Nice, France is the gateway to the Cote d’Azur. With less glitz than its neighbors to the south, Nice is a lively city and a prime location for exploring the rest of the Riviera. There are landmark hotels, stunning views of the Mediterranean from beachfront promenades and an elegant Riviera vibe. Here are some of the best things to see and do on your next trip to the south of France.
Sightseeing in Nice
The Opéra de Nice stands is one of the loveliest examples of 19th-century architecture in the city. It offers top-notch visiting performances of symphonies, ballet and opera. L’Atelier Soardi was once the workshop of Henri Matisse. It is now a private gallery with seasonal shows. Enjoy a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, taking in sweeping ocean views and belle l’epoque architecture. The Cathedral Sainte Reparate is a gorgeous example of gothic architecture and has many lovely paintings inside its ornate little chapels.
Nice is home to several Michelin rated restaurants. Chantecler, located along the Promenade des Anglais at the Hotel Negresco, has two Michelin stars. Restaurant JAN, L’Aromate and Flaveur all have one Michelin star. There are any number of restaurants and cafes in the many hotels and along the promenade as well as other Michelin starred establishments in towns along the Cote d’Azur.
Nice is a shopper’s paradise filled with designer boutiques, antique shops and street markets. The Galeries Lafayette is second in size only to its sister branch in Paris. The most famous fashion studios can be found on Rue de Suede and Rue Paradis and there are outlets of all the popular chains. There are many little art studios and antique shops surrounding the Old Town Cathedral and there is a large flower market that takes place at Cours Saleya every Tuesday through Sunday.
Nice may not have the glitz of Monte Carlo but it doesn’t lack the glamour of luxurious hotels. The Hotel Negresco was built in 1912 and houses an extensive art collection. It is listed as a National Historic Building. The landmark Le Palais de la Mediterranee boasts opulence and a wealth of entertainment opportunities, including a third floor pool and sun terrace with spectacular sea views. Hotel La Perouse has some of the best views of the city and the sea.
Cap Ferrat is a favorite holiday spot for aristocrats and millionaires. Visit the museums and gardens of the exquisite Villa Ile in France and the Grand Hotel du Cap, one of the world’s most beautiful palaces.
Antibes is a great day trip from Nice. Visit the Chateau that was once Picasso’s home, view multi-million dollar boats in the marina, take a drive around the Cap to see the villas of the rich or relax in one of the many bars and bistros.
Famous for the annual film festival, Cannes is all glitz and glamour. Enjoy world-famous shopping and stop for lunch at Hotel Martinez along the Croisette where celebrities are often seen.
During the summer months, St. Tropez is the place to see and be seen. Sandy beaches, gourmet food and sultry nightlife make this the place to be. Indulge in dinner at Alain Ducasse’s Spoon Byblos after a day of sunning with the beautiful people, then jump on the dance floor at Le Caves du Roy, both at Hotel Byblos.
The gorgeous village of St. Paul de Vence is home to priceless art at Fondation Maeght. In the 1920’s the village saw the likes of Matisse and Picasso working on their famous paintings.
Monte Carlo, famous for the Monaco Grand Prix, casinos, and Princess Grace, is the playground of the rich and famous. Here you can visit Prince Ranier III’s private collection of antique cars. Stroll along the harbor and view mega-yachts owned by the ultra-rich or try a game of chance at the world-famous Casino de Monte Carlo. Dine in Michelin-starred restaurants serving some of the finest cuisine in France. Monte Carlo is home to stunning hotels like the Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo, the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel and the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo.
There is so much to see and do on a vacation to the south of France and Nice makes for a great base to explore. Nice International Airport is only 20 minutes from the city center with convenient daily arrivals. You can rent a car at the airport or you can leave the driving and navigating to the professionals at Blacklane so you can sit back and relax immediately upon arrival. They offer airport transfers, limousine service and chauffer-driven transport in premium vehicles with experienced drivers. Whatever you choose to do in Nice no doubt it will be a vacation you will never forget.