The second-largest city on the French Riviera, Nice has long been a major holiday destination, thanks to its beautiful location on the shores of the Mediterranean. The pull of the clean air and Mediterranean climate brought European aristocrats to these shores during the 18th-century and today’s visitors are equally enamoured with the wonderful climate and laid-back lifestyle of Nice. With a vibrant mix of French and Italian culture, a trip to Nice is the chance to enjoy fine cuisine, year-round sunshine and a lively calendar of festivities.
Life in Nice unfolds on the city’s cafe terraces, clustered in grandiose plazas and along cobblestoned streets. It’s here that the locals while away balmy summer evenings, eating and drinking the night away, and it is also here that you can truly soak up the essence of the French Riviera.
The Promenade des Anglais, stretching 7 kilometres along the coast is the main thoroughfare and heart of Nice, where beach and city life converge. The spaciousness of the seafront is juxtaposed with the narrow streets and cobblestone alleys of the old town, which holds all the promise of authentic French culture. Here you can experience the thrill of a traditional French market, held every morning at the Cours Saleya, and admire the elegant Baroque architecture and pastel-coloured shop fronts.
Nicknamed Nice la Belle, or Nice the Beautiful, there’s plenty to fall in love with about Nice, from the extravagant architecture of its oldest landmarks to the atmosphere along the beachfront promenade on a warm summers evening, where locals stretch their legs whilst out for their evening stroll. A year-round travel destination, the best time to visit Nice is during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn when the weather is pleasant and the prices are lower than in the high-season.
This large city is full of sightseeing opportunities and chances to delve deeper into the culture and history of the French Riviera. The best place to start a tour of Nice is in the Old Town, known locally as Vieux Nice. Here the aesthetic of the cobblestone streets has barely changed since the 17th-century. The best thing to do in the Old Town is to sample authentic Niçoise cuisine in any number of cosy restaurants and cafes and explore the quirky shops and boutiques.
One of the most popular things to see in Nice is the impressive Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a product of the large Russian community that live on the Riviera. This beautiful cathedral is the largest of its kind outside of Russia. Built at the turn of the 20th-century it is completed by huge onion-shaped domes decorated in the traditional colourful style typical of Russia Orthodox architecture. If you are visiting Nice, be sure to stop at this mesmerizing landmark.
Like much of France, Nice has a wide array of cultural offerings including museums and galleries. The most notable of these include the Massena Museum, situated beside the Promenade des Anglais. This fascinating museum, housed within a lavish villa, tells the history of the French Riviera in brilliant detail. Another must-see on a tour of Nice is the Matisse Museum, just 2-kilometres from the city centre, nestled in a verdant olive grove. Inside you’ll find a number of amazing works by artist Matisse, who lived much of his life in Nice after falling in love with the place whilst visiting.
Finally, for an unforgettable birds-eye view of the city, you cannot travel to Nice without taking in the panoramic vistas from the Colline du Chateau, a hilltop oasis at the edge of the old town, once the site of an ancient citadel. This pretty green space, complete with a man-made waterfall, boasts unparalleled views across Nice and the Bay of Angels and is particularly stunning at sunset.
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