Nice has become the shiny gem of the Riviera. For a busy city (the fifth largest in France) it is surprisingly accessible and can be explored easily on foot. So, bring one pair of comfortable shoes to discover the local charms of this captivating city. It has many different areas, each with its own unique look and feel. This means once you have picked your accommodation in Nice, you can still enjoy the benefits and ambience of the entire city during your holiday.
Sit back and relax on the five miles of beach, swim in the azure blue sea or choose to walk, jog, bike, rollerblade/skate or even ride a Segway down the promenade. Throw the map away and feel the stresses of modern life fade as you amble around the Old Town and discover the daily Cours Saleya marketplace, baroque churches, hidden palaces and characterful bistros.
Cross the striking black and white chequered Place Massena to the pedestrian zone and Carré D’or with its classy designer shops, architecture and the quirky Negresco hotel. Discover Nice Port with its millionaire yachts, quayside restaurants and bars.
Don’t forget Nice is not called the gateway to the Riviera for nothing. Buses and trains are cheap and efficient and make it easy to take day trips from Saint Tropez to Italy and everywhere in between.
The Old Town
The Old Town (Vieux Nice to the locals) is the tourist heart of Nice. It is a maze of bustling narrow cobbled streets, tall buildings painted pastel shades, bustling squares and colourful daily market places.
The Old Town of Nice has an eclectic mix of ingredients that captivates its many visitors. Cute boutique shops and bohemian art galleries touch shoulders with local boulangeries, charcuteries, butchers and wine caves. Mix in a multitude of street-side restaurants, cafes and bars and the recipe is complete. It is also right next to the Promenade des Anglais and the beach. The Old Town is mostly pedestrianised and only scooters or deliveries are allowed.
Staying in the Old Town is all about the atmosphere. Locals sit watching the world go by, washing hangs from balconies and you are surrounded by the oldest most historical quarter of Nice. Our Old Town (Vieux Nice) apartments for rent in Nice book very fast so be quick to book.
Stay YNA accommodation in the Old Town is tucked away in residential buildings that date back to the 17th century. It can be rare for buildings to have lifts and the stairs can sometimes be quite steep and public corridors a little run down. Some of the narrow lanes are quiet whilst others on the main thoroughfare will be busy until late and experience more noise. Remember real locals live in the Old Town and one persons’ idea of charm and romance might be another persons’ annoyance. Do not be surprised by children playing in the streets and the streets being washed and rubbish/trash removed early morning. So, please be aware if you are a light sleeper and sensitive to noise the Old Town may not be right for you.
The Promenade cannot be classified as a specific area, more like an aspect. If you want the best sea view and to be able to walk out your door and enjoy a stroll down the historic seafront or cross the road to the beach, then the Promenade is for you. Just remember it’s about 5km long, so it covers many different areas from the airport to the Old Town and Port. We suggest if you decide you want to stay on the Promenade take a further look at the neighbourhood section on each property page. That way you know if the area has the facilities you are looking for. For example, the closer to the airport the more residential the area becomes and if you are close to Gambetta, Carré D’or or the Old Town you are very close to more shops and restaurants. The beach is sectioned off into various private and public areas and the further away from the Old Town the better value and less busy the private beaches become and you will find beach activities, such as kids trampolining areas and parasailing. The HI Club is across the road from the Gambetta area and is one of the trendiest and most reputable beach clubs on the promenade. Closer to the Old Town, the beach clubs become more suited to adults such as the Beau Rivage and Castel Plage.
Stay YNA accommodation is either over-looking the promenade or at the most one block back for easy access. Just be aware the road along the seafront is busy at certain times, however not an awful lot can detract from those award-winning sea views.
Carré d’or (the Golden Square) is considered one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in Nice. It boasts the famous Hotel Negresco, one of the few privately-owned palaces in the world that is also classified a National Historic Monument. Carré d’or is also the designer district and is home to Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Sonia Rykiel, boutiques stocking Armani to Gucci plus a whole range of shops selling up and coming designer labels. Rue Paradis and Alphonse Karr are the streets to head to for window shopping or indulging in a spot of serious retail therapy. Restaurants are varied. The pedestrian zone is more tourist led and some of the eating establishments represent this. We’d recommend to sticking to the smaller side streets for more interesting modern French eateries and more internationally inspired cuisine from Lebanese and Vietnamese to Mexican.
Stay YNA Carré d’or apartments are within easy walking distance from the beach and are very close to the tram and main Nice train station. They tend to be residential apartment blocks with lifts on the most sought after streets or on the main pedestrian zone for maximum convenience.
This area rubs shoulders with Carré D’Or and Musicians and is popular with locals and tourists alike for its proximity to the beaches whilst being just out of the hustle and bustle of central Nice. Situated to the west of the city centre, Gambetta stretches from the seafront to the express way, and from the lively thoroughfare of Bld Gambetta on the east to Bld Grosso to the west. The larger boulevards offer the advantages of shops, supermarkets and regular local buses (line 9, 10, 3) into the centre, Old Town and Port, while quieter residential streets can be found tucked away behind. There is also a public garden on Bld Gambetta at the level of Av. Fleurs with exotic palms and shady benches on which to watch the world go by.
All along the Promenade des Anglais you can choose from public beaches open to everyone or private beaches each with their own style and character. Gambetta offers you the choice of the elegant Voilier Plage with chic restaurant and cocktail evenings, or Hi Beach which has a play area with family facilities along with separate spaces for reading, relaxing and yoga. Take a Vélobleu rented bicycle from the seafront opposite Bld Gambetta (other locations possible) and you can peddle your way along the promenade taking in the sunrise or sunset to suit your tastes. Just a 15-minute walk from Gambetta takes you to the central train station, or hop on a number 23 bus, and you are at the gateway to the Riviera, from Italy and Monaco to the east and Cannes to the west. A 30-minute train journey with breath-taking coastal views sets you up for some wonderful day trips in either direction.
The Quartier des Musiciens (Musician’s Quarter) takes its charming name from the numerous composers honoured with a street name in this area which was predominantly constructed in the late 19th century on what was previously kitchen gardens. It features some of the most elegant examples of Belle Époque architecture in Nice and today is a well-maintained, quiet residential area in the centre of the city. You’ll find local boulangeries, shops and cafés on your doorstep, Jardin Alsace-Lorraine and Place Mozart for a stroll under the palm trees, and entertainment galore just minutes from your apartment.
Conveniently situated between the main thoroughfares, Bld Gambetta to the west, Av. Jean Médecin to the east, the main railway station to the north and Bld Victor Hugo to the south, Musicians is an ideal base from which to explore Nice on foot, or by public transport. A 10 to 15-minute walk to the seafront or Old Town, a few minutes to the nearest tram stop, Jean Médecin, and frequent local buses along Bld Gambetta and Victor Hugo provide easy access to anywhere in the city. Not to mention the train connections which open up the Riviera to easy day trips. From St. Raphaël, Cannes and into Italy – you’ll be spoilt for choice!
The vibrant Place Masséna is the central square and beating heart of Nice, linking the Old Town to the boutiques of the Carré D’Or, and the seafront to the central avenue of Jean Medécin. Modern day Place Masséna is built over the remains of the historic Pont Neuf and the Casino Municipal, which although no longer standing lend an air of history to this eventful space. Following in this history of innovation, the area has recently been renovated and embellished once again, providing at one end a glorious pedestrian square surrounded by shady archways and sun kissed benches from which to marvel at the local colours and character. At the other end stands the entrance into the Old Town with its eye-catching, semi-circular Niçois façade. The riverbed over which this square is constructed was reopened at the end of 2013 providing a magnificent stretch of vibrant green park which crosses the square, leading down to the seafront and up to the Museum of Modern Art. A fountain display, exotic plants, photo exhibition and children’s play areas make this kilometre-long swathe of green, the Promenade de Paillon, a new and vital place to be.
Masséna and its central arena provide the backdrop to many of Nice’s celebrated events from the Carnival in February, through the jazz festival in July to the Christmas market in December. It is also home to the ubiquitous department store Galeries Lafayette and gives onto the pedestrian street Rue Masséna with its array of restaurants and cafés in which to see and be seen.
Quartier Etoile is the area right of the central main shopping high street in Nice, Avenue Jean Médecin. The buildings have an almost Parisian grandeur about them with tall French windows and often grand doorways and there are many small parks where the local Niçois walk their dogs and sit and muse whilst watching life go by. This is a very central location and there is an array of high street shops, boutiques and the department store Galeries Lafayette are all on your doorstep. Restaurants both modern and traditional are close by and the more tourist centre of the Old Town is just a few minutes’ walk away to 10 minutes depending on your exact location. The beach and promenade are 10 minutes away by foot and public transport is excellent and within close proximity. The train station is a couple of stops ride on the tram or a short walk.
Stay YNA rental apartments in Quartier Etoile are in prestigious apartment blocks that are well looked after with lifts. You can enjoy the feeling of being in a bustling city whilst the apartment blocks are surprisingly quiet with respectful neighbours.
One of the most eye-catching squares in Nice, Place Garibaldi is famous for celebrating the birthplace of the founder of Italy. Discover a large fountain adorned with Bonaparte’s statue, shady arches, leafy trees and a magnificent choice of cafés and restaurants from which to watch the world go by. Leading off at an angle you will find the animated rue Bonaparte, which over recent years has become a wonderful community incorporating both young and old, residents and visitors, artisans, creatives, stylish bars and restaurants and a respectful, tolerant mix reminiscent of Le Marais in Paris. A 5-minute walk takes you in one direction to the Port and in another into the Old Town, and up to the glorious views from Colline du Chateau. The Museum of Modern Art and library behind the square are also the start of the Promenade du Paillon, a long green park which is a lovely walk to the sea front or a destination in itself on sunny days.
The area around the Place du Pin/rue Bonaparte, referred to also as the ‘Petit Marais Niçois’, has become the trendy area of Nice with its collection of stylish bars, restaurants and boutiques nestled in amongst the local boulangeries and corner shops. Here the locals, young and old, rub shoulders with visitors and there truly is a sense of neighbourhood and camaraderie as you buy your morning baguette, sit in a café to contemplate life or take a stroll around the port. There are no end of eating establishments to try: from the local speciality socca at Chez Pipo, to the fine dining of Jan and the heavenly patisseries from Deli Bo. The tram in Place Garibaldi will take you conveniently into the centre of town and up to the railway station, although the beautiful 15-minute walk down the newly renovated Promenade de Paillon should not be missed.
The Port of Nice is just around the corner from the Old Town and reaches back to Nice Riquier station and the large Carrefour supermarket. The walk around the peninsula is spectacular. Enjoy stunning views of luxury yachts and cruise ships and port side restaurants with sunny terraces. Some of the seafood and moules frites (mussels) restaurants are particularly good. The Port has a slightly more local feel in parts and many visitors that have previously chosen to stay in the Old Town on discovering the Port will remain faithful and return here time again. You will find less English spoken in the local shops and you will probably find it more fun experiencing a little banter with the friendly locals. Amongst our many favourite things about the port area is the fantastic swimming at Coco Reserve beach (a locals’ hidden gem!) and the lovely walk you can take along the coast in the direction of Villefranche. The romantic coastline becomes more rugged with villas and apartment blocks perched on the cliffs edge with views across the Riviera.
Stay YNA accommodation in the port of Nice tends to be more modern with lifts. They are in a great location if you want to stay somewhere away from the bustling centre with views and a quieter local feel, but have the convenience of being within an easy 10 to 15-minute strolling distance from the main action.
Mont Boron is on the hill above the Port area. This is where Elton John lives, so this gives you an idea of its exclusivity. Enjoy breath-taking views over Nice, the port and the Mediterranean Sea, plus you have the city of Nice on your doorstep. Holiday rental accommodation is hard to find in this area as locals know you can enjoy the best of both worlds. There are few places where you can relax with sea views in an exclusive neighbourhood and also walk into Nice or take a short bus journey. You can reach the port on foot in 15 to 20 minutes from most of our properties and you’ll find yourself on regular bus routes that drop you off right next to the Old Town. A big plus is there is a fantastic Carrefour supermarket on your doorstep, and a few local shops. Please be aware buses run frequently, but stop at 8-9pm and taxis are pricey. The walk is uphill if you are returning from the Port of the Old Town, but if you are fit and healthy the view is spectacular with plenty of viewing points to stop and take on the vista of Nice which is especially breath-taking at night time. Plus, the properties here give you a chance to combine a city break with pure relaxation in a peaceful location. You also have quick access to Villefranche in the opposite direction, which is a haven away from the hustle and bustle of Nice and has a lovely beach.
Cimiez is a wealthy residential area of Nice, north of the city centre and Old Town. It is peaceful and full of splendid 19th century buildings that were originally hotels and are now residential, like the famous ‘Régina Palace’, where Queen Victoria frequented –now transformed into classy apartments.
The must-see area of Cimiez that attracts locals and visitors alike combines a museum, a park, a monastery, a garden and roman ruins. It is no wonder so many venture up the hill to visit. Take a picnic to Matisse Park or purchase a sandwich and a drink at the small park café whilst watching animated locals playing boules in 200-year-old olive groves. Whilst there, take a few moments to explore the Roman ruins with the small gladiatorial arena. Directly behind Matisse Park is a Franciscan Church and Monastery with its beautifully tended garden and expansive views over west Nice. If you are lucky, you may still capture a glimpse of one of the monks who, to do this day, live and work there to take care of the beautiful church, shop and garden.
For centuries artists chose to live and work in the French Riviera for the magnificent light and this is celebrated in many regions in the French Riviera and Cimiez is no different. This is where the Matisse and Chagall Museums honouring both artists are situated. The Matisse Museum proudly displays the superb work of Henri Matisse. Although Matisse travelled throughout his painting career, Cimiez was where he lived, worked and died. The Chagall Museum is towards the bottom of the hill and closer to town and attracts art lovers wanting to revel in the poetic and dream-like work of the much-copied Marc Chagall. All of these places to visit in Cimiez are free apart from the Chagall Museum (€6-€8). The Matisse Museum is closed on Tuesdays and you may want to spend the €1 bus fare on the 15, 17 or 22 bus to get up the hill from the town centre. We believe you will enjoy this escapist moment of tranquil greenery, locals at play, art and history and it is certainly a refreshing break from beach life.
The area has a selection of local restaurants, a supermarket, boulangerie, pharmacy and post office. You can walk down the hill into town in about 15/20 minutes. Buses are frequent but do stop around 9pm. The peaceful neighbourhood pulls people who want to stay away from the hustle and bustle, but want to have quick and easy to the city centre.
Stay YNA properties in Cimiez always have something a little special about them with outside space, swimming pools or spectacular views over the city.
Fabron is an area of Nice West which stretches from the seafront at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais and up into the panoramic hills behind. Spectacular villas are dotted around this green hillside area which is inhabited by the more affluent Niçois, but is served by several bus routes (lines 34, 12 and 65) taking you back up the hill after a tiring day on the beach. Parallel to the seafront on Avenue de la Californie you can find shops and supermarkets and there are numerous buses which run east to west; it is just a 25-minute bus ride into the centre. Places of interest include the Anatole Jakovski International Museum of Naive Art and the public gardens of the Parc d’Indochine and the Parc Carol de Roumaine, perfect for quiet strolls and picnics.
L’Archet & La Conque
Les Collines or the hills above Nice are highly sought-after for their magnificent views and tranquillity, floating above the buzz and the razzmatazz of the city below. Sunsets are breath-taking but breathing is easier for those looking for a more Zen approach to holidaying in Nice.
L’Archet, perhaps named after the semi-circular form of the hills to the west of Nice, overlooks the Promenade des Anglais and the Baie des Anges and many residences in this area are blessed with lush gardens and swimming pools making use of the space available outside of the city centre. Roughly a 20-minute walk down to the seafront, the area is also served by local buses, the number 22 taking you into the centre of town when you need a taste of something more lively.
La Conque is situated high on a hilltop towards the back of Nice overlooking the golden domes of the Russian Cathedral and on towards the Old Town, the Colline du Chateau and the bay beyond. A superb location perched well above the hustle and bustle of city life, but within easy reach of city amenities should you need them. Buses 71, 75 and 64 will all take you down to the main train station.
The picturesque port of Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the most delightful along the Côte d’Azur with its historic and colourful old town dipping into the inviting waters of the sheltered bay and its steep sided slopes reaching up to offer stunning panoramic views over the peninsula of St Jean Cap Ferrat. With Mont Boron to the west, the exclusive St Jean to the east and a back drop of the Alpes Maritimes, Villefranche-sur-Mer is nestled in amongst some truly spectacular terrain. Just a short bus ride takes you from this secluded and exclusive bay to Nice around the headland of Cap de Nice (bus 81 or 100) or over the back of Mont Boron (bus 82 or 84). Home to many famous residents it is not hard to understand the appeal of this historic seaside haven.
It has been inhabited since ancient times and historic monuments can still be found in amongst the restaurants, markets and small boutiques. Villefranche boasts a citadel, a marina, an underground medieval street and nearly a kilometre of course sandy beach; more child friendly than the pebbles of Nice. There are outstandingly clear waters for snorkelling at the small beach of La Darse to the west of the marina from which a beautifully maintained coastal path leads you alluringly back around the headland to Nice port, a walk of about one and a half hours. Alternatively, you can walk up and over Mont Boron and take in the glorious views from the Fort of Mont Alban, this is a steep climb but well worth the effort.
Whether in a portside apartment or in a bird’s eye view villa, a holiday in Villefranche will almost certainly have you coming back for more.
Antibes lies 10km west of Nice airport. Antibes is a small picturesque town that is bustling all year round. The main area and highlight is the Old Town with its charming cobbled streets and kaleidoscope of flowers hanging from every nook and cranny. Restaurants are aplenty and due to the large yachting community (Port Vauban is the largest yacht marina in Europe) and English presence there is a good variety and high standard of international cuisine as well as traditional.
The covered market place in the centre of the Old Town is open daily and is one of the best on the Riviera. The majestic ramparts surround the Old Town and are home to the Picasso Museum and some of the finest restaurants in Antibes. Walk along the ramparts for the most magnificent views of the Riviera and the Southern snow-capped Alps behind. There are two sandy beaches with shallow waters which, are ideal for those wanting a more beach type holiday in a smaller town.
Val Claret is a purpose built residential complex on the outskirts of Antibes. The area is relatively quiet and is not a tourist zone. Visitors come here to enjoy the complex of Val Claret and are happy to take a 30-minute walk or 5-minute drive/free bus ride into the bustling centre of Antibes. There is a quiet pebble beach in front of the complex, a 6-minute walk away. This is not the main beach in Antibes and does not have a promenade, but can still be popular in summer when other beaches can become busy.
Juan-les-Pins is Antibes very close beachside neighbour (15 min walk or short bus/car journey). In comparison, it’s a more modern purpose built resort, but has a definite Riviera glam feel to it. Juan-les-Pins is all about the beach, which is possibly one of the finest on the Riviera. 2km of pure white sandy beach slopes into the azure blue sea, and with trendy beach bars galore you’ll have no problem finding a place to do lunch or sip cocktails whilst watching the sun set. The small-town centre has many restaurants, bars and clubs all with an up-market feel.
Also, known as the Montmartre of the Côte d’Azur, this gorgeous hilltop village has long been a haunt for artists of all types. From Renoir to Modigliani and from Brigitte Bardot to Greta Garbo its cobbled streets with their explosions of floral colour, intriguing archways and magnificent views have rung with the footsteps of those captivated by the spell of this beautifully preserved gem of Provence. The village encircles the medieval castle of Grimaldi, now a fascinating museum and gallery, and its streets, terraces and restaurants offer panoramas reaching far up into the Alps and out over the sparkling Mediterranean. Haut-de-Cagnes is the oldest neighbourhood of the present-day seaside town of Cagnes-sur-mer which is easily accessible on foot or by shuttle bus and has good connections in the direction of both Nice and Cannes by train or bus.
Shopping & Markets
Now we all know France is famous for its cheese, so therefore there are a large amount of places where you can get the good stuff. I try to avoid the supermarkets even though as a rule they have a good selection. Try the independent cheese traders, as they are knowledgeable and friendly. One of particular note is Lou Froumai. I recommend trying the 3-year-old Comté, which is just something else with that salty crunch I always look for in a hard yellow cheese. Of course, you can never ignore the others like the aged Beaufort which is sensational. They also have a great selection of ‘chèvres,’ or goats cheese, and my must try is the Epoise – a soft yet powerful cheese, creamy yet a bit stinky. Also in stock is a good selection of foie gras and charcuterie – a must-have for those impromptu aperitifs on the deck.
Lou Froumai, 25 Rue de La Préfecture, +33 6 33 88 69 48.
Catch of the Day
There are quite a lot of fishmongers in town, but I believe when you’ve got a friendly one keep him online. I have been using Richard on the Place St François for years. He always has a great selection of fresh fish, the majority caught locally. Sea bass, bream, and rockfish of all varieties, sardines galore — the list goes on and on. You may notice Poutine, as this is a local specialty. These tiny baby sardines and anchovies are normally served with eggs. I would leave this to the pros, as it is a delicate thing to get right. Bistro d’Antoine often have these on their Specials menu. My advice: take home a sea bass, stuff it with lemon, slices of fennel and parsley, and then simply grill it slowly on both sides. Serve it with local Menton lemons and lashings of olive oil, a fresh baguette, and a mixed leaf salad. It doesn’t get better than this.
Place François, opening times 7.30 am until 1 pm
A market for all seasons
The fruit and veg market is my favourite. I have to admit to strolling down one of these at least once a day. It’s all to do with seasons and what’s in season. Wild mushrooms, ceps, girrole, pied de mouton and many more will be at their best in the cooler months such as October and November. Asparagus, whether it is green, purple, or white are the best around early springtime. The market on the Cours Saleya is the most picturesque of all, but Le Liberation is a must for a more local touch. It’s quite amazing how much variety they offer on top end products. At the weekends the small bio producers come into town and sell their wares. These places are a guaranteed source of enjoyment. Try to buy diverse produce you don’t see at home all the time! For example, Cima de Rapa is a really bitter Swiss chard that is excellent with grilled fish and courgette flowers lightly battered and shallow fried in olive oil. Cooking is about experimenting, and here you have a lot of scope to try new things with top quality products. Cours Saleya Market one block back from the Promenade in the Old Town Open daily until around 1pm Closed Monday for the Antique market.
Liberation market Tuesday through to Sunday from 7 am until 1 pm.
The local squeeze
That’s olive oil and its many different varieties. I love the great choice you get in Nice, and believe me there are quite a few places to taste, sample and buy these little tins of gold. Local olive oil is treated like fine wine, vine aged and cold pressed for different more intense flavours. Verte ‘green’ is obviously the youngest, then Mur, and then Noire ‘Black’ with its really strong and forward taste. Look out for some of the perfumed oils, I love a truffle and cep combo which is just great to cook and season your dishes. Fish die for this sort of stuff! Some great venues include Altziari, found up past the opera house. This has to be the oldest and most well known in town. My new favourite is Premiere Pression Provence. Here the selection is enormous and they deal exclusively with local producers. Buy, buy, and buy for you’ll only kick yourself when you get home if you don’t.
Alziari, 14 Rue Saint-François de Paule, +33 4 93 62 94 03
Premiere Pression Provence,15 Rue du Pont Vieux, +33 4 93 92 50 40
Not being a massive sweet fan, I still like to have a few hand-made chocolate truffles and a box of multi-coloured macaroons in my fridge for those moments of weakness and when friends drop by. Macaroons are not cheap but with their delicate flavours and a glass of chilled fizz they sure are winners. For these, head to Lac on Prefecture or Serain Cappa on Place Garibaldi. Needless to say the selection of French fancies is amazing. They really do know a thing or two about patisseries!
Lac, 12 rue de la Préfecture
Serain Cappa, 7 Place Garibaldi
Local eats and treats
Bistrot D’Antoine, is an unbelievable combination of price and quality. From sublime carpaccios of St Jacques scallops and hearty yet light braised pork cheeks to girdled calves kidneys with celeriac and a truly remarkable tomato salad, this place has an excellent something for everyone. They also boast a fine wine list and delightful staff to boot. It’s busy so book ahead, especially in the evening. It’s a favourite with the locals and I have to admit I lunch here maybe once a week — or was that twice! They also have a sister restaurant, Comptoir du Marche, with a similar menu that is equally as excellent and busy.
Bistrot D’Antoine, 27 Rue de la Préfecture,+33 4 93 85 29 57 (Closed August)
Comptoir du Marche, 8 Rue du Marché,+33 4 93 13 45 01
It’s strange to think even though Nice is bang on the sea front it boasts relatively few specialised fish eateries, but there are a couple to mention. One would be the mighty Coco Beach, found balanced on the cliffs overlooking the port of Nice. The fish is of exceptional quality and the view is stunning. It’s a simple concept of very fresh fish cooked over wood and served in the most simple, non-fussy way. Sea bass and bream are a must. One word of warning is that it ain’t cheap! Another fish restaurant worth visiting would be Le Ane Rouge, and that’s the Red Donkey to you and me. They are found on the port of Nice and it’s a really good bit of fine dining. The menu changes daily so its always super fresh and seasonal. If you’re after sea food platters laden with oysters, crab, lobster, and many other things head to le Grand Cafe du Turin on Place Garibaldi.
Coco Beach, 2 Avenue Jean Lorrain,+33 4 93 89 39 26
L’ Ane Rouge, 7 Rue Emmanuel Philibert, +33 4 93 89 49 63
Café Turin, 5 Place Garibaldi, +33 4 93 62 29 52
A Taste of Italy
Nice has a long history of ties with Italy so you’ll get some great Italian restaurants. One I particularly enjoy is Le Locale. It offers a fantastic selection of Italian cold meats and those amazing marinated veggies that make a great starter to share. Follow this with fresh, homemade pasta, not dripping in heavy sauces but light, à la minute creations. I love the grilled porchetta with mozzarella and the Vitello Tonato (veal in a tuna sauce) finished off with creamy Gorgonzola. All of this should be washed down by some dark Tuscan like a Barolo on Brunello di Montalcino. They also offer a deli-style take out which is great for a picnic on the beach or at up the Chateau.
Le Locale, 4 Rue Rusca,+33 4 93 14 08 29
No Frills Dining
This is definitely one of my favourite ways to kill two birds with one stone. It’s an increasingly popular and exciting way of eating out – a wine shop with tables.
Wine with tables means a mixture of local produce cooked to a top standard with a less post card style plate and an emphasis on the dish itself. It’s also a selection of decent wines served in either a glass or bottle by a bunch of knowledgeable staff. And all that for just the price of being inside a bottle shop. On your way out you can even grab a few to enjoy at home.
This is not a new idea, places like ‘La part des Anges’ owned by Olivier and found on rue Gubernatis. has been around for around for the last ten years. Ask him anything about wine, and if you don’t get an answer you will get an opinion. He’s got a great selection of interesting and unusual wines, lots of bio and unfiltered stuff, and it’s all sitting among cartons of red. You will find a brilliant daily changing menu of fresh regional French cuisine, and it makes this a great place to pass away your afternoon. I just love the opportunity to buy great wines at shelf price and drink them in situ with good honest tasty food.
La Part des Anges, 17 Rue Gubernatis, +33 4 93 62 69 80
There are others, so look out because they are popping up all over the place. So, if you fancy eating while your favorite tipples and a few random strangers surround you, wine with tables is the way to go.
Eating out is such a way of life in the south of France that you can become a little blasé, so a bit of really fancy cooking every now and then is an essential. I love ‘Le Petit Maison,’ found on rue St Francoise de Paule. This is one of Nice’s most interesting dining haunts of the rich and famous. They have a great selection of local dishes done just perfectly, but if you fancy something real non-PC go for the Foie Gras stuffed Bresse chicken. This dish is divine and is served with puréed potatoes that contain more butter than starch. It’s just amazing, but takes about an hour to prepare so tuck into a bunch of different starters and a decent bottle of white while you wait. Booking is essential, but it’s well worth it and the ambiance is awesome on a busy day. Alternatively, try the Universe by Chritian Pullman on rue Jean Jaures. The food here is beautifully prepared and served in a very chic atmosphere with a daily changing menu. The sweet breads with black pudding is one to definitely to look out for. These are just a couple of my favourites but there are lots of high-end eateries all over town.
Le Petit Maison, 11 Rue Saint-François de Paule, +33 4 93 92 59 59
L’Univers, 54 Boulevard Jean Jaurès,+33 4 93 62 32 22
A Taste of Nice
I’d recommend this tour not to just those who are interested in food, but to anyone, especially those with an appetite! You get to try our local Nicoise delicacies, visit market places and have lunch and of course try the lcoal vino. Our guide for the day Gustav had a great rapport with the market vendors and restaurants and all food and drink is included in the price. Learning about the way food was entwined with the colourful history and culture of Nice was a fresh approach and it was a great way to explore and soak in the atmosphere.
You’ll find all this info and more about where and what to eat when you download the Stay YNA App
Best Wine Cave
There’s no need to buy wine in a supermarket in France. Bottles are very well priced at ‘wine caves’ and searching through a hand-selected range is a lot more fun and value for money. Plus, you can take advantage of expert advice.
One of the most historic, well-known and largest wine caves Cave Caprioglio can be found in the old town of Nice on rue de la Préfecture. This is a typical French cave with quality wines from all over the country, daily promotions, and large barrels to top up BYO bottles.
Also, Cave Bianchi on Raoul Bosio in the old town is over 150 years old, has a great ambiance and is perfect for browsing. Staff are very friendly, they speak English and are more than happy to explain what’s on offer.
And don’t forget – Provence rosé in the summer is unbeatable!
Cave Caprioglio, 16 Rue de la Préfecture, +33 4 93 85 66 57
Nicolas wine,14 rue St François de Paule
Cave Bianchi,7 Rue Raoul Bosio, +33 4 93 85 65 79
Best wine cave to drink at
The best way to understand France’s love affair with wine is to enjoy their beloved vin surrounded by the bottles themselves. Drinking in a wine bar/restaurant is a must here in Nice, so don’t be intimidated if you know very little about what you should order. France takes a lot of pride in their sommeliers – wine experts – and they are there to advise the best wine for your palette.
Our top picks are Cave de la Tour on rue de la Tour in the old town. This is a favourite amongst locals and is very traditional and rustic. You can order by the glass or pick a bottle of the shelf and open it right there and then to drink at a table. Caves can feel a little intimidating as you can sometimes interrupt the owners mealtimes and feel like you have walked into someone’s house and non or very little English can be spoken. But don’t let this bother you and stumble through the experience as drinking with the locals and people watching is a much more rewarding experience than going to a tourist haunt. Plus there’s much more choice and it’s miles better value.
Cave de la Tour ,3 rue de la Tour, +33 (0)4 93 80 03 31
Cave Wilson on rue Gubernatis, just North of the old town, is also very friendly with a classic wine cave ambiance – full of dark wood and a large mirror-lined bar. Cave Wilson also offers tasty traditional dishes to accompany your wines, or a simple plate of charcuterie – cured meats and bread. They also have regular jazz nights.
Cave Wilson, 16 Rue Gubernatis, +33 4 93 85 33 10
For something a little more upmarket, Cave De l’Origine on Rue Dalpozo is not only a standout wine bar, it’s one of the best restaurants in Nice. With a seemingly endless number of wines, this very popular establishment will take your tastebuds to new heights.
Cave De l’Origine, 3 Rue Dalpozzo,+33 4 83 50 09 60
They say Paris is the capital of love, but what is more romantic than sipping a glass of champagne while watching the waves crashing against the Mediterranean coast? La Reserve is a restaurant with separate bar area, located east of the port at boulevard Franck Pilatte. It is perfectly situated on a rocky ledge with exquisite views over the Baie des Anges. The bar has the best views and you don’t have to eat there in order go for a drink. This is an exclusive and intimate setting that will make for a very memorable evening.
The best place in the city of Nice to enjoy a glass of chilled rosé and take in the view has to be La Terrasse at the top of the Hotel Boscolo Plaza on Avenue de Verdun. Prices are very reasonable for a bottle, just be sure to grab a table by the ledge. If you manage to be in Nice on a fireworks night, there are few better places than this!
The rooftop bar at the Clarion Grand Hôtel Aston also has reasonably-priced cocktails. In the summer the roof literally opens up and gives a full 360° panoramic of Nice.
Hotel Boscolo Plaza, 12 Avenue de Verdun
Clarion Grand Hôtel Aston, 12 Avenue Felix Faure
The best authentic brasserie
Les Distilleries Ideale on rue de la Prefecture is a mainstay in the local brasserie scene. Popular with both young and old, an hour or two must be spent on the tiny outdoor tables with a wine in hand and a plate of French cheeses and saucisson laid out before you. Inside is just as lovely, with a typical French brasserie feel, complete with old copper brewery. Its location on a cool shady cobbled street is a welcome retreat from the sun as well.
Distilliere Ideale, 24 Rue de la Préfecture, +33 4 93 62 10 66
A favourite past time of the French is l’apéro – and there’s no surprise why. Come mid afternoon, around 4pm, it’s time to take a seat in the sun and order a pastis (or whatever you fancy), sit back with your complimentary bowl of olives or nuts, and just enjoy the here and now. A lot of tourists head for the Cours Saleya and the plethora of restaurants and terraces bathed in the sun. The most local bar is Civette du Cours, where walnut skinned locals and the young and trendy of Nice mix with sun kissed tourists to top up the various stages of their tans over a chilled Rosé. Go for the St Tropez rosé you won’t be disappointed.
Civette du Cours, 1 Cours Saleya, +33 4 93 80 80 59
As the sun begins to wane and the heat of the Riviera dies down, there are a couple of places that deserve a quick mention. Ma Nolans Irish bar in the port has an outside terrace where you can appreciate the sunset whilst watching the luxurious, mega yachts heading out to their next dream destination. If you happen to be in the maze of picturesque narrow streets that make up the Old Town of Nice, stop at the Snug and Cellar as their terrace catches the sun at the end of the day and is usually the spot most English speaking locals tend to head for after hard day on the beach. Both of these options are good if you are craving a traditional pint.
Ma Nolans Port, 5 Quai des Deux Emmanuel
Snug and Cellar, corner of 22 rue Droite and 5 rue Rosetti
Best place to watch the world go by
Place Garibaldi is the perfect place to enjoy some sunshine while watching the world go by, without too much traffic and noise. The locals love this large square, which is lined with spacious outdoor terraces and captures the sun all day long. It’s a great spot for coffee, lunch or an aperitif and there are a number of different cafés to choose from, I’d recommend Giuseppe & Pepino for a place to while away a couple of hours in the sun watching the locals go about their business.
Giuseppe & Pepino, 18 Place Garibaldi, +33 4 93 56 66 59
l’Effervescence is a stylish yet cosy little bar found in a converted wine cellar on rue de la Loge in the old town offering an exciting range of delicious liquid gold – champagne. They provide a whole spectrum of options depending on your budget, starting from 19 euros and including little gourmet delights (amuse-bouche) accompanied by matching champagnes.
L’Effervescence, 10 Rue de la Loge, +33 4 93 80 87 37
Best beach bar
There’s definitely no shortage of nightlife in Nice, even by the sea. Beach bars are a great alternative to inner city drinking, and can be a touch classier. The most historic is The Beau Rivage (opposite the Albert 1er gardens), which offers tasty cocktails and reasonably-priced wine from Monday to Saturday, with DJ entertainment from 4.30pm to 10.30pm. Don’t expect a lot from the waiters, just enjoy the atmosphere and the light lapping of the waves. My personal recommendation would be Castel Plage at the end of the promenade, you can hire a sun lounger for the day with friendly waiter service for 18E and then lie back and enjoy ice cold cocktails and chilled wine at a reasonable price.
Beau Rivage, Promende de Anglais
Castel Plage – Quai Rauba-Capeu,
Some of the city’s best cocktails are to be had at La Havane, a Latin bar on rue de France just outside the old town. There is a nice ambience here and salsa dancing if you’re up for it, with live music most nights it’s a great way to dance off any extra calories you’ve consumed from the variety of amazing restaurants you’ll find in Nice.
La Havane, 32 Rue de France, +33 4 93 16 36 16
Drink with live music
Depending on what you are in the mood for, there are a number of bars that host live bands throughout Nice. Ma Nolan’s Irish bars (old town and port), Wayne’s (a young crowd), next door at Masterhome and AkaThor on the Cours Saleya all have good bands most nights of the week but can be a little bit Brit abroad. I really enjoy Shapko’s near Place Rossetti (opposite the Snug & Cellar) which is great for watching wonderful local talent and the intimate atmosphere allows you to chat with friends at the same time. There is sometimes a cover charge and the drinks are not cheap but if you’ve had your fill else where then do as the French do and take your time over a digestif or glass of red whilst enjoying the music.
Shapkos, 5 Rue Rossetti, +33 9 54 94 68 31
A historical tipple
Nice’s iconic Negresco Hotel on the Promenade des Anglais has a beautiful bar with authentic walnut woodwork from 1913 and exceptional tapestry from 1683. The hotel is a veritable art gallery, it’s the perfect place to take in the grand history of Nice and see how the other 3% live while sipping on one of their many cocktails or enjoying a nice cognac. Every evening, guests are treated to live jazz or Latino music. The prices are not cheap, but definitely affordable given the surroundings. You simply must visit the washrooms and walk around the glass dome once inside.
Le Negresco Hotel, 37 Promenade des Anglais, +33 4 93 16 64 00
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For over 2 weeks every February Nice is transformed by the Carnival which brings Place Masséna and the seafront to life with music, dancing, costumes and giant floats. Each year a theme is chosen and given to the carnival King – King of Music, King of Gastronomy, King of Cinema… and floats and spectacles are designed accordingly. A variety of events are organised celebrating both local traditions and also bringing in a more international flavour. To join in the fun at full volume tickets can be bought for a seat on one of the grandstands constructed for the occasion, but those in carnival fancy dress are admitted free of charge to certain areas. The website www.nicecarnaval.com will give you a detailed programme but be sure to see one of the famous Batailles de Fleurs, a magnificent procession of floats decorated with an abundance of fresh flowers whose elegantly dressed troupes shower the audience with bright yellow bouquets of sweet smelling mimosa and other local blooms.
Even if you don’t pay to enter the grandstands you are sure to catch a glimpse of the proceedings just by walking around Jardin Albert 1er. Take in the marching bands, the sweet stalls and the general carnival atmosphere from the beach or from one of the rooftop bars in the surrounding hotels.
The carnival King and Queen stay towering above the Old Town for the duration but every night their entourage is rolled back along the seafront and down past the Port to their base in Riquier. You can catch them around midday and after their evening shift has finished. And don’t miss the finale. The Carnival King ends his reign in flames on a barge out to sea, lit up by an immense firework display for all the town to see.
Monaco Grand Prix- May
Turning up the volume, the adrenaline and the excitement on the Côte d’Azur on the third weekend in May is the illustrious Monaco Grand Prix. The shortest, but arguably most demanding, and above all the most glamorous of Grand Prix races, takes place on a course just over 2 miles long which winds round the centre of the principality.
Pass through Monaco at anytime of year and a keen eye will notice the race markings on the central streets. Pass through Monaco during the Grand Prix, when the roads are reopened to the public from evening to early morning, and you can experience the track itself; tunnels, bumps, bends, views and all. From Thursday to Sunday take in the excitement of the build-up, the time trials, the qualifiers and the final race, not to mention the terraces, bars, restaurants and razzmatazz of the after-parties where you may well find yourself rubbing shoulders with celebrities of all sorts from sporting heros to cinema stars taking a short break from Cannes. This is truly a festival of the senses; the roar of the engines, the beat of the music, the glitter and sparkle of diamonds or the sunkissed sea and the popping of champagne corks.
For a five-star view you can watch the demons of speed sweep around the bend in front of the Place de Casino from the terraces of the Hotel de Paris. Alternatively soak up the atmosphere and the sun from the stands on le Rocher, the rock which looks out across the Port from the old town on the hill. Binoculars are recommended for close up views of the drivers but your wallet will not be so badly dented and in addition you can survey the glittering collection of yachts gathered in the bay.
For those who still yearn for the good old days the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco is held every two years, two weekends before the main event. Travel back in time and witness the charming days of the Riviera when the Bugatti ruled the roads and Fangio and Stirling Moss lifted the prestigious cup. For information on tickets visit: http://www.formula1-grand-prix.com/
Cannes Film Festival
Since 1939 Cannes has been synonymous with cinema and stars have been gracing the Croisette and the red carpeted stairs with their presence. Under the flash of cameras and the dazzle of the Mediterranean sun the world’s most acclaimed actors, directors, and talented newcomers gather every May in this celebration of the Seventh Art. Those with a serious interest in the film industry should apply in advance for accreditation, but those not so immeditately involved can still participate in the buzz of this fortnight of movie madness, with free classic film screenings on the beach at Plage Macé every evening. Other public screenings from the festival selection are organised by The Directors’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs), tickets are available from the Malmaison esplanade once the festival is underway. Film lovers can also contact Cannes Cinéphiles situated on the Pantiero for further viewing opportunities.
While strolling along the seafront on Bld de La Croisette during the festival, taking in the street perfomers and enjoying the sunshine, you may recognise a few faces behind the obligatory sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. Look out from behind your cocktail in one of the hotel bars and you never know whose eye you may catch. See and be seen in this annual show where the spotlight is firmly focused on the French Riviera and the jet set are out in force. And if you tire of celebrities you can always hop on a boat to the Lérins Islands, a peaceful nature reserve just 15 minutes from Cannes with shady woodlands and turquoise waters.
Nice Ironman- June
For competitors, supporters and spectators alike, Nice Ironman is an inspiring event. With the backdrop of the Bay of Angels and climbing high up into the Alps, the setting of Europe’s premier Ironman competition could not be more picturesque. Given this idyllic scenery it is no wonder that Nice has a triathalon history going back more than 30 years, and has been hosting the Ironman event every June for over 9 years.
The calm, warm waters of the Mediterranean for the 2.2 mile swim get things started in the early morning, the beach crowded with onlookers. The transition area on the seafront, the Promenade des Anglais, is buzzing with support from both locals and tourists, with music and entertainment provided by the organisers to give a real party feel to this exciting day. The 112 mile cycle race is one of the most challenging rising 2000 metres up into the beautiful mountains, but contestants are rewarded with stunning views and encouragement along the way to the sound of ringing cow bells through the picturesque hilltop villages. If determination is the key in this steep ascent into the heavens, daring and mettle are needed on the descent as the athletes rush back down to sea level to finish with the small question of a marathon along the seafront. For spectators the beautiful blue skies and sunshine make this a glorious experience, but for the athletes the heat of Nice make for a challenging finish, made however much easier by the encouragement all along the running track from the Old Town to the airport, which continues well into the evening for the final finishers.
Nice Ironman is extremely well organised, with the whole town getting involved, from volunteer guides and assistants to the cheering supporters. Even for those who have never witnessed a sporting event, feeling the anticipation in the air as over 2500 expectant athletes plunge into the sea at the start of the most difficult thing they have ever done is quite awe inspiring. And then of course you have the party afterwards. Well if you had just become an Ironman you would want to celebrate, wouldn’t you?!
Nice Jazz Festival- July
Back in the 1940s Nice Jazz Festival was kicked off by none other than Louis Armstrong and his All Stars, and it continues to draw an international line up today. The 5-day festival is now held in Place Masséna, the very centre of Nice, with outdoor stages in Le Théâtre de Verdure in the Jardin Albert 1er. Due to its popularity and the fact that it takes place in July when the Riviera is filling up for the summer, tickets sell out very quickly so you know what to do if like Bird you want to get that worm. www.nicejazzfestival.fr Showcasing jazz greats over the years such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, you are also sure to discover some newcomers both home-grown and from all corners of the planet in the festival’s eclectic mix which aims to please both traditionalists and trailblazers alike.
The Festival Off is also worth a mention. Each year there are plenty of acts playing in the unofficial fringe festival. You will find impromptu street performances, buskers and many bars and clubs taking advantage of the town’s swinging ambiance to give their stages to both local and touring bands. Dive into the Old Town and follow your ears or take note of the sandwich boards announcing a medley of performances across town. Try Le Staccato, La Cave Romagnan, Shapko or Master Home, which also have live jazz on offer year round. They say April is good in Paris, but in July head for Nice.
Fête du Port- September
Every September the Port of Nice organises an end of summer festival in and around the port; a showcase for local specialities and activities with a nautical theme. This is an event for all ages, with kids entertainment, gourmet food, live bands and a few surprises thrown in too. The events take place along the quaysides, from Quai Entrecasteaux on the east side to Quai Amiral Infernet on the west.
It kicks off in the late afternoon with practical and creative workshops such as knot-tying, sweet-making and paper fish-designing for kids. There are also bouncy castles, marching bands and performers of all kinds on stilts, wheels and floats. For those with a more culinary bent head to the « Chef’s Village » where a magnificent buffet of local delicacies is laid out. Make sure you get there early or be prepared to queue. All around the port you can choose from smaller stalls selling snacks and treats, and given that the port is the gateway to Corsica, the « Ile de Beauté », there are lots of Corsican flavours to be tried. Tip: to get served faster keep some change in your pocket!
There are three main stages where Niçois musicians play until around midnight. You’ll find teenagers dancing with old ladies and tourists with locals; always something to get those toes tapping. In amongst the music and the gastronomy you’ll find the odd eccentricity; a high diving clown show, a bicycle-driven bubble machine and was that a ballet dancer on a moving piano I just saw? Don’t leave too early as the finale is always worth waiting for. The ten year celebration featured high flying acrobats suspended like a giant mobile from a crane towering above the waters before the fireworks lit up the silhouette of the lighthouse and the festivities were brought to a close.
Nice Marathon- November
Many people come to the French Riviera to take in the scenery and relax. But if relaxing is not really your thing you could do worse than run the Nice-Cannes Marathon. A stunning course along one of the most famous coastlines in the world with views up into the Alps beyond, you cannot help but be inspired! Every November since 2008 the Riviera has hosted the second biggest marathon in France, with around 8000 participants taking up the challenge annually. Of course if running seems a little too taxing you could always take position in any of the wonderful places along the route and cheer on the more energetic with a cool glass of rosé in your hand!
The course starts in Nice, setting off from the Promenade des Anglais in the early morning. Along the way you take in the seaside resorts of Saint Laurent-du-Var, Cagnes-sur-Mer and a loop around the interesting architecture and marina of Villeneuve-Loubet. Glistening seas and support along the never-ending seafront will keep you going until you reach the historic Fort Carré of Antibes where you can then plunge into contemplation of the luxury yachts whilst skirting Europe’s largest marina. Onwards, and slightly upwards, though the Old Town passing the Picasso museum and around the headland to cross Cap d’Antibes – dotted with exclusive villas and hotels. You then rejoin the coastal route which takes you past Juan Les Pins and on to Golfe Juan where watching the locals walk their dogs or enjoy a drink on the promenade may take your mind of the 7 miles left to go. Alternatively look out to sea towards Ile Sainte-Marguerite, a beautiful nature reserve surrounded by turquoise waters. Before you know it you will be rounding the headland and on the home straight towards the red carpet awaiting you on the glamorous Boulevard de la Croisette.
Christmas in Nice- December
The Nice Christmas festivities start at the end of November when the « Village de Noël » sets up in Place Masséna. A Christmas market of over 60 wooden chalets in the Germanic tradition selling sweets, treats and stocking fillers galore as well as the produce of local artisans. A forest of (fake) snow-covered pine trees adds to the seasonal flavour with an ice-rink and children’s rides. For those not afraid of heights try the Ferris wheel which offers breath-taking views of the city and the surrounding (real) snow-capped mountains.
Place Garibaldi is also given a festive make-over with a corner for Santa Claus and stage for entertainment through to the new year. Bill boards advertise the programme of music, theatre and story-telling for young and old alike.
In the heart of the Old Town follow the bleats and baas and you will often find a real life nativity scene. Popular around France these mini farms are brought into cities for hands-on learning about animals and rural living. Stroke the rabbits, milk the goats and keep an eye out for more theatrical entertainment involving our furry friends.
The towns and villages surrounding Nice all abound with similar, albeit smaller, attractions and the Christmas lights along the coast to Menton are worth an evening drive. But for a local tradition head to Lucéram, a half-hour drive north-east of Nice up into the mountains. A medieval village with literally hundreds of nativity scenes hidden around its winding streets. From life-size to minuscule, hidden in letter boxes or through key holes. How many can you find? But remember to wrap up warm, it’s sunny on the coast but don’t forget that the ski season will have started less than two-hour’s drive away. You could even hit the pistes for a new year’s ski to work off that Christmas pudding.
You’ll find all this info and more about what to do when you download the Stay YNA App
Nice for families
With over 2 miles of pebbly beach you are never short of outside space for kids in Nice. Some of the private paying beach spaces have specific areas for families including play areas, games and pools. But once you tire of the pebbles or need to find some shade during the summer there are other options both inside and out.
Starting with the seafront, La Promenade des Anglais is perfect for strolling or rolling along. Bikes, rollerblades, skateboards and even push scooters can be hired from Rollerstation situated on Quai des Etats-Unis. On the newly redeveloped central site of the Paillon riverbed, La Promenade de Paillon is the central park and a hotbed of free entertainment. In addition to the giant mirror of water with its 125 jets which provide fountain and mist shows to enthrall both young and old, there is an enormous play area home to a selection of wooden sea creatures from 3 metre turtles to a 30 metre whale and even a pirate ship. Each structure has been created for a different age group and there is something for everyone under 12; rings, ropes, nets, bars, slides, swings and more! Parks and play areas are easy to find all over Nice, for one with a magnificent view try Castle Hill, which also has a café to revive the parents. Parc Castel des Deux Rois has a little goat farm and like many has ping pong tables so take along your bats and balls.
To get around the city why not take a ride on the Little Train (www.trainstouristiquesdenice.com). A 50 minute journey with commentary specially for kids will give tired legs a break and provide a scenic overview of the city. It leaves from the seafront opposite Albert 1er Garden. There are boat trips available from the Port, excellent snorkelling places along by Coco beach and Nice Diving school takes children from 8 years old.
For when being outdoors is not an option, Nice has 8 municipal swimming pools, an ice rink (Patinoire Jean Bouin), a bowling alley (Nice Bowling) and numerous museums and galleries many of which lay on workshops and activities aimed at children. Go to www.nice.fr for more details. By the airport you will also find Parc Phoenix a partly covered garden with large greenhouses containing plants and animals, from black swans to pelicans and porcupines to creepy crawlies. It is free for the under 12s and has a play area and trampoline.
Further afield towards Antibes don’t miss Marineland, also home to Kids’ Island, Aquasplash and Adventure golf. With all this to do the only problem is fitting it all in!
Casino Ruhl has all the bright lights of a small Las Vegas Casino. Here you’ll find all the regular games of blackjack, roulette and poker as well as an abundance of slot machines. This casino also has regular shows playing so it is worth checking the website if you fancy dinner and a show. Where is it? 1 Promendade des Anglais, Meridien Hotel, Nice 06000 Tel: 0033 (0)4 97 03 12 22 Web: www.lucienbarriere.com
Palais de la Mediterranée is a little larger and more sophisticated than its rival Casino Ruhl and is hard to miss thanks to the large Greek columns of its façade and the number of Ferraris parked outside. Where is it? 15 Promendade des Anglais, Nice 06000 Tel: 01 70 80 71 60 Web: www.lpalais.concorde.com
YNA Tip: You will need Picture ID in the form of either a passport or drivers license to enter any casino.
Nice Opera House is a must for ballet and classical music lovers. The 19th century opera house has its own philharmonic orchestra, opera and ballet and also hosts co-productions with visiting companies. There is a ticket office in the opera house where you can buy tickets on the day.
Where is it? 4 to 6 Rue Saint François de Paule, Nice, 06300 Tel: 0033 (0)4 92 17 40 00 Web: www.opera-nice.org
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
The Cours Saleya market is in the Old Town of Nice just back from the Promenade des Anglais. It runs on a daily basis from approximately 8am till 2pm. During the week it is full of fresh produce; tapenade, cheese, olives and other local delights whilst on a Sunday it is mainly a flower market and on Mondays it is converted into a busy antiques market. As this is one of the main tourist areas of Nice, the market is lined with many restaurants and brassieres which can provide the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee or lunch with the colourful market as a backdrop.
Place St François Fish market is also in the Old Town just opposite Gare Routière. It runs from approx 8am till midday. The stalls offer a wondrous choice of fresh catches from squid to swordfish or Rouget to Sea Bass. If you are a fish or seafood lover this is the place to pick up a real treat!
Les Puce de Nice is a charming antique/flea market situated on Rue Catherine Ségurane, (Port de Nice), just off Quai Lunel. The Antique Village as it is called, is full of interesting pieces that will appeal to tourists and collectors alike. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm.
Markets not to miss
If like me you’re not a shopping enthusiast but like to take in the vibe of local markets, then go to Valbonne, about 14km north of Cannes, which hosts one of the top marché Provençal every Friday morning. This 16th-century village has endless cafés and restaurants in and around the arcade. There’s plenty of free parking, or you can take the 230 bus from Nice for €1.50. Along rue Alexis Julien, stop in and say hi to Lin or Alison at the English Book Centre. My other favourite mercato provenzale is on Thursday morning in Bordighera, Italy. An easy hour drive from Nice, the stalls run parallel to the sea, and the amazing coffee and pastries are half the price of France. Enjoy a post-shopping seaside lunch at Romolo Amarea (www.romolomare.it). If you want to stay closer to home in Nice an alternative to the tourist heavy Cours Saleya Monday Antiques Market is the Saturday second hand market at Place Garibaldi. It’s small but bustling and a great place to enjoy lunch in between browsing.
A Real Bargain
France has only two sales during the year: winter (January) and summer (July), and they last for 3 weeks with further reductions offered as the sale continues. Believe it or not, the government decides the dates for each region, and the discounts are so amazing that many of the French take the first day of sales off work. Rumour has it that there are “retail police” who ensure the stores are actually discounting prices, and not adding to the original cost. One of the best deals is the Grande Braderie (Jumble Sale) in St Tropez the last weekend of October, before the village shuts down for the year. Streets are lined with tables and racks of end of season fashion that you still probably can’t afford, but if you don’t mind the crowds, it’s an experience for the people watching alone. Ferries run especially from Nice to the former village for this event. See www.trans-cote-azur.com
It’s Dépôt Darling
They say that the French are always ten years behind North America. When I moved here in 2000, I was on the receiving end of horrified gasps when I’d ask the locals about where to find a second-hand clothing store. So leave it to the French ten years later to make these dépôt-vente shops very chic. From bags to boots and jewellery to jackets, Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Louis Vuitton … all the usual vintage suspects can be found at Mademoiselle, two blocks east of Le Negresco Hotel (41 rue de France; +33 (0)6 88 54 22 20). Fashion meets fanfare, Jeremy and Sephora have designed a gorgeous shop interior with period chandeliers and antique mirrors to make you feel as if you’re borrowing clothes from your coolest friend’s closet. Open daily with varying hours, you could very easily find the owners sipping champagne with clients at 10pm.
Caprice in the heart of the Old Town (12 Rue Droite; +33 (0)9 60 48 85 95 ) is also an Aladdins cave of French vintage clothing. This is the perfect place to pick up a really individual and unique gift or holiday souvenir with a difference.
If you want to look French (and prefer clothes someone else hasn’t worn!), R.D.V. at 17 rue de la Préfecture +33 (0)4 93 80 10 75) is très funky and très pricey, but they change stock every couple of weeks so there’s always some article of clothing or piece of jewellery that you’ll have to have.
For the Jet Set Pet
Star Dog Boutique at 40 rue de France cannot be missed. Dane Marianne Israel can tell a “tail” or two about dog owners flying their pups on private jets across the US for a haircut or spa! Doggles (yup, doggie sunglasses) and iPawds are a must have for Fido in Nice, and why not a spritz of Oh My Dog! cologne. (www.jophicotedazur.com – +33 (0)4 97 03 27 39)
Wish you were (still) there?
A couple of Nice memories to bring home are the hardcover photography books Nice des années 30 aux années 50 (Gilletta Eds) by Norbert Huffschmitt (€5) and Nice 1863-1900 (Gilletta Eds) by Charles Nègre & Jean Giletta (€10). Not only are they excellent value but also the two books are portable – about half the size of a full-scale coffee table book. You can buy these up at one of the last independent bookstores on the Coast, the stylish Librairie Massena at 55 Rue Gioffredo (across from Galeries Lafayette; 04 93 80 90 16), where you’ll also find a decent selection of English books and your free copy of the Côte d’Azur’s English lifestyle magazine, the Riviera Reporter.
When I’m heading back to Canada for a visit, I head over to Rue Saint-François de Paule to pick up the famous blue-tinned olive oil at from Nicolas Alziari. It may not be the best (or even, as some whisper) made in France but it’s hugely attractive, affordable and the tins travel well. Across the street you’ll stumble across a few home slash souvenir shops, with a selection of amply-sized reusable shopping bags for about €6. They come in all colours with French images and expressions, and are always a hit with friends and family. Best of all, they are light and can be folded and refolded in a suitcase.
HIT THE BEACH
Nice main beach is the long pebbly 7km stretch in the Bais des Anges reaching from the airport to the end of the Old Town. It alternates between free public sections and private beach bars/clubs where you have to pay for a sun lounger/towel and parasol. But, there are also a couple of hidden gems that only the locals visit by the Port of Nice. Here are a few of our recommendations to enjoy beach life in Nice.
YNA top beach bar… For lunch and sunbathing head to Castel Plage. It’s the first private section below the chateau. Dine on seafood and rosé or sit at the café side and have paninis or salads. The sea breeze here is really cooling in the summer and it feels like you are in a sheltered cove looking out over the rest of the bay.
YNA recommends for glamour…The Beau Rivage is the most famous and luxurious beach bar. It’s opposite the Beau Rivage hotel in the Old Town. Go for sunset whilst enjoying a crisp cold glass of white wine or a cocktail and listening to chilled out tunes.
YNA best value… Some of the beach bars closer to the airport like Florida Beach are cheaper and quieter. Florida Beach serves good value quality lunches.
YNA money saver… Pack a beach picnic. The beach bars can be pricey and there are many public areas of the beach where you’ll find locals and holiday makers enjoying picnics in the evening whilst watching the sun go down over the Med. Buy an inexpensive cooler bag from the supermarket, bring a chilled bottle and enjoy the same view on the house!
YNA swim where the locals go… Coco Beach and La Reserve are by the far side of the Port along Boulevard Franck Pilatte. Coco Beach maybe a tiny pebbled cove, but the swimming, especially first thing in the morning, is the best in Nice. The waters are blue, warm and go deep quickly, but because it is a small bay there are no big waves and the views looking up to Mont Boron are gorgeous. La Reserve is a protected area just past Coco beach. It is a series of rocks where the locals sunbathe and climb down ladders or steps to some of the best swimming in Nice. This is a convenient place to go if you are staying around the Port area of Mont Boron.
YNA Tip… The pebbles can be a little unstable to walk on. Bring a pair of rubber jelly sandals or surfers swim shoes to prevent doing the tourist dance as you leave the water!
Villefranche is the nearest sandy beach to Nice. (The sand is closer to a soft fine shingle). It’s 5 minutes on the train from Nice main station or Nice Riquier or a 10 minute bus journey. The bus is usually the most convenient. Villefranche bay is shallow and calm and the views looking out to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat are beautiful. Some people on discovering Villefranche spend much of their holiday here. It doesn’t matter where you are staying on the Riviera, this captivating and atmospheric village is a must visit. You can spend the perfect day sunbathing, swimming and enjoying lunch or an evening meal in one of the many seafront restaurants or hidden gems in the quaint cobbled backstreets.
YNA Recommends… Hire a motor boat for a day from Dark Pelican for less than 100€ per 4 hours for up to 6 people. Drive around the cap, get up close to stunning villas and dive in for a swim wherever you please. You don’t need a license or a Captain.
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat‘s most famous sunbathing spot is Paloma Beach. (Tom Cruise allegedly hires the entire beach for private parties when he is in the area). Continue through the small village of Saint Jean and out the other side as though you are walking to the southern tip of the Cap. A road veers off to the left and you will find Paloma beach. There is a small public section and an excellent restaurant/bar and sun loungers for hire.
YNA tip… Paloma Beach is not cheap so we recommend making a day of it on the Cap. Get up early and take the 81 bus from Nice which drops you off right outside the Villa Rothschild for a visit to the wonderful gardens and stately home. Then walk into the village of Saint Jean for a coffee and onto Paloma beach. After a good day sunbathing catch the 81 bus and stop off in Villefranche for drinks and dinner as the sun sets over Villefranche bay and Cap Ferrat.
Beaulieu sur Mer is on the other side of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat to Villefranche. It has two long, sandy and well-protected beaches. In the cosy Baie des Fourmis just opposite the centre of town and casino there is a long promenade and a public beach that is part fine shingle and part sandy. The water is very calm and inviting here. Petite Afrique is the golden sandy beach to the east of the Port just past the town centre. It has a public section and the Petite Afrique restaurant/bar where you can hire sun loungers and parasols.
Eze sur Mer The 100 bus or train drops you right outside this unassuming, small, one-road village just before Monaco.
YNA recommends… this part-public, part-private beach because although it’s pebbley, it’s quiet, even in the height of summer. It’s our secret haunt and the beach bars only have a couple of rows of sun loungers, so you can slope straight into the sea. There is great swimming here and if you’re lucky you might spot the local celebrity, Bono, who owns a villa with a gate leading out onto the beach.
Take your pick from two beach bars; Papaya Beach specialises in fish and paella and Anjuna Beach has a traditional French menu.
Antibes boasts two golden sandy beaches with shallow waters.
Plage Gravette is hidden behind the sheltered ancient walls of the Quay and marina next to the heart of the Old Town. It’s a public sandy beach with gently shelving waters and is popular with families.
Plage Salis is further along the ramparts to the west of the Old Town. It consists of two larger sandy bays which are again gently sloping into the sea and have views of Cap d’Antibes
Cap d’Antibes is one of the most expensive locations to live on the French Riviera. Most properties are gated villas and the owners have no need and do not rent them out to holidaymakers. But, you can enjoy this beautiful Cap from Plage Garoupe which is divided into lots of smaller sections, both public and private. It is sheltered from the wind and faces east, so you’re not looking into the sun.
YNA good value… Petite Plage has the best value sun loungers and parasols with a sandy beach and shallow waters great for kids. Good value restaurant.
YNA splash out… Garoupe Beach, Restaurant and Bar is the place to go if you want a day of relaxing on sun loungers, waiter service and well prepared food. It’s the place to go on the Cap to be seen.
Juan-les-Pins has one very long white sandy beach and is probably the finest on the Riviera. Plage de Juan les Pins is the section closest to the town centre and is packed with beach bars. Plage du Midi is a little further along and has less beach bars and more public space.
Cannes is renowned for its large golden sandy beaches. La Croissette is the busiest stretch and the main beach front. It can get really busy in the summer but has the advantage of being right next to the main town.
YNA recommends… taking a short walk to Boulevard du Midi. It’s just around the corner from the Palais des Festivals and port and you’ll find it less busy with more space to relax. There are a couple of beach bars and the nearby road is quieter than on the main stretch.
Making the maximus of your gluteus
Holidays are great but after a week in France you’re bound to suffer from baguette butt – gouda gut syndrome. Fortunately there are plenty of English-language choices outside your doorstep to revive your over-carbed body.
If size matters Fitlane gyms are the largest chain in the country with seven salles along the Riviera. I love this club because it embraces everything non-French in its operations: it’s open daily day, including holidays, from early to late, it’s clean, classes are on time and … the staff are friendly. No wonder, it was founded by a Danish-born Brit. If you need to spin, pump, or work the machine, go to 7 rue Halévy (behind Ruhl Casino; +33 (0)4 92 00 02 04).
Just do it…with others
Run & Style, the Nike concept store at 3 rue Chauvan, a block from Galeries Lafayette, offers a free women’s fun run on Tuesday nights starting at 7pm. It’s more like a jog with a few sprints and sit ups a long the way led by French owner Patricia Plessis. If you’re hesitant to run by yourself, this is a great opportunity to discover different parts of the city in the safety of others. The ladies mostly speak French but are all so welcoming and know enough English if you’re really stuck.
Cycle Côte d’Azur
Olympic cyclist Emma Davies and fellow Brit Claire Blackie run Cycle Côte d’Azur (www.cyclecotedazur.com). They provide an excellent way to view the Coast, and offer beginner rides from €15. Bike rentals also available.
Rides start from Café du Cycliste, 16 Rue Berlioz, +33 (0) 6 46 31 02 12
THE BEST WALKS
Easy does it
Nice: The Promenade du Paillon, a 12-hectare park in the middle of town, running from the Théâtre de Verdure (across from McDonald’s on the Prom’) to the Museum of Modern Art. Much to the disgruntlement of locals, this coulee verte (green corridor) has been dug and redug for too many months, but is now open.
St Jean Cap Ferrat: the path around the Cap is 10km, and it takes you past the lighthouse with fab views of Nice, Beaulieu and Monaco. There are a few steps involved and I wouldn’t advise doing it in winter. If you take the 81 or 100 bus to the Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa & Gardens. (www.villa-ephrussi.com), you can take in the dancing fountains before you head off on your trek. The path starts on the coast across from the bus stop, just walk down past the tourist office to the small beach and head away form Villefranche. The route ends in the picturesque village of St Jean where you’ll find restaurants and small shops. The 81 bus to Nice departs from here.
Cap d’Antibes: it’s only 5km but the Sentier Tirepoil takes about 2 hours. It starts at Plage de la Garoupe with a paved walkway, which quickly turns rugged along 50-foot cliffs with a lot of twists in between. Again, not something to do in winter or on a rainy day (or near sunset), but if you’re up to the task, the impressive views over the Baie de la Garoupe and the Alps will be your reward. At the end, follow chemin des douaniers to blvd Kennedy. Once you pass Villa Eilenroc, go right on ave de la Tour Gandolphe to André Sella, which takes you back to where you parked your car. Or, take the No. 2 bus from Les Contrabandiers stop.
Eze: A gorgeous hike but definitely a climb at 430m is from Eze sur Mer to Eze Village. Take the Monaco/ Menton train to Eze sur Mer, and follow the path with its smooth steps that turn into rocky stone, that wind their way up. It’s about 3 hours return. Wave hi to Bono if you see him: the U2 frontman has a villa here. I’d recommend taking a picnic as the restaurants in Eze village are either expensive or a bit touristy. There are a couple of nice beach bars at Eze sur Mer for a well deserved refreshment on your return. If you want to half the challenge then you can either start from Eze sur Mer and after an uphill hike get the no.82 from Eze back to Nice. Or opt for the easier downhill route and do the reverse trip only and get the train back.
The best secret walk
Rimiez Walk: If you want to escape the city then this is a very local route along the ‘Vieux Chemin de Gairaut’ which takes you along the canal from Rimiez – a village towards the top of Nice in the East, to the village of Gairaut further West. Joggers, strollers and dog walkers alike are drawn here for the panoramic views of the amphitheatre of Nice in tranquil surroundings and it’s only a 10 – 15 min bus ride from Nice centre.
The entrance is just off Avenue de Rimiez, which you can get to by hopping on the 22 bus and getting off at ‘Les Bassins’ the 3rd last stop before the end of the line. Cross the road and carry on up the hill around a corner (the footpath disappears for a short while) continue about 500 metres further and the entrance Is on your left next to the canal. At the end of the route, turn left onto the road down the hill and then immediately right up Avenue de Gairaut and see the ‘Cascade de Gairaut’ – small waterfall. Or turn left and left again this time down Avenue de Gairaut back towards Nice for lunch at a wonderful local Nicois restaurant called L’Autobus for a very fine steak and frites before then turning back.
Above and below Nice
I cannot start the day without coffee, and sometimes only a straight up cappuccino will do. Caffe Vergnano 1882 at 11 rue Halévy in the pietonne (next to Quick burger) comes to the rescue with the creamiest of cups around, and provides some bizarre people watching. Alternatively, just down the street, the funky Pinkoffee serves fancier versions of lattes with muffins, pancakes, and donuts. Once your caffeine kicks in, you’ll need to walk. So why not walk up? Climb the stairs of the Château, or Castle Hill as it’s called, at the end of the port. The stairs are located just beside the Hotel Suisse. This 11th century medieval fortress once was a key military strategic position across Nice’s very varied past. (Nice only became a part of France in 1860.) The Château is not just great for coastal snaps; take a book or a picnic and enjoy the grounds and views. Not to be missed, the Cimetière Colline du Château has Roman Catholic and Protestant sections; and adjacent, the Jewish cemetery. Walk down the Château’s port side on rue Fortesa to rue Catherine Segurane at Place Garibaldi. Catherine is Nice’s patron saint. Legend claims the laundress once flashed her bottom from her window at Turkish invaders passing by and they were so repulsed they retreated. You’re probably advised to keep your clothes on in the recently renovated Square where you have a choice of cafés, and sunshine. If you plan in advance, you can catch one of the last daily tours of Nice’s crypt and “immerse yourself in five centuries of history”. Classified as a Monuments Historiques in spring 2012, this massive underground 2000 m² chamber is located under Place Garibaldi (meeting point is Place Jacques Toja in front of Monoprix). There are no tombs here but the archaeological excavations dating back to the 14th century, which were discovered when the tramway was first started in 2007, are incredibly well-preserved, like you’ll witness with the Pairolière door, the principal gate to the fortified complex. The 1-hour guided visits in French run from Wed-Mon at 11am, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm. Tickets are €5 and can be purchased from the Heritage Centre at 75 Quai Etats-Unis (Tel 3906; Mon-Fri from 8:30-1pm & 2-5pm – or 3:45pm Fri). Stilettos not welcome.
Matisse, boules and monks
Cimiez always seems a little too quiet for me but I have a developed a real affection for the Roman ruins at the Archaeology Museum, next to the Musée Matisse. Each of these institutions is well worth a visit and is free. The buildings are surrounded by the 36,000 sqm Jardin des Arènes de Cimiez park, which beckons picnickers to eat under its olive and cabob trees, followed by a game of boules. Come prepared with your own lunch and blanket. Before heading back, walk over to the 9th century Monastery at the end of the park and the cemetery where Raoul Dufy and Henri Matisse are buried. This is a really chilled way to spend the day mixing history, art and, most importantly, food. Take the 15 bus.
You’ll need a bag with a swimsuit and towel for this adventure. Start with a leisurely breakfast in the Cours Saleya market, and then take a digestive stroll around the port, past the war monument and down to the Marché aux Puces at Place Robilante, open Tuesday to Sunday from 10h-18h. It’s hit and miss but you can come across some cool stuff at the Antique Market (Puce quite literally means flea). From here, take the 10 minute journey on No 14 bus (with stops at both Station J.C. Bermond and the port) to “Chemin du Fort”, the 16th-century Fort du Mont-Ablan. It just re-opened for the public and has exceptional views panning from Bordighera, Italy to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and overlooking Nice and all the way over to Baie des Anges (those eye sore apartments) to Antibes. The perfect photo op. Afterwards, head back to the port and walk along the Quai des Docks to blvd Franck Pilatte and on to Ave Jean Lorrain. This takes you to Coco Beach. You can jump off the rocks and swim – and if you’re not shy of all that lives in the Mediterranean, take goggles. The water here always seems to be the purest around, and home to the most schools. Once you’ve worked up an appetite (and dried off a little) head over to Coco Beach restaurant for a seafood feast. If you wish to walk further you can descend on the Villefranche side and walk into Villefranche for lunch and catch the 100 bus back.
Postcards can be a unique and inexpensive keepsake or gift and you won’t have any issues with excess baggage. The best postcards and unique le Republique gifts can be found in the museum shop at the Musée Masséna. Built between 1898 and 1901, on rue de France it is one of the few Belle-Époque buildings to survive Nice’s razing period after the War. Owners could no longer afford their upkeep, nor could they divide an individual property into enough small apartments to rent. This villa was the first on the Coast to have an English garden, and with is historical artefacts and art collection, represents Nice’s glory day
If it's your first time booking with STAY YNA then we'd like to give a EURO 20 discount on all homes to say welcome!