OMGoooodness I love Nice. Yes, there are better ways to begin a post but, today you’re getting unfiltered emotion. Today, I need a pick me up. I need to remember what it feels like to walk along a crowded boardwalk. On a sunny day. Without a mask. I want to remember what it feels like to smile at a perfect stranger as if to say “I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but seriously, could today be any more perfect?!” So today, I’m returning to Nice, France through Paolo’s photos. Want to join me? A sea of blue awaits!
Last year Paolo and I gifted Mamma & Papà a family trip to Nice, France for Christmas. A quick three-hour drive from their home in Torino, Italy, Nice makes the perfect winter getaway. Come January, or what I now call pre-COVID times we each packed a small weekender and off we went.
Just as we turned onto E80 the sun broke giving us a clear view of the Ligurian Sea. It’s clear why European affluence flocks to the French Riviera. Nice, France is stunning. Bright amber and soft yellow buildings cascade down steep hills into saturated azure blue waters.
While Nice has historically been know as a vacation destination for English aristocracy and European royalty, not all its charms are pricey. Here are 10 simple pleasures, inexpensive things to love about Nice, France.
1. The Weather in Nice, France is Perfect
A big part of the reason Nice, France is so beautiful, and such a popular tourist destination is near-perfect weather. A mild Mediterranean climate, on average Nice enjoys over 300 days of sun a year. By 11 am most days, winter coats come off and sunny seaside walks begin. Enjoying a break from winter weather is a treat in and of itself in Nice, France.
2. Ligurian Sea Gazing
On a sunny day in Nice, France answering the age-old question “Why is the Sky Blue?” is pretty hard. Both the sky and the sea are so blue, it’s hard to tell which is reflecting and which is beaming blue. In Nice simply gazing out at the Ligurian Sea is so enjoyable, one need to make no other plans.
3. Walking ‘The Prom’
The Promenade des Anglais (Walkway of the English) known affectionally locally as ‘The Prom’ is simply the best city beach promenade I’ve ever seen. The Prom’s ample width is divided for walkers, runners, and sporty peeps on wheels. At just over 4 miles long, simply weaving your way down The Prom on a sunny day in Nice, France is an absolute delight.
4. Take a Break in La Chaise Bleue & Watch Airplanes
In rows of twenty La chaise bleue (the blue chairs) lining The Prom are iconic symbols of Nice, France. Simple, attractive, useful. After an eight-mile walk up and down The Prom, locals and tourists love nothing more than to sit and lazily watch planes fly by. Guessing what airline and where they are coming from stretches on for hours because no one wants to leave those perfectly appointed blue chairs.
5. Conversation à Nice, 2007 by Jaume Plensa
Once a simple walk in Place Masséna has now become an event thanks to famed Barcelona Contemporary Artist Jaume Plensa. His Conversation à Nice, 2007 installation consists of seven polyester resin sculptures of men kneeling. Floating 40 feet above the square the sculptures are lit in a rainbow of revolving colors.
As day falls to night the changing hues grow more intense, making the installation easier to understand. Seven men, seven continents. Communication in color. At times in sync, at times in discord. Of Mr. Plensa from White Head in New York to a Conversation à Nice I’m a fan!
6. Walk Into Le Negresco Hotel Like You Own It
Since 1913 Le Negresco Hotel has been a symbol of luxury on the French Riviera. The outside, an imposing pearl of perfection. The inside, a riotous mix of things that don’t belong, yet somehow go. Contemporary Nana Jaune sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle stand between 17th-century paintings. Period furniture sits atop giant 70s style carpet by artist Raymond Moretti. Walking into Le Negresco like you own the place, when you really just have to use the loo, is an absolute trip and a completely free art gallery.
7. Simply Amazing Fresh & Affordable Seafood!
Figuring out where to eat in Nice is simple. The city is full of restaurants. Thanks to students from nearby Universities many are casual and affordable. At Peixes a Mediterranean restaurant specializing in seafood we practically inhaled swordfish carpaccio in a mandarine vinaigrette for 11€ and tuna tartare with wasabi mayonnaise nestled in pureed seaweed (my favorite) for 10€.
Peixes is everything seafood lovers need for a relaxing, highly enjoyable meal. The freshest fish available, treated with respect. Mermaid painted walls. Turquoise chairs. Playful staff. Large windows. Perfectly chilled white wine and endless helpings of cold butter and baguette. My only regret was diving into the food too fast to take photos!
8. Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya
Marché AuX Fleurs Cours Saleya has everything open-air market fans look for. Fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, flowers, and sweets. Here, I got my dream life fix. The one where I imagine what it would be like to live in the Nice, France. Poor Paolo, I love Nice so much, someday I just might ask him to move there!
9. Window Shopping in Old Nice
Old Nice is a beautiful historical part of the city. Founded around 350 BC by Greek seafarers, the Romans followed settling further uphill. Several occupations later, Nice finally became part of France on March 24, 1860 when Napoleon III signed the treaty of Turin.
With such a windy past, it’s no wonder the streets of Old Nice are interesting. Narrow passageways dip up and down curving in and out. As with most historic city centers, there is plenty of touristy kitsch to avoid but there are also a few gems that hint at the history and traditions of Nice.
10. Nice Perfected Sunset Happy Hour
As the second most visited city in France after Paris, nearly *5 million visitors flow into the French Riviera to see Nice each year. What do millions of tourists want after exploring Nice, France on a sunny day? A sunset happy hour right on the beach. Nice, France has perfected sunset happy hours. The Prom is lined with street-side, rooftop and beach side bars all with fairytale views at sunset. A chilled bottle of Vermentino and a sunset view are the perfect way to end any day in Nice, France. It’s just that simple.
Maybe when COVID-19 is long gone, you can come to visit us in Italy and we can pop up to Nice, France to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures together. Till then, I’d love to hear some of your favorite simple pleasures while traveling? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Want To See More of Nice, France?
I enjoyed Sheree’s take on why Apéro is very important . . . but drinking isn’t in Nice, France during COVID Lockdowns. Plus Perfectly Provenance shares a little move history and local love for Nice’s Famous Blue Chairs.
*Tourism Stats reference data.