In my recent post about Monaco, I mentioned that it is an easy day-trip from Nice! It only seemed natural then to write about Nice as well. Nice is a beautiful coastal town in Côte d’Azur, the French Riviera. There is so much to do and see in Nice, from it’s pebbled beach up to the Monastère de Cimiez!
This is the first place that I ever took a solo overnight trip! There are cheap TGV tickets using Ouigo if booking ahead of time with flexible dates. Throughout my stay, I met many generous and kind locals who gave me great advice and directions!
Here are some of the highlights while visiting Nice:
Along the Coast
Colline du Château
Don’t be deceived by the name Castle Hill – you won’t find a glamorous castle up top, just the ruins that remain. The view from Castle Hill over the coast and rooftops of Nice just cannot be beat. There are also cathedral ruins and an artificial water fountain. There are three ways to go up Castle Hill: by foot, by elevator ($), or by Tourist Train! It sounds very cheesy (and it is) but these little trains start at the beach and make their way up the hill, giving some information on the city and sites along the way. I enjoyed the train, but if I went again I would try to walk! There are stairs leading up from both Promenade des Anglais and Place Garibaldi.
Promenade des Anglais
Promenade des Anglais, the paved walkway along the beach, is great for people-watching. It follows the entire coastline of the Baie des Anges, or Bay of Angels. The water is absolutely stunning and the beach is the perfect place to lounge. The promenade is lively both during the day and at night!
The port has a combination of commercial boats for trade and fancy yachts. There are a lot of bars and restaurants along the port which is a perfect spot for a drink or meal. There are ferries at the port that go to Corsica or Sardinia. On the other side of the port is Notre-Dame du Port, a place of prayer for sailors.
This market near the old port is well known and worth a walk through! Marché aux Fleurs is a large flower market, but they also sell fruits and veggies in the earlier part of the day. The market started in 1897, where they sold flowers to wholesalers to deliver across Europe by train! The flower market is closed on Mondays, where an antiques market takes its place.
The largest square in Old Town, Place Massena has more modern architecture than the surrounding areas. The Fontaine du Soleil features Apollo, the god of sun, which is very fitting for this sunny city! The square has a lot of shopping outlets and a tramline running beside.
This colorful square is filled with restaurants and outdoor seating. The church in this square is from the 13th century and definitely worth a walk inside!
This square is an easy walk from the top of the port. Place Garidbaldi was built in 1773, while Nice was part of Italy. You can see the heavy Italian influence in the architecture.
Monastère de Cimiez
The Monastery is not very close to the main part of the city so it is best accessible by bus. The bus stop is located just beside the Arènes de Cimiez, the Roman arena ruins. The monastery dates back to the 16th century and has gorgeous paintings on the ceiling. There are gardens just behind the monastery that offer another gorgeous view of the coastline and mountains.
This museum is close to the Monastery, surrounded by a beautiful olive tree garden. The museum has one of the largest collections of Henri Matisse works. Matisse spent more than 17 years living in Nice before passing away. He is buried in the Cimiez Cemetery.
I left L’Estaque because of the wind, and I had caught bronchitis there. I came to Nice to cure it, and it rained for a month. Finally I decided to leave. The next day the mistral chased the clouds away and it was beautiful. I decided not to leave Nice, and have stayed there practically the rest of my life. – Matisse