Nice

Welcome to Nice

With its mix of real-city grit, old-world opulence, year-round sunshine, vibrant street life and stunning seaside location, no place in France compares with Nice.

Before everything else, there was the sea, and the Mediterranean climate – the twin factors that made Nice a tourist magnet as early as the 1700s. Look around and you’ll find the same elemental attractions that drew Europe’s belle-époque aristocrats to promenade along the waterfront in horse-drawn carriages. Even now, nothing compares to the simple joy of a balmy beach day interspersed with a spot of people-watching astride the Promenade des Anglais’ famous blue chairs. Whether you’re skating, kayaking, swimming, sprawled on a beach lounger or transfixed by sunset over the ever-present Med, it’s all still happening by the water.

For any lover of French and Italian culture, Nice is the perfect hybrid. Long affiliated with Piedmont and Liguria to the east, Savoy to the north and Sardinia to the south, this city only joined France in 1860 and has always kept one foot in Italy. The Italian influence remains palpable everywhere, in Vieux Nice’s tall-shuttered, ochre-hued buildings that look airlifted straight in from Portofino, in the fresh pasta shops on every corner and even in the football cheer Issa Nissa! (Go Nice!), shouted in the local Nissart dialect that’s been coloured by Ligurian Italian as much as Occitan French.

The Côte d’Azur has ensnared many a visitor with the beauty of its light. Not least Henri Matisse, who came here to convalesce from bronchitis. When the sun finally emerged after a month of wintry drizzle, Matisse was so smitten that he made Nice his home for the next 37 years. Chagall, Picasso and Renoir also fell in love with this place, and Nice was later home to the influential avant-garde École de Nice. Art museums abound throughout the region, but Nice’s three superstars – the Musées Matisse, Chagall and d’Art Moderne – are reason enough to justify an aesthetic pilgrimage here.

Bring your appetite when you come to Nice. This city is meant for epicures. It all starts at Vieux Nice’s Saleya market, where small producers from the Alpine foothills bring in a bounty of fresh produce, and top chefs from surrounding restaurants shop right beside tourists. The city celebrates its uniqueness with street snacks like socca (chickpea pancakes), pissaladière (caramelised onion tart) or tourte de blettes (chard, raisin and pine nut pie), while its countless cosy bistros serve everything from hearty Provençal beef stew to true salade niçoise to pasta with pistou, and from fresh lemon tart to vegan cheesecake.

Explore the destination

Nice on the map

Trip Ideas

More Destinations in France

Cannes

Glamorous Cannes sets camera flashes popping at its film festival in May, when stars pose in tuxes and full-length gowns on the red carpet. But the glitz doesn’t end there. Throughout the year, as you walk among the designer bars, couture shops and palaces of La Croisette, the wealth and glamour of this city cannot fail to impress. Admiring Ferraris and Porsches and celebrity-spotting on the chic sunlounger-striped beaches and liner-sized yachts moored at the port are perennial Cannes pastimes.

Marseille

Grit and grandeur coexist seamlessly in Marseille, an exuberantly multicultural port city with a pedigree stretching back to classical Greece and a fair claim to the mantle of France’s second city. Once seen as somewhat dirty and dangerous, and lacking the glamour of Cannes or St-Tropez, this black sheep of the Provençal coastline has blossomed in cultural confidence since its 2013 stint as the European Capital of Culture. The addition of a brace of swanky new museums is just the outward sign of an optimism and self-belief that’s almost palpable.

Lyon

Commanding a strategic spot at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône Rivers, Lyon has been luring people ever since the Romans named it Lugdunum in 43 BC. Commercial, industrial and banking powerhouse for the past 500 years, Lyon is France’s third-largest city, and offers today’s urban explorers a wealth of enticing experiences.

Paris

Paris’ monument-lined boulevards, museums, classical bistros and boutiques are enhanced by a new wave of multimedia galleries, creative wine bars, design shops and tech start-ups.

Montpellier

Graceful and easy-going, Montpellier is a stylish metropolis with elegant buildings, grand hôtels particuliers (private mansions), stately boulevards and shady backstreets, and gorgeous white-sand beaches on its doorstep.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Mountains loom large almost everywhere you look in Chamonix. Skiers and sightseers are launched by cable car to heights of 3842m on the Mont Blanc massif, while the glacial void of La Vallée Blanche – one of Europe’s most fêted off-piste adventures – beckons to the brave. Skiers and boarders have a choice of pistes along the valley, while in summer the same lifts access hiking and biking trails.

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