We recently spent a long weekend in the French Riviera, and we chose Nice to be our base for the trip. Nice sits right in between Cannes and Monaco, so it provides a great base for exploring both areas.
Flights from the UK can be less than £100 per person, and we were lucky enough to find a great flight and hotel deal through British Airways. We stayed in a lovely, modern hotel right in the heart of Nice called Aston La Scala. All in, flights and hotel costs us just over £300 for the 3 days, which is pretty good value!
From the airport, we hopped on the number 59 bus from just across the road from the terminal area. You can catch the 98 or 99 directly from the terminal, but these are 6 euros each, whereas the 59 is only 1.50 euros per person! There are a few options for getting around on public transport, which is a good option as parking is quite sparse. A bus day pass costs 5 euros, or a 10 journey pass is 10 euros. The 10 journey pass would be a good option if you’re travelling around quite a bit. Just bear in mind that the passes might not work for travel to Monaco or Cannes. We found the 1.50 euro journey price pretty good value and spent very little on travel.
We loved Nice, and are really glad that we chose it as our base. Below are some of our favourite bits which might help you plan your visit if you are heading to Nice soon. If not, hopefully it will inspire you to visit!
French architecture is just beautiful, and from the minute we arrived in the centre of Nice, we were blown away. This crazy, eccentric checkerboard flooring covers the central square, which is surrounded by beautiful sherbert-coloured buildings. Those men on top of the poles light up at night too which was a cool little quirk!
I’d recommend just wandering around the coastal area and the nearby Old Town to find some of the beautiful architecture and to explore the quaint side streets. We spent a little time in the city centre and nearby the railway station, but found it quite lacking in beauty and culture, of which you will find in heaps down in the Old Town.
Look out for the crazy murals and facades dotted around too. This building’s windows and balconies are completely painted on!
Here’s a real one for comparison:
A short walk from the city centre will bring you to St Nicholas’ Orthodox Cathedral. Opened in 1912, the cathedral is the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. The cathedral was built to commemorate Nicholas Alexandrovich, the heir apparent of Imperial Russia, who died in Nice in 1865. Until 2010 there was a dispute over the ownership of the cathedral, but in January 2010 a french court ruled that the Russian State should hold the title. It is a stunning piece of Russian architecture, with a beautiful and intricate interior, and absolutely worth a visit whilst in Nice.
From Monday to Saturday there is a large flower market in the Old Town of Nice. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it is still a beautiful scene to stroll around, soaking up the pretty colours and enticing smells. There are also a variety of soaps, sweets and spices for sale which are all very tempting!
On Mondays, the area converts into an antiques market and is filled with all sorts of fancy trinkets and beautiful oddities.
The water on the South coast of France is hands down the bluest water I have ever seen. Even on a cloudy day, the water looks as if it has had vibrant turquoise dye sprinkled through it. The beach is pebble rather than sandy, however it’s still a beautiful area for a picnic or a nice stroll.
The views of the coastline are even better from above, and one of the best spots to look out across the water is from the top of Castle Hill. It’s a bit of a hike to the top, but there is an elevator which is free of charge outside of peak season.
At the top, you’ll find beautiful views across the coast, as well as ancient Roman ruins, archaeological sites, and a giant man-made waterfall.
The Old Town was easily our favourite area in Nice. With quaint little streets filled with bakeries and clothes stores, as well as plenty of little pubs and cafes, it is absolutely picturesque. We found a delicious pizza place called Pizza Pili, which has a huge menu of pizzas, cooked from scratch to order, all for only 7 euros. We ate here two nights in a row and took our pizza down to the beach for a romantic picnic!
The gorgeous little patisserie stores reminded me so much of Paris. Just look at this one – it all looks almost too good to eat!
You must, must, have lunch at Emilie’s Cookies if you find yourself in Nice. We had a bagel each with chicken and bacon, and filled to the brim with all sorts of other goodness. We also tried their ‘Milk Jagger’ milkshake (chocolate, banana and Nutella) which was heavenly. I loved the eccentric, colourful interior decor, and the fact that you didn’t feel rushed to leave. In fact, some people had pulled up a chair with a drink and their laptop and were working away the afternoon there!
Nice is packed full of character and charm, and little quirks and surprises lurk round every corner. Just look at these sculptures in one of the playground areas, aren’t they adorable? There is also a giant whale, some dolphins, and some crazy benches that swivel round on fixed tracks!
If you’ve been to Nice, what were your favourite things to do?