Nice is a place in France if you didn’t already know, (I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist the corny play on words because Nice is nice.) So nice. It is my most favorite vacation spot in the world. Here we will talk about Nice, and why it’s so nice (okay I’m done now.) Here is how to get there, where to stay, and the best day trips to take from here.
Nice is a beautiful city on the French Riviera in the south-east part of France (Cote d’Azur). It has been definitively ceded to France since the Treaty of Turin was signed by the Sardinian King and Napoleon III in 1860. Nice never actually belonged to Italy, but it belonged to what became the Sardinia Kingdom after Nice became part of France. So, it was kind of/soft of Italian. There is no confusion however in how great the Italian food is in Nice!
I find Nice to be a beautiful and peaceful city with amazing food, kind people, beautiful architecture, and a relaxing ocean view. It is a place I feel safe to wander alone in and have even eaten dinner alone here a few times, (well I tried to, the locals always joined me exclaiming it was a sin to let me eat alone!).
Getting here: Nice has a small and attractive airport not far from the heart of the city. I have taken both a cab and a train to the airport. Hint: Cabs are always much more expensive. I travel with a carry-on only, but if you have more luggage it might be worth the extra money to just take a cab from your hotel.
You can also get to Nice via TGV from Paris which takes about 6 hours. It is usually much cheaper to fly in to Paris so if you have the extra time in your trip it may be more cost effective to fly into Paris, stay a couple of days, then take the train to Nice. I have flown directly in and out of Nice as well as having gone to Nice in the middle of my trip to Paris. Going in the middle of my trip meant I had to take the train back to Paris the day before my flight from CDG. I wouldn’t do this again. Either fly directly in and our of Nice or fly into Paris and out of Nice with the train connecting your trip.
It is also not a far trip from western Italy and parts of Spain, seeing the whole Riviera is a trip to die for.
Where to stay: Mercure Nice Promenade des Anglais Hotel this one is shore-facing, is easy to find, clean, and provides a beautiful view. I’ve stayed in another hotel a few blocks back from the shore line, but I need to do some digging to remember exactly what it is called. Staying close to train stops and the shore is what I would consider to be an ideal location. Staying by the Marche Aux Fleurs will offer you a beautiful market and delicious bakeries.
What to do: 1) Take a stroll on “La Prom”. The Promenade des Anglais is the best way to start your stay in Nice. The pebble beach is a gorgeous view. Everything you will end up doing will branch off from where the beach is. For me it was the easiest way to figure out directions. Enjoy a glass of Rosé at Blue Beach and take it all in.
2) Visit Avenue Jean Medecin for some amazing shopping. This street is lined with shops, cafes, and perfumeries and is always picture worthy.
3) Head towards Place Massena which is the main square centrally located in Nice. Here you will see the beautiful illuminated fountain, the seven statues of the Messena square, and easily find a place to have lunch or dinner in the surrounding restaurants/bars.
The statues were created by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa. When I first saw them I thought they were cool buddhas but they are actually meant to represent the seven continents and the communication between today’s society. It is called “Conversation à Nice” and the most beautiful part is that the statues are illuminated every night. The colors of each change to show dialog between them. This is one of my favorite sights to see in Nice as I find the artwork peaceful and unique.
4) Indulge. I think when in Nice, if you’re not drinking rosé you should be drinking limoncello. Limoncello is a palate cleanser or “after dinner drink” but it surely can be enjoyed at any time day. I find the limoncello in Nice to be especially delicious. The rosé here is dry, inexpensive and pairs perfectly with pizza, poisson, or the summertime breeze. If you’re okay with anchoives be sure to try the signature Niçoise Salad (anchovies, Dijon vinaigrette, shallots, red peppers, fresh vegetables, potatoes and tuna). As well as Pissaladière (tart topped with anchovies, onions, and olives). I personally like Socca which is a crispy chickpea pancake (get it from Theresa Socca), Tourte de Blettes (tart topped with swiss chard, pinenuts, and raisins). And of course, the gelato.
5.) Take a spin on the merry-go-round. Have lunch at La Rotonde on 37, Promenade des Anglais. It’s a magical place to eat, see pictures in the link. It’s a pricey experience but well worth it to dine inside of a merry go round. This is me on an outdoor one nearby…
There is so much to see and do in Nice. It is one of those places that you can spend your whole vacation and be completely satisfied just staying in town. Below are some travel options for using Nice as a base.
To Paris: take the 5.5 hour TGV but it will cost you! (Remember, this is 605 miles away!!)
Nice To Cannes: 25 minute train ride, 25 minute bus ride on Line 20.
To Eze: 13 minute train ride for approx. $10
To Monaco: Line 100 bus ($2) will take 42 minutes or the train for approx. $11 will take 20 minutes. I HIGHLY recommend traveling to Eze then traveling to Monaco from Eze. Read more about day trips to Eze and Monaco here.
Nice To Saint-Tropez: your best bet is a 3 hour train ride for approx. $20.
To Marseille: 2 hours 50 minutes on bus line 20 ($30-50). For the same price you can take a 2.5 hour train ride.
To Moustiers-Sainte-Marie: Line 31 bus for 3 hours 44 minutes. Approx. $25 or a 2 hour car ride if you rent a car.
*All travel information can be found on rome2rio.com
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