Five Things to Do in Nice, France
In the heart of the Mediterranean lies Nice (pronounced nis, like niece), a quaint city located in the south of France. Spanning an area of 721 square km, the popular haven for tourists and residents alike is a sheer picturesque of Heaven on Earth. Whether cruising or simply strolling along the lengthy coastline of the French Riviera, one’s senses are easily seduced by the freshness embodied in Nice. Its near perfect geological situation means constant warmth and sunshine almost all year round and even in its coldest climate, temperatures never drop below 4-5 degrees Celsius at night. A city that’s also close to my heart, she not only boasts beauty and serenity but also hosts cultural and eclectic attractions as well. Here are five things to do in Nice:
Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais (Walkway of the English), which name is taken from its history and indeed present day of constant visitors from neighbouring England, is the main 7km stretch from the airport of the Cote D’Azure down east. There’re a string of luxury as well as budget hotels that line The Promenade due to its proximity to the many rock beaches just a stone’s throw away. It is a favourite spot for many to indulge in water sports ranging from parasailing, water-skiing, sail-boating, etc. That aside, there’re many who are content with just cycling, skating or mostly swimming in the warm clear waters of the Mediterranean. After all, it costs little to nothing to absorb the crisp air and bathe in the warmth of the Riviera sun! Le Prom, an abbreviated term locals use, is also a venue for the annual Nice festival of the Bataille de Fleurs (Battle of Flowers) whereby many decorative floats carrying eager participants adorned with colourful flora will pelt flowers into the equally excited crowd that gather to catch them. It is a spectacle that is specific to Nice and always sees a high lively turnout. Visitors staying in hotels along Le Prom will often get a good view of the carnival from their rooms and many end up joining in the festivities.
One of the hotels along The Promenade, The Hotel Negresco, is itself a historical landmark. Constructed in 1912, its architecture remains unique even in modern times and in fact accentuates the establishment’s timeless façade with its pink dome. Inside, it retains the essence of old with a marble floored interior with sculptured ceilings that rival both the Louvre and the Sixteenth Chapel. The entire lobby is designed to function as a classical gallery and often feature various interestingly exclusive artworks that rotate throughout the year. Just be sure to dress decently and get access to view these wonders and even the themed restrooms reminiscent of a carnival house are a good reason to visit. However, if one is feeling a little more extravagant, the hotel bar offers only the finest selections of beverages and appetisers. For a more complete meal offering, go to Michelin star Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland’s Restaurant De Chantecler, for an exquisite meal.
Musee Matisse & Musee Marc Chagall
For those who are more into the arts scene, there is always the Musee Matisse and Musee Chegall. Located in the seventeenth-century Villa des Arenes, The Musee Matisse houses what is possibly the world’s largest collections of works by French painter Henri Matisse. Matisse was part of the fauvism, modernism and impressionism movement and was famed for painting, printmaking, sculpture, drawing and collage. Further down the road on 36 Avenue Dr Menard, one can find the Musee Marc Chagall, also a national museum like Musee Matisse but is dedicated to preserving the works of another French Painter, Marc Chagall who is best known to have drawn inspiration from religion themes. Admission fees for both museums range from 5 to 7 Euros.
Vieux Nice (The Old Town of Nice)
Just at the edge of the Promenade des Anglais, the Old Town, as its name implies, encompasses a classical charm in buildings like Les Belle Epoque Opera of Nice and the 17th century Cathedrale Sainte Reparate. Walking through The Old Town feels like a passage in time, and one would most likely chance upon Place Garibaldi, which consists of the main square as well as a tram station. These trams can be used to tour The Old Town but it is a more delightful experience to tread by foot if you wish to check out the local restaurants, bistros and bars.
Cafes & Restaurants
Just like The Old Town, Promenade des Anglais is also littered with a myriad choices for dining and relaxation. There are good pasta places but I highly recommend Kudo along the Promenade or Café de Turin in Place Garibaldi at Old Town and make sure to try the seafood platter, a must have when visiting Nice! Just across from Café de Turin, Le Petite Maison is famous for its mix of Italian Mediterranean style repas but requires early reservations due to its popularity. So whether you’re visiting Nice for art, culture, food or just to rest your body and ease your mind, there is definitely ample activities and experiences awaiting to welcome you.