FRANCE, TRAVEL

What to do with a Weekend in Nice, France

weekend-in-nice-france

So you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway in the sun by the sea? How about a weekend in Nice, France?

Being on the French Riviera, Nice hits all the boxes in terms of places that are easy to get to, has almost guaranteed sun, plenty to do for the culture creature, the beach bum, the foodie, and you’re sure to have a great time.

I live in Nice and have had a place here for 10 years, so I’m going to give you my Insider’s Tips on general arrival and accommodation information, and loads of things to see and do during your weekend in Nice. Heck, I’ve included enough for a month! And if you’re wondering whether Nice, France is safe to visit, I’ve spelled it out here.

Want to know where to have a late afternoon lunch when many other restaurants have taken their mid-day siesta? What about wine… what should you take home and where can you get it?  What’s on for live music? Everything you need for a great weekend in Nice, France.

Check out the Best Instagram Spots in Nice and the Cote d’Azur!

Paragliding in Nice

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Why Not a Weekend in Nice, France?

Contents

Nice is the 7th largest urban area in France, with a population of 350,000, and it’s easy to navigate in just a weekend. You could easily spend a lifetime discovering this part of the Cote d’Azur, but, barring that, there’s plenty to do and see with just a weekend in Nice.

Nice is lovely and strange at the same time. Oftentimes, people just use Nice for its airport, while moving on to other more luxurious towns along the French Riviera. I know lots of people who fly into Nice, head straight to Cannes for a conference, then fly back out without spending any time in Nice. It’s a shame because you should spend at least the weekend in Nice, if not more.

Nice looking up Jean Medecin
Nice looking up the tram route on Jean Medecin

How to get to the center of Nice from Nice International Airport (NCE)

Nice Airport Bus

Nice’s airport (Code: NCE) is on the west side of the city right on the Mediterranean, and is only 3.5 miles from the center of town. Outside both Terminals 1 and 2 you can catch the Number 98 airport bus. The bus is $7 one way and will drop you off on spots along the Promenade des Anglais, at the top of Old Town Nice and by the port. Buses leave every 20 minutes. Follow the signs, since the departure location has changed because of renovation works at the airport.

Local Ligne d’Azur buses

Insider’s Tip: You can catch a local bus if you have your bearings about you. To be honest, the local Ligne d’Azur buses make many of the same stops along the Promenade des Anglais as the 98 Airport bus, but at a fraction of the cost. Local buses cost about $2 one way (€1.50) so be sure to have some Euros in your pocket.

Once you exit Terminal 1, go out to the main road. You’ll find a local bus stop to the right. Take Bus 23 to go toward Nice Ville train station, or Buses 52, 59 and 70 to go along the Promenade des Anglais to Albert I and Cathedral/Old Town. This is a cheap way to travel from the airport, but buses can get busy depending on the time of day.

Tram Line 1 at Place Massena

Nice Tramway Line 2

Another cheap way to get from Nice Airport to town is via tram. In 2019, the new Line 2 of the tram started operating. Currently you can go from Terminals 1 and 2 to stops parallel to the Promenade des Anglais all the way to tram stop called, Magnan. The remainder of the route is still under construction and should be working in late 2019 to connect you from the airport all the way to Nice’s Port. We all can’t wait for that to finally open!

Nice Tram Line 2
Nice Tram Line 2 – currently only goes from Nice airport terminals to Magnan stop.

Taxis from Nice Airport

Taxis are located outside each terminal. Just follow the taxi rank. Taxis are hugely expensive for the distance they take you. It will easily cost $40 to go from the Airport to Old Town, and it my opinion it’s not justified. At night it will cost you even more as they slap on a night fee. I only take a taxi if the other options above are not viable – mainly late at night.

Insider’s Tip: If the airport is slammed with people and seemingly few taxis, just ask the crowd if anyone is going in your direction. You can easily split the cost.

Transportation while you are in Nice

Again, the bus and tram will be your best bets for traveling around if you are not on foot. Go to one of the tram stops and buy yourself a 10-ride ticket for €11.50. If there are two of you, you can validate your ticket twice on any bus or tram. This is a great way to get around especially if you want to go up to Cimiez area to the museums, or hit the fruit and veg marketing up at Liberation.

Insider’s Tip: Taxis here don’t linger around waiting for you to hail them. If you need a taxi, go to one of the 4*/5* hotels and see if there is one outside.

Another Insider’s Tip: Uber is here too, but find an easy place to be picked up, for instance a monument, fountain or restaurant. I find the drivers are not well versed with street addresses.

Where to Stay for the weekend in Nice, France

You want to be close to everything and where the action is, so stay either on the Promenade des Anglais (the beach area of Nice in red below), in Old Town Nice (yellow area), the Port of Nice or north of the Paillon (areas in green). You’ll be able to walk to restaurants and bars and won’t have to rely on transport.

You can Download here any number of local Nice Maps to get your bearings.

Nice France tourist map

Hotels in Nice

Nice is not short on hotel accommodation. Whether you are looking for luxury hotels, mid-range or budget hotels, you’ll find a variety of hotels in Nice to fit your budget.

But if you are coming all this way, why not stay at a hotel smack-dab in front of the beautiful Mediterranean? I did and that was the demise of me. I fell in love with the location so much that I decided to find a property here. That may happen to you, too! You’ll be surprised that many of these hotels in Nice are not all that expensive, and they have beach bars and restaurants right out front.

You can simply walk out the front door, cross the street and you are on the beach! If you want a simple, lazy weekend in a luxury beach hotel on the Mediterranean, you’ll find plenty here.

Insider’s Tip: Nice’s beaches are pebbled and hard to walk on. Bring aqua socks if you plan to swim otherwise you’ll be buying them here.

The beach map of Nice, France
Nice’s Beach map – the beach names change, so check for updated information.

5* Luxury Hotels on Nice’s Promenade

Some of the best luxury hotels in Nice front the famous, ‘main drag,’ the Promenade des Anglais. This is the main road that hugs the Mediterranean Sea going from the airport to the front of Old Town Nice.

Some great 5*hotel choices with sea views are: Hotel Meridian, The Negresco Hotel, and the Palais de la Méditerranée (which is also a Hyatt Regency).

 

Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée
Meridien Hotel La-Terrassee-Rooftop-Lounge
Meridien Hotel La Terrassee Rooftop Lounge ©Le Meridien

4* Hotel Accommodation on the Mediterranean in Nice

Some super 4* beach-front hotels in Nice are: Hotel Suisse, Westminster Hotel and Spa, Hotel West End and The Hotel Beau Rivage. There is also a 4*Radisson Blu on the Promenade that’s in between the airport and Nice, but for me it’s just to far away from the center of town. And unless you want to eat all your meals in the hotel, restaurants in that area are not all that great.

Hotel Suisse Nice France
Hotel Suisse is at the base of the Chateau of Nice
Hotel Westminster Promenade des Anglais Nice France
Hotel Westminster Promenade des Anglais Nice France

3*Hotels in Nice on the Promenade des Anglais, and budget hotels in Nice

Le Royal is a great 3* hotel for convenience and budget. It’s right on the seafront and prices start around $75. There are quite a few Ibis hotels throughout Nice, which are also very budget friendly. You’ll find some in the Port, near Place du Pin and in central Nice.

Hotel Le Royal Promenade Nice France
Le Royal is a great 3* hotel right on the Promenade des Anglais

Places to visit during your weekend in Nice

The Chateau of Nice

Nice’s roots started in the citadel above the city on what is called, Castle Hill. It dates from the 11th Century and there are visible ruins of the ancient medieval city, which was dismantled by Louis XIV in the early 1700’s. Residents could easily keep an eye on intruders coming by sea from this location on top of the hill.

Views of the Old Town from Castle Hill
Views of the Old Town from Castle Hill

There are lovely lush green spaces to wander around. Stop and visit the Christian and Jewish cemeteries if that intrigues you, and there’s  a children’s play area and a petanque field.

Measuring Petanque
You know it’s serious when they’ve pulled out the tape measure…

You can refuel at one of the snack bars up there, otherwise, take a picnic and sprawl out on the grass. The views are spectacular as you see Nice’s port on one side, the Promenade des Anglais on another, and the center of Nice toward the mountains on another. And there’s a man-made cascade there that’s great for cooling off in the spray. It’s really something serene up there.

You can either walk up via stairs on 3 sides, take an elevator up to one area near Bellanda Tower, or you can walk the winding street where the cars travel.

Walkway up to Castle Hill in Nice
Walkway up to Castle Hill in Nice via street

Visit the many Museums in Nice, France

Artists have had a long love affair with Nice and the Cote d’Azur. Frankly, many of the most famous artists have spent some time on the Cote d’Azur. They were drawn by the warm light, the stunning landscapes of the French Riviera, the hues of the buildings and the sea.

I would have loved to have been around during the time of Matisse, Picasso, Chagal, Monet and others, but I wasn’t, so I can only see their works of art in the various museums in Nice and nearby. There are lots of opportunities to see galleries, exhibitions and outdoor art all over Nice.

Open air artwork with pigeon poo
One challenge with open-air artwork in Nice, is that the pigeon’s don’t give a shit…or do they?

Insider’s Tip: Keep in mind you can get a Nice Museum Pass, which will give you unlimited access to museums for a 24-hour or 72-hour time period. Check and see if the museums you want to visit are included. Many are. If you are a museum lover and this is your plan for the weekend, you absolutely must get a Museum pass. Here are a few museums to visit in Nice and the surrounding area:

Palais Lascaris

Palais Lascaris is a Baroque aristocratic building developed in the early 1600s. It now houses France’s 2nd most important musical instrument collection! You’ll find over 500 instruments inside. Great for history buffs and music lovers. The architecture is just very cool, if you love Baroque style.

Palais Lascaris Interior
Palais Lascaris Interior

Matisse Museum

This guy needs no introduction. Post-impressionist, Henri Matisse first came to Nice in 1917 and lived here for 37 years later in his life. He even lived in the Beau Rivage Hotel for a time, just like Chekhov and Nietzsche did before him. He’s noted also for living in a stunning building at the end of the Cours Saleya (also called the MarchÉ aux fleurs), which is where the popular daily market is held. Can you imagine running into these people in your hotel or the market, albeit not as famous as they were, well after, you know…

Matisse's home on the Cours Saleya
Matisse’s home on the Cours Saleya. He lived on the top two floors at different times.

The Matisse Museum is up in the Cimiez neighborhood of Nice. You’ll find one of the world’s largest collections of his works in a lovely 17th Century villa surrounded by beautiful gardens. You can walk up there on a nice day. Otherwise, there are a few buses that head up there.

The Charles Negre Photography Museum

This photography museum is relatively new to Nice. At the Charles Negre Photography Museum you’ll see exhibitions on some of the biggest names in photography. You’ll also see the progression of early photo making to today’s digital processes. As well, it will be a canvas for local photographers to assist Nice in documenting current, urban landscapes, historic and human heritage. Check out their expositions. There’s bound to be something of interest. Located at 1 Place Pierre Gautier in Old Town.

The Chagall Museum

Like Matisse, Chagall was another resident of this area, living in Vence for some 35 years. The Marc Chagall Museum in Nice is dedicated primarily to his religious works. There are nearly 30 paintings of biblical stories that are owned by the city of Nice, and with other private contributions, the museum holds one of the largest collections of Chagall’s works around. Like the Matisse Museum, the Chagall Museum is up in the Cimiez area of Nice.

Picasso Museum

While not in Nice, if you are an art aficionado, head to Antibes to the Picasso Museum. It’s located right on the seafront at the Chateau Grimaldi – you can’t miss it. Picasso spent nearly 30 years on the South of France, and there’s not only a Picasso Museum, but also a National Picasso Museum in the village of Vallauris where Picasso spent several years as well. You can see more than 20 paintings and more than 40 drawings that Picasso left to the museum. Other private contributions have been added to make visiting the Picasso museum a truly amazing day of appreciating his talent.

Picasso Museum in Antibes
Picasso Museum in Antibes

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice

MAMAC, as it’s locally known, opened in 1990, just off Place Garibaldi. It hosts modern and contemporary art from the post-war era. You’ll find 1300 pieces from 300 artists, the most famous being from Yves Klein, who invented blue monochromes and anthropometries. The latter refers to Klein’s use of nude female models who applied paint to their body then pressed up again a wall or canvas. There are several temporary exhibits each year, so if you haven’t been in awhile, you can go back and see something new.

Renoir’s home is in neighboring Cagnes-sur-mer where you can see various works of art, and his studio that still contains easels and paintbrushes.

Stroll the Promenade des Anglais

No trip to Nice would be complete without strolling the famous Promenade des Anglais. This is the ‘main drag’ in Nice and the promenade has changed numerous times since it was first built in the 1800’s, but it’s a great paved walkway with seaside restaurants below on the beach. It can be massively busy, but it’s the thing to do. You’ll find Italians coming from Liguria just to spend the weekend in Nice. They love to stroll the Promenade. The Promenade extends about 4.5 miles from the airport to Castle Plage.

Walk the Promenade des Anglais
Walk the Promenade des Anglais

Wander the meandering streets of Nice’s Old Town

Old Town Nice, or Vieux Nice as it’s known, was the next settlement populated after people moved down from Chateau Hill. At first you will probably get lost in the various small streets and lanes that somewhat look alike. Much of Old Town is pedestrian, so it’s easy to walk, but it’s quite easy to find your way. The sea is to the south, the Chateau to the east, and the tram line to the north. There are some magnificent buildings you’ll come across, many from before 1600.

If you are interested in a free walking tour, see below.

Head to the port to admire the yachts

Another free thing to do in Nice is head to the port and admire the yachts. The port is not all that large and there are not a ton of yachts, but you can wander down by the big boats and imagine what it would be like to be on one. You also find the ferry boats to Corsica there, as well as the regional boat that will take you to Monaco, Cannes, Antibes and St Tropez.

Yachts in Nice's Port
Yachts in Nice’s Port

Russian Orthodox Cathedral

The beautiful St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral is the largest eastern Orthodox cathedral in western Europe. It opened in 1912 and actually belongs to Russia. Tsar Nicholas II funded the building project to serve the growing Russian community that settled in Nice in the late 1800’s. There are parts of the Cathedral you can view, and it’s magnificent inside. But as with any Cathedral, you need to be properly dressed. Entrance is free to get in and you can’t take photos inside.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Things to do over a weekend in Nice

Rent a Boat without a License and go out into the Bay

There are a number of places along the Cote d’Azur where you can rent a boat without a boating license! This is very cool if you want to be on the water, but aren’t a licensed pilot. From April to mid-October, these small boats take up to 4 of your friends and you can enjoy a smashing day out in the bay. You can’t go out too far, but when the weather is fabulous who needs to hit the high waves. There are rental areas in Nice at the port, and in neighboring Villefranche (5 min bus ride from Nice), in the port.

Boat you can rent in Villefranche - ©DarkPelican
Boat you can rent in Villefranche – ©DarkPelican

 

Take a Nicoise Cooking Class

Nice’s cuisine is quite heavily influenced by Italian and Provence flavors. Why not dig in with a cooking class to learn first-hand just how Nicoise cuisine differs? There’s a great cooking store that’s also offers cooking classes. At the, Cuisine sur Cours, near Liberation Market, you can do a mini course, a food lover’s dinner course, a market shop and cooking class, and you can even learn how to make macaroons, among other delicacies, in their pastry class! Whoa… sign me up! They even offer classes suitable for children and teens.

If stepping foot in a kitchen sounds more like pain than pleasure, you can always do a Cultural and Walking Tour of Old Town Nice. This walking tour of Old Town Nice stops at 10 different locations allowing you to sample cheeses, wines, olive oil and even ice cream. Hmmm. That’s easy!

Rent a GPS NiceCar

You know you want your hair blowing in the wind as you glide along the curves of the French Riviera, just like Grace Kelly, and NiceCar will let you do just that. You can rent these open-aired, GPS-navigated, 3-wheeled trikes for 2.5, 4 and 8 hours. This is such a super thing to do over a weekend in Nice. You’ll get to see a lot at your own pace.

NiceCar Riviera
©NiceCarRiviera

You can go as far as your full tank of gas will get you. This might include Eze Village, Grasse, Menton on the Italian border, and even Monaco. Though I can’t help but think I’d feel foolish rolling up to the Monte-Carlo Casino meanwhile a Lamborghini or Maserati want to get past me. But hey, stand up and gesticulate with your hands and they’ll move out of your way. They’re open every day but Wednesday in the quiet season. Otherwise, every day. Very cool way to travel around Nice and the neighboring villages.

Take a Le Grand Tour on the Hop-on, Hop off bus

I’m not going to hide my love for the Hop-on, Hop-off Bus. I’m a big fan of these in any city I visit, simply in that they show you what you should see. Get a 1- or 2-day pass and one full tour takes 1 1/4 hours. You can then get off and on where and when you like. There are 16 stops, and from May to November, the bus also stops in Villefranche to pick up cruise ship passengers. I will admit, sometimes the commentary can be a bit sparse, the sound of the headphones might be a bit crap, and the music overbearing. But for the bits and pieces you do get, it’s well worth the $26..

Some people think this is transport for the geriatrics, but when it’s like 150 degrees outside, you’ll be glad I suggested it. I personally love these types of tours. The Hop-on, Hop-off is a great tour to show you what you should see.

Go on a Segway tour

Segway tours can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of them. They are a bit unnerving at first if you’ve never driven/ridden one, but the guides are there to help you learn how to navigate. Once you get a taste, you won’t want to get off your Segway. It’s such a cool way to zip around on the Promenade.

Take a day trip via boat to St Tropez

Seeing St Tropez is a dream for a lot of people, but I can tell you it’s a mega schlep to get there unless you go by boat. You could go by train, to a remote station, then wait for the bus that drags it’s ass through staggering summer traffic. Don’t do that. Go by boat to St Tropez. It’s way more scenic, relaxing and chic. You can say, ‘Yeah, we took the boat to St Tropez.’ No one will know you went with 100 other people, but it’s thee way to go.

St Tropez from the water
Beautiful St Tropez from a boat

You’ll stop in the ports of Antibes and Cannes, and swing by the beautiful Lerin island of Sainte Marguerite on the way to St Tropez. It’s a beautiful coastal tour that starts at 9a on the Quay of Nice’s port. They have a little kiosk and the boat is parked there. You arrive in St Tropez at 11:30 and have until 4:30p to wander this pretty little village, have lunch and burn a hole in your pocket. You’ll be back in Nice by 7p, just in time for Apero. The boat leaves most days, but check the schedule as it changes. Current round trip price is $70. It’s a steal of a deal for a full day tour.

Trans Cote office where you buy tickets to St Tropez
Where you can walk up and buy boat trips to St Tropez in Nice.

Go on a free Walking Tour of Nice

There are lots of free things to see and do in Nice, and one of them is taking a free Nice walking tour. This 2-2.5hr tour starts at the Apollo Statue in Place Massena and gives you a pretty comprehensive tour of the Old Town and surrounding areas. You’ll stroll through Place Massena, the Old Town, including the daily market at Cours Saleya, and part way up to the Chateau to visit Bellanda Tower.

Since it’s free, it may be busy or quiet, but book your space online. You only have to tip your guide what you think it’s worth. There’s a tour daily except Sunday from Feb-October. Then 3 times a week in the Nov, Dec and Jan.

Try your Chance at a Casino

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay. If you want to try your luck, there are a couple of casinos in Nice I can recommend. Casino Ruhl, also called Casino Barrière, attached to Le Meridien Hotel on the Promenade is said to be the most profitable casino in Nice. That could only mean that the house sucks up your money.. Keep that in mind. I heard that from another casino manager.

Casino Ruhl in Nice.
Casino Ruhl in Nice.

Otherwise, head to the Hyatt’s Casino Nice. I’ve not heard great things about the winning potential here either, but hey, it’s on your doorstep! Again, remember to gamble responsibly. Casinos are not in the business to make you rich… Set a limit, have a good time, and then walk away.

What to eat in Nice and where

Nicois restaurants

As I mentioned, the cuisine of Nice is not French, perse. It’s Nicoise. There was a lot of shuffling of Nice back and forth between France and Italy over the centuries and I think they just couldn’t figure out what they were. There are a lot of Italian influences and a mixture of peasant food that goes into this cuisine.

When someone says, Let’s go for Nicoise, my immediate reaction is, ‘Shit, I’m going to come home hungry,’ because it doesn’t appeal to me. I explained it some in my Is Nice, France Safe to Visit article. But when one of the traditional dishes is called, Dog Shit, you have to wonder just what the hell this cuisine is all about. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people love it, but I don’t get what the appeal is. Some of the most noted Nicoise restaurants are below.

L'Escalinada Restaurant in Old Town Nice
L’Escalinada is a popular Old Town Nice restaurant with lots of Nicoise specialties.

Taca d’Oli

35 Rue Pairoliere in Old Town has been around for a long time when owner Roberto used to greet guests with a  cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Today it’s run by another crew but still serving the same Nicoise favorites of Fish stew/Marmite des Pecheurs, Bagna Cauda, petits farcis niçois, Salade Nicoise, and more.

Chez Acchiardo

38 Rue Droite in Old Town – This place is a cute Provence-style bistro that is wildly popular. People flock to sample Veal Provencale, Daube, Fish stew, lamb and seafood wrapped around Mediterranean flavors. The presentation is lovely, the restaurant is charming and their desserts are fantastic. Insider’s Tip: Get there early or make a reservation.

Acchiardo Resto
Acchiardo Resto in Old Town Nice

Lu Fran Calin Restaurant

Located at 5 Rue Francis Gallo, in Old Town. This is probably one of my favorite Old Town Nicoise restaurants because their menu is so varied that you can also order lots of other Italian-inspired dishes. The serve beef, risotto, pasta, gnocchi along with the standard Nicoise, ‘Tomato, basil Dog Shit’ (Merda di Can), Daube and Petit Farcis Nicois. Check out their menu.

Lu Fran Calin Terrace Old Town Nice
Lu Fran Calin Terrace Old Town Nice

Best Socca spots in Nice

Socca is a traditional Nicoise recipe of chick pea flour made into a pancake that’s seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s quite bland… ok, it’s like salt and pepper cardboard to me… It’s not my favorite, but people say they just have to have Socca. Fine. The best in town is Chez Pipo on 13 rue Bavastro near the Port. They’ve been in business 100 years and you can get a plate of Socca for a whole $3.50.

Nicoise Sardines and beignets
Traditional Nicoise fare – Sardines and beignets

Another popular joint is Rene Socca in Nice Old Town at 2 Rue Miralheti. They’ve been written up in every Tom-Dick-and-Harry guide book so the lines at this counter-service snack bar can be ridiculous. The only benefit is that you can order your socca, sardines, stuffed peppers and then take a seat across the Rue and have a glass of wine to wash it all down. It’s cheap and cheerful and you’ll be there with 300 of your friends – mildly exaggerating.

Socca at Rene Socca
Scrapping Socca off the pan at Rene Socca

Another stop in Old Town is Lou Pilha Leva at 10 Rue du Collet. Besides Socca, you can get Mussels with fries, Pan Bagnat (like a Salade Nicoise in a bun – soggy), Beignets de legumes (fried vegetables) and more. Reviews of this place come high and low and I’m not surprised because this place gets packed, as well. They have a couple of terraces out front where you can sit on picnic benches.

Lou Pilha Leva in Old Town
Lou Pilha Leva in Old Town

Where can you eat in Nice in the middle of the afternoon

Many restaurants in Nice shut down in the afternoon. It can be quite annoying, but when you understand there really is a lull in patrons in the afternoon you can understand. But that doesn’t help when you’ve just arrived and you are starving. But don’t worry. There are a variety of areas where you are bound to find a restaurant open.

Head to Place Garibaldi and you’ll find Cafe de la Place serves from noon til 11pm. The same for Giuseppe & Pepino’s. They have coffee in the morning and meals from midday on. Hippopotamus is a chain, but you can get a decent steak and fries any day of the week or a platter of cheese and meats.

Otherwise, head to Zone Pietonne, the pedestrian street, off Place Massena. You’ll find a number of restaurants there that are open all throughout the day. The same goes for the restaurants on the Cours Saleya (market street). You’ll find quite a few open. Again, it may not be haut cuisine, but your stomach will be satisfied.

Best Gelato shops

For me, hands down, it’s Gelateria Azzurro in Place Rossetti. It’s on the south side of the Santa Reparata Cathedral. Don’t confuse it with the ever popular, but overrated, Fenocchio, with lines out the wazoo! Gelateria Azzurro has, by far, the creamiest and most authentic gelato in town.

Some selections of ice cream at Azzurro Glacier
Some selections of ice cream at Azzurro Glacier

Another spot, a Roman favorite, is Grom. It’s located in the Zone Pietonne, but this clearly doesn’t have the same appeal it does in Rome. I’ve seen lines out the door for gelato in Rome, but somehow in Nice, it’s not widely recognized. It’s good none the less.

Grom Gelato Rome
Grom’s Gelato – very tasty!

Best Pizza place in Nice

Again, hands down, it’s Les Amoureux on 46, Rue Stalingrad on the opposite side of the Port. Thank God Italians have come to Nice! This place can be difficult to get in to, but the pizza is fantastic. They started off in a little hole in the wall behind the church in the port, then moved to a bigger spot on Rue Stalingrad. The wife is the pizza maker and the husband is the waiter. Quality Italian pizza right here in Nice.

Barring that, I’m going to go out on a limb and say try Rossopomodoro on the Cours Saleya. It’s an Italian chain, but I’ve not had a bad pizza there.

Cafe de Turin exterior
Cafe de Turin by Place Garibaldi

Best Oysters and seafood in Nice

Head to Le Cafe de Turin on Place Garibaldi. This place usually has lines out the frickin’ door. So much of their menu I can’t decipher because my French seafood vocabulary is not great, but they put together the most impressive platters of fresh seafood you’ll find in Nice. Their menu is intimidating and I truly can’t get my head around it. Here’s their menu! Good luck!

Oysters at Cafe de Turin Nice Place Garibaldi
Oysters at Cafe de Turin Nice Place Garibaldi

They’ve been around for 100 years and you can get raw seafood as well as cooked varieties. You won’t go home hungry, and your pockets will be a bit lighter. It’s quite amazing and they have indoor seating and a terrace that spills out onto the place. You can’t miss it.

Which wines should I buy from this part of France?

The Var region, to the west of Nice, has some of the oldest vineyards in France. Here they produce Côtes de Provence, Bandol and Côteaux Varois wines. They’ll come in red, white and rose. For me, they are all quite light and easy to drink whether for an apero or with your meal.

Wines at Caves Caprioglio

When you order a glass of house wine, more often than not you are getting a Côtes de Provence wine. Head to the local supermarket or the Nicolas Wine shop and ask for a good Côtes de Provence, Bandol or Côteaux Varois wine and you’ll be taking some liquid Provence home with you.

Insiders tip: If you’re not familiar with wines, there are a couple places I will suggest. First, go to a place called, La Cave Du Cours (24 Rue Barillerie in Old Town). This wine cave is so frickin’ cool. It’s a small place with indoor seating for maybe 30 people. They have all their wines along the wall with their prices written on the bottles. You pull a bottle, tell the guy to open it up and then they serve you non-stop bread, prosciutto, bresaola, and cheeses… it’s a brilliant way to try different wines you are unfamiliar with, and the prices are reasonable at @$12-15 a bottle. They are open on the weekends only and get there by 6p. Otherwise you’ll be standing.

La Cave du Cours Nice France
La Cave du Cours Nice France

Another cool place with local wines is Les Grandes Caves Caprioglio on Rue de la Prefecture in Old Town. I LOVE THESE GUYS! The guys working there have been there for years and they are extremely knowledgable. They have liquors and wines. It’s a great place to snoop around.

Price of wine at Caves Caprioglio

Insider’s Tip: While this place has a massive wine selection, you can actually go there with an empty plastic liter bottle and have them fill it up with their ‘house’ red, white or rose. They used to sell you a glass bottle for 10 cents, but they no longer do that so you need to come with your own bottles. You’ll pay $2.75 for a super bottle of table wine. Perfect to take to the beach with you along with your picnic.

Caves Caprioglio Nice
You can have the guys at Caves Caprioglio Nice put wine in your water bottle. How’s that for turning Water into Wine?

Where to shop in Nice

I won’t repeat myself on Nice’s local shopping centers. You can find them in my article on things to do in Nice in Winter, But if  you are in the market for luxury items you need to head to Rue Paradis and Avenue de Verdun near Jardin Albert 1er. Here you’ll find the likes of Hermes, Massimo Dutti, Louis Vuitton. You get my drift. This is start of the Carre d’Or or Golden Square area of Nice. The wealthy district.

Otherwise, for high quality fashion you can always go to Galeries Lafayette in Place Massena.

Markets in Nice

If you like to shop for local produce, there are two suggestions. The daily market at Cours Saleya is more tourist oriented, and the market at the Liberation tram stop is a more local shop for folks. You can get some good deals on quality fruits and vegetables. Open every day except Monday.

Tomatoes in the market

Insider’s Tip: If you head down the little side street, Rue Clement Roassal, on the west side of the tram route at Liberation Market, you’ll find an Italian vendor at the end. It’s usually a cute Italian lady running the cash register, but they by far offer the cheapest and the tastiest in the market.

Another insider tip: If you go to Liberation market around noon on a Sunday, you’ll most likely get extra for your money. The market closes around 1pm and is closed on Mondays, so the vendors are interested in getting rid of as much as possible so they don’t have to schlep it back with them.

Best bars with a seaview for an apero in Nice

Considering Nice is on the Mediterranean, it’s quite easy to find great places to have an aperitif with a seaview.

Le Meridien Hotel

For a pricey apero, head to the Terrace at Le Meridien Hotel on the Promenade. Simply go in, take the escalator up, find the elevators and go up to the 7th floor. Voila, you find this lovely terrace. There’s a fantastic view and you’ll be in good company with others listening to lounge music over the Med. Fun, but not cheap.

Meridien Hotel La-Terrassee-Rooftop-Lounge
Meridien Hotel La Terrassee Rooftop Lounge ©Le Meridien

Hotel Aston La Scala

Like Le Meridien Hotel, the Aston is a 4* hotel with a rooftop lounge with views over the Coulee Verte and the sea in the distance. Le Moon Bar is open for apero from 6p til midnight. Nice place, and typically not too packed. During the day you can have lunch up there and use their rooftop swimming pool. It’s small, but nice if you want to spend the day up there versus the beach.

Le Moon Bar ©Hotel Aston La Scala
Le Moon Bar ©Hotel Aston La Scala

Bars on the Promenade des Anglais

There are several two-level bar/restaurants on the Promenade. Take your pick. They are pretty similar in that Movida and Waka Bar will turn up the tunes at night and will have a massive crowd from 10pm on. Movida is great for the DJ, occasional live music and interesting cocktails. Waka is a Maori word for canoe and the owner’s from New Zealand. Topaze is somewhat new and is quieter. It’s kind of like a bakery with adult beverages.

Evening view from Movida Terrace Bar Nice
Evening view from Movida Terrace Bar Nice
Topaze Bar in Nice France
Topaze Bar in Nice France
Waka Bar
Waka Bar

Best locations for live music

Nice is a strange place for night life. So many locales come and go that it’s difficult to keep track of whether something is still open and whether it operates under the same name. And for the size of the town, it’s a shame there are not more places to listen to quality, live music. A few you can check out are:

Le Shapko

Shapko is near Place Rossetti in Old Town Nice. They offers live music every evening in a variety of jazz, blues, funk and rock. You’ll find a more middle-aged crowd there, and some nights it can be a massive dive with too many, ‘lounge lizards.’ It can get really packed, especially when the other bars close and that’s the only place open until 02:30a.

Insider’s Tip: Watch your handbags. They tend to go walking…

Le Ketje

This place is a wine bar, pub, cafe…you choose. They are open every day with music on Friday and Saturday evenings. You can get a tasty cheese and meat platter to nibble on and other more substantial bites. It’s a mixed crowd that is in the center of town and a nice thing to do in Nice on the weekend. Wasn’t too crowded the last time I went.

Le Ketje Bar in Nice
Good musical acts at Le Ketje Bar in Nice. Here’s the fantastic Majiroquai.

Akathor – This pub/restaurant has been around since the late 90’s and offers music on the weekends only. They are located on the Cours Saleya and open until 2a. You can check their Facebook page for current events. They also show live football, soccer and rugby games on TV frequently.

Ma Nolans Pub

Ma Nolan’s is an Irish pub that’s been on the Cote d’Azur for a long time. Every dog and their brother has been there, so you might as well go, too. The pub/restaurant has weekly quiz nights, live sports on TV and live music. There are two locations in Nice and one in Cannes. Ma’s in Old Town is on the Cours Saleya and the other is in the Port. The Old Town location has music every night except Monday from 10/11pm until closing. The Port offers music on the weekends only.

Cave Romagnan

This old Nicoise Wine Bar is an institution. It’s been around for a long time and it looks like it. It’s small and dusty, but offers a super atmosphere for the local art-loving crowd. Go to Cave Romagnan on Saturday evenings from 7-10p for live music as you and the musicians cram for space in this relic. Gets hot in the summer, but luckily you can stand outside and still hear the music with a glass in hand. Often there is art for sale on the walls, they have the occasional art opening (vernissage) and poetry nights. Enjoy!!!

Traditional jazz at Caves Romagnon
Traditional jazz at Caves Romagnon

 

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Life On The Mediterranean

US expat living the life on the Mediterranean in the South of France. I regularly travel to Spain, Italy, Greece and other intriguing locations around the Mediterranean. Former Hyatt Corp Marketing Manager, student accommodation director and hotel photoshoot art director.

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