Located along the beach, the Promenade might just be where you spend most of your time in Nice.
Everybody comes to the promenade: tourists, locals, men, women, children, elders– the whole lot. After all, who doesn’t want to spend time strolling along the beautiful French Rivieria?
But strolling isn’t the only thing to do here. Avid rollerbladers, skateboarders, and bikers can often be seen cruising down the promenade. Of course, the stoney beach itself is equally popular. Due to Nice’s great summers and mild winters, flocks of people will be at the beach at any time of the year. People can be seen laying down, lounging, playing games, fishing, eating baguettes, watching the sunset, etc. Even in February, some men lie out in their speedos.
Nice’s Old Town is both a tourist haven and a site of local culture and history. Narrow streets lead the way to traditional French shops and cafés, an assortment of restaurants, old buildings, churches, cathedrals, squares, and more.
Old Town residents often decorate their window sills with small potted plants and hang their laundry to dry on clotheslines outside the window. This, along with the bright yellow and red buildings, gives Old Town a unique, charming vibe.
Among the many squares in Old Town, Place Rossetti stands out as one of the best. Though it can be somewhat of a dead zone during Winter, the square is a hot spot during Summer as hoards of people come to enjoy a meal at a restaurant terrace or grab a delicious scoop of ice cream or sorbet. Fennochio, an ice cream shop in the square, is famous for its variety of flavors, including standard vanilla and chocolate-based flavors as well as flavors like licorice, tomato-basil, and even beer! At night, music fills the air and beautiful lights decorate the buildings, including the Cathédrale Sainte Réparate.
One particularly popular attraction of Old Town is the Cours Saleya, a daily open-air fruit and flower market. The street is lined with numerous vendors who sell a variety of food, fruit, flowers, oils, and other miscellaneous items.
A stroll through Old Town is a great and enjoyable way to get to know Nice.
Courtesy of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, this 20th-century building is the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. The cathedral is a fine example of Russian Orthodox architecture, and within its walls, visitors can see a vast collection of icons. Aside from tourists, the cathedral also welcomes the large devout Russian community of Nice, who come here to attend service.
Who said nothing comes for free? Sure, it’ll cost you at least 20 minutes of your time, but the short hike up Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) is more than worth it.
The Bellanda Tower (pictured below) is just a short walk up the hill, but it offers stunning panoramic views of the city (and the sea). Though there are several more vista points further up the hill, this one rests at an almost perfect height; high enough to see most of the city and look far into the distance, but low enough to still feel connected to Nice.
View from Bellanda Tower
Of course, the real star of the show here is the chateau, right? Well, not exactly. Though the top of the hill was once home to a chateau, all that remains now is ruins (also cool). However, there are still plenty of great features near the top of the hill, including a beautiful man-made waterfall, cafés, cemeteries, and a park. Oh, and more panoramic views. Gotta love those.
Although it will probably come naturally once you’re there, climbing up Colline du Chateau should be your first priority in Nice.
Small, yet grand. Peaceful, yet lively. Vibrant, yet elegant. Beautiful Nice is all of these things, and then some. With a rich history, much of which stems from the city’s Italian roots, present-day Nice is the largest city on the Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, and the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast. The unique, charming city has more than a handful of admirable qualities. From the food to the people to the colorful atmosphere, Nice is quite a lovely place. One can simply come to the city and just be. But be warned: you might just fall in love.