The heart of France's Côte d'Azur, Nice is a stunning, elegant seafront city that has inspired artists, and always enchants those who visit. Whether you want to shop for arts and crafts souvenirs, explore the countryside of Provence, or just spend a vacation on the beach, Nice has what you need and much more.
Walk arm in arm along the Promenade des Anglais. Climb to the Castle of Nice for stunning views across the bay and then wander over to the Matisse Museum to see masterpieces by one of the city's most famous residents.
When festival season is on, Cannes is a short train ride or drive away, and the villages, vineyards, and roadside restaurants of Provence are easily within reach. It all adds up to a truly magical destination.
Nice may be a city of over 200,000 people, but it still manages to feel like an intimate beach resort. For the people of the city, the beach is a magnet, and the promenade is a great place to spend time.
Nice is one of France's great artistic centers. The pure light of Provence is legendary, and Nice has inspired masters like Matisse and Picasso in the past. Visit the exceptional Matisse Museum, see the collection at the Massena Palace Museum of Art and History as well as galleries devoted to Marc Chagall and Asian Art.
The south of France is famous for its gastronomic delights, and Nice is a great place to savor them. Grab a pot of bouillabaisse at Les Pêcheurs, try the daube (beef stew) at La Merenda or a healthy Nicoise Salad Le Chat Gourmand.
Nice is also a destination for wine lovers. You can base yourself at a luxurious seafront hotel and join organized wine tours with companies like Grape Tours, who can whisk you around the finest vineyards and explain how everything is made.
If you time your visit well, you can use Nice as the ideal base to visit the Cannes Film Festival in May, the Monaco Grand Prix (also May), July's Jazz à Juan festival at Juan-les-Pins or Nice's own carnival, which takes place in February.
This boardwalk will forever be the staple of the city, its world class beach stretching along the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. In February, the blue ocean is joined by a rainbow of colors for the annual Carnaval celebration. The street side also reveals great sights the likes of Hotel Negresco, pinnacle of French luxury complete with rococo design and doormen donning 18th-century attire, or Parc Phoenix and its futuristic green house.
The Old Town is brimming with traditional culture, from the vivid flower market at Cours Saleya to the baroque Place Garibaldi. Wanderings may lead you past the enchanting Nice Cathedral, or up to Castle Park for unrivaled views of the bay. The new Promenade du Paillon curves around the limits of the neighborhood, inviting visitors for a relaxing walk after getting lost in century-old streets.
This alluring area contains singular sights amidst the Belle-Epoque architecture of its hilly streets, while the Marc Chagall and Matisse Museums pay hommage to the flourishing modern-art period that shook the Riviera. Further up, the nearby monastery maintains winning gardens for a leisurely stroll, the remains of a Roman settlement form a maze of puzzling grandeur.
On the east side of Castle Hill, sailboats and yachts cruise in to the city at Port Lympia. International wealth meets local fishermen, and the area constantly swarms with interesting folks and noises. Well worth joining the throngs along the pier for drinks and snacks, and you will surely be drawn to glorious Mount Boron up above, where an expansive park awaits.
From Saint-Tropez to Monte-Carlo, day trips along the Riviera are sure to delight. Nice is the largest of these seaside beach settlements, and while some corners are more local, others bring the Riviera's glamorous reputation to a whole new level. In the hinterland, the Gorges du Verdon will captivate nature lovers, and the city of Grasse is home of exquisite perfume making. The best part is that it's all yours to explore.
May is a great time to visit if you want to enjoy major events like the Monaco Grand Prix or Cannes Film Festival, but understandably Nice can get pretty busy when they are taking place. Summer brings the best weather, but also crowds. So try early June or late September/October. Nice will be warm and welcoming, but less busy and accommodation may be cheaper.
Nice Airport (NCE) is the best way to arrive in the city if you are coming from North America, as the city has regular direct connections to New York City (as does Marseille, which isn't far away). Buses 23 and 52 run from the airport (EUR1.50, 20 minutes), and there are Airport Express services as well (EUR6, around 20 minutes). If you need to take a taxi, expect to pay around EUR40 for the service.
Nice has excellent rail connections to the rest of France as well as Italy and Spain. In fact, you can get there from Paris in six hours via the TGV. The station is just north of the city center, about 20 minutes' walk from the seafront, although trams run straight to the Promenade. A single ticket costs EUR1.50 and machines are next to the main stops.
If you are approaching Nice by car, you will probably take the A8 autoroute (highway), which runs from Italian cities in the east and Marseille or Spain in the west. Look for signs to "Nice Centre" or the "Promenade des Anglais" as you near the city.
Plenty of bus companies run services to Nice, including Eurolines and Ouibus. Most buses will stop near the Place Massena, which is very close to the city center.
Visitors to Nice will discover a wide range of different hotels to choose from. The Hyatt Regency is a superb hotel on the seafront, but the Mercure is almost as good (and cheaper). Les Suites Masséna is in the Old Town and has plenty of period charm, while Mas des Oliviers is situated on the outskirts of town and has wonderful views across both the city and the bay.
The Old Town - nestled underneath the castle and at one end of the Promenade des Anglais, Nice's old town (Vieux Nice) is a beautiful neighborhood of narrow streets, tucked-away bars, and gourmet restaurants. Don't miss the pastries and chocolates at Maison Auer or the bars around Place Rossetti, Nice's nightlife hotspot.
Place Massena and the New Town - modern Nice is a busy commercial center. Though it might not have the charm of Vieux Nice, it's full of attractions like the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, department stores like Nice Étoile and many of the finest hotels in town.
The Promenade des Anglais - a neighborhood in itself, the Promenade des Anglais is the real heart of Nice. Every evening sees couples and friends stroll along this elegant promenade, while the daytime brings skaters, sunbathers, and volleyball matches on the sand.
Buses and trams are the main ways to get around Nice via public transportation and they are reliable and cheap as well. Single fares cost EUR1.50 on both forms of transport and you can buy 10 tickets for EUR10. Buses and trains also make the journey to nearby cities like Antibes and Cannes.
Taxis can be a handy way to get around but they are expensive. If you do need to make a taxi journey inside the city, expect to pay a minimum of EUR20 and try to negotiate a price before you leave to avoid any misunderstandings.
Nice and the surrounding area is a fantastic place to rent a car. You can explore the coast and the hinterland of Provence with ease. Rental outlets in the city include Enterprise, Hertz, and Europcar, and rates can often dip to EUR14 per day for smaller models. Just beware of the traffic on the A8.
If you are looking for chain store shopping, Nice's best location is the Avenue Jean Médecin, home to major department stores like Monoprix and the entertainment store FNAC. But there's more to shopping in Nice than chain stores. Head to the flower market at the Cours Saleya for a blaze of color, or to quaint streets in the Old Town like Avenue de Suède, where fashion boutiques rub shoulders with arts and crafts stores.
Nice has its fair share of supermarkets where you can find affordable groceries. Local options include Monoprix, Carrefour, and Super U, which are dotted all over town. Prices should be reasonable at around EUR3.50 for a gallon of milk or EUR1 for a pound of apples.
Nice is a fabulous destination for food lovers. If you are after a truly authentic bouillabaisse, give Le Millénium or Les Pêcheurs a try. For up-market gourmet French dishes, L'Univers de Christian Plumail is the jewel in Nice's crown but is closely rivaled by Le Chantecler in the luxurious Hotel Negresco. You can find great Indian food at Le Delhi Belhi and there's no shortage of pizzerias like La Pizza Cresci to fill you up either. Prices vary wildly, but expect to pay EUR60 at high-end restaurants and EUR10 for a pizza.