Discover Nice, the capital of the French Riviera
Visiting Nice and the beautiful Cote d’Azur for the first time really is an enchanting experience. We are aware that the AZUR is already comprised in the name, but still, if you see these fantastic, turquoise-blue waters covering the coastline of the French Riviera for the first time, it totally feels like an indulgent treat. The beauty of the Mediterranean alone gives Nice a luxurious, or maybe even “glitzy”, atmosphere. Glitzy as in the sunrays that hit the water and dance on the waves at the Promenade des Angles. Glitzy as also displayed by the many yachts and overall wealth that is constantly omnipresent when you spend time on the southern coast of France.
What you’ll notice as one of the loveliest characteristics of Nice, or at least that is how it presented itself on our visit, is that here France and Italy almost merge into one well mixed mélange. The close proximity geographically and culturally and the shared coastline merges only the best of both worlds. Such as the French elegance with the incredible effortless style of Italian women. Imagine beautiful ladies with large sun hats surrounded by the charming Niçoise architecture enjoying what is left of the grandeur of the Belle Époque while eating the most amazing gelato. La dolce vita meets je-ne-sais-quoi.
Nice la belle
The fifth largest French city is known for its beauty. The narrow streets of the old town painted in delightful red and orange become even more vibrant when hit by the ever so beautiful costal sunlight.And obviously the city’s signature salad is a true beauty as well! The Salade Nicoise is a very simple salad made with tomatoes, beans, eggs, tuna and potatoes. Also make sure to try the famous Ratatouille, a stew made with tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini squash. Charming little shops are scattered around in the center, but also outside Vieux Nice (how the old town is also called) the city is charming and offers photo-ops whichever way you turn. Especially the rustic shutters that grace every window make for super cool and artistic pics, even if your camera isn’t the greatest. Luscious parks, great museums and countless restaurants – there is something to suit everyone’s taste.
Luxury on a shoestring
But don’t you worry, you are not obliged to be rich to enjoy a good time at one of the most popular destinations in the world. At the turn of the century Nice was a very popular resort, even in winter, and while there, you can very well imagine that. As already mentioned, Nice is easy and comfortable to explore by foot. And when you are tired of walking you can also rent a bike or an e-scooter, as in almost any other larger city in Europe. Public transportation is also on the cheaper side, but within the city walking will mostly do.
Here are 5 things that are affordable but also luxuriously satisfying to enjoy while in Nice
1. Relax on the beachfront
The best seats right at the sea are free. The seven kilometers long Promenade des Angles is the largest sight of the city. People walk, run, bike or enjoy the free blue, metal chairs next to the sea. But you can not only relish in the beautiful views of the shore. There are amazingly large parts of public beaches you can use without paying any fees. Yes, these are next to a great number of exclusive beach clubs, where the rich and the famous pay up to 80€ for just one sunbed a day. So grab a matt and a towel and you are good to go and have a beach day at one of the most famous waterfronts of the world.
2. Enjoy some socca
After you’ve spent the day on the beach, or also in between, socca is the perfect treat. You don’t know what that is? Neither does anyone at first. You can imagine it as a thick crêpe made of chickpea batter that is prepared on a hot oiled oven plate. It’s delicious, savory and very filling. For about three Euros you get enough socca that counts as a meal. It is even gluten-free! Sure there are restaurants that serve it and special places where they serve the most brilliant versions with various spices or condiments. But “the real deal” is buying it directly from one of the many stalls across the city. It is served on a piece of carton and perfect to be enjoyed on the go. Grab a napkin and dive in!
3. Stroll the streets
As previously mentioned, walking around Nice is easy and does not cost you a thing. The many markets are colorful, tough obviously touristy, but still worth a visit. Make sure to visit the Cours de Saleya flower market that is one of the most famous ones. You’ll find fresh flowers, regional foods and snacks there. Also, it’s another good place for socca. Check out some of the markets during the week for a higher percentage of visitors and even lower prices. Nice also offers a large variety of huge parks within the city. All of them, such as the Park at the Place Massena is right in the city center and the Jardin du Monastere de Cimiez is also worth the visit. Walk up the Castle Hill of Mt Boron and you will have the best view, all for free. Don’t miss the adjourning waterfalls.
4. Visit the Hotel Negresco
The Hotel Negresco is another famous landmark of the city. It was built in 1913 and hosted legends such as Salvador Dalí, Grace Kelly and Elton John. This place is fancy as hell. The great thing is that you can just walk in and visit the beautiful entrance hall and the lobby and get a glimpse of the amazing art that is exhibited there. It’s a rather crazy mix of paintings, sculptures and furniture. The staff will nod and open the door if you ask to have a look inside. If you want to sip a cocktail at the famous porch, you need to recon with about 25€. If you still want to have a drink, they also serve non-alcoholic beverages and water.
5. Discover the surroundings
If you come to Nice, make sure to have some extra time to visit the surroundings. The Cote d’Azur is versatile, and its cities are very worthwhile to at least stop over. Antibes is opulent but also has a tiny fisherman’s church with beautiful model ships. Cannes is very glamourous too and probably the most famous city for a day trip due to its film festival fame. Feel like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby while window-shopping at the now very expensive shops of this former fishing village.
And Monaco… well, Monaco is Monaco. Meton is the last city before the Italian border. Visit the Saint-Michel basilica first thing in the morning, and then simply enjoy pasta and buy some of the most amazing sandals there. The Cote d’Azur offers a very well-established bus and train infrastructure, so all the places mentioned can be done traveling by public transportation.
It’s a Nice one!
With Nice it is like with so many pretty things. A glitzy and seemingly almost perfect facade can often distract us from taking a second, or a closer look. Why don’t you give Nice a second look and enjoy it from a totally down-to-earth and also super affordable side? Grab a towel and some socca and enjoy the perks of not having to spend a lot of money à Nice la belle.