One of the most famous cities on the French Riviera, Nice provides a good mix of relaxation, outdoor activities, and unique history with a distinctly French flavor. It’s a friendly, relaxed city, so far removed from the bustle and attitude of Paris that you may feel like you’re on the other side of the planet rather than the other side of the country! We arrived in the mid-afternoon after a looooong flight from New York->Dusseldorf->Nice (note: Nice is called Nizza in German, just in case you’re reading flight departure screens while sleep deprived like us).
- Promenade des Anglais: The English promenade–this area along the waterfront is the central tourist destination. There is a marked bike path running along the water that can take you all the way to Italy if you’re so inclined. What we found quite remarkable is how none of the bikers got angry when the bike path was blocked by hapless tourists, they either waited or just calmly went around the offenders–everybody is just so relaxed! You can also catch some sun or enjoy some swimming on the pebble beach. A bit tough to walk on compared to sand, but it has its own charm. We were fortunate enough to experience excellent weather (~70F/22C) during our trip. During the summer months there will always be some event going on along the promenade–there was an Italian festival set up when we were there, which gave us a bit of nostalgia for our Italy trip just a few months ago. Rating: 5/5
- Le Jardin Albert 1er: Jardin Albert 1er connects to the Place Massena (city square), and then extends into the Promenade du Paillon, all of which form a nice park/walkway that separates the old town from the new town. Unbeatable in terms of people watching–enjoy watching people get sprayed by water at the Miroir d’eau! There was a rock band performing at the Theatre de Verdure, which we listened to without actually paying for a ticket to enter. Great for an afternoon stroll–combined with the Promenade des Anglais, you can make a loop around the old city.
- Golden Hour at Port Lympia: Also known as “Le Port” (which means The Port), this is the old port of Nice located directly east of the old city. Docking a yacht here costs a cool 6000 euros per month (let me get my checkbook…). Extremely photogenic during golden hour as the sun sets over the castle hill to the west (Colline du Château). Rating: 5/5
- O.E.P: Pan Bagnat €4.50 Pan Bagnat is the specialty of Nice, France–whole wheat bread, Nicoise salad, eggs, tuna, olive oil. We stopped by a small shop called On Est Pressé in the old town to grab one of these. Rating: 4/5
- Fenocchio: 1 scoop for €2. The original is at Place Rosetti, but you can find these gelato shops all over the city. Not quite Italian quality in my opinion, but still a solid choice for ice cream. We ate here at least once per day while in Nice. Rating: 5/5
- La Villa: €20 for pre-fixe menu. We stopped by La Villa after wandering through the old town late at night. Most places seem to have a standard prix fixe menu which includes traditional Niçoise food. I tried practicing my rusty high school French and made it pretty far in the ordering process before communications broke down and we had to switch to English–well, I tried! Some of the specialty dishes we tried were La Daube Niçoise — beef braised in wine, and Soupe de Poisson — literally, “Fish Soup”, and Gnocchi de tantifla a la nissarda — a local Nice specialty based on the famous Italian gnocchi pasta. Rating: 3/5
- Apartment in Old Town: The apartment layout was bizarrely almost identical to an AirBnb we stayed in Venice–maybe this is how most old-town European apartments are styled? Right in the heart of the old city, this place was actually super spacious for our needs. It had the usual “old building” smell that’s prevalent in historical buildings but the place more than met our needs. The only major drawback was that it’s a fourth floor walkup (for us Americans with a more sensible floor numbering system, this is a lie–it’s actually the fifth floor), and the building is located up a hill–which I could imagine would get pretty old if you lived there for a long time. Still, in spite of that, we’d probably stay here again, as the apartment itself was clean and spacious, it’s in the middle of old town, and it’s a ~3-4 minute walk to the Promenade. Rating: 4/5