Nice is in the south of France. The Queen of the French Riviera, which the French call ” la Cote d’Azur” (Azure Coast or Blue Coast). It is a wonderful city with lots of charm and character; a mixture of French and Italian cultures where the people are easy-going and friendly even if you don’t speak French.
Although you might think it is a summer resort, you can visit Nice at any time of the year and still have a good time. If you happen to go in the winter, you will be surprised to see flowers in their numerous parks and gardens. Nice has a Mediterranean winter, so the temperature stays around 40 to 50 degrees during the coldest months but if you like skiing, ski resorts such as Valberg and Isola 2000 can be reached by car in one or two hours. If you go in the summer, get ready to share the city with lots of tourists. The popular streets where most restaurants and cafes are, can get crowded, but they can be a lot of fun if you enjoy people watching; and since most of the streets are closed to traffic, it is not hard to just walk around and enjoy the upbeat atmosphere.
Nice has a major airport and its close location to the city makes getting there a cinch.
Things to see in Nice:
Promenade des Anglais
The Victorian English residents of the 1800s provided the funds to build the beautiful boulevard, hence its name. It is a wide avenue that follows the bay’s coastline and it’s lined with beautiful palm trees and flowers.
Beautiful and glamorous, it is located at 37 Promenade des Anglais and if you are not rich enough to stay there, you must go and see it.
Winding narrow streets with Italianate buildings painted in earthly colors describe this old part of the city. You will enjoy strolling, people watching, and quaint little shops full of charming Provencal crafts.
Marche aux Fleurs
Located on the Cours Saleya, the flower market is open Tuesday through Sunday, 7 am-5 pm, but if you decide to go, check with your hotel for the hours of operation. You can also have lunch or dinner there, where a large variety of restaurants set up tables and chairs outside where you can dine in a pleasant and fun atmosphere.
Marc Chagall Museum
If you like modern art, you can catch a glimpse of the painter’s most important collection. The hours of operation vary depending on the season so check with your hotel clerk before you go.
Nice is so well located that you can take half-day and full-day trips either by car or by public transportation.
Where to visit in the South of France
Easily reached towns by car or public transportation are Monaco, Eze, Grasse, St Paul de Vence, Cannes, and St Tropez.
A symbol of glamour and elegance, Monaco sits on a beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Its most famous town Monte Carlo, has much to offer with its casinos, boutiques, and exotic gardens. Don’t forget to visit the village of Monaco, located high on “the rock” as it is affectionally called by the locals. It is a charming town with shops and cafes and a wonderful view of the sea.
This small medieval village perched on a hill is a must-see. Both tourists and artists flock to Eze during the summer months because of its picturesque setting and magnificent views. If you are staying in Nice, you can make it a half-day trip or just stop there for lunch and continue to Monaco for a full-day trip. If you are feeling rich, have lunch at the Chevre d’Or. The restaurant offers fine cuisine and breathtaking panoramas. The restaurant is only open for lunch.
Considered the perfume capital of France Grasse is a small hilly town with beautiful parks and panoramic views. If you go to Grasse, you must visit the perfume factories. The biggest is Parfumerie Fragonard. An English-speaking guide will show you the process of extracting the perfume from hundreds of pounds of flower petals.
Provence has long been known as an artist’s haven, attracting such masters as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, and many, many more. It’s easy to see why: with its wide, expansive rolling hills and warm stone villages, the pleasures of Provence unfold like a beautiful painting. Add in outdoor markets, excellent wine, and scene-stealing natural wonders, and you might as well have the perfect vacation destination.
St Paul de Vence
A picture-perfect medieval town, sitting on top of a hill, St Paul de Vence has been painted by many artists and photographed by thousands of tourists. It is located 19 miles from Nice. Enjoy a meal at the famous Colombe d’Or Restaurant or sip a beer at an outdoor cafe while watching a local game of petanque.
Cannes sits on the shores of La Napoule bay, surrounded by a backdrop of Mediterranean hills. While Nice has the Promenade des Anglais, Cannes has la Croisette Boulevard, an elegant promenade, lined with palm trees and gardens. Cannes hosts the famous Cannes Film Festival every year and it is most favored by celebrities. So if you go, make sure to do a lot of people watching, because you never know…
Once a small fishing village, St Tropez is now a summer place for the jet set. Its setting on the southern shore of France made it attractive to turn-of-the-century artists who were then followed by writers, poets, and eventually movie stars and their fans. It is now internationally famous.
If you’re ready to learn more about the South of France, be sure to join us on Tuesday, June 1st at 8 PM ET as we get a firsthand tour of Provence. You can make your reservation HERE!