Nice Côte d'AzurCopyright: Sergii Zinko/Shutterstock.com
Nice Côte d'AzurThe Greeks and Romans did it, as did rich lords, film stars, artists, and thousands of tourists. They were just going to pass by but instead remained in Nice and along the Riviera. Some for just a few weeks, others for months and years. They were too captivated by the light, enchanted by the scents, and charmed by the taste of olives, wine, and succulent vegetables. In addition to this, a Nice Nouveau has evolved — a sassy Mediterranean metropolis with pulsating nightlife, new avant-garde hotels, and daring art galleries. All this with a chance to dabble their toes in a turquoise sea!
The CityIf you arrive in Nice by air, you will get straight into the city’s most beautiful avenue — the Promenade des Anglais — the Mediterranean’s Champs-Elysées. The magnificent seaside promenade runs between the luxury hotels and the beach, all in the shade of the very typical feather duster palms. Roller skaters glide easily between sun chairs, limousines, and beach restaurants. This is Nice’s cosmetic face. The city’s heart is a bit further away — by the Cours Saleya market square. The main artery is la Rue Droite. Stroll around the maze of small streets in the old town, la Vieille Ville, you can wind up into a tiny square here, a tiny alley there, or a cool church beyond it. Are you looking for shopping? You will find the shopping district above Place Masséna, where the big department stores and surrounding streets with names like Rue Paradis and Rue de la Liberté display their shops. Most buses depart from Place Masséna if you want to travel up into the hills above Nice. A number of fairly sleepy and well-heeled suburbs stretch from the Chagall museum to the inescapable Cimiez hills to the north. The hills are a must, both for the Matisse museum and the view or just for a picnic in an olive grove, with or without the summer jazz festival. Eastern Nice is a bit more down-market and needs more local knowledge — apart from the area close to the harbour at Port Olympia. The nightlife there has been given a boost recently, ever since a low-cost cruise ship started to drop anchor at the port in the summer of 2005. To the east lies the billionaires’ playground of Cap Ferrat, the Eagle’s Nest of Eze, and Beaulieu-sur-Mer, which has been there since antiquity. To the west, the road passes world-famous artist’s colonies such as Saint-Paul de Vence.
ExcursionsNice is in the centre of paradise. Bus lines depart from Cours Masséna to all points of the compass. A few Euro will take you to small Provençal villages in any direction.
Do & See
The whole world envies the French for their quality of life while the French envy the Riviera residents for their life in paradise. Nice combines the best of both worlds. This is where you can find small Provençal squares, where you can happily spend hours over a cup of coffee, but also find famous museums, parks and cathedrals. Put your walking shoes on!
Nice’s cuisine is a reflection of the city’s 300 days of sun a year. This means great tasting olive oil, garlic and lemons. Also a vast selection of all kinds of vegetables like aubergines, tomatoes, vegetable marrow, and lots more. If you put all this in a frying pan with olive oil, it makes ratatouille. Put it in the oven and you have a tian (au gratin). The city’s own traditional take-away food is la socca — a kind of pancake made from chick peas. Some say it has a salty bracing taste, others say it tastes of old socks. However, this does not stop a new generation of playful chefs who have started to prepare Provençal cuisine nouveau. Bon appétit!
Cafe culture thrives in the Riviera. Every terrace and bar counter has its own, special daily rhythm, get to know them yourself. All along the Cours Saleya, beyond the flower market, the seats are closely packed in a myriad of cafés and restaurants. The cafe bill will not be welcomed by low budget tourists, but you have to face facts — millions of visitors a year cannot be wrong. Sitting here — in the shade or the sun, is a delight for watching and being watched.
Bars & Nightlife
Riviera nights reflect influences from the Orient, Paris and Barcelona, all year round. The foundation of a good night out is the tiny bars and cafes that can escalate into a giant party before the night has ended. Nice is one of the real hot spots to party all year, just go with the flow and rhythm. Most of Nice club scene is along Cours Saleya, Rue Droite and Place Masséna.
Fashion, food and drinks are just not pastimes in France — they are the foundations of life. The range of goods in the shops reflects the French elegance and awareness of trends. There is also a noticeable influence of nearby Italy showing in the smartly dressed people and beautiful shoes. A weekend passes quickly in Nice, and shopping can easily become a full day activity. So if you are in a hurry, it is advisable to concentrate on just a few streets.