Nice, France, is a city that oozes class.
Located on the French Riviera, this little city of just 350,000 inhabitants is one of France’s most popular tourist destinations, second only to Paris.
Amid a myriad of fantastic restaurants, hilltop lookouts, and gorgeous beaches, visitors sip on cocktails and enjoy the views of the Mediterranean Sea.
While it is far from a budget backpacker’s dream, you shouldn’t let the glitz and glamour put you off – this place has something for everyone.
- Popular Things to do in Nice, France
There is a lot to keep you occupied here, whether it’s a weekend break or a longer trip with family or friends. Here are the top things to see and do on a trip to Nice, France.
- Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is a popular seven-kilometer palm-lined promenade, which winds alongside the beautiful Bay of Angels. With the beautiful ocean lapping nearby, and a line of private beaches and seaside restaurants opposing many grand hotels and parks, a walk along here is a wonderful way to get acquainted with Nice, France.
- Relax on the beaches
It may surprise you to learn the beaches in Nice are not as soft as you hoped for. However, if you can afford to lounge at a private beach, you will have waiters to cater to your needs, making it easy to get comfortable in the French Riviera.
- Explore the Old Town, Vieux Nice
The Old Town of Nice is a great area to visit during the morning market, where you can wander its winding lanes to window-shop or pick up craft products such as oils, soaps, and little souvenirs.
Here you can visit the famous Cours Saleya flower market – one of the most famous areas in Nice, France. If you come later in the evening, you can enjoy a cocktail or coffee as the place kicks into life.
- Hike to the top of Castle Hill
If you love the great outdoors, then you can escape the luxury and glitz in the city to climb the steps of Colline du Château, better known as Castle Hill.
Louis XIV saw fit to destroy the medieval building in the early 1700s. Today, the grounds are home to a popular park, on which many artifacts of Greek, Celtic and Roman civilizations have been found.
Take a walk up and see if you can find any ancient treasures. If not, just admire the wonderful panoramic views of Nice, France.
- Cycle around Nice, France
Perhaps walking up all those steps isn’t enough for you. An alternative is to jump on a bike and explore Nice and nearby areas on two wheels. There are plenty of guided tours, and then there are the popular Velo Bleu bikes, which are free city rentals available all over the city.
- Visit Place Massena and see the Notorious Sun Fountain
In Nice, France, there are few places as grand as Place Massena. The busy main square of the city is located just between the Old Town and the modern city.
A checkerboard ground is nestled between bold, red buildings, and then, of course, there is the spectacular fountain.
The Fontaine du Soleil, also known as the Sun Fountain, has caused quite a scandal in times gone by. When it was first unveiled to the public in 1956, people were less blown away by its beautiful marble design, and instead fixated on the massive statue of Apollo. In particular, they were focused on his astonishingly large member.
The furor led to some modifications, but even after the sculptor chiseled Apollo to a less shocking size, the statue continued to cause waves.
Eventually, the offensive monument was relocated in the 1970s, after considerable pressure from groups including the Catholic League of Feminine Virtue.
But decades later, Apollo returned, taking up residence again in Place Massena in 2011.
- Ogle the Art in Nice, France
With Nice, France has a city that has attracted artists from around the globe for centuries. Its wonderful setting, pleasant climate, and enjoyable nightlife combine to present a beautiful picture that has inspired many painters and sculptors.
Art fans can find a lot to admire here, especially in the three major museums in the city:
- Musée Matisse
Located in the posh district of Cimiez, this red villa is home to a huge collection of works by Henri Matisse. The artist came to Nice to recover from bronchitis and ended up bewitched by the beauty of the city. Living out the rest of his days here, he left behind a legacy of art that thousands flock to admire each year. See it at 164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez.
- Musée Marc Chagall
Although not as popular as Matisse, this museum is packed full of folk art, magic, and fantastic creations that are well worth making the trip to see. It’s on Avenue Docteur Ménard.
- Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC)
Opened in 1990, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has since accrued some 1300 works covering movements throughout the past 60 years. While contemporary artists such as Yves Klein and Andy Warhol are big draws in their own right, many people come here simply to enjoy the sweeping views from the rooftop. MAMAC is at Place Yves Klein.
- Sip Champagne and admire Art at Hotel Negresco
Immerse yourself in aristocracy for an afternoon by exploring the luxurious Hotel Negresco. After admiring the incredible artwork throughout its halls, finish your visit by enjoying a glass or two of champagne at Le Negresco’s Bar.
- Admire the Architecture of Nice, France
There is a lot more to see here in the French Riviera other than the great coastline and some art museums. Indeed, the creative side of Nice extends throughout the city, visible in some of the grandest buildings.
No trip to Nice is complete without exploring at least one or two of these fantastic structures, many of which have stood for hundreds of years.
- Learn about French History in the Villa of Palais Massena
While you’re near Hotel Negresco, you may as well make a stop by Palais Massena. History buffs will love this one, but even those who have no interest in learning about Napoleon can simply enjoy the gorgeous gardens around the restored Villa.
- Visit the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas
Built in 1912, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas boasts stunning spires and domes that leave visitors astounded when they see it. It truly is a fantastic feat of construction, and recent restoration work has made it look even more amazing. You can find it at Avenue Nicolas-II.
- Check out the Baroque Architecture
This beautiful ornate style of construction has survived here in Nice, France, since the 16th century. There are three building in particular that are worth making a visit to:
- Head first to the Palais Lascaris, the former home of the Lascaris-Ventimiglia family. This historic monument was built in 1648 and has since become a museum, allowing tourists to explore its wonderful salons and admire its decadent staircase.
- You’ll find it at 15 Rue Droite and can get a guided tour for €6 on Friday afternoons at 3pm.
- A few doors down at 12 Rue Droite is Eglise de Gésu. This church from the 1600s is full of little delights inside, making for a wonderful exploration with your camera and some friends.
- Last is the magnificent Chapelle de la Miséricorde. As one of the most amazing Baroque churches in the world, there is a lot here that will leave you awestruck. Get to 2 Place Pierre-Gautier to discover it all.
- Simply Relax and Enjoy the Lifestyle
There really is a lot to see and do in Nice. It is a city steeped in history and culture and laced with glamour and style.
It isn’t a trip for those on a tight budget, as that would only restrict your visit and result in sacrificing too many of the wonderful gems that the city offers.
Visitors here should come expecting to spend money and be prepared to go all out to enjoy everything they can.
Whether you’re here for a few days or a couple of weeks, you will surely have no trouble filling each day of your stay with visits to museums and markets, in between soaking up the sun and enjoying the city’s café culture.
Indeed, even with everything else there is to do in Nice, France, sometimes the best way to get a true sense of the lifestyle here on the Côte d’Azur is to relax.
All those museums and artwork are mighty impressive, but there is only so much that one person can take.
So, whether you spent a day behind the camera, or enjoyed a cycling trip around the city to check out its markets, take the time to settle by the coastline with your drink of choice.
Simply sit back and enjoy the sunset and see what the rest of the world has been seeing for centuries now.
You might just want to stay a little longer.