Nice, Cote D'Azur
I fell in love with the South of France a long time ago and we’ve visited many times. One of my favourite places has to be Nice and it’s so easy to reach from the UK only being a 2 hour flight from London.
Nice is the capital of the Côte d’Azur or French Riviera, as it’s known in English. Nice curves itself around the Bay of Angels. I’ve always had this romantic notion of the French Riviera largely from 1950s films. I love Alfred Hitchcock’s “To catch a Thief” with Cary Grant.
5 of my favourite things to do in Nice
There are lots of things to see and do in Nice from relaxing on the long beach in the warm sun, visiting the many art museums, wandering around the Old Town, checking out the markets and just generally people watching.
Here are 5 of my favourite things to do in Nice.
1. Cours Saleya Market - Marché aux Fleurs
Can there be anything prettier than a huge flower market. The Cours Saleya Market is a flower, fruit and vegetable market. I love the fact that it’s a proper market and although it attracts lots of tourists and there are also lots of locals buying their daily fruit and veg.
The market stalls have lovely striped awnings and there are hundreds of flowers to great you from pretty geraniums and peonies to garishly coloured dahlias and gerbera. The fragrance from all these flowers fills the air. The market it held every day, from 6 am to 5.30 pm except Mondays, Sunday afternoons and public holidays and is worth spending an hour or two exploring.
2. Cours Saleya –Marché à la brocante (Flea Market)
On Mondays when the flower and vegetable market is closed it becomes home to a wonderful assortment of antiques, knick-knacks and other interesting pieces. After wandering around and maybe picking up one or two pieces to take home it’s great to take time to sit and people-watch in one of the adjacent bars and cafés.
3. Park de la Colline du Château or Castle Hill
The Castle of Nice was a citadel used for military purposes. Built at the top of a hill, it stood overlooking the bay of Nice from the 11th century to the 18th century. It was besieged several times, before it was taken by French troops in 1705 and finally destroyed in 1706 by command of Louis XIV.
The area is now a public park with a couple of snack bars, a children’s playground and a waterfall.
Take the free art deco lift from the Old Town, Place Garibaldi, it can be a bit tricky to find but just follow the signs. Once you reach the top you get stunning views over Nice. You can also walk up, it tales around 20 to 25 minutes, but if the weather’s hot you’ll be glad of the lift.
In the Summer when it’s hot the leafy trees provide plenty of shade and make it pleasant to wander around.
We strolled round park and meandered our way down into Old Nice on the other side of the Park and managed to get a little lost but that’s half the fun of exploring places you’re not familiar with.
4. Promenade de Anglais, Nice
When you’re in Nice you can’t miss the Promenade de Anglais. It’s probably the most famous stretch of seafront in France. It is vast paved promenade, which gets its name from the English expat patrons who paid for it in 1822. It runs for the whole 4km sweep of the Baie des Anges with a dedicated lane for cyclists and skaters, and you will see plenty of them whizzing past you.
It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll and soak up the sea air and people watch.
However, I can’t mention the Promenade de Anglais without referring to the awful terror attack in 2016. Work is ongoing to protect the promenade from any future attacks by installing a wall of white bollards, the first section has been completed and hopefully it will be fully completed soon.
5. Fruit de Mere and Provence Rose
Nice has wonderful seafood and there can’t be anything more perfect than sitting down to eat a wonderfully fresh Fruit de Mere with a bottle or two of Provence Rose.
Provencal rosé is typically bone dry and a very pale orange-tinted pink colour. Don’t be fooled by the pale colour as a Provence Rose will have a complex and dry flavour palate. With gorgeous light red berry fruits and a fresh acidity this wine pairs perfectly with seafood.
Most are made from the blends of the local grapes like Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Syrah, sometimes with the more obscure Rolle added.
We’ve enjoyed many wonderful meals in Nice.