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Nice Travel Guide

Summertime on the Côte d’Azur has a mythical air to it. Sun-seekers come from near and far to experience the unique magic of the Mediterranean in the French Riviera. Arriving by plane, train, car or boat, the starting point of this cinematic destination often begins in Nice.

Photos by Anthony Lanneretonne – Text by Olivia Hoffman

About Nice

Beginning with the ancient Greeks, Nice has always served as a strategic port and an attractive location for development — particularly during the 17th to 18th centuries when the Italian Baroque style was flourishing. When Nice and the Savoie became unified with France in 1860, tourism to the area accelerated, especially following the completion of the Paris to Nice railroad in 1864. A burst of economic, intellectual and creative growth — La Belle Époque — soon followed, ushering in a period of frenetic development. Tourism boomed and visitors poured into Nice from around France and the world to experience the ornate and opulent buildings that were popping up in this bright, coastal town.

After the First World War, young travelers looking for a fun escape found solace in the open terraces and swimming pools as sunbathing came into fashion. Nice became “the” place to be, attracting musicians, artists, athletes and vacationers all looking for a simple, good time. 

Nice sustained significant damage during its liberation from German occupation in 1944, but urban planners took great care to preserve the city’s iconic architecture and used the restoration as an opportunity to expand the city’s lavish villas, parks and other public spaces, making the city as attractive as ever.

Things to do in Nice

Cours Saleya

The colorful striped awnings will draw you in, and the sweet scent of fresh flowers and provençal spices will make you stay. One of the most recognizable markets in all of France, the marché  in the Cours Saleya features rows upon rows of blooms and produce daily – except for Mondays, when it gives way to a bustling brocante, where you will find troves of antique treasures. On summer evenings, the site hosts a popular arts and crafts market.

The Old Town

Wander the narrow cobblestone streets of Vieux Nice (Old Town) and look up at the towering architecture, stumble into the quaint local shops and visit the colorful 17th-century cathedral. Along the way, stop to appreciate the many small places (squares) and intimate old churches.

Promenade des Anglais

A popular spot for locals and tourists alike, the Promenade des Anglais is a picturesque seaside walkway that stretches about 7 kilometers (4 miles) along the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels). Lined with palm trees, the Promenade is perfect for an early morning walk and its charming cafés and restaurants offer prime spots for people watching against the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Port of Nice

Also known as the Old Port, this marvelous, historic harbor is home to a variety of fishing boats, luxury yachts and sailboats. Stroll along the quay and enjoy the scenic views and fresh, local seafood at the restaurants that dot the port. Most boat tours and water activities will also depart from this central location.

Place Garibaldi

Located in the heart of the city, the vibrant Place Garibaldi is bordered by delightful yellow buildings that house numerous cafés and restaurants serving delicious French and Italian cuisine. Named after the famous Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, you can expect to delight in a proper Italian meal in this square.

Opéra de Nice

Nice’s stunning 19th-century opera house is a cultural and artistic hub of the Côte d’Azur. The theater has a striking neoclassical façade and opulent interior featuring ornate chandeliers, golden columns and plush red velvet seats and curtains. A world-class venue for opera, ballet and classical music, the grandeur of the Opéra de Nice is a performance in itself, certain to mesmerize you before the production even starts.

That spirit of modernization and rejuvenation endures to this day. At the same time, Nice remains a city with an ancient soul that reveals itself slowly as you explore its winding streets. You will always find fresh flowers at the colorful Cours Saleya and perfect palm trees along the seaside Promenade des Anglais. You can eat just-caught fish on the Old Port or authentic Italian cuisine in the Place Garibaldi, and drink crisp rosé at a restaurant facing the sea. You might even pick up some luxurious designer treasures on the glittering streets of the Carré d’Or or see a tantalizing spectacle at the Opéra de Nice.

Museums to visit

Musée Matisse

Exhibiting the work of Henri Matisse, this museum is located in the Villa des Arènes, a 17th-century Genoese villa that was completely renovated to host the emblematic French artist’s extensive collection. Explore Matisse’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings – including some of his most famous pieces – in the city in which he produced the majority of his oeuvre. The Musée Matisse also features a comprehensive archive of the artist’s  personal papers, letters and photographs, giving unique insight into his creative process and personal life.


164 Av. des Arènes de Cimiez, 06000 Nice

Musée National Marc Chagall

Housed in a modernist building surrounded by gardens of olives and other Mediterranean plants, the Musée National Marc Chagall features a vast display of his works, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and mosaics. One of the main highlights of the museum includes Chagall’s Biblical Message 17-painting series, completed with his wife Valentina Brodsky, which are considered to be among the artist’s greatest masterpieces.


Av. Dr Ménard, 06000 Nice

Musée Picasso

The Musée Picasso in Antibes – just down the coast from Nice – is a world-renowned collection housed in the Château Grimaldi, a 14th-century castle overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, where Pablo Picasso produced some of the very pieces showcased here. Dedicated to the life and work of the iconic Spanish artist, the stunning collection features over 250 works including paintings, sculptures and ceramics completed during his prolific stay in Antibes in 1946, as well as works by other artists who influenced him.


Place Mariejol, 06600 Antibes

Fragonard Perfume Museum

Showcasing the history and art of parfum, the Fragonard Perfume Museum in Grasse – the fragrance capital of France – is housed in the French parfumer’s former factory. The museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the perfume making process and the history of the industry in Grasse through their vast collection of antique perfume bottles, distillation equipment and other artifacts. The museum also offers guided tours and interactive workshops where you can learn more about the different types of fragrances and even create your own perfume!


20 Boulevard Fragonard, 06130 Grasse

Maeght Foundation

A short drive into the hills of Nice, the Maeght Foundation is an impressive contemporary art museum located in the charming village Saint Paul de Vence. Founded in 1964 by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght to promote modern art and provide a space for artists to exhibit their work, the museum’s stunning architecture (which has recently been expanded) provides the perfect backdrop for the extensive collection. Discover paintings, sculptures and drawings by some of the most renowned artists of the 20th century such as Joan Miró, Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall. The museum’s outdoor sculpture garden, with its winding paths and stunning sea views also must not be missed.


623 Chem. des Gardettes, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Renoir Museum

The Renoir Museum has a remarkable collection of 14 original paintings, 40 sculptures, furniture, and Renoir’s studio. The museum is situated in a breathtaking estate with olive and citrus trees, offering a magnificent panoramic view. It underwent a comprehensive renovation in 2013 and now presents an opportunity for visitors to rediscover the site in its original form. Recently, new spaces were introduced, including a series of seventeen plaster sculptures, two new original paintings, and personal archives that add to the intimacy of the museum.


19 Chem. des Collettes, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Me


It is easy to see why creative minds continue to be drawn to this coast as the contagious energy of their predecessors lingers. Many of the 20th century’s greatest artists — including Picasso, Matisse and Chagall — spent significant time in the region, capturing its unique  beauty on canvases that today hang in French Riviera museums dedicated to their work. Historic hotels that have welcomed the rich and famous open their doors for all to experience the mythic views – either in their suites or at their sea-facing restaurants. Traditional and up-and-coming chefs use local and seasonal produce to continually refresh their repertoires, to the delight of diners.

Where to stay in Nice

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Le Negresco

A darling of the French Riviera, Le Negresco has been an iconic establishment for more than a century. Ideally situated along the Promenade des Anglais in the luxurious neighborhood of Le Carré d’Or, the hotel has welcomed scores of celebrities, artists and nobility since opening its doors in 1913. Stay at this certified “Living Heritage Company” to experience traditional French excellence.


37 Promenade des Anglais, 06000



Located in the heart of Nice, this luxurious 5-star hotel was recently renovated and reopened featuring elegant and modern décor. The Belle Époque architectural landmark offers a variety of luxe amenities, including a spa and wellness center, a heated outdoor pool and a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the sea.


12 Avenue de Verdun 06000


Petit Palais

Situated up on the hill of Cimiez, this charming hotel enjoys a lovely view over the Baie des Anges, the rooftops of Nice and up to Cap d’Antibes. Just 15 minutes from Old Nice and the Port and a few minutes walking from the Chagall and Matisse Museums, this peaceful hotel provides a haven of serenity from the city.


17 Avenue Emile Bieckert, 06000

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La Chevre d’Or

Illuminated by sunlight, the Chevre d’Or in Eze is filled with different gardens featuring sculptures, fountains, waterfalls, flowers, herbs and trees. With rooms and high-end restaurants overlooking the water, the magnificent colors of the coast blend into the horizon. This 5-star gem on the hillside is the most pleasant spot to relax and breathe in the freshness only found by the sea.


Rue du Barri, 06360 Eze Village


Colombe d’Or

Started in 1920 as a café bar with a terrace where people would dance on the weekends, this inviting establishment soon attracted a crowd of creative characters. The friendly atmosphere together with the owner’s deep interest in the arts made Colombe d’Or an artistic gathering place in the ancient town of Saint-Paul de Vence. Composed of thirteen rooms and twelve sweets, this small hotel is a perfect place to rest and get inspired.


06570 Saint-Paul de Vence


Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

For the past 150 years, the tip of Cap d’Antibes has been the mythical destination where friends and families gather to soak up the sun and fragrant Mediterranean air in an atmosphere imbued with elegance. Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is just that – a heavenly Eden perched on the rocky cliffs. Restaurants and bars, infinity pools and recently renovated rooms all reveal the most idyllic view over the sea.


167-165 Bd J. F. Kennedy, 06160 Antibes


Maybourne Riviera

“The Jewel of the French Riviera” lives on the edge — of the rocky Roquebrune‐Cap‐Martin peninsula, that is. The striking modernist architecture of The Maybourne Riviera juts out above the glistening waters and is perfectly positioned near Monaco. The unique rooms will make guests feel as if they are staying in the sky with an unobstructed view of the sea from Italy to Monaco.

1551 Route de la Turbie, 06190 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

There is a reason this coastal destination has captivated the hearts of visitors for centuries. Artists come to get inspired; celebrities come to get away; free spirits come to party. For an idyllic and iconic summer destination, the Côte d’Azur is an easy choice. Nice has something to offer for everyone who makes the voyage to experience its traditional yet ever‐evolving allure.

Where to Eat in Nice

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The bright colors of the restaurant décor appropriately reflect the rainbow presentation of cuisine on each plate. Cooking with seasonal products, the Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Collin and his team serve up a delectable Mediterranean-inspired meal with produce from the local market. Facing the garden of the Anglican Church of Nice, a seat on the covered terrace guarantees a pleasant dining experience.  


14 rue Maccarani

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Le Temps d’un Eté

Situated on the rocky beach along the Promenade des Anglais, Le Temps d’un Été offers a unique seaside dining experience. Once the seductive aroma of the summery cuisine wafts by your nose as you stroll down the Promenade, stop in to indulge in gastronomic cuisine with a Mediterranean touch – and unbeatable ocean view.


25 Promenade des Anglais, 06000

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In the heart of  Place Garibaldi, stop for a traditional pizza or pasta on the sunny terrace or in the cozy interior of Sentimi. The traditional cuisine of this authentic restaurant will make you think you have just crossed the nearby border into Italy.


2 place Garibaldi, 06300

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Café de Turin

For those who prefer high-quality seafood, a fabulous non-Italian option on the Place Garibaldi is Café de Turin. Specializing in shellfish, this institution of a restaurant has been serving up premier quality fruits de mer for more than 100 years. Dine alongside the niçoise locals and indulge in the fresh cuisine just steps from the port. 


5 Place Garibaldi, 06300

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This bustling institution is an authentic Italian restaurant well-situated on the end of Cours Saleya. Here you will find traditional dishes revisited with a certain refined finesse. The retro-chic interior is an immersion in the Italian “Palazzo” of Florence in the 1950s. In addition to the interior room, the space extends onto a sunny terrace with 90 seats boasting a view of the sea.

3 place Charles Félix, 06300

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Restaurant Jan

This intimate 18-seat restaurant has earned a Michelin star for its cuisine, inspired by Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s South African roots. Sourcing ingredients from farms around the Côte d’Azur, Jan takes guests on a culinary exploration through diverse cuisine featuring contrasting flavors that is an exciting cultural mix of French Mediterranean and South African cuisine. With sustainability at its forefront, the 7-course tasting menu is a one-of-a-kind experience.


12 Rue Lascaris, 06300

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A story of passion and family, the Tourteaux brothers work the kitchen in different yet complementary ways to produce a melody of flavors that has earned them their two Michelin stars. Nourished by a childhood in Guadeloupe and a growing up with a taste for travel, the chefs dare to experiment in new and innovative ways that will ignite all your senses.


25 Rue Gubernatis, 06000

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For its 50th anniversary, Boccaccio has a brand new look. The revamped interior is modern and luminous to elevate its contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. Tasteful blue paintings of waves and divers along the walls complement the live aquarium in the restaurant and contribute to the sense of freshness that is found in the food on your plate.

7 rue Massena, 06000

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