Nice the Beautiful
The Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is a picturesque strip of land in the southeastern part of France, which shares it with the Principality of Monaco. Its mild climate and sunny beaches washed by azure seawaters, to which, by the way, the place owes its name, have always been a major attraction to the region. Should we wonder then that it is here where the oldest fireplace ever discovered in Europe is situated? It’s a well-known fact that people inhabited the slopes of Mount Boron (now called Terra Amata) in 400,000 BC. And they made no mistake having chosen this particular spot, for it is where Nice stands in beauty now.
Paris may be the capital city of France, but Nice is the capital of the French Riviera, and one will have to work hard to prove which is best. Nice is the fifth largest city in the country and the second largest on the Mediterranean coast of France. One of the two major tourist destinations in the country and the eternal rival of Paris, Nice is nicknamed Nice la Belle (Nice the Beautiful).
The lush greenness of flourishing vegetation and the serenity of sky-blue waters make Nice a perfect vacation resort. It has always attracted a lot of people: prehistoric people, the ancient Greeks and Romans… you name it! But, however strange it may sound, it were the English who appreciated the true value of its vacation capacity . Starting from the XVIII century the leading titled families of England began to come here to escape the damp winters of their homeland. At times you could hear more of the English language than of the French. Soon they were followed by the Russian aristocracy. The nobility invested money in the city thus giving a stimulus to its economic development. Luxurious hotels, casinos, parks and alleys, theatres and museums dotted the place attracting painters, writers, actors and opera singers. At different times, Nice welcomed Herzen, Chekhov, Paganini, Dumas, Nietzsche, Victor Hugo, Chagall, Matisse, and many others. In the beginning of XX century Nice was discovered by American millionaires, and soon they have become regular visitors to the place.
Today the resort is frequented by numerous celebrities from all over the world. Movie stars, sportsmen, musicians, pop singers, prominent politicians and businessmen, fashion models and designers prefer to spend their vacations here. And why? Nice la Belle is perfect in every sense. It is a magical place, where sparkling sea meets snowy peaks and ancient history merges with the modern lifestyle. The culture of Provence enjoyed by people from all around the world cherishes the eternal dream of humanity about paradise on earth.
Top Nice Attractions.
Nice is a city of timeless beauty and striking contrasts. To discover its true charm you will need to relax and follow your hidden desires. Take your time and let the city seduce you revealing itself in all its variety. Here are some hints at how to start. If there is something you can’t escape in the city, it’s undoubtedly the sea. The vividness of its colour and freshness of its breeze attract your glance wherever you are: in a hotel room, in the street or on the top of a mountain. A range of 20 public beaches and 15 private ones are at your disposal. Paying just €15–€18 you can enjoy all the necessary facilities offered at one the private beaches. Public beaches are free, but you’ll have to buy yourself a mat as all the beaches are pebbled. Sea sports and excursions will add spice to your vacations.
The city’s number one beauty spot is the Promenade des Anglais. A wide boulevard stretches along the seaside for 10 kilometres providing a splendid view on Nice’s most renowned hotels: the Negresco, the Meridien and the Windsor. The Place Masséna is the main square of the city, where all the main celebrations and parades take place. It is the beginning of the Pedestrian zone – an ideal place to walk and pop in various cafes and restaurants, which serve traditional Niçois dishes. The Old Nice is the right place to plunge into the city’s history. Its narrow winding streets featuring numerous little shops with local products meet at Place Rossetti – the centre of the Old Town. Here you can not only enjoy the Sainte-Réparate cathedral dating back to the 16th century but also discover the most exotic flavors provided by the famous Nice ice-cream makers.
The next must-see spot is located in the same neighborhood and is known as the Cours Saleya. This place knows how to seduce you. La Chapelle de la Miséracorde fascinates with its striking architecture, the Nice Opera is a real treat to both your eyes and ears. However, the gem of this area is the celebrated Flower Market, which is indispensible in the city where flower battles are frequently held. The Cours Saleya is also known for its other markets. Here you can find souvenirs and all kinds of local specialties, which you collect in special bowls and then hand over to the seller. All this selling and buying comes to a stop with the sunset and the area turns into one of the city’s favorite night spots. A piano bar called Les Trois Diables, a strip club called the Charlotte Bar and Thor are just a few of its attractions.
A new day brings a new treat. Don’t miss a chance to climb to the top of the Chateau. The castle, which gave the name to this hill, now lies in ruins and is not the main reason to visit this place. People go up here to enjoy a most spectacular view over the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) and the port of Nice with its sparkling yachts and luxury cruise ships. Another popular attraction is Musée Matisse (Matisse Museum), which can boast a vast collection of Matisse’s both early and mature paintings. Many of them were inspired by Nice. To make this cultural feast even more abundant the city offers quite a list of museums to visit: Musée Marc Chagall, Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret, Museum of Naïve arts, Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, Musée Masséna, etc. Those who want to try the real joie de vivre must participate in one of the many carnivals and flower parades that take place in Nice during the whole year. The Nice Carnival is the climax of these annual festivities. Its only rivals are the Nice Jazz Festival and the United Kingz Festival, which offers a wide selection of music genres.
When to come?
Nice enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which means summer here lasts for 6 months, from May to October. However, you should bear in mind that the sea is usually too cold for swimming in May and +35 is the average temperature here in August.
Summer is certainly the most crowded period in Nice, but don’t hesitate to visit it in winter time. Mild winters with temperatures never below 5 °C above zero are equals to Nice summers in terms of entertainment. You can still enjoy the Nice mountain resort, the evergreen landscapes and shopping. Coming on Christmas time you'll discover the local traditions of celebrating the holiday. And if you choose to come in February, you'll find yourself right in the middle of the famous Nice Carnival celebrations with its parades, fancy dress demonstrations, street entertainers, fireworks and banquets.
How to get to the city centre from the airport?The Nice Côte d'Azur Airport is the second largest airport in France and the major one in the French Riviera. Twenty one different bus routes will help you to get to any part of the city. This will cost you from €1 (regular bus) to €4 (express). Some hotels provide complimentary shuttles to their guests but you’ll have to inquire about it beforehand. Taxi is also available but it will cost you €50 and more for the same trip (plus €15 if at night).
How to get around?
If your hotel is situated in the city centre, you’ll probably need no transport at all. If you do, it will cost you €1 (Solo – one trip), €10 (Multi - a magnetic card for 10 trips), €20 (Multi+ - a magnetic card for 20 trips), €4 (Pass 1 jour), €15 (Pass 7 jours). If activity holidays and economy are among your priorities, you will probably choose Vélo Bleu (or Blue bicycle). It is an easy to use self-service bicycle rental system, thank to which you may go all round Nice and its vicinity paying just €1 a day. Some tourists prefer to rent a car to go for a day or two to Monte-Carlo, Menton and others attractions of the French Riviera. For this purpose, you may also use local trains.
Where to eat?
World famous restaurants are situated in the city centre and will provide you with exquisite dishes in majestic surroundings. However, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot of money. You may find it more reasonable to eat at numerous restos, bistros and cafes in the Old Nice. A dinner for two will cost you €40 if you stick to pizza, MacDonald’s or Chinese food, and much more if you choose local cuisine, sea products and wine. Nevertheless, don’t miss the opportunity to try Pissaladière (a pizza-like dish with anchovies), Socca (a type of pancake), and salade Niçoise (a tomato salad with eggs, tuna and olives).
Where to stay?
Nice has 120 hotels of different quality at the price ranging from €30 to €300. Top rated hotels can be divided into two categories. “Old school” (inspired by luxurious decorations, antique furnishings and outstanding art collections of classical times): The Hotel Negresco, Le Palais de la Mediterranee; and “new school” (inspired by minimalism, modern art, high-tech style): Hôtel Beau Rivage and Hôtel Hi. If you are not ready to spend a lot, there is a range of cheaper hotels and B&Bs situated a bit farther from the centre of Nice. You can also rent a flat paying from €70 to €1500. There you will have a kitchen all to yourself and an opportunity to save on food.