Nice is Nice
Guide to Indulging in the Best of This City by the Sea.
After a lovely couple of days in Paris, I jumped on a train from the city of lights down to the French Riviera, with Nice as my destination. The train ride its self was a beautiful journey throughout the hilly country side of France, passing through small towns and little villages along the way. While taking a plane would have been much quicker, I would not give up the sights I got to take in on that train ride for anything, and would suggest this journey to anyone looking to take in a more genuine side of France. Spring time in this alluring country is in fact a heart-stopping sight, and what I found in Southern France was no exception. Nice is a city of beauty, with incredible food, and favorable people.
So here are just a few of my suggestions for making the most of this city by the sea that effortlessly intertwines old world charm and history with modern luxury and extravagance.
Passing the Time
The old town of Nice is extremely charming. Twisting alley way lined with tiny cafes, bursts of color coming off of buildings with open shutters and balconies, and an endless supply of tiny shops boasting the unique crafts of the locals. Wander endlessly through all of its twists and turns, pop into shops, or pull up a chair outside to people watch, either way this quaint part of town is not to be missed.
Parc du Chateau:
Or The Castle Park. For the most fantastic views over the cities red tiled roof tops, you must hike up the winding staircase (or if you aren’t feeling a hike, take the free lift) to the lovely green space on the edge of the old town. From the top you can look out over not only the old town, but in one direction the port, and in the other direction inland and rolling hills all the way to the Alps as well. Catching a sun rise, or sunset, from the cities peak is something words cannot describe, so I urge you to see it for yourself.
Promenade de Anglais:
This walking path nestles up the full length of the Mediterranean beaches of Nice. It is often filled with street performers, musicians, couples holding hands, food stands, and families strolling together. This bustling walkway carries you to just about any beach you want to go, and is a famed landmark of Nice, from an infrastructural and tourist point of view. It is also quite hard to miss, so before you settle in on the sea side, enjoy a little stroll down the cities crown jewel.
There is an abundance of options when it comes to finding a beach, each of them as beautiful as the last, but to name a few there is Blue Beach, Plage Beau Rivage, Opera Plage and Castel Plage. The stone beaches were a new experience for me and make for a beautiful contrast of gray being washed over by the crystal blue water. Taking a dip in these aquamarine waters, relaxing on the shore, or even getting adventurous and jumping off one of the many nearby cliffs is a paramount part of indulging in Nice.
Galerie des Ponchettes:
AKA the Duffy Museum, is positioned closely to the opera house, the Cathedral of Sainte Reparate and Palais Lascrais, providing an excellent opportunity to visit each of these landmarks. This petite gallery, which is one of the many municipal galleries in Nice, can be visited for free. It promotes numerous temporary exhibitions meant to advertise the works of young national and foreign artists. The young creators are allowed one to three months to showcase their creations and skill, regardless of their medium or style. It is one of my favorite museums that I have visited on my travels simply because of its uniqueness and the motivation behind its exhibits, and while there are many other, more standard museums in this city, this one in my opinion should be at the top of the list.
Wining and Dining
Once run by a mother daughter duo since 1926 until the pair retired, this gem is keeping the show going by retaining its country store ambiance and uber reasonable prices. Enjoy tasty eats from the new chef, putting his own fresh, updated twists on the recipes of the original owners. The menu changes daily, and it is extraordinarily small, so making reservations in advance is a good idea.
Fenocchio Ice Cream in Place Rossetti:
So I may or may not have visited this spot every day, because who doesn’t love ice cream? With an abundance of flavors to try, getting a cone to walk down the promenade with in the sun or to top off a delicious dinner, this is without a doubt the place to stop.
This cozy spot is tucked away on a side street just a stone’s throw away from the open air market Cours Saleya. With a country vibe and fresh herbs garnishing the tables, you know the second you walk through the door that you are in for a refreshing, comfortable meal. The menu makes daily changes, but always has a house soup, burger, and tartare du jour ready. But my suggestion, join them for Sunday brunch, it is a party in your mouth.
A less formal find in the old town, just a few streets over from Cours Saleya is this yummy Italian- style pizza place. If you are in the mood for something low key, or want to grab a slice to go and enjoy on the shore, this place has what you need. A wide range of delicious, and creative toppings let you stick with your fav or try something new, and the prices cannot be beat.
Snug & Cellar Bar:
If you are in the mood for a drink, I suggest that at least one night you grab yourself a bottle of whatever you like, a box of strawberries and head down to the beach to enjoy the sun and ocean sounds, at least for one night. Then, on another you should head to the Snug & Cellar Bar. Again, this place can be found in the old town, and is a cozy and intimate little bar welcoming locals and tourists alike. With an array of pub style food, and an impressive selection of beers to choose from this is the place to go if you are looking for a laid back night out.
Rest Your Head
Being that I am on a college student budget, and my undying love for staying in a hostel when traveling alone for the unparalleled opportunity of meeting new people, that’s what I did.
Due to poor planning on my part, I got to stay in two hostels on my short stay, so I highly recommend:
Hostel Smith Beach:
This place is located in the heart of old town, just three minutes from the beach and has the friendly staff and fellow travelers. With a rooftop patio, free breakfast, and cozy beds, it is worth the stay.
Also located in the old town, in a lovely art-deco building, this lodge is extremely centrally located. I met some of my favorite people I’ve ever met while traveling at this hostel, not to mention it is extremely clean, has a remarkably helpful and friendly staff, and the always pleasurable bonus of free breakfast.
This guide just hits a few of the reasons why I fell in love with this city by the sea, but of course there is so much more to see and do. What are your favorite parts of this French Riviera hot spot? Leave a comment and let us know!