What to See and Do in Nice
By Kelly Cronin
If you’re visiting the French Riviera, you must visit the bustling city of Nice. With many neighborhoods and colorful streets, there is plenty to do in the capital of the French Riviera. After living here for almost eight months, I have found the top things to do in any season. Keep in mind that going beyond Nice is amazing too, but this post will only focus on the city itself. If you’re looking for some hidden gems outside the city, read more here. Planning a trip to Nice? Go beyond the simple tourist list and check out these top 20 things to do:
1) Shop on Avenue Jean Médecin
The main street in downtown Nice, Avenue Jean Médecin goes from past the train station (gare in french) all the way to the seaside. Shops include Galerie Lafayette, H&M, Zara and more, along with plenty of restaurants and coffee shops.
2) Grab a crêpe at Ballanger
If you don’t mind packing on some extra calories while you’re on vacation, Ballanger is the ultimate decadent crêpe place with insane sweets, waffles, cotton candy and more. Head down Avenue Jean Médecin and just look for the all pink store front and prepare to be a bit overwhelmed by your sweet tooth.
3) Photo ops at Place Masséna
The black and white checkered plaza is the heart of Nice. You’ll be amazed by the beautifully colorful plaza, with the “fontaine du soleil” meaning sun fountain. On either side of the plaza also lines two beautiful parks. For some gorgeous photos, check out the water fountains park while they reflect the beautiful rolling hills in the background. Magnifique!
4) Luxury shopping on Rue Paradis
For luxury stores including Chanel and Louis Vuitton, head to Rue Paradis in the prestigious Carre d’Or neighborhood in Nice. Luxury boutiques line the street, not too far from the sea.
5) Wander through the old town
Vieux Nice is full of tiny, boutique and restaurant filled streets that make getting lost absolutely beautiful. This is the best place to find souvenirs, explore churches and get a bite to eat. It’s also the hotspot for bars at night.
6) Try all the flavors of gelato in Place Rossetti
In the heart of old town, you’ll find an adorable plaza next to the Nice Cathedral. The best part, of course, is the gelateria that has a million flavors (okay maybe not a million, but a lot!), including avocado and sometimes beer.
7) Shop local at Cours Saleya
Cours Saleya is the heart of old town, with a daily market varying from flowers and produce in the mornings to trinkets and souvenirs later in the day. Every Monday is an antique market with a wide selection of antiques and vintage pieces.
8) Climb up to the Israelite Cemetery
Find stairs through Old Town to climb up to this stunning cemetery. Aside from viewing this beautiful gravesites, you can also get a magnificent view of Nice and the hills, without feeling overcrowded by tourists.
9) Catch the views at Colline du Château
Take the “ascenseur” (meaning elevator) up to the top of the hill just across from the Promenade des Anglais and you’ll find yourself taking in panoramic views of Nice. The blue water along the Nice beach will blow your mind, especially in contrast with the rolling hills in the background. If you’re visiting in winter, you might even be lucky enough to catch the snowy mountains in the distance.
10) Rollerblade along the Promenade des Anglais
Rent some rollerblades and skate down the most famous promenade in Nice. Bustling with tourists and locals alike, the Promenade des Anglais is full of rollerblading while checking out the stunning blue waters.
11) Soak up the sun on Nice beach
If you don’t mind catching some rays while laying on rocks, you’ll love Nice beach. The water is azure blue, and beach bars are prevalent, so you can also sit back and relax on a nice beach lounge and sip on a local rosé.
12) Pick out your next yacht
Take a stroll around the Nice port and admire the yachts and super yachts that line the port. In addition, you’ll find cafés, restaurants and bars with some of the best views in town.
13) Eat on a diving board at Le Plongeoir
Le Plongeoir is a restaurant past the port of Nice that is situated on an old diving board. If you aren’t scared of heights, you’ll enjoy incredibly fresh cuisine with an amazing atmosphere of floating on the sea.
14) Head for the hills in Cimiez
The Cimiez area of Nice is farther from the sea, but it is still home to breathtaking views of the city. Not to mention, you’ll find museums, gardens and roman ruins up here without the tourists of downtown.
15) Admire the artwork at the Matisse Museum
In Cimiez, you’ll find Musée Matisse – a 17th century villa home to his artwork. Most of Matisse’s artwork was created and inspired by Nice and the French Riviera, where he had an apartment right in the old town.
16) Brunch at Place Garibaldi
Place Garibaldi is just behind the old town in a big yellow square. My favorite breakfast and lunch spot, Deli-Bo, is just by here, which serves modern cuisine that will be sure to satisfy your hunger. There’s also a wide variety of cafés and restaurants here, including a yummy tapas bar and fresh oyster bar.
17) Taste a macaron (or two)
If you didn’t know already, macarons are a perfect little treat at any time of day. The best in Nice can be found at L’Angéa – an adorable shop tucked away in the old town. My favorite is the hazelnut (noisette) flavor!
18) Watch the sunset on a rooftop bar
Nice has a few rooftop bars that are absolutely stunning. My personal favorite is Farago on top of the AC Marriott Hotel in Nice. You’ll get a sophisticated loungey feel with outdoor string lights and tropical décor, along with a gin bar and plenty of delicious tapas. Oh, and the VIEW. Absolutely breathtaking!
19) Sing along at Wayne’s bar
Although this is not a very “locals” bar with most of the customers being english tourists, Wayne’s is certainly a one-of-a-kind place. Located in old town, the bar encourages you to get up on their tables and dance on them while they host live bands every night of the week.
20) Top it all off with a glass of rosé
If you’re visiting France, you must drink the wine. Whether it’s for lunch, dinner or anytime in between, the French love their wine – as they should! Try a glass of local rosé at one of the plentiful wine bars around and you’ll be hooked on the beautiful Mediterranean culture.
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