Another beautiful day in Nice, France by Will Marlow
Nice, the lively capital of the French Riviera, offers much more than sunshine and blue waters. It’s also a microcosm of French culture and history. With cheap flights to Nice from every major airport in the U.K., it’s a good holiday choice any month of the year.
Promenade des Anglais – This long crescent walkway hugging the beach is an iconic Nice landmark. Lined with restaurants, cafes, palms and grand hotels, it’s a great spot to people watch and enjoy the Mediterranean.
Cours Saleya – East of the Promenade, between the sea and Old Town, is the irresistible Cours Saleya, a produce market lush with fresh flowers, baked treats, fruit, vegetables, sausages and cheese. On Mondays it transforms into an antiques and flea market, especially good for furniture, jewellery and accessories.
Vieille Ville – Nice’s Old Town is a maze of narrow streets, many of whose close-leaning buildings date back to mediaeval times. The action at ground level is cheerful and contemporary, crowded with lively cafes and colourful shops. Bordering its southern edge is Rue St François-de-Paule, a main shopping thoroughfare whose stores include the 150-year-old Molinard perfumery and the even older Auer bakery and Alziari olive house.
Roman Ruins – The Roman city of Cemenelum lives on in splendid ruins in the hilly Cimiez neighbourhood. Stop first at the free Museum of Archaeology for a map showing the bathhouse, amphitheatre, part of the ancient road to Venice, and other buildings.
St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral – Completed in 1912, this grand and opulent example of classic Russian architecture is well worth a visit, as are the icons, frescoes and other treasures found inside. This was the first Russian Orthodox house of worship built outside Russia, and is still the largest such cathedral on foreign ground.
Art Museums – Nice is the fifth largest city in France but ranks second only to Paris in art museums and galleries. Top of the list are the Chagall Museum, the Matisse Museum located amidst the Roman ruins, the Musee des Beaux-Arts featuring post-impressionist works by Monet and others, and the Massena Museum of Art and History located in a First Empire villa near the Promenade des Anglais.
Parks – In a town as bustling as Nice, it’s helpful to know a few peaceful oases to retreat to, especially if travelling with children. The Phoenix Floral Parc includes plants and green space, a playground, small zoo, tea house and the Asian Arts Museum. The Colline du Chateau, also known as Castle Hill, has no castle but those who make the 100 step climb are rewarded with sweeping views of the seacoast, benches to rest on, a playground, small café, and refreshing waterfall.
Train des Merveilles – Right behind Nice lie the Alps, and this train is a wonderful tour through virgin forests and mountain villages. Visitors can take the 2-hour trip to Tende and return the way they came or hike part way and pick up the train at one of its several stops.
One of the great attractions of Nice is its abundance of Beaux-Arts and Belle Epoque architecture. Sight-seeing is easy on foot as well as by popular bicycle and Segway tours. It would take several trips to see everything in Nice, and holiday travellers can also take advantage of cheap tickets to add a jaunt to nearby Monte Carlo, as the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport serves both cities.