Nice isn’t just nice, it is exceptional. With a provocative blend of pristine sea-side paradise and eclectic cosmopolitan city convenience, there’s no mystery why the popularity of Nice has never waned. From the multitude of sea-front hotels, villas and hostels, there is attractive accommodation to suit every budget and taste, with rooftop terraces and romantic orange-tree shaded terraces in abundance.
As one of France’s most cosmopolitan destinations Nice has an eclectic offering of speciality dishes that are often said to rival Paris in their creativity and Michelin-starred standard. Yet unlike Paris, you can easily step out from the hustle-bustle of city life and once again sink your toes into the sandy shores of one of Nice’s pristine beaches. But make no mistake, Nice is no sleep provincial village; by day the boutique stores and breath-taking morning flower markets of Cours Saleva will fill your days with style and beauty, while your nights can buzz with the delights of modern night clubs and a trendy arts scene.
Take your pick from multiple luxurious seafront hotels in Nice, with drawcards such as rooftop terraces with views, private beaches and solariums. One such is the sumptuous belle-époque Le Negresco (37 Promenade des Anglais), with room design ranging from Louis XIV to art deco, while the Radisson Blu Hôtel (223 Promenade des Anglais) has an enticing rooftop pool. For those on a smaller budget, the central Brice Hôtel (44 rue du Maréchal-Joffre) has a garden, lemon and orange tree-shaded terrace, and attractive rooms. Even cheaper is the Hôtel des Flandres (6 rue de Belgique), with bright rooms and a convenient location close to the train station and a short walk from the seafront.
A must-see shopping experience in Nice is the morning flower market on Cours Saleya, which is an explosion of colour and scents – a lovely place to wander, even if you don’t want to buy any flowers. For more Provençal perfumes, try Molinard (20 rue St François de Paule), a venerable, locally based company founded in 1849, whose flacons were designed by Lalique. For chic designer shops with wares at chic designer prices, head to the elegant “Carré d’Or” area (between Boulevard Victor Hugo, Avenue Jean Médecin, Boulevard Gambetta and the Promenade des Anglais), while more affordable clothes and homewares may be found at the classic department store Galeries Lafayettes (6 avenue Jean Médecin).
Nice is one of France’s most cosmopolitan cities, and its eclecticism is reflected in the cuisine, with everything from fusion to North African on offer. Nice is also rich in local and regional specialities, and you can try these everywhere from fast-food joints (try the local Niçoise speciality socca – a chickpea flour pancake) to sophisticated Michelin-starred eateries. Le Chantecler (37 Promenade des Anglais) has lavish wood-panelled interior and two stars, while Christian Plumail (54 boulevard Jean Jaurès) has a Michelin star, yet a stunningly affordable lunch menu. For an even cheaper meal out, locals rate the simple, friendly Restaurant du Gesu (1 place du Jésus).
Nice’s carnival celebrations last for a mammoth 15 days. Flower-strewn floats parade around the city, and on the Promenade des Anglais, elegant flower battles take place: extravagantly dressed locals ride on around 20 floats decorated with stunning floral displays, and throw out flowers (including around 20 tons of mimosa) into the crowds.
Held in the Jardins de Cimiez, this unique celebration of the gourd traditionally symbolises the end of winter with competitions, gourd-painting extravaganzas and gourd-based dishes.
Fête du Château
This free contemporary music festival takes place in Nice’s château grounds and features funk, jazz, trip hop, Latin and rock acts, plus food and arts and craft stalls.
Nice Jazz Festival
One of Europe’s most important jazz events, the annual Nice Jazz Festival has been running since 1948. It takes place on several separate stages on Place Masséna, with many famous international names coming to perform here over the eight days, and featuring traditional and contemporary sounds.
Marathon des Alpes Maritimes
This annual regional marathon starts in Nice and wends along the coast road towards Cannes.