France’s fifth largest city, Nice, lies nestled between moneyed Monaco and the necklace of titillating towns that dot the French Riviera. The town is an ideal spot to situate yourself in southern France.
It boasts the best of the Mediterranean: a little la dolce vita here, from its Italian neighbor, and a flourish of Gallic extravagance there. After all, while most tourists are sunning themselves miles down the sandy strand, you can have this ever-modish Mediterranean metropolis just for yourself and the locals (well, OK, and a few other in-the-know visitors, as well).
In addition, just a short train ride down the coast, you can shine like a celebrity at Cannes, home to the planet’s premiere film festival, for a day and then make it back to Nice with plenty of time to enjoy the city before laying your head down on a comfy pillow at the luxe Boscolo Exedra Nice, Autograph Collection hotel. Tucked into the heart of the city, the property is ideally situated for exploring Nice and its environs.
So the next time you’re in Nice, here’s the lowdown on what to see, do, eat and drink (and where to day trip).
Promenade Your Presence
There’s no better way to introduce yourself to Nice than with a stroll down the famed, palm-lined Promenade des Anglais, the city’s main vein for seeing and being seen. Lined with 19th-century houses, the walkway’s purpose is to allow for aimless rambling in a carefree, Cote d’Azur manner.
In the 18th century, Nice became one of the places to get some sun, especially for the English, hence the name Promenade des Anglais, or “walkway of the English.” So do like a local (or like the ghosts of English visitors past) and look blissful as you stroll.
The Plush Plage
And if the view of the beach and water is just too alluring, gravitate to Ruhl Plage Beach Club, where you can lounge on a plush beach chair, the Southern French sun bronzing your flesh with each insignificant tick of the clock.
Or do it in Mediterranean style and rent a cabana for an extra dose of shade when you need it. If you have kids in tow, the beach club also offers a saltwater pool with a lifeguard on duty.
Occupied for a couple of millennia by the Romans and their ancestors, the Park du Château is perched high on a cliff, offering a sublime view over Nice’s red-tiled rooftops and the azure-blue sea.
On a super clear day, you might even be able to see the Alps. Plus, climbing the steps to the top will help burn off that pot of mussels or fish filet you just grazed on.
Oh, and there’s a castle, too. Well, sort of. Louis XIV razed much of the Roman and Medieval-era fortress in the early 18th century, but a few stone towers remain.
Morning with Matisse
Since time immemorial, artists have flocked to Nice and its environs in search of the sea and sun. Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and Munch, among many others, were all attracted to the area, as was Matisse.
You can visit the Musée Matisse, housed in a 17th-century villa about a mile and a half inland from the beach, where the artist’s paintings and other artworks are on display.
Afterward, pay homage to the artist by visiting his gravesite across the street at the Monastere Notre Dame de Cimiez cemetery. Or if Chagall is more your style, there’s a museum of his work, too, at the Musée National Marc Chagall.
Off to the Marché
Perhaps thanks to Nice’s fabulous weather, there are ample amounts of outdoor markets to explore. Why shop indoors when you can catch a nice Mediterranean breeze while looking at antiques and other goods of the Cote d’Azur?
The Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya, or Flower Market, is an eye-pleasing riot of colors and scents that is a good way to overload your senses with the good things in life.
If it’s Monday, you’re in luck: The weekly flea market is where you can pick up antiques, stylish vintage clothing and oddities of the past.
While it may be tempting to linger in Nice, pull yourself away for a day and head to Cannes, especially if you’re there for the famed film festival that takes place every May. After all, the 30-minute train ride from Nice to Cannes makes it a no-brainer.
There isn’t a checklist of things to see in this fashionable French coastal town. The thing to do is just be cool. Sit at a seaside café sipping Champagne on La Croisette, the curved promenade. Make a pilgrimage to the Palais des Festivals, the Cannes Film Festival HQ. And of course, take in a film. You’ll have had the perfect Cannes day trip experience before taking the easy train back to Nice.
As one would expect, Nice offers an enviable array of dining options. The cuisine of Nice is heavily influenced by the sea, of course, but it is also infused with a bounty of herbs as well as a splash of Italian influence.
Oliviera, open since 2000, highlights the award-wining olive oil that is being produced in the area. Arriving guests are greeted with a brief olive oil tasting to get their meal started.
For something less olive-centric, make a reservation at Les Deux Canailles (the Two Rascals), where Japanese-born chef Tsumoru Takano blends some techniques from his homeland with the top-notch ingredients of the Côte d’Azur to create a dinner that you won’t soon forget.
At Autograph Collection Hotels, storytelling is in our DNA. The Indie Film Project offers meaningful support to independent filmmakers from screenplay to production to in-room distribution, and celebrates the stories that inspire, provoke and connect us. Autograph Collection celebrates the Indie Film Project at Cannes Film Festival by hosting an Exactly Like Nothing Else bar and lounge at the American Pavilion for attendees to relax, recharge, and connect with industry-insiders.