Visiting Nice - What to See and Do
(Nice Cote d'Azur Airport NCE, France)
is more than just a quintessential French-Mediterranean getaway. From the azure waters of its sparkling coast to the gentle rolling hills spanning the northern districts, this city is every bit as gorgeous as its name, Nice la Belle (the Beautiful), suggests. The city hasn't always been French though. Part Italian Savoy, part Sardinian, the city still flaunts a variety of Italian-made sights, adding a noticeable flare to its cityscape.
Despite the numerous changes in 'ownership', Nice is first and foremost a port city. Even today, its port stands as one of Mediterranean France's most important. The English Promenade (Promenade des Anglais), which runs along the beach, is the centre of the city's most charming and dynamic attractions. Beginning a sightseeing quest from this promenade is recommended.
The crystal blue water and warm climate create the perfect beach atmosphere. Unfortunately, the beaches are pebbled rather than sandy. This rarely stops visitors from enjoying a day on the beach though. The city's nightlife is slowly but surely growing in stature, providing plenty to do when the sun sets for the day. From the Old Town to the Promenade, plenty of fun clubs and pubs open their doors every night of the week.
Ten things you must do in Nice
- Perched almost 100 metres / 328 feet above the city of Nice, the Colline de Chateau (Castle Hill) is a fantastic spot to take in the beauty of the Mediterranean coast and sprawling city below. There isn't much left in the way of a castle, except for some crumbling ruins. However, this doesn't take the shine off the Colline de Chateau's mesmerising experience. Picnicking around the Donjon Cascades makes for a memorable afternoon here.
- The Museum of Asian Art seems largely out of place at first glance. Visitors will be astounded at the intriguing collections of Indian, Chinese, Japanese and South-East Asian art. The structure rests adjacent to the airport, along the Promenade des Anglais. The building is beautifully designed, and entrance is free.
- Botanical gardens are always wondrously serene attractions, and Phoenix Park is no different. Situated upon the main promenade of Nice, the park greets visitors with more than 2,500 different species of plants. If that isn't enough, Phoenix Park also boasts a monolithic glass structure that withholds a tropical zone, complete with thriving, equatorial vegetation.
- From the scenic rooftop garden to the modern collections of world-renowned artists, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is one of Nice's best cultural highlights. Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Can and the paper-mache displays of Niki de Saint Phalle are worth the visit alone. Nevertheless, there are dozens of revolutionary sculptures and art work that will captivate both art experts and art novices alike.
- The Old Town district (Vieux Nice) is home to the St. Reparata Cathedral, which is the city's representative basilica. This attraction certainly proves that great things do come in small packages. Built in a Baroque style, the cathedral highlights the city's rich Italian heritage, with its Genoese tiling and Latin Cross design.
- The largest of the city's religious structures is the Notre Dame Cathedral. Found in central Nice, this church was built using a distinct Gothic-style architecture in an attempt to give the city a more 'French flavour' after the city seceded from Italy in 1860. Today, the cathedral stands as one of the most alluring structures.
- The Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux Arts) is a splendid landmark that art enthusiasts have to experience. Monet, Dufy, Cheret and many other historically renowned artists have collections here. Sculptures created by Rodin are another exhibition within this museum that attracts thousands each year. Admission is free, but donating to the museum has always been a tradition.
- The Place Massena is the largest and most significant town square in Nice. Lined with red-tinged structures radiating Italian architecture, this square has become the centre for local public gatherings and events. It is only a short stroll from the Promenade des Anglais and the winding alleys of the Old Town.
- The Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanique de la Ville de Nice) is an ideal place to unwind and relax, away from the active streets of the city. It was only built in 1983 using 100 different types of plants. However, today the garden has grown into a park of more than 3,500 floral species, which have been divided into climatic zones of the world. Tourists with a keen interest in horticulture will be amazed.
- Filled with Spanish, Italian, Nicoise and international restaurants, not to mention a string of traditional cafés and patisseries, the Pedestrian Zone (Zone Pietonne) is a must visit spot. Branching off from Promenade des Anglais, this small avenue provides the quintessential culture of dining and shopping in Nice. One can spend an entire morning, afternoon, or day sipping cappuccinos, fashion shopping and dining here.