I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nice. After spending a week in Paris and learning that French food and wine was far from what I expected, I was a bit hesitant on whether I would enjoy Nice or if it would just be a beach version of the France we had seen the week before. After a week of overpriced stinky cheeses and weaving between tourists, I was ready for a break from the city and the poshness of Paris.
From the moment the thick glass airport doors opened and a warm, sticky sweet breeze cascaded over us, Nice started to grow on me. No rain? Sunshine? Yes please! Then when our Uber driver pulled up looking like a true guido straight from Jersey Shore, I couldn’t help but shake my head and giggle to myself. Yep…Nice would be different. As he bumped Cardi B and rolled down the windows so the cool ocean breeze could flutter through my hair, I knew Nice and I would get along just fine.
Ten Things to do in Nice, France
1. The beach. The beaches in Nice were not exactly what I was expecting. Being from California, I was used the the soft, sandy beaches that line our shores; not the rocky pebble beaches of Nice. While there were some people who brought their towels and lied on the beach, it’s much more enjoyable if you bring a lounge chair or sit at one of the numerous beach patio bars. One of our favorite things to do was to get food and wine from a local shop and sit by the beach for a picnic.
2. Walk along Promenade des Anglais. This walk along the beach stretches along the coastline from each end of Nice. Start from either end and stop off for a dip in the water or at one of the numerous restaurants with a view for a bite to eat.
3. Farmers Market-Cours Saleya. I don’t know about you, but when I pictured Nice, those red and white stripped tents with flowers were definitely on my list of things I had to see. Not only are there flowers at Nice’s market, but tons of local grocers and artists selling anything you can think of. Even if you’re not in a shopping mood, just walking through the market on the way down to the beach is a must do.
4. Old Town. Old town Nice is exactly what you would expect: narrow winding alleyways and local shops that you could get lost in for hours. We stayed in an Airbnb directly over the shops in the old town section of Nice with a little window balcony that over looked the winding mesh of streets. In the morning, you could hear the shop owners below spraying off their porches, speaking to each other in a mix of French and Italian as they opened up for the day and at night, the quiet hum of the bars down the street and the occasional group of drunks stumbling home as the sun rose over the tops of the old buildings. If you get a chance to stay here I highly recommend it. It was absolutely one of the highlights of our time in France! Even if you aren’t able to stay in the heart of old town, at least wander through and take a look at some of the shops.
5. Nice Cathedral. While you’re in Old Town, you might as well stop in to the cathedral smack dab in the middle! It’s not the most impressive, but is a beautiful and peaceful place to get out of the sun for a bit.
6. Get gelato. The Gelato in Nice is amazing. So amazing that we had it for breakfast and desert! Since Nice is near the border of Italy, the Gelato tastes like authentic Italian Gelato…need I say more?
7. Hiking. For some amazing views of Nice and the coastline, make sure to hike up the Castle of Nice. It’s a fairly easy and short hike right next to the beach the views are stunning.
8. Castle Hill. When you reach the castle, keep climbing! There are more gorgeous views the higher you go. At the top of the hill, you’ll find a relaxing park with benches and gorgeous views of the marina on the other side of the hill as well as a beautiful waterfall along the way!
9. Monaco. While Monaco is technically it’s own country, it’s about twenty minutes up the road from Nice and is one of the most beautiful little places with tons to do. If at some point you get tired of lounging around on the beach all day, make sure to take the bus ride along the coast to Monaco and at least stop in to see the Monte Carlo.
10. Place Masséna. Visit the town’s main square and do some shopping at the numerous modern shops or get a bite to eat at one of the restaurants.
One of the best parts of Nice is that there really isn’t a ton to do except eat, drink, and relax on the beach. For us, the three days we spent in Nice was the perfect little escape from the craziness of the touristy big cities. No matter where you stay or what you choose to see, the aura of Nice oozes a relaxation that is contagious and makes for a good time!