France’s fifth-biggest city, Nice on the Côte d’Azur attracts visitors from far and wide with its spectacular scenery, Mediterranean climate and lively cosmopolitan feel.
Named after the English visitors who began flocking to Nice in the 18th century, the celebrated Promenade des Anglais is still one of the city’s main attractions. Join the locals for a strolls along La Prom, or rent one of the famous blue deckchairs to admire the view over the Bay of Angels.
As you walk along the Promenade des Anglais, look out for the palatial Hotel Negresco – long-established as one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, the property is now listed as a national historic building, and will celebrate the centenary of its opening in 2013.
Elsewhere, Nice has no shortage of impressive buildings and spaces. At the opposite end of the Promenade is Place Masséna, the city’s most imposing square, crisscrossed by modern trams and surrounded by pleasing Italian architecture. To the north west, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, consecrated in 1912, is one of the city’s finest buildings, with its pink brickwork, soaring spires and onion domes.
As you’d expect, Nice has no shortage of lovely cafés and restaurants, offering a rich mix of local cuisine – such as the famous salade niçoise – alongside foreign dishes to suit all tastes. The pedestrian street running parallel to the Promenade des Anglais – known as the Zone Piétonne – has plenty of places to eat and drink, including some great street cafés where you can watch the world go by over a coffee or dessert. Alternatively, there are plenty of eating (and shopping) options along the narrow streets of Vieux Nice (Old Nice), or in the city’s bustling and colourful markets.
Over the centuries, Nice has attracted some illustrious visitors, with Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall among the famous painters who have been captivated by the city’s colours and quality of light. Today, both are the subject of dedicated art museums (the Musée Matisse and Musée Chagall), showcasing some of the paintings that were inspired by their visits. Certainly, art lovers will find much to enjoy in Nice – in the whole of France, only Paris boasts more galleries.
Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) is just four miles west of the city centre, and is connected to the city by regular Airport Express buses. As well as serving Nice itself, the airport is the perfect gateway to the wider French Riviera, including the resorts of Cannes and Menton, and the Principality of Monaco.
Nice is an easy two-hour flight from London Heathrow, with services running all year round; there are also plenty of seasonal flights from regional airports across the UK, including Birmingham, East Midlands and Newcastle.
So, whether you plan to soak up the summer sun, or follow in the footsteps of those first English visitors with a winter break, Nice is a perfect destination – easy to get to, and with so many sights and sounds to soak up once you’re there.
Photo credit: Bubblefish
For more ideas, go to the official Nice and Côte d’Azur tourism site.