June 19, 2024

Elegance and Charm

Nice is in the French Riviera and is a lovely place to visit. I spent a week and could have stayed longer. I could also see myself living there! There is definitely an air of money and elegance and it is very enjoyable to experience.  

Getting There

I flew into Nice from London and it was a decent flight with no issues. The airport is Cote d’Azur Airport. Nice also has good railway connections with cities like Paris, Lyon or Cannes. You can also drive. It will take much longer but it offers a chance to stop at some lovely spots along the way, but be aware of the parking and difficulty in driving issues in Nice.

If arriving in Nice by car; downtown traffic and parking are tiresome. Get around on foot, and for longer distances, by public transport and the shared, free-floating electric bikes provided by e-Vélobleu. Whichever way you decide to get there depends on your time and preference. I chose to fly so I could get more time in Nice.

If your itinerary includes day trips to neighboring spots such as Monaco, Èze, Marineland in Antibes or the belle époque Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, it’s well worth investing in a French Riviera Pass. The pass costs from €28 (US$29.60) for one day to €56 (US$59.20) for three days. It includes a few activities. There were many areas where you could just walk down to the water and enjoy looking out into the ocean for hours if that is your happy place. I did!

What to Wear

Don’t walk around the city in skimpy beachwear or bare-chested. Away from the shore, dress as you would in any non-coastal city. In summer, loose-fitting shirts and flowing skirts or baggy shorts are the way to go. Don’t forget a sunhat, sun protection and shades. Once actually on the beach, toplessness is perfectly acceptable and locals aren’t shy! Not my choice, but hey.

This is France’s glam coast, so bring some posher outfits and dress up for nicer restaurants, clubs and bars – no jeans and sneakers (though black or ‘smarter’ jeans are acceptable).

Fly and Stay Cheap

Pastis is France’s most iconic aperitif and drinking it at any time of day is acceptable. Ask for ‘un pastis’ would be like asking for ‘a beer’. Check the menu and order by brand. Ricard and Pastis 51 are the most common, but there are plenty of brands spiced with local botanicals. Pastis de Nice blends 26 plants and spices from Nice’s mountainous hinterland. Yummy!

Or you can select a glass of chilled rosé crafted in a Provence winery. Bistros and restaurants typically serve Côtes de Provence or Côteaux d’Aix as their highly affordable house wines. To try the grown-up stuff, indulge in a tasting session at Rosé a wine bar single-mindedly focused on the rosé wines for which southern France is rightly famous.

Where to Eat

Nice has plenty of restaurants targeting the tourists. I would avoid restaurants advertising a ‘menu touristique’. Follow the locals to authentic cafes, with menus in French and kitchens stocked with seasonal produce from local farmers and producers. There are so many great cafes and restaurants that served wonderful fresh dishes all the way down to Pizza. Nice has plenty of old-town bistros, neighborhood eateries, caves à manger (wine bars) and sea-gazing restaurants that require no table reservations.

The capital of France’s celebrity-stalked Côte d’Azur might be a modest size, but the choice of things to see and do stretches beyond strolls along Promenade des Anglais and lounging on the beach. I encourage to include Nice in your travel plans.

Prades, France

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