2008.
The city of Nice has two casinos located a hundred meters from each other and belonging to the two largest French groups.
The Partouche casino opened its doors in 2004 in the Palais de la Méditerranée in the heart of the Promenade des Anglais, replacing the old casino destroyed in 1990.
The Barrière group’s Ruhl casino is located on the ground floor of the Le Méridien hotel on the Promenade des Anglais.
The city retains a significant number of religious buildings, characteristic of Baroque piety. The oldest is the church of Our Lady of Cimiez, which was built in 1450 and rebuilt in the xvii th and xix th centuries. First owned by the Benedictine monks of Saint-Pons, it was then ceded to the Franciscans in 1546. The latter developed pilgrimages to Mary there. The church houses three altarpieces of Louis Brea (xv th and xvi th centuries).
The city especially has a high number of Italian Baroque religious buildings. Among them, the church of Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur, or of the Gesù, located rue Droite, dates from 1607. It first belonged to the Jesuits and then became the seat of the Saint-Jacques parish. Its facade shows the beginning of the influence of the Roman baroque in Nice. It was redesigned during the first half of the xix th century. Its bell tower dates from the xviii th century. Its plan and architecture is inspired by the Gesù church created by Vignole in Rome. The Saint-Philippe-Néri chapel dates from 1612. The Sainte-Reparate cathedral, Place Rossetti, was built from 1650 by the architect Jean-André Guibert. The church is mentioned since the xi th century. It was originally a priory of the abbey of Saint-Pons and it is promoted cathedral in xvi th century, replacing Sainte-Marie-du-Château.
The cathedral was rebuilt in the middle of the 17th century century, from about 1650 to 1680. The church is inspired by the Roman architectural models of the early Baroque (Vignole, Maderno). The bell tower was built in the xviii th century. Among the other Baroque religious buildings, in addition to the Chapel of the Visitation and the Chapel of the Visitation Sainte-Claire, there is the Saint-Martin-Saint-Augustin church, located Place Saint-Augustin. It dates from the late xvii th century but only completed in 1830. It is served by the Augustinians. Its facade is neoclassical. St. Jaume chapel or Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur or St. Giaume or Santa Rita, also known under the name of Church of the Annunciation, the xvi th century was classified historic monument February 3, 1942. Finally, the Saint-François-de-Paule church, in the eponymous street, is of late Piedmontese Baroque style, but the façade is neoclassical. It dates from the xviii th century as the Saint-Aubert Chapel with Baroque facade.
The Church of the Vow, located quai Saint-Jean-Baptiste, was built in 1840-1853 by the architect Carlo Mosca. It was erected to thank the Virgin for saving the city from a cholera epidemic. It is considered to be the most beautiful church of this period, thanks to the use of simple volumes. The Notre-Dame-du-Port church was built in 1840-1853 according to the plans of the architect Joseph Vernier. The facade was added in 1896 by Jules Fèbvre.
The brotherhoods of penitents have also marked the religious landscape. The Sainte-Croix chapel of the archiconfraternity of the white penitents, located rue Saint-Joseph, was first built by the Minimes, from 1633. It was then bought by the Archconfraternity of the penitents of the Holy Cross, which makes redecorating in the second half of the xviii th century by architect Antoine Spinelli. Its facade is in the style of the xvii th century. The chapel of the archconfraternity of the Most Holy Trinity and the ShroudLocated rue Jules Gilly, next to the old Senate, when meanwhile the xvii th century. Modified xviii th century by the architect Gio Battista Borra Piedmont, it belonged to the brotherhood of the penitents of the Holy Shroud, which was founded in Nice in 1620. It is neoclassical. Two other brotherhoods settled there, the white penitents of the Holy Spirit and the red penitents, before the three brotherhoods merged and became the arch-brotherhood of the Most Holy Trinity.
Among the other chapels of penitents, there is the chapel of Mercy of the archiconfraternity of black penitents, located in Cours Saleya and dating fromxviii th century. The architect was Bernardo Antonio Vittone. It became the property of the Black Penitents in 1829. Finally, the Holy Sepulcher Chapel of the Arch-Confraternity of the Blue Penitents, work of Antoine Spinelli, located Piazza Garibaldi is neoclassical and dates from the end of the xviii th century.
The attachment of the county of Nice to France led to the construction of religious buildings in the Gothic style. Between 1864 and 1868, avenue Jean-Médecin, the Notre-Dame basilica was built from plans by the French architect Louis Lenormand. It is inspired by the cathedral of Angers and has a large rose window surrounded by two square towers of 65 meters.
Among the churches built in the xx th century, the church of Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc, Grammont Street, typical architecture of the 1930s it was designed by the architect Jacques Droz, and completed in 1933.. The Notre-Dame-Auxiliatrice church, place Don Bosco, is the largest in the diocese. It is in Art Deco style. The Church of St. John the Evangelist also dated xx th century, as the Armenian Church of St. Mary (1927-1928), and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes of 2004.
The presence of foreign wintering in Nice from the second half of the xix th century led to the construction of new places of worship. Thus the installation of a Russian colony in the city led to the creation of Russian Orthodox churches, the first of which, Saint-Nicolas-et-Sainte-Alexandra, located rue de Longchamp, was built in 1858 by l architect Antoine-François Barraya.
After the death of his eldest son, Tsarevich Nicolas Alexandrovitch in 1865, Alexander II built a commemorative chapel on the site of the villa where the prince died. The building is located on boulevard du Tzaréwitch.
Next to the chapel, stands the Saint-Nicolas cathedral, built from 1903 to 1912 in the “old Russian” style. Its architect, Préobrajensky, also built the castle of Valrose. It is the largest Russian Orthodox building outside Russia. The Court of Cassation dismissed an appeal in 2015 against a decision which had found the State of the Russian Federation justified in repossessing it.
The Greek community of the Côte d’Azur, meanwhile, inaugurated in 1955, avenue Désambrois, the Saint-Spyridon Orthodox Church, which offers a unique example in the region of Byzantine frescoes.
Since the beginning of the xx th century, the presence Armenian translates the existence of the Armenian Church of St. Mary.
There is also a Franco-Serbian community with the chapel of Dormition-de-la-Vierge, rue Fodéré in the port district.
In the same way, the presence of English in Nice leads to the construction of an Anglican church in the district of Buffa, inspired by the King’s College Chapel of the University of Cambridge.
Protestant places of worship are built in Nice, such as the Protestant temple on boulevard Victor-Hugo which dates from 1887. It was built for the American community which, now too small, sold it in 1974 to the Reformed cult of Vaud. Its architecture is in neo-Gothic Nordic style.
The strong implantation of the Vaudois church in Piedmont and the adoption in 1848 of the Albertine Statute by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia which gave religious freedom to this church, led to the construction in 1855 of the Vaudois temple, rue Gioffredo. It is one of the first religious buildings built in Nice by a non-Catholic religious community. It is in an antique style and today houses an auction room.
The Nice synagogue was built in 1885 in the city center and renovated in 1988.
The city is home to five mosques – the Al Fourkane mosque, the Ar-Rahma mosque (located avenue du Général-Saramito), the En-Nour mosque (inaugurated on July 8, 2016), the Giuliani mosque and the Imane mosque, as well as several rooms of prayer.
The city has 2 sets of places of worship called Salle du Royaume, one located on Avenue St Joseph and another located on Rue Pie François Toesca. Meetings are held in several languages including English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Lingala, Ewe, Cambodian, Chinese (Mandarin), Malagasy, Haitian Creole, Serbian, Armenian.
Every day, from the hill of the castle of Nice, the people of Nice are warned that it is midday sharp. According to tradition, the Scottish lord Thomas Coventry-More, former colonel of the English army, came to Nice every winter from 1861 to 1866. In 1862, wishing to have lunch with his wife who was still late on the Promenade des Anglais, proposed to the mayor of Nice, François Malausséna, to fire a cannon shot every noon. His proposal was accepted, he took care of the costs, and the firing of the cannon began. After 1866, the shots were fired on an ad hoc basis, so on November 19, 1885, a decree institutedlou canon de miejour. For twenty years, the 1 st April, the gun is pulled at eleven. Formerly entrusted to the police, it is a pyrotechnician (Philippe Arnello since 1992) who has been dealing with it since 1922. But it is a firework bomb which is launched 60 meters high each day, except July 14 in tribute to the victims of the Nice attack in 2016.
Nice has very ancient vestiges, the prehistoric cave of Lazaret and a presumed Ligurian wall in the garden of Cimiez. There are few studies available on Gardens and natural spaces. The Mont Boron is nearly 200 meters above sea level. From the end of xviii th century, cities and buildings located there. For a very long time, trees and shrubs were prohibited there, for reasons of military strategy. It was granted in pastures. With the annexation, this imperative disappeared and Mont Boron was reforested from 1862. This reforestation is also part of a global policy led by the Second Empire. In Nice, it is led by Prosper Demontzey. The plantations favor Aleppo pine, very suitable for the lack of soil and water. Other species are growing, notably olive and carob trees. Today, the entire Mont Boron is subject to protective measures. The sixty hectare site is classified as ” Classified wooded area ”.
The Castle Hill, after the destruction of the latter in the xviii th century, remained too, for a long time, a field military struck visibility of slavery. The rock was practically bare until 1820. On this date, the city was authorized to build a public garden there. Plantations were carried out until the middle of the 19th century century. The tree cover of the park is growing and enriched with species that have settled spontaneously. The vegetation sometimes takes on the appearance of a jungle and obscures the view. The gardens on the hill were not built according to an overall project, but piecemeal and the whole lacked coherence. Different achievements have succeeded, such as the creation of the waterfall in 1885, the development of new accesses for cars (parking lots), the realization of mosaics in 1965. Today, a reflection on access to the site and its relationship with the city is necessary. The hill would benefit from being fully restored. The hill reaches an altitude of almost 100 meters.
Among the other hills that surround the city, we can cite Saint-Pierre-de-Féric, Pessicart, Saint-Antoine-de-Ginestière, Magnan, La Madeleine, Gairaut, Bellet or even Piol. These hills, which made up the countryside of Nice, were arranged in terraces. Olive, fig, almond, vine, carob trees, vegetables and flowers (especially carnations) were grown there thanks to the development of irrigation. From the 1960s, floriculture declined in front of urbanization. The “dark valleys” are very deep valleys, located in the hills of pudding north and west of the city. They house aparticularly original flora, including rare or very rare species. Many are threatened by illegal dumping.
There are very few studies on the gardens of Nice. A second urban garden was created in the 1860s on marshland, on the right bank of the Paillon (today near the Ruhl). The public authorities then favor gardens built on flagstones, above the Paillon. The first of this type was built in 1868 – 1869, opposite the Grand Hotel. It is the current Square Masséna. The second major operation of this type was linked to the construction of the municipal casino in the 1880s. The work takes ten years. In 1893, Place Massénais connected to the sea by a large garden on slab, the current garden Albert- I er. It is embellished by the Phocaeans fountain known as the Tritons (classified as a historic monument on August 25, 1920) and a cave in 1894. The green theater was created in 1946.
Parc Vigier is a public square by the sea just outside the port of Nice: it is the last plot of an old property, the Villa Valetta (1862), acquired by Achille Georges Vigier, grandson of Pierre Vigier. This property was a notorious place of acclimatization until the death of Viscount Vigier in 1883.
Fauna and flora
The City of Nice regularly publishes an ornithological summary which lists the local avifauna.
Due to the very strong urbanization, the flora and fauna of the coast is highly threatened. There are only a few blank spaces that could disappear in favor of new construction, expansion of infrastructure, roads.
Nice has cultural facilities. It has museums (it is even the city with the most in France, after Paris), a national theater, an opera, a library with a regional vocation, a conservatory with regional influence and concert halls.
Although it does not have the label “cities and countries of art and history”, Nice has many museums, devoted to art, history, or local history and traditions.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Avenue des Baumettes, inaugurated in 1878, has collections from the end of the xvi th century to the middle of the xx th century. It notably houses works by the painter Jules Chéret, who died in Nice in 1932and by the symbolist Gustav-Adolf Mossa. There are also works by Louis Bréa, Bronzino, Van Loo, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Joseph Vernet, Hubert Robert of the Impressionists (Sisley,Monet) and post-impressionists (Vuillard, Bonnard) as well as wild animals, including Kees Van Dongen and Raoul Dufy.
The Matisse museum in Cimiez was opened in 1963 in an old villa in the Cimiez arena park. It houses a permanent collection of 218 engravings, 57 sculptures, 187 objects, 68 paintings, 95 photos, 236 drawings and 14 illustrated books. The first donations were made by Henri Matisse, in 1953.
The national museum of the biblical message Marc Chagall, in Cimiez was inaugurated in 1973. It brings together the works of Marc Chagall devoted to the Bible. These are seventeen paintings dedicated to Genesis, the Exodus and the Song of Songs, which Marc Chagall and his wife, Valentina, donated to the State in 1966. In 1972, a second donation concerned the sketches of the Biblical Message. One of the paintings in this museum is Abraham and the three angels. The museum also has sculptures, a mosaic, a tapestry and three stained glass windows designed for the museum.
The international museum of naive art Anatole Jakovsky, avenue de Fabron, inaugurated in 1982, hosts more than a thousand works from donations by Renée and Anatole Jakovsky.
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Mamac), inaugurated in 1990, houses creations from new realists (César, Arman, Raysse, Niki de Saint Phalle, Tinguely), pop art artists (Andy Warhol, Wesselmann, Indiana, Dine), representatives of American abstraction (Maurice Louis, Franck Stella, Sol Lewitt, Kully), from the Supports / Surfaces group (Pagès, Dolla, Dezeuze, Viallat), group 70 and group Fluxus (Ben). He also has works by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Gilli, and Yves Klein. It also hosts temporary exhibitions.
The Asian Arts Museum at L’Arénas was built in 1998 by Kenzo Tange.. It has collections of Buddhist art and organizes exhibitions devoted to the arts of Asia. His approach is at the same time historical, artistic and ethnological.
The city has several history museums.
The Terra-Amata Museum of Human Paleontology, restored in 1999, is devoted to the results of excavations carried out on this site.
The archaeological museum of Cimiez is devoted to Roman antiquity.
The Riviera Resistance Museum is a history museum dedicated to the Resistance in the Alpes-Maritimes during the Second World War.
The Masséna museum, inaugurated in 1921 and recently renovated, is a museum of regional art and history.
The Lascaris Palace, rue Droite, is also a museum of regional history.
The National Sports Museum opened in 2014.
The Natural History Museum of Nice, opened in 1846 is historically the first museum in the city. It has collections of the xix th century constituted by naturalistic premises with Antoine Risso. The Marine Museum, located in the Bellanda Tower, preserves paintings, engravings, models of boats and navigation objects evoking local maritime history and boating. The priory museum of Vieux-Logis, avenue Saint-Barthélémy, houses a collection of Gothic and Renaissance furniture, as well as objects of religious art.
The entrance to municipal museums is free from 1 st July 2008.
Mars aux Musées is an event that has existed since 2001. Based on the observation that polls show that young people and students go very little to the museum (polls from the Observatory of Student Life and entrances to museums in Nice), l he university of Nice Sophia Antipolis and the town hall of Nice have created this annual event with a student association (Mediators and Associated Cultural Engineers). These are the students of the professional master “Events, mediation and cultural engineering” directed by professor Paul Rasse, gathered in association MICA, which take care of its organization from year to year. The principle of Mars at the Museums is to bring students and young people under the age of twenty-six to museums. For this, all the museums in Nice are open to them free of charge for the entire month of March. In addition, the student association organizes a whole cultural program in these museums: concerts, plays, relocated university courses, mediations of all types, symposia, dance performances, evenings of all types.
If you go to Nice for bathing or general lounging on the beach, you may wish to think again. The beaches of Nice consist entirely of large flat stones (gallets). A few private beaches have added a layer of sand, but the free public beaches are a stony experience. Besides towels or mats, you should definitely bring sandals, since walking on the stones can be painful, and a cushion if you want to sit. Free showers are provided on all public beaches and there is a beach volleyball area that is netted off with white sand.
Although the beaches are mainly pebbles it is important to note that many visitors enjoy the beautiful light blue sea for a swim. If you can bear to walk for a few steps on the pebbles it is definitely an opportunity for swimming rather than playing in the water as the beach drops quickly and the tidal pull can be very strong, and not for beginners. Lying on the beach for a sun tan or relaxation is also manageable as long as you rearrange the rocks/pebbles to a comfy surface for sitting and lying. Private beaches offer various services from restaurants/bars to the rental of lounge chairs and towels.
Much nicer beaches exist in other towns close by, such as Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes and Cannes, which are far more sandy. Villefranche is a particularly preferred beach choice, especially if travelling with children, only twenty minutes away by the Zou! 100 bus.
However, for walks by the seaside with great views, the Promenade des Anglais is arguably unparalleled.
For views of Nice the best vantage point is the heights of Mont Boron (bus 14). From the derelict old Fort and the nearby villa of Sir Elton John there are fine views over the city to the mountains and east over Villefranche and Cap Ferat.
Go to Èze. It is a small village on the way to Monaco. The village is situated on a small mountain and there is a beautiful cactus garden with a spectacular view (a must see, €5 entrance fee). There is also Fragonard perfume factory which you can visit for free. To reach Eze by bus, take the 112 to Eze Village (not the 100 which stops at Eze Gare, a 90 minute steep walk away from Eze Village). If you missed an infrequent (up to 3 hours) 115 bus in Eze Village, there is a path that goes down the mountain from Eze Village to Eze Sur Mer (also Eze Gare). This is the Path of Nietzsche (named after the famous German philosopher Friedrich W. Nietzsche), with some fantastic views and a waterfall (if you know where to look). Walking downhill through this path takes about 40 minutes. Buses run from Menton-Monaco through Eze Gare back to Nice every 15 minutes or so and vice versa, making treking back up the hill unnecessary.
Also close by is the magnificent Villa ile de France, of the Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, straddling the magnificent peninsula of St Jean Cap Ferrat in the so-called Golden Triangle of Villefranche, Beaulieu and Cap Ferrat.
Hiking trails emanate from La Turbie high above Monaco and the Grande Corniche, which are double the height above sea level of Eze and offer the hardened walker truly spectacular vantage points over the Riviera.
Cliff Walk (Sentier Littoral) (go past the old port (probably 15 minute walk) heading east toward Monaco, there is a little pathway that leads from Coco Beach along the side of the cliff). You can follow the path around Cap de Nice half way to Villefranche, but be prepared for several hundred steps up to rejoin the road. It’s a very beautiful walk and you will find mostly local people using it.
Opéra Nice Cote d’Azur, 4 & 6 rue Saint-François de Paule. This opera house hosts not only opera performances but also many concerts of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice and chamber music recitals, and some ballet performances. The house’s website is in French only, but even if you don’t read French well, you should be able to make out the information on their calendar (calendrier).
Events and festivities
Most of the festivities and cultural events take place in summer, from May to the end of October. The Nice Carnival has existed in its current form since 1873. From that date, it was organized by the Festival Committee, to entertain winter visitors. It takes place in February. The Nice Jazz Festival has existed since 1948. It takes place in July, in the gardens and arenas of Cimiez, on three different stages at the same time.
Since 1935 the Nice Fair has been held every March, which welcomes traders and artisans from the region for ten days at the Palais des Expositions.
The “Musical Nights of Nice” take place in July and August, under the direction of Jacques Taddei. They take place in the cloister of the Cimiez monastery. It is a chamber music festival, which has existed since 1958. The “Vieux-Nice Baroque en Musique” festival is a series of baroque music concerts, which take place from October to May, in churches and the baroque chapels of Old Nice. The Nice sacred music festival was created in 1974 by Pierre Cochereau and Paul Jamin. It is directed today by Marco Guidariniand takes place in June. The MANCA festival (Modern music Nice Côte d’Azur) was created in 1978 by Jean-Étienne Mari. It is organized by CIRM.
“Les enfants du rock” was a rock music festival, organized by the Ivoire Music association, which existed from 2006 to 2009. In 2010, Ivoire Music decided to broaden the artistic theme; the festival “Les enfants du rock” then changes its name to become the festival ” Crazy week !!! ». The first edition of this new festival took place from July 6 to 10, 2010 at the Théâtre de Verdure in Nice. Nearly 10,000 spectators attended the 2011 edition, confirming that Crazy Week had become the first current music festival in the city, and “the second festival in the city after the Nice Jazz Festival ” according to Nice-Matin.
The “September of the Photo” has existed since 1987. Photos linked by a common theme are exhibited in different places in the city (municipal galleries, museums, Theater of Photography and Image). In 2007, the theme was Armenia.
The Italian film festival has been held annually at Espace Magnan since an unknown date. For lack of publicity, it is rather confidential. The Portuguese-speaking cinema week has been organized by the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis since 1999. It takes place at the Rialto cinema. Like the Italian film festival, it is not supported by the municipality and therefore remains little known. The Nice Short Film Festival, entitled “A Festival is Too Short”, has been held every year in April since 2000 297. It is organized by the Héliotrope association. Since 2010, Nice has also been hosting the Samain of Nice’s fantastic cinema at the Mercury cinema., an annual international film festival showcasing genre films.
The castle festival has been organized by the Communist Party of the Alpes-Maritimes since 1946. It takes place at the beginning of July and lasts two days. There are concerts, plays, debates, bookstores and refreshments. Ultimately, there are few cultural events aimed at young people.
The July 14, 2016around 22 h 45, an attack was perpetrated at the Promenade des Anglais when a truck drove into the crowd gathered for the fireworks National Day. The perpetrator of the attack is shot dead by the police. TheAugust 21, 2016, the death toll is 86 deadand 458 injured.
The most representative dance of the County of Nice is the farandole and its variants: brandi, mourisca (or Moorish), passa carriera (passe-rue; Spanish passa calle, passacaille). Other traditional dances were also practiced. Girls and boys danced to the sound of fife, the drum, the petadou, sometimes the violin or the hurdy-gurdy. The pilou, meanwhile, is a typically Nice game.
There are also many festivals in the Nice country, the first festival of the year being that of the Nice carnival which is followed by the battle of flowers. The other traditional festivities are the feast of cougourdons, the feasts of Nice, the feast of the Corn, the renewal of the vow, with procession of the brotherhoods of penitents, the feast of Saint-Pierre, the feast of the Malonat, the feast of the Assumption, the feast of San-Bertoumiéu, the feast of Catherine Ségurane, the feast of Saint Reparate, Calena and Lou Presèpi (“tradicioun de mariota nissarda”, the puppets of Nice).
The costumes worn are, for boys, a black corsair with red and white stripes, a large red belt called a taillole and a large white shirt; and for the girls, canvas skirts with red and white stripes, a white shirt, a black velvet corset with apron, an embroidered black satin shawl as well as the capelina (large round and flat hat, in straw). These costumes also exist in a variant, originating in chin, where red is replaced by blue.
The city also has an anthem Nissa la bella, composed by Menica Rondelly. As elsewhere, these traditions have gradually taken their present form from the xix th century.
This will allow you to enjoy the places to see. There are two possibilities for motorized guided tours:
Small tourist train (departure on the south sidewalk of the Promenade des Anglais, opposite the Albert 1 e garden) departure every 30 min. Takes you to visit the old town and takes you to the Castle hill, comments being broadcast through loudspeakers.
Double-decker tourist bus Drop you off at various tourist points in the city, and pick you up once your visit is over. Comments are broadcast by individual headsets.
Nice Greeters allow at least 2 hours. – Local volunteers help you discover a part of the city according to a theme (ride in the city, on a blue bike, everyday life…). Make an appointment on the website between 1 and 3 weeks in advance. In partnership with the tourist office.
Mobilboard. The perfect way to see more in less time! Mobilboard invites you to discover the cultural heritage at the controls of a Segway Segway. Your guide is there to reveal the hidden treasures of the French Riviera with themes as varied as art, traditions, gastronomy, ecology… Live a fun and cultural experience to discover the city of Nice.
Nice Carnival in February for 2 weeks including 3 weekends. It takes place every year according to a different theme. For example, in 2008 the Carnival King was King of ratapignatas (in French, king of bats…). Carnival consists of two types of corsi:
Carnival corsis: these are parades of floats and “big heads”. They usually take place on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
The flowered corsi or “flower battles”: it is a parade of flowered floats from the top of which young hostesses throw flowers to the spectators. They take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays afternoon.
The route for these two events has been identical since 2005: on the Promenade des Anglais and the Quai des Etats-Unis. There are places in the stands for a fee, places on the sidewalk for a fee or free. For the anecdote, know that the tradition is formal: the last day of carnival (Sunday), the king is mercilessly burned in public… for the happiness of all! Then follows an incredible fireworks display which ends this last evening of festivities, which will have started with the parade of the king, the reindeer as well as many schoolchildren dancing and singing the traditions of Nice. More information on dates and prices on the official website.
By bus and tram
Each main town on the French Riviera has its own local bus network, for Nice it is Lignes d’Azur (Antibes has Envibus, Cannes has Bus Azur, and so on), and the 100 or more Lignes d’Azur routes are the main form of urban transport for locals going to work or school. Of more interest to tourists, an inter-urban network, Zou! connects all the Eastern Riviera towns between Cannes and Menton and all the main villages like Èze and Vence. Its terminal is at 16 Avenue des Diables Bleus. Bus fares are only €1.50 (2019) with a change to a non-return connecting service also permitted within 74 min, so it is worth mastering the bus system to get around.
The Lignes d’Azur and Zou! routes overlap in and around Nice, so the ticket and tariff system is integrated to a common ticket zone, in which the local Lignes d’Azur tickets and passes are accepted on the longer distance Zou! buses (only between Cagnes-sur-Mer to the west and Cap d’Ail short of Monaco to the east). The fare is identical on both networks – €1.50 for any distance – but with Zou!, you must always tell the driver your intended destination, so he can judge whether you should purchase a Zou! ticket or a Ligne d’Azur. Outside the common zone, Ligne d’Azur passes are not valid and you need to pay the €1.50 fare in cash.
The one exception to the €1.50 fare is the Airport Express bus, which has a €6 flat fare. This buys you a Lignes d’Azur all day pass into the bargain – handy if you’re arriving, maybe not as beneficial if you’re leaving.
The tram line takes a U-shaped route from Las Planas to the northeast to Pont St Michel to the northwest. It links the main train station, bus station, downtown and the university, but it is primarily a mass transit system for commuters and shoppers, and is of little value to tourists – this should improve in 2019 when the east-west tram line is expected to be completed. Trams use the same tickets as the buses, but you need to buy them from the machines at tram stops (unlike buses, where it is usual to pay the driver or show your pass on entering the bus).
Always validate your ticket if necessary, especially the card-like tickets with magnet-band.
Another innovation is the hourly “commuter express” bus service direct to Monaco via the Autoroute, the 100 Express, though visitors may still prefer the slower and more scenic 100 route along the coast.
The SNCF rail service also links all the main coastal towns, so which is the best way to get around – bus or train? The journey from Nice to say Cannes by the 200 bus at €1.50 is considerably cheaper than the train, which is over €5. The buses are liable to dreadful overcrowding and have the prospect of standing for nearly 2 hr as it is slow with frequent stops and many traffic lights along the route. If you’re short on cash and don’t mind discomfort, take the bus. If you’re short on time and prefer to sit, take the train.
When taking the bus, you must be aware of the somewhat odd way the bus schedules are laid out. They list the departure time at the first bus station, not the one you are at. At the right hand side of the bus schedule, you have a list of stations, and, next to some, you will find the time listed it will take the bus to get there (+20 min, for example). This means that you will have to do a lot of guessing. It is best to ask a native and leave some extra padding time if you plan to take a bus to any scheduled event that you really do not want to miss (airport, train, concerts, etc.)
You can find local bus and tram route maps and timetables on-line. Route maps are listed under ‘Maps’ and timetables as ‘Timetables’ in PDF format. Also, a new service (‘Stop timetables’) purports to display the times at your stop. From previous experience with the bus company, those should stand somewhere between educated guesses and outright fiction, due to unpredictable road traffic conditions (like one hour traffic jams around Villeneuve Loubet).
Apart from the airport express routes 98 and 99, buses rarely run after 20:00. The tram however operates from around 04:30 to after midnight. Five nightly bus routes (called Noctambus) serve the main parts of city, from 21:10 to 01:10, and Zou! has also now introduced infrequent buses throughout the night on the 100 line. The night buses leave from the Station J.C. Bermond, near the bus station, and the day fares apply on these night routes. If you are planning a visit involving a late evening return, consider train services, which provide the most reliable form of late travel.
The starting point for buses in the direction Villefranche, Eze Village, Cap Ferrat, Monaco and Menton is Segurane/Garribaldi; westward buses towards the airport, Antibes and Cannes start at Albert 1er/Verdun close to the Meridien Hotel.
Nice has no metro and little need for one. The main train service is the national French railway SNCF, which boasts the high speed TGV (slow to Marseilles and then extremely fast on to Paris) and the local TER stopping trains, which serve the main Riviera towns between Cannes and Ventimiglia across the border in Italy, including the daily commute to Monaco.
Less well-known is the little narrow-gauge railway Chemin de Fer de Provence, which runs from Nice through the Var valley and along the Route Napoleon, 3 hours to Digne in Upper Provence. In the summer months, the latter part of the journey switches to a real steam train, the Train des Pignes.
You don’t need a car to explore Nice itself, and if you do bring or hire one expect some frustration. The town centre is congested is covered by a complicated one-way system. Parking is very limited – all on-street parking anywhere central is on meters during the day, and even in spite of this it’s very difficult to find a spot; you’ll notice the Nicoise happily double-parking to nip to the shops. If you need a reliable parking place, your best bet is to buy a fixed-length ticket (abonnement) at one of the underground car parks, several of which offer 24-hour access. You can expect to pay €8-10 a day for this kind of parking.
The best access is by car from the A8 autoroute. The airport is well-signed from the A8 and the A8 is well signed from the airport. Just make sure that you know which way you need to go when getting on the A8 and which terminal when leaving. Especially in the morning and evening rush hour, allow extra time to deal with accidents and traffic jams. The A8 has a ferocious bend right near the airport and accidents are frequent.
Even if it is going better, driving a car on the Riviera is for the brave: the region has one of the worst accident records in France and every local has a favourite story about a mad driver. However, all major car rental firms, as well as some less well known ones, are present. Most are located by terminal 2. If you have a choice, try to pick a car that is already well dinged so that no one notices the new dings and scratches that you will add. Never forget to lock the doors of the car at all times, so as not to tempt carjackers.
If you can, avoid the notoriously expensive taxis, though sometimes you do not have a choice. It is not always easy to find a taxi when you need one. Most will not respond to being hailed, and only ply from a taxi rank, from where cabs take passengers in turn. Taxi-drivers have great solidarity with their fellow taxi-drivers and will not accept offers to jump a line of waiting passengers. Taxi ranks will be found outside the train station and deluxe hotels (for example outside Le Meridien at 1 Promenade des Anglais).
Taxis are registered and licensed but like anywhere, it’s not unknown for one to take advantage of tourists. If possible, agree on the rate before entering the cab. If running on the meter, insist on the meter being on the whole time. Try to sit where you can see it so that you can immediately query the driver when/if it goes off “accidentally.” Taxi fares within Nice should be less than €20, to Antibes €50, Monaco or Cannes approximately €70 and St Tropez €250. The airport run to Nice is a fixed tariff around €35, depending on time of day, but you may be hit for surcharges on luggage or the presence of a 4th passenger (designed to discourage cab-sharing).
Nice has installed a public bicycle rental system called “Vélo Bleu”. Subscriptions rank from €1 per day to €25/year. The first 30 minutes are free and you will not need any more time to get around in the city. Vélo Bleu stations can be found all over the city. Their website provides a map of stations.
If you have your own bike, you will never have to go far to find a place where to park it, as there are a lot of ground anchors in the city. Just be sure to have a good lock (avoid the cable-locks which can be cut within seconds), to lock the frame (and not only the wheel) and that your wheels cannot be removed without a tool.
Even though Nice is the 5th largest city in France, a high proportion of the tourist attractions are close together in the town centre, at most half an hour’s walk from each other.
The main exception is the historical site and museum at Cimiez, which is more of a hike, but readily accessible by bus.
The only downside of being “on foot” is that there is a lack of attention in some parts of town to the needs of those with reduced mobility, such as those in wheelchairs, as the dropping of kerbstones is entirely haphazard.
Most stores and restaurants in Nice will accept the major credit cards, and debit cards from major banks (anything carrying the EC or Maestro or Visa logos). If this fails you can always get money from any of the numerous ATMs.
All shops are now allowed to open every Sunday and, as of November 2010, at least the following had started to open every Sunday: H&M, Zara, Fnac, Bershka, Celio, Virgin Megastore, and Spar. Some locations of Galleries Lafayette are now open several Sundays each month but not all of them, the same goes for Nice Etoile Shopping Centre.
Postcards (as many other things) vary greatly in price. Do some comparison shopping as the price range is between 20 cents and €1 for a normal postcard. Typically they will set you back 25 cents each (June 2009).
Nice’s main shopping street av. Jean Medecin is home to two giant music/entertainment stores, Virgin Megastore and the French FNAC. FNAC definitely has the edge as their many listening stations allow you to “try before you buy” almost every CD in the house, whilst Virgin push only a few promotional selections. Both run near identical pricing policy on new albums. FNAC is closer to HMV, offering most forms of entertainment including books, games, CDs, and DVDs. The 4-story store on Av. Jean Medecin is well worth exploring!
Designer label garments are, as everywhere, notoriously expensive but general fashion goods are really cheap compared to most other European countries, and Galleries Lafayette offers a lot under one roof. If that’s not enough for you, they also have a huge superstore at Cap 3000 just next to St Laurent de Var past the airport (Lignes d Azur 52 and Zou! bus 200, 400 and 500, stop La Passerelle). This is also home to Galleries Lafayette Gourmand, a food superstore to rival London’s Harrods and Selfridges. The wine selection is brilliant, especially aisles full of Rose de Provence, and there are a half-dozen in-store lunch-time places.
Cheap bargain fashions are best sought at Ventimiglia’s huge open street market each Friday, accessible by train from Nice Gare Ville to Ventimiglia a few kilometres over the Italian border. Just avoid the tempting fake luxury brands sold by the many street sellers. The war against counterfeiting is taken very seriously by the French border police and big fines are targeted at “innocent” tourists.
The central Nice Etoiles is available for anyone pining for a visit to a shopping mall, including three floors of a Dutch brand not seen by British people for 20 years that is still big in France – C&A. More nostalgia can also be found in av Jean Medecins’ “Damart” – yes, the people that gave you “Thermolactyl underwear” to keep you warm in winter are also big here. About as sensible as the local Bronzage tanning parlours.
A cautionary note: The “duty free” shops at Nice airport terminals are the absolute worst value you will ever find and should be avoided at all costs: prices are way over those of even the high street. Food, drink and cigarettes dreadfully overpriced, and there are no bargains “before you fly”. If you haven’t yet kicked the habit, cigarettes in particular are best bought in Italy over the border, where taxes on smoking have not reached health promoting punitive levels.
Flower market (Marché aux Fleurs), Cours Saleya. Tu-Sa 06:00-17:30; Su 06:00-12:00; closed public holidays.
Marché aux Fruits et Legumes. Tu-Su 06:00-13:00. Food market.
Confisserie Florian, 14, Quai Papacino, this gourmet shop has specific jams, sweet fruits and petals, which are traditional from that area. The candied clementine and the rose jam are their fine specialities.
A food called socca, a chickpea flat bread, is a local specialty, as is a tuna fish sandwich called pan bagnat. Other specialities include soupe de poisson (fish soup, made with chili aioli, croutons, and grated cheese), salade niçoise (made with tuna), tourtes aux blettes (sweet tartes made with Savoy cabbage, raisins, nuts, and powdered sugar) and pissaladiere (a type of pizza topped with sauteed onion, olives, garlic and anchovies; it includes no tomatoes or cheese). As may be expected, seafood features prominently in Niçoise cuisine, and several restaurants specialise in sea urchin and oysters.
Check out the daily market in the Vieux Nice for fresh, local produce. You can save a lot of money if you are willing to cook at least some of your meals yourself and if you also eat leftovers, cooking can actually save you time as well since eating at a restaurant will easily cost you one to two hours per meal. There are several decent-sized ‘supermarchés’ around the city, and numerous boucheries, boulangeries and fruit and veg shops which are often competitive on price and superior on quality.
No visit to Nice would be complete without a trip to Fennochio’s in the Place Rosetti to sample their (rightly) world-famous ice cream.
Cheap & cheerful food in Nice is hard to come by if you don’t take your time to look for it, though a baguette with different fillings range from €4-6, which is very reasonable by Nice standards.
The best deals in the center can be found in the port area.
Old Nice and all along the sea front the prices cannot be described as budget.
However, lunch-time set menus are certainly good value, if not ‘cheap’ per se. €10-12 should get you two courses, often with coffee and wine, and like much of continental Europe lunches can drift happily into the afternoon.
Lou Pilha Leva, Place Centrale, Old Nice. Local dishes including the best tasting Socca, which only costs €2.80. Locals (and the lots of French tourists) seem to love this place and it is often quite busy. Order your food at the counter and take it with you to sit at the benches outside. Try Daube pasta/polenta (€9.50) and soupe au pistou, and socca. Very nice atmosphere and very decent price. Worth a try, even though the baked food can be somewhat soaked in oil. Avoid red wine at this place, though, as they serve it chilled rather than warm.
Restaurant Le Lodge, 14 Rue Halévy, If you’re watching your budget but want to have a gourmet, healthy meal, this is the place to go for lunch. For €11 you get a main course, a drink such as wine, beer or soda and after the meal, a coffee. Try the trio of fish. For €13, add the dessert of the day. Hopefully it’s cinnamon crème brûlée. Don’t be put off by the one waitress to a full restaurant ratio, the chefs get the food to you quickly. The meal deals are more expensive during the night, starting at €19.
Sixte Pizza, 15 Rue Jean-Pierre Papon. Pizzas for €6; taking them away to the beach makes for a nice dinner.
Arlequin Gelati, 9, avenue Malausséna (from the north end of avenue Jean-Médecin, after having passed the train bridge, 150 m north on the left-side of the street), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. a bit less than €3 for one scoop and €5 for two. Excellent homemade icecream with many flavors available.
le Delhi Belhi, 22 Rue de la Barillerie. Delhi Belhi is a family-owned and -operated restaurant specializing in Indian cuisine. Open daily for dinner, a-la-carte or prix-fixe menu. Great curries and tandoori specialties. Delhi Belhi is the only Indian restaurant on the entire French riviera that has been included in the prestigious Gault-Millau guides since 2005. Fluent English also spoken here. Behind the popular cours Saleya flower market. This is a very popular restaurant so reservations are highly recommended (at least a few hours ahead). €15-20 per person (alcoholic drinks and wine are extra).
Le Shalimar, 11 Rue Biscarra. Has tasty Indian food. The lunch menus are a good deal.
Restaurant du Gésu, 1, Place Jésus. In the heart of Vieux Nice, this is a friendly, vibrant, old-fashioned restaurant with as much Italian influence as Provencale. The beignets and daube with gnocchi are particularly good.
Mad’In Viet, 2 Place Saétone. Vietnamese restaurant. Serves good Vietnamese food at affordable prices. Rice is not included in the dishes but ordered separately. Chopsticks are provided but you have to ask for a fork and a knife. The staff are very friendly but speak next to no English, so be prepared to order in French.
Le Safari. Long established in the old quarter, now caters more for tourists than the locals. This reflects in the price and language spoken by those dining next to you. Overpriced compared to other local similar establishments. For a 3-course meal with wine, expect to pay more than €60/person.
Le Tire Bouchon, Rue de la Préfecture/Rue de l’Abbaye 19. Located in the center of Nice, Le Tire Bouchon is an attractive, desirable restaurant to enjoy a gourmet meal. The restaurant has a picturesque atmosphere which everyone is sure to enjoy.
With the hot Niçois summers, carrying a bottle of water is almost a must. Bear in mind the largest single complaint to the municipal authority tourist department is the offering in restaurants of branded water bottles whose seal has been broken – i.e. refilled with tap water – and charged as Perrier or Evian.
You can save a lot of money by buying alcoholic drinks and such in a normal supermarket instead of the vendors geared towards tourists. Carrefour has a huge selection and unlike the other supermarkets has a policy of buying in wine show “prize winners” distinguished by their gold, silver or bronze medal stickers.
Some popular places to go out for a drink include:
Ma Nolan’s. — Right in the heart of the ‘Old Town’ and next to the opera, Ma Nolan’s has everything you would expect from an Irish pub and more. Live music every night, major sporting events on four screens, really good food and very friendly staff. This place is a must.
Akathor Pub. — Big Scandinavian/Irish Pub with live music every night. On two floors with a large terrace this place is expensive but chill. Many of the larger hotels (such as the Holiday Inn) have 2-for-1 drink coupons which can be easily obtained even if you are not a guest.
Blue Whales — Stays open until the wee hours of the morning.
Wayne’s. — An old school bar with live music and theme nights, a bit coyote ugly meets cheers. When the place is crowded, people dance on the tables. It’s somewhat expensive to drink here (but Wayne’s isn’t alone with this characteristic), but definitely one of the most fun/party places in Nice. English-speaking tourists also seem to gravitate to this bar, but you’ll also meet lots of French people or locals here.
Checkpoint — A cozy bar on the ground level, and a great dance floor underground. Ladies night on Monday offers 0.50€ champagne.
Le Marches — Lounge style bar on two floors with cocktails and tapas.
Master Home — A pub by Wayne’s and King’s Pub. More “French” than Wayne’s and King’s pubs and a little more classy. When you order alcoholic drinks, they bring you two or three dishes of nibbles. Even though the price is a little more expensive than the “English” pubs next door, it’s still worth a visit and a fraction cheaper that the touristy bars/pubs. Try the rose (€3.20), the cheapest on the menu but delicious!
Pompeï — Stays open late, live music most nights (usually rock), good dancing on the weekends, indoor smoking room, next to Wayne’s and the other Irish pubs – everyone flocks here after they close.
Jonathan’s — If you’re looking to meet locals, go to Jonathan’s. Small hole-in-the-wall place full of younger people (mostly students) with great drink specials most nights. Not very well known by tourists.
Wine in restaurants is often ferociously expensive, so do as the locals and order it by the “pichet” – usually a 50 centilitre jug. However, if you fancy quality appellation French wine to drink back home, Les Caves Caprioglio at 16 Rue de la Prefecture in Vieux Nice has a fabulous cellar of the wines you usually only read about in the fine wines books but rarely see. To see French wine making, the Chateau’s Bellet and Cremat in the Var are nearest to Nice and will do tours by arrangement (reachable via the tiny narrow-gauge train from the Chemin de Fer de Provence).
L’Essenciel, Boulevard Victor Hugo 50. Lounge bar at the pool on top of the hotel. Relaxed atmosphere and great views over the city.
Nice’s crime rate is comparable to other cities in western countries. Nevertheless, locals have been grumbling about a number of issues since the 2000s, often with good reasons. Basic precautions are needed at times.
Nice is known to be the city in France with the highest number of police officers per capita – and since the tragic 2016 event by the promenade, Nice hosts a large number of military patrols. They can be somewhat intimidating to meet, especially in the middle of the night, however they are there to maintain an air of control. Most French people maintain their weapons are fake, and they will normally never interact with you.
As with other larger cities, Nice has areas that must be avoided. The most commonly cited areas are:
l’Arianne and la Trinité, both in the east parts of the city, are known hotbeds for gang violence. It is highly discouraged to wander there at night.
Some of the neighborhoods immediately north of the airport have been the stages of pickpocketing.
The Thiers neighborhood, immediately south of the Nice-Ville train station, has a few unsavory streets.
A few tips to stay safe are:
Don’t take unlicensed “taxis”! That applies doubly so at times like the Film Festival, especially if you are female and have been drinking and partying late.
Take precautions against pickpockets, who are a constant and serious problem on the Côte d’Azur. They operate usually in teams in any crowded areas like buses, train stations, and tourist sites. Be vigilant at the tram station, Gare Thiers, where pickpockets prey on travel-weary tourists. They may well look like harmless fellow passengers, but they are extremely skilled and will lift your wallet from either your front or back pants pocket without your noticing. You are strongly advised not to carry anything valuable or annoying to replace in your pockets. Use pouches underneath your clothing for anything valuable, including cash. In restaurants and cafés, opportunist theft of handbags is a constant risk – keep them close at hand.
If you are travelling by car, take care not to leave anything of value in the car when parking. Theft from car boots is a particular issue in underground parking beneath the Nice old town. Leaving the parcel shelf off so that it’s clear the boot is empty is a good way to avoid problems.
Judging from local newspaper reports, personal safety concerns are most likely to arise after 02:30, and visitors should stick to well lit streets with people still around.
If you do fall foul of Nice’s criminal practitioners, the National Police Station is where you need to go to report problems such as being pickpocketed. It’s at the junction of Ave Marechal Foch and Dubouchage, a couple of hundred metres east of the Nice Etoiles shopping centre. They will supply you with the necessary statements to support insurance claims, but don’t expect them to recover your property. You will find the police station very busy with other victims towards the end of the evening.