The Nice France Travel Guide
Click on your language below to download a detailed travel guide of Nice France offered in cooperation with the Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau
Looking for a Nice accommodation? Click on Nice vacation rental to see our 3 bedroom sea-front flat on the Promenade des Anglais
Some things to know when traveling to Nice France:
After Paris, Nice is the french city with the largest number of museums and galleries.
Free admission to all municipal museums from July 2008 (except the Chagall Museum which is a national museum).
All busses except the airport express are 1.50 euro within a 74 minutes trip; also to Monaco and Cannes
From July 2009 the blue bicycles (velós bleus) have shown up. They can be rented for just 1 euro per day. Click for a city map of Nice with the vélo bleu stations.
In 2010 Nice has celebrated the 150th anniversary to be a city of France.
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Below you can read more about Nice, the Promenade and French Riviera excursions ... -our personal Nice France travel guide for you!-
Nice Promenade Des Anglais and Nice area
The promenade just in front of our apartment
Not later than in 1823 the English people who were very attracted to Nice’s climate and beauty, started to build the ultra famous Promenade, that stretches 7 km around the Bay of Angels, which became known in 1844 to the world as the Promenade des Anglais (the Promenade of the English). They built many luxury palaces and hotels, all its glamour is still present today. Nice is a busy, bustling city with something for everyone from the bright lights of the city shops, bars, restaurants and clubs to the lure of the azure blue water and the possibilities it offers of diving, swimming, parasailing, boating and sunbathing, as well as to the activities of golfing, walking, cycling, sightseeing both in Nice and inland. Nice is the Queen of the Riviera and the Promenade des Anglais is the only place to be!!
The Promenade des Anglais: More than 150 years the most famous attraction of the french Riviera.
Art deco poster One of the exclusively designed pergolas on the Prom The Prom when the night is falling
In Nice there are plenty of things to do, so have a look at the Nice France travel guide that can be downloaded at the top of this page, then I will highlight now only a few things to know and some excursions. After Paris, Nice has the biggest airport and most of the museums of France. From July 2008 all municipal museums of Nice have a free admission. One of them is the Massena Museum near the Negresco Hotel on the Promenade. From the apartment this is only a 10 minutes walk away. It is a beautiful palace that tells a story about the history of Nice and its famous people as Queen Victoria who stayed here in winter time in her majestic residence the Régina. The Régina is located in one of the hills of Nice in the Belle Époque residential area Cimiez where you can also find the Matisse Museum. When Matisse arrived in 1917 he decided never to leave Nice and he remained here his entire life.
The Massena Museum on the Prom The Negresco hotel by night The world’s most prestigious F1 of Monaco
If you like to make a little excursion with public transport, these are some of the nearest possibilities. You can also take advantage of the luxury to rent a car, a small car is recommended.
Visit in Monaco Monaco-Ville, this is the old town with the palace of Prince Albert II and the Oceanographic Museum which shows you one of the richest collections of live coral reefs in the most beautiful aquaria. In Monte Carlo you will find the glamour around the Casino of Monaco. Everybody needs to witness at least once in their live the Monaco Grand Prix Formula One race. Since 1929 this spectacular event in the streets (!) of Monaco has taken place each year in the third week of May from Thursday to Sunday. Since 1997, there has also been the Monaco Historic Grand Prix half May every two years.
Monaco, the world’s richest ministate, is just 20 minutes away by train. Or by bus this is only 1 euro from Nice! And you have stunning views of Nice-Mont Boron-Cap Ferrat during your trip. It sounds unbelievable, but it is true: all busses except the airport express are 1 euro within a 74 minutes trip. So go to Cannes, Antibes, Menton and Ventimille (the Italian destination) within easy access...
Between Nice and Monaco there are several beautiful villages such as:
The billionaire's bay of Villefranche Villa Ephrussi-de-Rothschild The mediaeval village Eze
by train to stop at beach level, 5 minutes trip) with its beautiful
bay, children’s beach, the village, the harbour. There is a lot of
parking place available near the beach.
-Beaulieu sur mer (by train or by bus): visit here Villa Kerylos, a villa built as an ancient Greek home; if you like to walk, then from here you could walk to or take the same bus to:
-St Jean Cap Ferrat. On this peninsula you can find the most expensive houses in the world.
At the top of the peninsula you can visit the Villa Ephrussi-de-Rothschild and its 7 theme gardens, all with a stunning view of the sea. There is a lot of parking place available
-Eze (please visit by bus from Gare routière as the train stops on the beach level and Eze-village would be a 550 metres climb): this is a must see beautiful mediaeval village perched high above the Mediterranean with its narrow streets lined with restaurants as well as artist’s and craftsman’s studios and perfumeries. There is also a famous cactus garden with spectacular views to the Corsica Island.
The beach in front of our apartment
Nice is international
In August 2008 the world’s most expensive house, which was built a hundred years ago by the Belgian king Leopold II, was bought for EUR 496,000,000 by a Russian billionaire. It is located between Villefranche and the beginning of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. Nice is very internationally orientated. In the past it belonged to Italy (in the old town of Nice you will actually think that you are in Italy).
After the English influence (they built the Promenade!) and of course the Rumanian Henri Negresco who built the world famous Negresco hotel where the most famous people as Madonna stay their night, Nice has undergone a big Russian influence as well. In the exclusive residential area behind the apartment you can find the Fine Arts Museum, which was formerly built as a palace for a Russian princess. There are Russian churches in town to be found and the Russian Cathedral is the most important one outside Russia. Nice can again count on great interest on the part of Russia today, which is shown by the advertisements serving to attract Russian entrepreneurs that have been written in the Cyrillic script.
A glimpse of the Russian Cathedral in Nice Miles Davis The Fine Arts Museum
Overwintering in Nice
Queen Victoria, King Gustav V of Sweden and many other famous people traveled to the south of France to take advantage of Nice’s mild winter climate and stayed in Nice during winter time. Nice enjoys an exceptional microclimate that has made its renown for two centuries.
to the sea, the city is protected from the wind by the surrounding
hills, to the West by the Esterel Massif and, to the Northwest by the
barrier of the Mercantour Alps.
The climate is always mild in winter and never too hot in summer thanks to the sea breeze. It is not rare to have lunch outdoors on a terrace on the Côte d'Azur wearing no more than a T-shirt in February when the rest of France is shivering in the cold.
Christmas in Nice
Nice Christmas: the whole month of December Nice is one big Christmas village with many Christmas spectacles every day.
Don't miss Nice during the Christmas period. Click to see the newest posts with label Nice Christmas on my Nice blog for more information about this year's theme and programme.
Carnival in Nice
two weeks in February, each day there is Carnival in Nice. Carnival in
Nice is a big event that attracts many visitors and tourists. In the
afternoon there is on the Promenade the 'Bataille de Fleurs', this is a
carnival parade that combines the splendour
of floats decorated with thousands of flowers with the irresistible
charm of lovely young models who watch over these moving gardens – in
every sense of word. Click to see the newest posts with label Carnival on my Nice blog for more information about this year's theme and programme.
Nice Carnival, the flower parade is also illuminated at night! In the evening the parade is beautifully illuminated!
Sun and ski in Nice
Snow and sun at less than 1 hour from the coast ! Nice offers an impressive paradox between the blue of the sea and the white snowy caps !... Summits of more than 3 000 m! Find more information about this on my Nice France travel blog.
Let this Nice travel guide make you travel to Nice France during the beautiful winter season. Renting a Nice apartment is definitely the way to travel, so have a look at our rental apartment in Nice. Our rates are already discounted for the winter season. But if you book three weeks during the November - February period, we'll give you an additional 15.5% discount.
Take advantage of our tips and read below our special outdoors & indoors travel guide of Nice France ...
What to do when the sun's shining! (that's most of the time!)
Nice is an outdoors city. With an average of only 4 rainy days a month throughout the year (London 12, Manchester 15!), a temperature that rarely goes above 90F in summer or below 40F in winter, it is an all-year destination as popular (and as lively) in winter as in summer. It does snow about once every ten years, but the last time was February 2010, so you should be OK until 2020!
Nice is a great walking city and many of our suggestions will involve footing it - but you can always relax on the beach or in an outdoor cafe.
If it's your first visit to Nice, and you don't have much time, you might find a guided tour useful. There are two possibilities, both close to the apartment. Cross over the Promenade des Anglais and head left in the direction of the port.
Opposite the Casino Ruhl on the Promenade you will come to the Petit Train (Little Train). This will take you through the old town and up to Le Chateau. A 40 minute trip costs €7 (children under nine €3). However, we don't really recommend it; it only covers the Old Town, the Chateau and the Port, which you'll probably visit anyway and we've never seen anybody looking happy on it - it's more bemused or embarrassed. How did we end up here? But if you don't mind looking like a tourist (or have kids with you), go for it.
A better, but more expensive, alternative (Adults €20, Children €5) can be found a few yards further on. The open-top double-decker bus gives a Grand Tour of Nice lasting 1hr 30min and gives you a much better idea of the city layout. From March to early November the service runs every half hour from 9.30am to 6.30pm; the rest of the year hourly from 9.30am to 5.00pm.
The service makes 11 stops and you can hop on and off anywhere you want. It includes Cimiez (Roman ruins and Matisse Museum) and the Acropolis (Museum of Contempory Art). If you pay €23 rather than €17 you can extend the ticket to two days.
Promenade des Anglais
It is the Promenade des Anglais which Nice is most famous for. This superb sea-front boulevard, always decked with flowers, follows the curve of the Baie des Anges and was originally a path just two metres wide. It was an Englishman, the Reverend Lewis Way, who had it built at his own expense in the early 1820s. The locals immediately named it the Chemin des Anglais. In its final form, two lanes of traffic separated by flower-beds and palm-trees, the "Prom" was inaugurated in 1931 by the Duke of Connaught (son of Queen Victoria).
The pristine facades, palm trees and blue skies that feature on postcards of this famous promenade are hard to believe - but the seaside walkway really is that sparkling-clean and exotic. The famous blue chairs appeared in the late forties, only to disappear in 2004 and make a comeback, welded together - allegedly to stop too many of them disappearing!
Including its extension, the Quai des Etats Unis, you now have eight kilometers (five miles) of easy flat walking. You can walk all the way and back in around three hours. If your feet can take it, your heart will thank you for it. So get your skates on, and join the throngs of glamorous Italian couples, haughty Parisians, eccentric retired Niçois dressed forty years too young, roller-bladers, joggers, bikers, families, everyone just taking a stroll down the Prom.
If you would like to see what Nice looks like now, go to the Nice Webcam (see links above).
photo by Hugues Lagarde
One of Nice's greatest pleasures is wandering the outdoor markets along the Cours Saleya. Blooms of every colour and shape burst to life. Row after row of spices beckon. There are grapes the size of golf balls and olives glimmering in the sun. Fresh fish are stacked in icy display cases.
Besides the vendors under tents, there are several shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants along the sides. Buy hats, tableware, tacky souvenirs or a cafe au lait.
The Cours Saleya is situated between Vieux Nice (Old Town) and the Quai des Etats Unis (continuation of the Promenade des Anglais). Bustling any day of the week, this one can't be missed. It serves as a flower and produce market every day but Mondays, when it becomes an antiques market. On summertime evenings, there is an arts and crafts market.
Here are the hours:
* Flower Market open 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, and 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
* Fruit & Vegetable Market open 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day but Monday.
* Antiques Market open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays (unless they are holidays or the eve of holidays).
* Arts & Crafts Market, from June 1 to Sept. 30, every day from 6 p.m. to midnight.
The Cours Saleya can be a delightful place for dining al fresco, provided you remember that it is a tourist area and you are there more for the ambience than the quality of the food!
Nice's old town is a delightful mish-mash of winding streets, lively squares and Genoese, Provençal, medieval and baroque architecture. It has plenty of cafés and restaurants and comes alive in the evenings, with places to booze and boogie.
If you want to see baroque churches, St-Martin-St-Augustin (the oldest church in Nice), St-François de Paule (baroque and classical), St-Giuame (also known as St-Jacques, l'Annonciation and Ste-Rita) and the elegant Chapelle de la Miséricorde should keep you busy.
Cathédrale Ste-Réparate (1650-80) in the area's central square, Place Rossetti, was built in honour of the city's patron saint; the steeple dates from the 18th century.
Palais Lascaris is a beautiful example of Genoese baroque architecture, and it's also home to an 18th-century apothecary and a museum of local history.
Old Nice is an ideal place to loiter, taste, smell and look around. It is a maze of winding alleys and very small streets with stairs covered by hanging laundry. A lot of small restaurants, exotic shops, cafes, open air stalls with sausages, cheese, pizzas, fruits confits and broiled sucking pigs, not to mention the Nice delicacy of Socca, a sort of chick-pea pancake! Look up and admire facades adorned with "trompe l'oeuil" and frescoes.
Just relax, wander and enjoy. And if you get lost, you'll soon get found again!
Colline du Château and Cascade
The best reason to visit "Castle Hill" is for the spectacular panoramic view of the city and sea. You won't actually see much of a castle (only a few sections of it remain). You can take the elevator (next to the Hotel Suisse on the Quai des États-Unis a few yards from Cours Saleya) up for €1.00 return or hike up the stairs for free to the park atop the hill. Be sure to bring your camera.
This is a shady public park where local families come to stroll and admire the panoramic views of Nice and the sparkling Baie des Anges. It's a great place for a lazy-day escape or to beat the heat on a summer afternoon, (when the spectacular waterfall is very welcome) and sometimes has open-air concerts as entertainment.
The château after which the hill and park are named was established in the 12th century but was razed by Louis XIV in 1706. In the one remaining tower, the 16th-century Tour Bellanda, above the eastern end of Quai des États-Unis, is the Naval Museum. The cemetery where Garibaldi is buried covers the northwest of the park.
Be prepared for the explosion of Castle Hill's canon at noon, said to have sounded at midday ever since the Scotsman Sir Thomas Coventry-More had it installed in 1861 to remind his wayward wife it was time for lunch!
The Port and a Boat Trip
The Nice Port area is one frequently overlooked by tourists, but it shouldn't be. Just around the corner from Old Nice and the Quai des Etats Unis, this is a great spot to watch the Corsica ferries lift off. There are also some of the city's hippest nightclubs here.
As usual there are plenty of cafes and restaurants, plus a daily flea market - Marché aux Puces.
Now is the chance to check out boat trips from the port. Trans Côte d'Azur (www.trans-cote-azur.com) have regular boat trips along the coast, plus stopping trips to the Ile Sainte Marguerite (a quiet island opposite Cannes), Monaco and St. Tropez.
If you don't want to walk to the port in advance you can get timetables and tickets from the Tourist Office at 5 Promenade des Anglais.
A Day on the Beach
Yes, the beach is shingle and not sand! While it's no good for sandcastles (get the train to Antibes or Cannes if that's a must), at least you don't end up with sand in every orifice! Remember to bring a pair of plastic sandals (or buy them locally) for walking and swimming and you'll hardly feel the stones.
The beach is divided into two sections - concession and public. The concession areas are easily recognised - row upon row of beach loungers complete with cushions and parasols. Anyone can use them, but the full package (including access to showers) will set you back about €15.00 per person per day.
The public beach, with cold showers at frequent intervals -is free. Just lay down your towel and yourself wherever you can find a space.
And remember, whichever part of the beach you choose, the sun and the sea are the same!
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral
The Emperor Nicolas II was partly responsible for financing its construction.
Inaugurated in 1912, the Cathédrale Saint Nicolas presents a superb harmony of pink bricks, light grey marble and brightly coloured ceramic. Crowned by six "onion-shaped" domes, it contains superb treasures : icons, woodwork and frescoes.
Inspired by St. Basil's Cathedral on the red square in Moscow, it is a reminder of the era when Russian aristocrats came to spend winter in Nice.
The cathedral is in a park setting, north of the train station, and is open to visitors as long as they dress appropriately: no shorts, sleeveless shirts or miniskirts, please.
Famous addresses on the Promenade
The Promenade des Anglais has many ancient villas or famous addresses. If you like to know some history about these buildings on the Promenade, then follow the link below.
Famous Promenade addresses
What to do when it's raining or dark (Yes, it does rain - occasionally!)
An average of only four 'rain days' a month!
You may like to note that Nice Municipal Museums are free of charge. Surprisingly, most of the Museums in Nice are open throughout the day from 10 am to 6 pm. However, with a few exceptions, don't expect to find galleries or shops open between noon and 2.00pm. In France, lunchtime is for lunch! Even the parking meters are free - who's going to check them at lunchtime?
Lunch at The Negresco
We don't recommend many restaurants, because it is literally a matter of individual taste and there are so many to choose from.
But if you are a gourmet we do recommend the Negresco's lunchtime "Menu Plaisir" offered by Chef Bruno Turbot (with a surname like that could he have become anything other than a chef?).
The interior of the Negresco, which opened at the height of the Belle Epoque, is well worth a look. The Negresco's ballroom-sized main public space has a glass dome made in Gustave Eiffel's workshops and a French chandelier ordered by Czar Nicholas II for the Kremlin (the revolution held up delivery, so it remained in France). The bellhops, hired for their youthful adorableness and beauty marks, wear red britches and white gloves. Instead of sneaking in and hoping you won't be ejected, book a table at the Chantecler for lunch.
The menu is available only at lunchtime Wednesday through Sunday, apart from a few special holidays. It is advisable to book in advance for a culinary experience you won't forget in a hurry.
Musée des Beaux-Arts
At the back of the apartment you can find the Fine Arts Museum. Permanent exhibition. In a beautiful private home built in 1876, vastes collections of paintings from the 17th (Italian in particular), 18th (Van Loo, Hubert Robert, Fragonard) and 19th (Romanticism, Realism, Orientalism, Symbolism and Impressionnism: Degas, Boudin, Dufy, Sisley, etc.) centuries. Major works by Chéret, Ziem and Van Dongen as well as sculptures by Carpeaux and Rodin. Temporary exhibitions
33, Avenue des Baumettes
Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., closed Monday and some holidays.
Museum of art and history (Palais Masséna)
In a splendid Belle Epoque setting, facing the Mediterrranean between the hotels Negresco and West End, the Villa Massena, which re-opened on 1st March, features contrasting landscapes both in intensity and character. This modern museum, houses collections over 1800 sq m on 3 levels and in 23 rooms, and favours a chronological, historical and thematic approach. The 15000 works of art of the museum, covering the most marking periods of the history of Nice from Bonaparte and the Napoleonic Empire (1793-1815) until the thirties, offer a rich and varied history of our city.
Open from 10am to 6 pm except Tuesdays. I definitely recommend to visit this museum when you are in Nice, it's just on the Promenade and a very beautiful palace with so much history. In the museum shop you can buy books about Nice. For 5 euros you can buy a book of the Promenade des Anglais with many facts and pictures.
Attracted by the weather, the scenery and the proximity of his friends (Picasso, Renoir and Bonnard lived in neighbouring towns), Henri Matisse wintered in Nice until his death in Cimiez in 1954. Well-known pieces in the permanent collection include Matisse's blue paper cutouts of Blue Nude IV and Woman with Amphora.
The Matisse Museum is Cimiez' biggest draw card. The museum's collection spans the artist's long productive life, capturing all of his creative phases and including drawings, bronze sculptures, oil paintings and cut-out canvases. The permanent collection is housed in a red-ochre, 17th-century Genoese villa overlooking an ancient olive grove and the Parc des Arènes. Temporary exhibitions are held in the futuristic basement building.
Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., closed Tuesday and some holidays. For annual closing: contact the Museum.
Internet : www.musee-matisse-nice.org
Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC)
Nice's pride and joy in the architectural stakes, the Museum of Modern and Contempory Art, specialises in French and American avant-garde works from the 1960s to the present. Glass walkways connect the four marble-coated towers, on top of which is a must-see rooftop garden. There's also an auditorium that regularly screens art-house films.
New realists figure highly, with many pieces by Romanian Daniel Spoerri and Arman. There's a gallery reserved for works by Nice-born Yves Klein (1928-62), and the ground and first floors are taken up with temporary exhibitions. For a breath of fresh air, the adjoining Jardin Maréchal Juin is worth a stroll.
Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., except Monday and holidays.
Internet : www.mamac-nice.org
Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall
This museum has not a free admission (being a national Musum). Housing the largest public collection of works by the Belarusian painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985), the museum was built in 1972 to hold the Biblical Message Cycle, a collection of 17 enormous canvases inspired by the Old Testament.
It boasts a very complete collection of Chagall paintings, gouaches, engravings, sketches, lithographs and stained-glass windows. Chagall's style is nothing short of magical: brightly coloured goats, violins and floating humans.
Chagall lived in neighbouring St-Paul de Vence from 1950 until his death.
Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. 1 July to 30 September and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. October to June (without interruption), closed Tuesday
Admission: 7,50 Euros - Reduced rate 5,50 Euros
Free admission on the first Sunday of each month
Internet : www.musee-chagall.fr
Musée et Site Archeologiques de Cimiez
At the site of Roman Cemenelum at Cimiez, Cimiez Museum of Archeology presents the tools, sculptures, pottery, engravings, jewelry and coins found here, and includes the outside excavations of the ancient baths and other buildings.
Address: 160 avenue des Arènes; in the lovely red building with trompe-l'oeil facades inside the park area.
Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., closed Tuesday and some holidays.
Musée International d'Art Naïf Anatole Jakovsky
This museum displays an international collection of art dating from the 18th century to the present day. Donated by Romanian art critic Anatole Jakovsky, the collection is housed in the beautifully restored Chateau Ste-Hélène in the Fabron district, built by Monte Carlo casino founder François Blanc. The building is very pink - you can't miss it.
The collection was once owned by the namesake of the museum, for years one of the world's leading art critics. His 600 drawings and canvases were turned over to the institution and made accessible to the public. Artists from more than two dozen countries are represented here-from primitive painting to contemporary 20th-century works.
Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., closed Tuesday and some holidays
Have a Flutter
Nice has two casinos, Le Palais de la Mediteranée and the Casino Ruhl, both on the Promenade des Anglais.
Both have large numbers of slot machines, open most of the day, and gaming tables - blackjack, roulette etc. which are open from 8 pm to 4 or 5 am, although there is little action before 10 pm.
Both charge entrance fees to the gaming tables, although not the slots, and require a reasonable standard of dress. Minimum age is 21, and, however old you are, you will have to show your passport to get into the gaming rooms.
Shop till you Drop
Nice is acclaimed for its shopping facilities and the best "dry" places are the Galeries Lafayette, a department store situated at the in the Place Messina at the end of the pedestrian zone and L'Étoile, a shopping mall about a quarter of a mile down Avenue Jean Medicin.
Before you load up with goodies at L'Étoile, carry on a few yards and visit the Basilique Notre Dame. Built between 1864-68, the largest church in Nice is the oldest of the modern religious structures erected in the heart of the new town after the Comté de Nice became part of France. The side aisles extend along the nave to form a deambulatory with radical chapels. Late 19th century stained-glass windows.
Panoramic view of the Promenade des Anglais from the terrace ... come here to stay at one of world's most famous addresses - Alexander Thijs
I have given
you only a taste of Nice's splendour and richness, now you have the
opportunity to let Nice delight you with its elegance, unique light and
mild climate. I have to tell you that it is my pleasure that you will
enjoy your holiday and I cannot wait to wish you a very pleasant stay
in this apartment! People will ask you if you walked along the
Promenade des Anglais. When you tell them you stayed on it and show
them your pictures of the Mediterranean view from the terrace, they
will be stunned. More than likely you will come back to discover more
and more of Nice, the heart of one of the world’s most highly prized
regions, the metropolis with thousand charms in all seasons.
Wishing you all the happiness that life and travel can bring, Alexander Thijs
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