Visiting Nice – A City Guide
Nice, hub and heart of the Cote d'Azur, stretches along the curving Baie des Anges, looking south over the Mediterranean. The Alpes-Maritimes dominate the northern horizon. In spring and early summer, these high peaks are often snow-capped while down in Nice mimosas flower under a warm sun.
Nice: city layout
Nice's oldest quarter, Vieille Ville, is a maze of narrow streets lined with houses painted mellow pink and ochre. These days, yachts outnumber fishing boats in its Port Lympia harbour. Behind the port, streets slope gently to hilly Cimiez.
Quai des États Unis, a curving quayside avenue, stretches west along the waterfront from Vieille Ville, linking with Promenade des Anglais, Nice’s palm-lined waterfront esplanade.
North of Promenade des Anglais, the Jean Médecin district is the core of modern Nice.
West of central Nice and across the River Var from Nice Cote d'Azur Airport (NCE), St-Laurent-du-Var is Nice's laid-back neighbour, with its own sandy beach.
Top art collections in Nice
Art lovers will find lots to like in Nice. The city’s collections range from old masters to cutting-edge contemporary work.
There's contemporary art at the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC), where you'll find works by artists like Yves Klein.
West of the centre, sculptures by Rodin grace the gardens of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice. Inside this opulent 19th-century villa, you can admire a collection of fine art from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
At the west end of Promenade des Anglais, the Musée Départemental des Arts Asiatiques looks like a giant sculpture in glass and gleaming steel. Inside, its collection spans art from China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia.
The concierge recommends…
Hotels in Nice
Accommodation in Nice ranges from grand hotels built for European plutocrats and aristocrats in the 19th century to boutique properties, small pensions and no-frills chain hotels.
In the newer part of the city, up-to-the-minute hotels cater to holiday visitors, business travellers and congress and convention delegates with facilities like gyms and free WiFi.
Jean Médecin, filled with smart shops, bars and restaurants, is the heart of modern Nice.
Hotels here are close to key attractions like Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC), Musée Marc Chagall and Musée Matisse, and to Nice's Palais des Congrès Acropolis conference centre. The Vieille Ville and the beaches of Promenade des Anglais are within walking distance.
Gare de Nice-Ville, Nice's main train station, is at the northern end of Avenue Jean Médecin. Express buses between the station and Nice Cote d'Azur Airport (NCE) take 15 minutes.
Stay by the sea in family-friendly St-Laurent-du-Var if you want somewhere a little slower and more relaxed than central Nice. The airport is only minutes away, and the city’s key attractions are easy to reach by bus.
Eating Out in Nice
You'll find all the flavours of the Mediterranean in Nice's restaurants. Salty anchovies play a starring role in pissaladière, Nice's take on pizza, and the city's signature dish, salade Nicoise.
Italian influences are strong, with dishes like ravioli and porchetta (slices of whole roast pig) popping up on many menus.
Fillets of rouget (red mullet) are served grilled or fried. Local olives are an essential ingredient in dips like tapenade.
You can sample all these delights and more on a gastronomic walking and tasting tour with A Taste of Nice. On a warm evening, dining outdoors at one of the restaurants clustered around Cours Saleya is one of Nice’s great delights.
Dotted along Promenade des Anglais are a number of seaside restaurants with their own private beaches. Lunching here, while looking out over the ocean, is another quintessential local foodie experience.
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Shopping in Nice
Cours Saleya is Nice's most famous market place – and rightly so. It’s bustling everyday with local shoppers and throngs of visitors.
From Tuesday to Sunday, you'll find stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, bread and other produce from early morning until 1PM, while the flower market is filled with vivid blossoms all day.
On Mondays, Cours Saleya becomes a sprawling brocante (bric-a-brac) market, where you can rummage for vintage linen and crockery, antique jewellery and other collectables.
After 6PM on summer days, the square brims with stalls selling arts and crafts handmade by local artisans.
Vieille Ville is a happy hunting ground for arts and crafts. Things to look out for include soaps made with regional olive oil and spoons, bowls and wooden toys made of olive wood.
Painted pottery figurines called santons, representing villagers and peasant folk in traditional costume, are uniquely Provencal.
You'll find big department stores like Galeries Lafayette close to Place Masséna and along Avenue Jean Médecin. For designer brands like Hermes, Armani, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, check out boutiques on Rue Paradis and Avenue du Verdon.
Picking up a bargain in Nice
Culture & Nightlife in Nice
Nice sparkles after dark. Hubs of the city's glamorous nightlife for more than a century include Casino Barriere le Ruhl, where you can take in glitzy dinner shows and live music. Le Relais, at the Hotel Negresco, is the place to see and be seen while listening to jazz and Latin sounds.
Théatre de Verdure is Nice's big open-air venue for world-class rock and pop acts. It’s hosted performers like Elton John, Iron Maiden, Santana and AC/DC.
If your tastes tend more toward opera, ballet and classical music, you'll find them all at Opéra de Nice, home of two resident ensembles, L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice and Ballet Nice Méditerranée.
Fans of cabaret, comedy and live music should head for Théatre de la Cité. At Théatre National de Nice, Centre Dramatique National Nice - Cote d'Azur presents modern French drama.
Live jazz in Nice
Visiting Nice with a Family
Parents and toddlers can discover Nice the easy way on Trains Touristiques mini-trains, which trundle along Promenade des Anglais and around town.
If your kids are older and more energetic, you can rent skateboards, scooters and rollerblades at Roller Station to explore Nice on wheels.
All the city's museums are free for children. Pop-art works at Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC) will amuse younger visitors.
They'll also enjoy colourful animal statues resembling giant toys, and be inspired by childlike paintings at Musée Internationale d'Art Naif Anatole Jakovsy.
On a hot day, children can cool off in town by splashing and paddling in pools and fountains at Place Masséna.
Nice's main stretch of beach is clean but pebbly. For sandy beaches, hop on a bus to St-Laurent-du-Var or catch a train to Villefranche, east of the city centre.
Family-friendly beaches around Nice