While Paris is beautiful and rich in history, art, and culture, it tends to overshadow other parts of France. You’ve probably heard of Nice, the largest city in the French Riviera, and today we want to delve deeper into its culture and explore more than its turquoise water beaches.
Also called Nice la Belle (Nice the Beautiful), its Mediterranean climate and fine landscapes made it a popular vacationing spot to escape brutal winters by the English upper class in the later half of the 18th century. Nice boasts one of the warmest climates in the Mediterranean compared to its latitude, typically promising year-round sunshine. The beautiful city truly has something for everyone, whether it be lone travelers, families, or couples. With an ideal blend of old-world charm and modern day bustle, along with a strong art scene, active night-life, and unbeatable location, Nice is sure to impress.
Promenade des Anglais (The English Walk-way)
Spanning the coastal border of Nice, Le Promenade des Anglais offers a panoramic view of the Mediterranean coastline by foot, bicycle, or any other means of non-motorized transport you fancy. The promenade is dawned with iconic blue chairs and cabanas for relaxing and enjoying the sites. Several carnivals take place along the promenade during the year, drawing all attention to the coastline. Le Promenade des Anglais is the perfect starting spot for tourists to branch off towards other attractions. Wondering where is got its name? The rich Englishmen who vacationed on the beaches of Nice during the colder months suggested that a walkway be constructed to keep the beggars away from the shore.
Vielle Ville (Old Town)
Vielle Ville, one of Nice’s top attractions, offers a quaint and picturesque outing, adorned with historical sights, fantastic restaurants, and baroque vibe. Perfect for strolling and getting lost, Vielle Ville promises excitement both day and night. Wind your way through the narrow alley-ways and discover all the hidden gems along the way. While you’re there, make sure to try Nice’s national dish, socca; a pancake made from chick pea flour, olive oil, water, and lots of black pepper, baked on a cast-iron pan.
While exploring Vielle Ville, take a peek at Cours Saleya, a colorful fruit, vegetable, and flower market. On Mondays, you will find a bustling antique show. Make sure to get there (very) early!
We can’t boast about Nice without paying proper respect to its famous beaches. Sprinkled along the Bay of Angels, a distance of nearly 10km, the eye effortlessly travels along the curved shoreline bordered by turquoise waters and colourful building façades. You won’t find sand on these beaches however; the beaches of Nice are composed of smooth pebbles, transported from the mountains by three main river ways. So no, you can’t enjoy long walks on the beach, but as previously mentioned, that’s what the Promenade des Anglais is for! While many of the beaches are private and come at a cost, there are also several public beaches to take advantage of. Don’t forget your chair!
The Marc Chagall Museum, founded in 1973, is home to the best works of the Russian-French artist. The museum has a strong biblical theme, inspired by Chaggal’s religious and spiritual beliefs. Even for the non-religious types, this museum impresses with its stained glass works, sculptures, and paintings. The museum is not too grandiose, making it easy to explore the entire collection.
Devoted the the French Painter, Henri Matisse, this museum is simply picturesque. Of course, the works of Matisse are beautiful and always conjure up a crowd, but the museum is also equally as beautiful from an outside perspective. Matisse didn’t spend all his waking hours creating; he also enjoyed the simple pleasures of wining, dining, and outdoor living. His lively pieces are evocative of his life experiences. The French painter lived and worked in Nice between 1917 to 1954, and was heavily inspired by the landscape of the beautiful city.
Musée Terra Amata
Originally a prehistoric beach, Terra Amata is now an open-air archeological site located on Nice’s Mont Boron. Evolution buffs will find this site particularly exciting; tools dating from the Paleolithic age were discovered at this site, strongly suggesting that some of the earliest civilizations lived in what is now Nice, some 400,000 years ago. It is also hypothesized that the first discoveries of fire were made on this location. This attraction is great for kids and adults alike, and (bonus) is free of charge.
The fashion culture in Nice, as in the rest of the French Riviera is evocative of a nautical, European coastline vibe. Think typical French fashion, but with more skin. Loose-fitting and flowy garments, which are none-the-less sexy, are typically adorned, and accessorized with a chic sun-hat and casual slip-on sandals. Stripped patterns are always classic, as are lightweight cottons and linens. Look for styles which are predominantly white with a pop of vibrant colour. When in doubt, blues, reds, and whites are always in! We like to think of Nice fashion culture as beachy-ready, but with extra sophistication. Beachy-chic? Parfait.
Have you been to Nice?