With its prime position on France’s Mediterranean Coast, Nice is a super glamorous tanning destination in the summer months, as well as a pleasant location for some warm winter sunshine when the weather turns colder elsewhere in Europe. The year round appeal of France’s fifth largest city makes it a hugely popular spot for tourists from other countries and visitors from towns in northern France, such as Paris and Lille. The city is also a perennial favourite because of the broad range of activities and entertainment on offer, as well as the lively nightlife. If you are planning a trip then here are 10 ideas for things to do in Nice.
1. Hit the beach. Probably the most obvious pastime for a warm coastal city but one that draws thousands of visitors each year. The summer in Nice lasts six long, warm months but even outside of this temperatures often reach 20 degrees in Autumn and Spring. You have a choice of both public and private beaches on which to top up your tan in Nice – public beaches are free but without luxury and the private beaches have sun loungers, hessian ‘carpets’ to protect your feet from the scalding hot stones, as well as waiter service – as long as you are willing to pay for it. Of the private beaches, Blue Beach, Neptune Plage and Castel Plage come highly recommended.
2. Dine and drink al fresco –take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy some fresh air with your moules a la crème. There’s a huge range of pavement cafes, bars and restaurants in Nice – from very upmarket to simple and very French – many of which have outside tables, terraces and balconies. The Safari has a large outdoor dining area (http://www.restaurantsafari.
3. Get on your bike – as Nice is smack bang in the centre of the stunning French Riviera anyone staying here is well placed to explore everything the area has to offer. Hire a moped from any of the local outlets like http://www.holiday-bikes.com and set out on the coastal road for Cannes, Antibes or Saint Raphael. Alternatively, stay in Nice and explore the city on two wheels.
4. Take a stroll – Promenade des Anglais is one of Nice’s major centres and is a busy spot at pretty much any time of day. Grab a glace, browse the real estate agents windows for your make believe Nice hideaway, rollerskate, people watch or just stroll along the palm lined promenade and enjoy the sea views.
5. Sample the local specialities – whilst you will find all the usual French treats in Nice (patisserie, frites, croissants and chocolate chaud), there are a few drinks and dishes you can sample here that you won’t find in other parts of the country. Socca is a delicious pancake made of olive oil, chickpea flour and black pepper, or you can try biere pression Monaco, which is regular beer with a shot of Grenadine.
6. Get tipsy – whist it’s pretty easy to sample the local French wines anywhere in Nice, if you have an interest in grapes and blends then you might want to sign up for something a bit more informative. Organisations like Degustation Direct (http://www.
7. Go to the opera – the Opéra de Nice is a local theatre that has been staging productions of Faust and La Traviata since 1885 (http://www.opera-nice.org). Buy tickets online in advance and enjoy an evening of soaring sopranos in an impressively historic building.
8. Get some culture – as you would expect from such a key French city, there is culture aplenty in Nice. Whether you want to spend some time with the masters at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (http://www.mamac-nice.org) or the Musée Matisse (http://www.musee-matisse-
9. Party – the French Riviera is well known for its jet set crowd and whilst Nice may not have the exclusivity of St Tropez or the renown of Cannes, its party scene is one of the best on the coast. Karr (http://www.lekarr.com) offers a glamorous start to the evening, complete with champagne cocktails and in house DJ and Le Garand Escurial is the largest indoor club in Nice.
10. Go for the views – if you want some serious holiday snaps that don’t consist only of beaches and cocktails then the one thing you should do is climb Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau). If you can’t face the climb on foot then there’s a lift. Pack a picnic, a good bottle of wine and a camera and spend the day relaxing in the sun and taking in the views.