Nice is one of the sunniest cities in France – with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, and often warm enough to dine al fresco in winter, it’s a great place to visit. There’s loads to see, do and fall in love with but here are my top ten things to do in Nice:
1. Nice Market
One of the most famous markets of the south of France is Cours Saleya in the heart of the old town of Nice. The food market takes place from Tuesday to Sunday (morning) with the freshest most beautiful fruit and veg and amazing street food. It’s a symphony for the senses – the scene of spices, cheese, street food and fresh fruit are a memory to cherish…There’s a flower market too on Sunday making the whole place smell of blossom. On Mondays there’s a huge sprawling antiques market.
2. The Chateau of Nice
Not exactly a chateau, it’s actually a park on top a hill, the castle having long gone. Head here for sensational views over the city and port surrounded by sweet smelling pine treas. Sigh over the sight of the Bay of Angels and enjoy a picnic in the fresh air and spectacular botanical gardens.
3. Socca – it’s not a game!
Nice is a gastronomic city and one of its finest offerings is socca. It’s a sort of pancake made from chickpeas and the Nicois are crazy for them. At the market, local socca seller Theresa is a celebrity and you may have to wait in line to be served – but it’s worth it. The socca chips are also absolutely delicious!
4. Classic luxury
The pink dome of the Hotel Negresco is an iconic landmark of Nice. This palace of the French Riviera is home away from home to celebrities and royal families from around the world. Nip to La Rotonde bistro for a taste of luxury that won’t break the bank or the famous bar for an expensive cocktail and a chance to view the incredible artworks on display here.
5. The Old Town
Wander the narrow and winding lanes of this ancient town and simply admire the colourful buildings, ancient shops, tempting shady squares and fabulous café lifestyle.
The Promenade de Paillon is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun, a park and promenade with water jets and fountains, it’s a favourite with the locals to while away the hours.
7. Swim in the sea
The Mediterranean water is clear and turquoise coloured . Take a dip and cool down on the town beach (which is stony) or head to one of the local beaches if you want sand.
8. Nice Carnival
Noisy, colourful, fun and crazy. Every February, huge parades of giant kings and thousands of dancers and musicians fill the Place Massena, not to mention flower fights! This is 15 days of utter magical mayhem.
9. Matisse Museum
A short bus ride or healthy walk from the old town, the Matisse Museum is located next to the Roman ruins of Cimiez. It’s a fascinating exhibition of the artist’s work that takes you through the evolution of his style from the first painting he did which is rather ordinary to his extraordinary vibrant creations.
The choice of restaurants, cafés, bistros and places to eat is overwhelming but brilliant in Nice. One of the most fun places you’ll find is round the Cours Saleya, the market place. There are dozens of restaurants here, tables and chairs spilling out onto the sunny terraces, often accompanied to the sound of live music. Nip into the alleys of the old town and you’re really spoiled for choice. Don’t miss A Buteghinna, 11 rue du marché, run by three friends (Sophie, Marcelle and Evelyne) this is where you’ll get true Nicoise cooking – just like maman used to make!