Founded by the Greeks 2,500 years ago, this glamorous Riviera resort is proudly known as “Nice the Beautiful.” An exclusive stop-off for elite travelers since the 19th century, the city is now a vibrant cultural capital.
Begin your visit in Nice, situated by Baie des Anges, with a stroll along the historic Promenade des Anglais, lined by crashing azure waves and grand pastel palaces like the wedding cake Negresco Hôtel and Villa Masséna, an opulent museum with a vast permanent collection dedicated to the history of the city and artists of the Côte d’Azur. At the end of the Promenade, join the crowds of locals who gather at the town’s favorite rendezvous, Masséna Square, decorated with sculptures and fountains.
All of Nice meets in the Cours Saleya at the flower market Marché aux Fleurs, a panoply of colorful stalls with flowers, organic vegetables, and tempting antiques. The busiest spot at lunchtime is Chez Thérésa, the place to try socca, a delicious crispy-thin chickpea flatbread drizzled with fruity olive oil that is freshly baked a few streets away. A hidden secret, just by the flower market, is the avant-garde Musée de la Photographie.
In the Evening
The perfect sunset over the "Grande Dame of the Côte d’Azur" is from up at the Castle Hill lookout. After a leisurely walk up to La Vieille Ville (Old Town), check out traditional eateries like L’Escalinda, or my favorite, the fourth-generation Chez Acchiardo which serves deep-fried courgette flowers and grilled sardines. After dinner, sit down for an opera, ballet, or concert symphony at the Belle Epoque Opera House.
In the Morning
Time to explore outside the city center. Jump on the Bus 15 that zigzags past the villas and mansions of the millionaires' Cimiez quarter as far as Musée Matisse, dedicated to the modern master who made Nice his adopted home, while a mile down the road, Musée National Marc Chagall honors another of the 20th century’s greatest artists who lived and painted here. Further afield lies the enchanting town of Aux Parfums de Grasse, perfume capital of the world, where visitors can create their own personal fragrance.
At lunchtime, head for the bustling neighborhood surrounding the bobbing boats moored in the sprawling marina of Port Lympia. This is the hip new part of town, with art galleries, music clubs, designer cafés like Comptoir Central Électrique, and above all, the popular Badaboom, a new-age vegan diner, serving not just great salads and detox fruit smoothies, but a rendezvous for poetry readings, yoga classes, and art exhibitions.
Before You Leave
The narrow alleys that crisscross La Vieille Ville are a goldmine for shopping. How can one resist boutiques like the ancient olive oil producers Moulin à Huile Alziari, or the exquisite candied fruits in Maison Auer? Fashionistas can discover vintage haute couture bargains in Caprice and Mademoiselle, or pick out a handmade hat from the tempting selection at La Chapellerie.