The second most visited city in France.
Why, you may ask?
This is possibly due to the sun-bathed beaches that stretch along the Promenade des Anglais. Could also be because of the prime location, setting Nice in between star-studded Cannes and the glitzy Monte Carlo, Monaco. May also have to do with the city acting as a port city, hosting a large international airport, as well as heavy marine traffic.
Whatever the case, this bustling metropolis has made a name for itself that has kept tourists flooding through, year after year.
My relationship with Nice could be considered a quite close one, given that I lived so near to this city for the majority of my year in Europe. Just a 30-minute train ride away. I spent many afternoons strolling down Avenue Jean Medecin and drinking cappuccinos at the nearest cafés. It is a favored European past-time, sitting at cafés, and people watching. And as the great author, Kristin Newman, would say,
“I love to do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it.”
So, I ended up observing all the wonderers rushing past, deciding for myself who is French and who is a tourist. Let me note, the American vacationers always make this game way too easy…
Nice is always a lively, hot spot, night and day. The streets are bustling and often provide live music as you shop through the boutiques and name-brand stores. Upon sunset, the lights flicker on in the clubs as the beer taps flow. The streets become quieter, but the bars begin to fill with commotion and new found energy.
One can stay out til the first raise of sunlight creeps over Castle Hill. As the boozy-drunkenness begins to wane, the party animals can be comforted with the smell of the pastry shops baking the perfectly honey-drizzled, warm croissant that promises to soak up any vodka residue on one’s lips. (lol not that I’m speaking from experience…)
PSA: NICE IS NOT JUST FOR ALCOHOLICS AND RAGERS
You can literally go for a quality night out like this, in most major cities along the French Riviera.
Going off of that, Nice is for everyone. There are several beautiful tourist stops that make this city a prime location for museum junkies and history buffs. I have already mentioned a few of the major attractions, such as the famous beach Promenade, Promenade des Anglais. The Avenue Jean Medecin, that I mentioned above, is a beloved strip that stretches through the city, complete with a tram, for those who prefer to do the bare minimum. Castle Hill is a must, if you have the energy. A short hike to the top, and you have the opportunity to look out over all of the buildings. Everything the light touches can be yours… jk it belongs to France. At least, since 1861. You can read all about the history, in the Musee Massena. This is one of the many museums that enlighten tourists to the history and culture of the country. Palais Lascaris is my personal favorite of the Nice museums. It stands as a hole in the wall music museum, hidden in the narrow streets of Vieux Nice, a.k.a. Old Nice. The MAMAC is the largest and most beloved museum in the city, holding Modern Art pieces that anyone could be fascinated by (this building is not just for art buffs).
I will also mention the Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya (a flower market). This gem is set up every day by vendors from all over the city, as well as nearby farms. There are a plethora of goods to be sold here, from jewelry to fish, art work to lavender honey. This market will make you fall in love with both the vitality and inhabitants of the city. If you have made it to this area of Nice, it is highly recommended to meander through the adorable streets in Vieux Nice, as you will find the most delicious foods and the most intriguing window displays.
ON THE OTHER HAND, if people are simply here to take a chilled few days away from a busy work life, this location can cater to those needs as well. Skip the museums, skip the hustle bustle streets and the strenuous hikes. There is an endless expanse of sand, beach bars, and large striped umbrellas to take even the most anxious man’s worries away. Aperal Spritz is the drink of choice and if the only goals for a holiday escape, is to lay on a goose feather down duvet and shaded beach chair, this can be arranged. The most top-dollar hotels are just a coin’s throw away from the Mediterranean Sea. Put on some Gucci sunnies, order the ½ dozen oysters and pull out a Cosmo magazine, and one is set for a day of relaxation.
One piece of this city, I would suggest to anyone stopping through, is The Plage. This is a restaurant that juts out from the mainland and sits upon a natural elevated rock, in the water. What a sight. The staff is ridiculously friendly and the experience of drinking a glass of wine under an old diving board, is a memorable one.
Note to future Nice visitors: I can’t tell you how to live your life, but for everyone’s sake, avoid the urge to use the name of this city as a pun. I’m sure you can think of a wittier caption.