Aside from its magical beaches, wonderful climate and fantastic places to eat and drink, Nice has many must-see attractions. Here’s our run-down of the top 20.
The Roman Amphitheatre
Founded in the 1st century, the Roman city of Cemenelum was built on the hill overlooking the sea and was home to an amphitheatre and thermal baths. The amphitheatre isn’t as well-preserved as in other French towns – like Nimes or Arles – but is beautiful in its own right.
Nice’s Archaeological Museum
Visit the Archaeological Museum for an in-depth look at life in Roman times. It’s in two parts; one is outside with Roman remains and the other is a more traditional museum on the life and times of Nice’s residents throughout the centuries.
The Musée Matisse
Matisse – one of France’s most-loved painters – lived in Nice for much of his life and the Musée Matisse offers a wonderful look into his life because it is housed in the old villa where he lived for almost 50 years.
Musée Matisse, 164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, Nice, +33 (0)4 93 81 08 08
The Musée Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall was a local resident (of French/Russian descent) and painted much of his work in the region. He is well known for his interpretations of the Old Testament and the museum in Nice has many on display as well as his wonderful stained glass windows.
Musée Chagall, 36 Avenue Dr Ménard, 06000 Nice, +33 (0)4 93 53 87 20
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This grand boulevard was designed in the 1880s when people began to flock to Nice on holiday. Check out the Grand Hotel, the Majestic or Queen Victoria’s favourite, The Excelsior Régina Palace.
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Franciscan monks have made this monastery their home since the 16th century. The gardens offer a great chance to contemplate life and love and the inside has some wonderful frescoes on the ceiling.
Monastère de Cimiez, Place Jean Paul 2, Nice +33 (0)4 93 81 00 04
The cemetery is the final resting place of Matisse and French painter Raoul Dufy, as well as lots of British and American diplomats. It’s wonderfully grand with lots of intricately carved headstones and figures.
There used to be a working castle on the hill above Nice. Now it’s a nice place to have a picnic and watch the world go by. It’s a perfect opportunity for panoramic shots of the town.
If you want a little hike, head out to Mont Boron, the hill to the east of the town centre. You can swim on the way home or take the bus back.
Promenade des Anglais
This is one of the most famous boulevards in France – it stretches seven miles from the airport in the west to the headland in the east. Walk a little, have an ice-cream and then a seat in one of the distinctive blue chairs.
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Le Vieux Port (Old Port)
This is at the heart of any tourist itinerary because it looks so beautiful. Wander around the boats and stop for a coffee to take it all in.
Nice is celebrated for its pastel-coloured houses and winding, cobbled streets of the Old Town. Take the time to wander the shops and “lécher les vitrines” – window shop (literally, to “lick the windows”).
Named after a 15-year-old Palestinian girl who refused to denounce Christianity in the third century, this cathedral is the oldest and most ornate of the many places of worship in Nice. Sainte-Réparate became the patron saint of Nice, after her body was – so legend goes – blown by angels to Nice across the Mediterranean.
Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, 4 Rue Sainte-Réparate, Nice +33 (0)4 93 80 07 48
Flower Market (Marché Saleya)
Open Tuesdays to Sundays, the morning market is home to lots of organic farmers who come to sell their fresh, seasonal – and sometimes organic – produce to a rapturous audience. If you have gardening queries, there are always people on hand to discuss any green-fingered issues you might have. On Mondays, it turns into an antiques market, which is also well worth a look.
It’s one of France’s most iconic hotels and one of its most kooky, from the décor to the uniforms. The Negresco features in most movies that shoot in the south of France. Head to the bar for a lovely drink.
La Coulée Verte
Avenue Félix Faure and Boulevard Jean Jaurès are two very grand streets that begin on the seafront at Promenade des Anglais and sweep inland in a curvy symmetrical fashion. Between both roads, the whole area has been turned into a park with amazing playgrounds for kids. It’s the place to come for a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon to picnic.
Promenade du Paillon
In amongst the Coulée Verte, you’ll find the lovely fountains called Promenade du Paillon. It’s a great place to cool off in the summer months.
Museum of Modern Art (MAMAC)
Hotel Le Meridien Terrace
Situated on the famous Promenade des Anglais, the Hotel Meridien isn’t considered as full of character as some of the other hotels, but everyone loves the terrace on the ninth floor. Pay the price of admission by buying a drink, then sit back and enjoy the views along the coast.
La Réserve Diving Boards
La Réserve is a public beach, just a little out of town and well worth the walk. There are some old diving boards where locals still jump into the sea (even though technically it’s not allowed anymore) and it’s great fun to watch.