Nice: the Queen of the Holy Trinity of Côte d’Azur
I finally made it to France! It’s been forever since I spent half a day on Cote d’Azur back in high school and ever since I’ve been dreaming of going back for a proper visit. Although the entire coast is gorgeous and I’m sure each small town has its charm, I feel like Nice, Monaco, and Cannes form the “Holy Trinity”. And my story starts with Nice.
We flew to Nice and found good accommodation there, very near the train station, at Hotel du Midi. We opted for a room without breakfast included, so instead, we grabbed fresh baguettes each morning from the boulangeries nearby. There was basically one at each corner, so no chance of starving.
From the airport, you can take tramway 2 to the city center. The ride takes about 30 minutes and tickets can be bought from the far right end of the airport at 1.5 euro. You are required to stamp your ticket on entering the tram. The ticket is valid for 74 minutes from stamping.
A first look at Nice:
We got to Nice city center in the afternoon and walked around till we got to the seaside walkway: Promenade des Anglais. Nearby is the most popular market in Nice: Cours Saleya. Besides stalls with different products on different days (flowers, produce, fish, antiques), the place is also lined with restaurants. We sat down at Chez Freddy, where I had a giant Niçoise salad and my partner enjoyed 1 kg of mussels with fries. Both dishes were very tasty and I was surprised to like the salad so much since I’m usually not a big fan of salads. So, 10/10 I would recommend trying a Niçoise salad in its hometown.
After wandering some tiny streets in Old Nice we got back to the promenade, took more pictures, then slowly made our way back to the main street and the hotel to get enough rest for the following day, reserved for a visit to Monaco. But I’ll tell you all about that in part 2 of this story. For now, we’re sticking to Nice, where we also spent the last day of the trip.
Here are some things you can do while in Nice:
- Stroll down Promenade des Anglais
I’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s truly a must. And if the weather is nice and sunny as it was for us, it’s a delight.
- Visit the Matisse and Marc Chagall Museums.
Matisse was unfortunately closed while we were there and we were too exhausted for Marc Chagall, but if you are into art museums, you should definitely check them out.
- Go up Castle Hill or Colline du Château
This is a small hill at the end of Promenade des Anglais, with an artificial waterfall at the top. Besides the waterfall, you’ll get beautiful panoramic views of the city below. We went there on our last day in Nice and I enjoyed it very much. There are also some cemeteries you can visit and marvel at the angel statues all around.
- Check out Port Lympia
On the other side of this hill are the Port of Nice and a side of the city less populated by tourists, which is also worth a stroll.
- Hike to Parc du Mont Boron
If you cross the port, you’ll find another, bigger hill that holds Parc du Mont Boron and Fort du Mont Alban. If you have more time and enjoy outdoor activities, this could be a good option for you.
- Spend time at the beach
Although it was the end of October, the weather was very nice, with around 22 degrees Celsius during the day and no clouds, so many people were sunbathing or simply spending time at the beach.
What and where you could eat in Nice:
I told you about Niçoise salad, which of course, as its name suggests, has its origins in Nice, so what better place to try it than here? Most restaurants serve it, but I suggest you check out a few different areas before deciding on one, as depending on the location you’ll see some pretty big price differences.
On Sunday night we had dinner at a small french restaurant, right across from our hotel. We’re always looking for small restaurants, hidden on small streets, that usually only locals know about and this was perfect. Voyageur Nissart had a short, one-page menu with entrees, main course, and desert, about 4 of each. I believe the menu changes either daily or weekly though. We had a dish with fish on a bed of eggplants and I tried an interesting desert: figs in red wine – delicious. While we were there it got pretty crowded, so if you plan on going, better make a reservation.
But other than this, the main street has some restaurants along with big chain fast food places, Old Nice is full of many restaurants with many different cuisines, not just French and you’ll also find a conglomerate of eateries on Rue Massena, near the city centre.
And of course, let’s not forget about French pastries and the boulangeries – found at almost every corner, the smell of bread and pastries lures you from a distance and you have to try as many products as possible. Besides the morning baguettes, we also had the traditional croissants with butter and a tasty coffee cream roll.
Hope you’re not drooling as much as I am at this recollection. Stay tuned for our next stop: Monaco: one of the Kings of the Holy Trinity of Cote d’Azur – coming soon.