Nice at a glance
France’s fifth largest city is also its favourite seaside resort. Go for people-watching along the promenade, a flutter in the casinos, and the fading glamour of white-stuccoed hotels.
Cours Saleya is the beating heart of Nice, from the morning flower market through prix-fixe lunches to cosmopolitan nightlife.
You probably didn’t know
The construction of the Promenade des Anglais was originally conceived to provide employment for beggars. Or that Nice has only been part of France since 1860.
Transporter the TV series; Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight; and the James Bond film Never Say Never Again.
- Population: 1 million
- Annual visitor numbers: 5 million
- January mean temperature: 9°C
- August mean temperature: 24°C
Things to do in Nice
Carnivore central La Rossettisserie is the place for generous helpings of roasted meats in a convivial, family atmosphere. Get a seat at a long shared table to make new friends.
La Petite Maison
For a treat, reserve a table at La Petite Maison and dress up. Madonna and Elton John have been spotted here (though not chowing down together).
Vegetarians are better off at the hipster Café Marché which has veggie-friendly options such as home-made ratatouille. Lunch-times only.
Le Four à Bois and Cave de la Tour
Riviera Bar Crawl
In the summer, Nice doesn’t sleep. A bar-hopping tour, such as those organised by Riviera Bar Crawl, will give you a whistlestop overview.
Nice is known for its jazz scene. The Shapko, just off the Place Rossetti in Vieux Nice is great for live jazz, blues and funk, seven nights a week. Late jam sessions attract local talent.
Ooh Poo Pah Doo
Just down the road from the Shapko, the low-key retro bar Ooh Poo Pah Doo has a dance floor and plays jazz, blues, soul and 1960s rock. Packed out on weekends.
If you fancy shooting pool, L’Escalier pub in Vieux Nice is open from around 10pm until the small hours and has five pool tables. DJs, karaoke sessions and theme evenings keep things lively.
Tailored shopping experiences are a bit of a trend here on the Riviera. For 69 euros, you can book an hour-long workshop at Perfumerie Molinard and leave with a personalised 50ml scent, made from their range of 90 essences. An expert explains how perfumes are made, and discusses your tastes, personality and lifestyle before blending.
Upstairs at Confiserie Florian the multilingual staff will show you how they make confectionary from flowers, fruits and chocolate. Flavours include Bergamot, poppy, violet and rose, and you can taste before you buy. As well as sweets and chocolates, they sell candied fruits, crystallised flowers, jams, honeys, fruit teas and syrups.
Charcuterie Ghibaudo is a less formalised experience, but the staff will patiently explain all the sausages, patés and other charcuteries so you can select the ingredients for a fabulous picnic.
See the main sites without breaking a sweat on L'Open Bus tour. A Nice Riviera Pass gets you onto the bus as well entry into various museums.
Musée National Marc Chagall
If you only have time for one museum make it the Musée National Marc Chagall, a spectacular display of some of his most profound works. The audio guide is especially good.
On the same bus line is the small but perfectly-formed Matisse Museum in Cimiez. The display, housed in a red mansion, concentrates on how Matisse lived and worked. While you're there check out the Roman ruins next door.
La Chapelle du Rosaire
Alternatively, Matisse’s simple yet stunning chapel, La Chapelle du Rosaire, is a quick trip out of town near the village of Vence. A place of quiet contemplation.
If art isn't your opiate, stroll along the prom to the Musée Maséna for a complete education in the history and evolution of Nice.
Events to look out for
- New Year Concert (January)
- Carnival de Nice (February)
- Nice Côte d'Azur Boat Show (March)
- Baie des Anges Regatta (April)
- Nice en Roller, roller-blading event (June)
- Nice Jazz Festival (July)
- Feast of the Port (August)
- Blues Festival (October)
- Nice-Cannes Marathon (November)
- Baie des Anges Rowing Race (December)
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