10 places to visit in Nice
The city’s “calling card” is the seven-kilometer Promenade des Anglais, with its facades in the belle époque style, popular in the early 20th century, which combines the traditions of neoclassicism with elements of art nouveau. Nice was considered a “Russian” resort in the 19th century. In the middle of the XIX century it became a favorite holiday destination for the royal family, followed by the court and the nobility, and after them – simply wealthy everyday people. At that time Nice was considered a winter resort: the “cream of society” waited out the unforgiving St. Petersburg winter here. Now the peak season is summer and early fall. For those who want to combine recreation at the sea with a cultural program, Nice is an ideal option. For most tourists the way to the resorts of the Cote d’Azur begins here – in Nice is the international airport, the second largest after the Paris Charles de Gaulle. Romantics and aerophobes come here by train, like members of the royal family: these days the train takes two days to get from Moscow to Nice.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
The Villa of the eccentric Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild is an illustration of the famous maxim “What a woman wants, God wants”. During seven years of construction (1905-1912) the capricious hostess changed 20 architects. The building is located on the cape Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat, 6 km from Nice. The interiors are an example of eclecticism. The hall, stylized as a patio in the Italian Renaissance palazzo, neighbors with salons in the Louis XV and XVI style. The rooms are lavishly decorated with works of 15th- and 18th-century art. The Baroness collected it passionately and enthusiastically, though somewhat haphazardly. Strangely enough, it all looks quite harmonious. The villa’s magnificent park is divided into seven gardens, also in different styles: from Italian to Japanese. The villa is now open to the public. Don’t forget to take an audioguide – you will learn a lot of curious details about the hectic life of the hostess.
1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild 1.
Museum of Modern Art
The museum is famous for its interesting exhibitions and its extensive collection, which includes works by the masters of modern art – including Warhol, Armand, Niki de Saint Phalle and Nice-born Yves Klein. There is a version that he developed his “signature” shade of blue – International Klein Blue – inspired by the sky of the Côte d’Azur. And the unusual museum building, built by architects Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal, is an art object in itself.
Place Yves Klein
Henri Matisse lived in Nice for almost half a century (from 1917 to 1954) and gave the beloved city an impressive number of his works. His heirs carried on the tradition. Now the Matisse Museum in the Cimiez neighborhood has probably the world’s largest collection of the master’s works. Paintings, sculptures and collages by Matisse are displayed in a seventeenth-century villa with an exquisite façade covered in painted decals.
164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez
The historic hotel, which recently celebrated its centennial, is not only a hotel, but also a real museum of beautiful life on the Riviera. Its building is one of the best examples of the Belle Epoque style and stands right on the Promenade des Anglais. The interiors whimsically combine palatial splendor and unexpected design finds, like screens with portraits of celebrities. Some rooms are decorated in classic style, others in modern. Staying in the company of celebrities and millionaires is not a cheap pleasure: prices in the summer season start from 330 euros per night. A cheaper way to join a legend is to enjoy a signature cocktail in the oak-paneled bar Le Relais. Le Chantecler restaurant and La Rotonde beer bar are also available.
Promenade des Anglais 37.
Flower Market Cour Saleya
At the Cour Saleya Flower Market in the old town, along a remnant part of the old city wall which separates the old quarters from the sea, they sell not just flowers but all kinds of food. Local housewives and chefs from the many restaurants around the market stock up here with fresh produce. The scene changes on Mondays, when the Cour Saleya turns into a flea market. You can find everything from old doorknobs to Hermes porcelain and vintage Louis Vuitton bags.
The Roman amphitheater, built in the second century A.D., is located in a picturesque park next to the Matisse Museum and is still used for its intended purpose. During the day, the excavation area is open to the public – there is an archaeological museum. In the evenings the arena hosts musical performances and open-air dramas, often free of charge. Most of the audience consists of locals, including the inhabitants of the luxurious villas of the Cimiez neighbourhood, where the theater is located. Watch out for billboards all over town!
164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez
Albert I Garden
This beautiful park, which separates the medieval Old Town from the smart “new” quarters of the early 20th century, was just a big construction site. It reopened in 2014 after an extensive renovation. Not only are the palm trees, fountains spouting from the sidewalk, and neatly trimmed lawns, but also the works of modern art are an eye-catcher for visitors. A great place to relax after a shopping spree at the Galeries Lafayette next door on Place Massena.
Le jardin Albert 1-er.
The medieval Chapel Saint-Pierre in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a suburb of Nice, was given a new life in 1924, after the poet, director and artist Jean Cocteau decorated its interior with unusual paintings, interpreting the Gospel subjects in his own way. Cocteau made the murals dedicated to the life of St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen, as a gift to local friends. He often vacationed in Villefranche-sur-Mer and became friends with the local fishermen. Entrance to the chapel is chargeable and all money, according to the author’s will, goes to help poor fishermen and their families.
Quai Courbet, Villefranche-sur-Mer.
The heart of Nice is the magnificently preserved medieval Old Town, with its town hall, cathedral and local opera house. In its labyrinth of streets you can wander happily for hours. In the evening the old town is a gourmet’s paradise. The narrow pedestrian streets filled with restaurant tables offer menus to suit all tastes.
Ruhl Plage restaurant
This summer restaurant with a private beach opposite the Ruhl Casino is known for its pretty waitresses in white shorts and sailor’s capes, excellent food and very reasonable prices. A great place to enjoy seafood with a glass of white wine and the sound of the surf.
Promenade des Anglais, Ruhl plage.
Photo: Catherine Wagner, bchookang/flickr.com, Edward Hue, Office de tourisme et de congres de Nice, press archives
10 ideas for things to do in Nice
A picturesque city on the French Riviera, Nice appeals to travelers from around the world. Its history goes back to the era of the Roman Empire. Surprisingly beautiful nature and a rich cultural heritage make Nice one of the most interesting places of the Cote d’Azur.
In Nice there is a huge number of unique attractions and exciting things to do. It is simply impossible to get bored! And in this article we’ll offer you a list of 10 important things you absolutely can’t do without!
Take a walk on the Promenade des Anglais
To soak up the beauty of the azure waters of the Mediterranean, take a stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais. It got its name because it was created by the English, who in the late 18th century often came to Nice for holidays.
The long street with a line of palm trees on one side and a strip of azure sea on the other is still one of the most beautiful and pleasant places in Nice. Here you can spend the whole day, strolling along the sea or sitting on a bench and gazing at the sea.
Explore the Old Town
This narrow labyrinth of little streets had appeared in Nice long before the invasion of the British and Russian aristocrats. Here, even today, the spirit is typically Provencal, and the shops of the local artisans offer a host of useful and lovely gifts, from olive oil to amusing cat figurines.
Explore the streets of the old town and you’ll find you can’t go on and on, discovering new places each time. If you get hungry, try to wander off the tourist-trodden paths and find a homemade restaurant hidden in the nooks and crannies to sample authentic Provençal cuisine.
You won’t get lost if you have the mobile app with a map of Nice. Download it at this link.
And if you want a more thoughtful walk with interesting stories about the sights, take a mobile tour guide with you. A personalized tour on the app costs no more than a cup of coffee!
Go to museums
Nice is notable because it’s good for both beach and educational vacations. In Nice there are many old and new museums devoted to art, history and the sciences.
If you are interested in modern cultural trends, you must visit the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. You can see the work of emerging local artists at the Jean Renoir Gallery. Among the most popular and famous attractions in Nice are two museums dedicated to great artists: the Matisse Museum and the Chagall Museum.
Go to the flower market
There are several different markets on Cours Saleya, the most famous of which is the flower market, which is open Tuesday through Sunday. In fact, here you can buy not only flowers, but also fruits and vegetables. The market is called a flower market because the sale of flowers has always played an important role in the history of Nice. For example, in 1897, Nice was the first place in the world where they started selling fresh cut flowers in bulk.
The Cours Saleya Flower Market is a realm of colors, tastes, smells and, to some extent, design art, as you can see when you see the imagination and skill with which the vendors lay out their goods.
It’s not just the seashore and beautiful plants that adorn Nice, but also the architectural structures, including cathedrals and chapels. In 1912 with the support of Tsar Nicholas II, St. Nicholas Cathedral was built in Nice in memory of his son, who died in Nice. St. Nicholas Cathedral is one of the most amazing examples of Russian Orthodox architecture outside of Russia.
Of particular note are the Chapel of Mercy as an example of French religious architecture and the Church of the Annunciation, which is notable for its rich baroque decoration and ornamentation.
Try the socca
Socca, a pancake made with chickpea flour and olive oil, is one of the favorite treats in the south of France, especially in Nice. The socca is baked in a large oven and served immediately. There are many places to try socca in Nice, one of the most popular is at the Cours Saleya market. A hot socca and a glass of local wine is a good option for a quick, tasty and cheap snack during the day when there is no time for a more filling meal.
Learn about the history of Nice
To learn more about Nice’s history, check out the remains of Roman ruins in the Simier Gardens. This way you can get an idea of what the capital of the Riviera looked like in ancient times. The Romans often visited these places to hide from persecution and sometimes to buy delicacies from southern France to send to Rome.
In the gardens of Cimiez you can see the ancient amphitheater, which now hosts the Jazz Festival of Nice, the Roman baths and the Archaeological Museum, which houses a vast collection of ancient artifacts.
Go to Monaco.
In just one day, you can take a trip from Nice to another country, the Principality of Monaco, and the trip is only 3 euros if you take the bus. As luxurious as Nice looks, it’s not until you get to Monaco that you realize what true chic is.
You can see the magnificent casino building, look at the princely palace, stroll through the Japanese garden arranged by Princess Grace, and simply observe the sedate life of the Monegasques, who without exaggeration can be counted among the most well-to-do people in the world.
To enjoy home-made ice-cream
Nice is more Italian than French and you can tell by the menu in the restaurants, where the pasta and pizza are more present than the French. No wonder that Nice has so many producers of delicious homemade ice cream, the influence of neighboring Italy can be felt in this too. In addition to traditional flavors, try some bolder options, like lavender, cactus or cinnamon-flavored ice cream.
Relaxing on the beach
One of the main experiences in Nice is getting to know its beaches. There are many different beaches in the city: large and small, private and public. If you’re only in Nice for a few days, the easiest place to go is the beach near the Old Town. Keep in mind that Nice has pebble beaches, so if you don’t want to sit on the rocks, you can go to a paid beach and rent a comfortable sunbed and an umbrella to protect you from the sun.