What to do in Nice and around?
Here are the best suggestions to organize your trip on the French Riviera, with visits and food recommendations. Nice is the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera.
The city is located on the pebbled coast of the Baie des Anges. It was founded by the Greeks, then very appreciated by the European elite in the 19th century, the city has long attracted the attention of artists.
After a quick drop at your place or at a very good guests house in Nice for its location, its design and its delicious breakfasts: Emma’s bed and breakfast,;-) I advise you to take a walk on the seaside on the famous “Promenade des Anglais”.
As early as the 19th century, the English chose the Baie des Anges as their favorite winter holiday destination and gave their name to the most famous Promenade in the world, founded by the Reverend Lewis Way.
The Promenade des Anglais is now a World Heritage Site.
The Promenade gives Nice its cosmopolitan and attractive identity between the sea and the palm trees.
You can walk to Rauba Capeu (Flying Hats) with its sundial and the famous #Ilovenice. It’s the perfect place for the pictures. #Instagram …
Then in the port direction, you will see the War Memorial: It is the largest in France.
You can come back through the city center to the beautiful Place Garibaldi, and pass by the gardens of the Promenade du Paillon which extend over a distance of 1.2 km, from the freshness of the green belt between the National Theatre of Nice and the sea …
You arrive then at the famous Place Masséna with the fountain of Apollo and the colorful statues of Buddha and the Scribes at night.
This place is the meeting point to visit Nice with Chris who is a fabulous guide with whom you will discover the history of Nice, its old town (Old town: Place Saleya: flower market, on Monday it’s the antique market
–Marché Saleya as well called the Flowers market. It’s a typical market from the Provence. On Monday it’s the antic market
– Palais Lascaris which is the most remarkable monument of Nice’s civil baroque with its monumental staircase decorated with frescoes and its luxuriously decorated salons
-At the Opéra where you will see some drafts from G Eiffel on the candelabra. Yes he was thinking about the Liberty Statue!
-Piazza Rossetti: Please, enjoy an ice cream on Fenocchio, near the (baroque) Cathedral Sainte Reparate or at Azzurro. There are the 2 best ice-cream shops ever.
With your ice cream you are ready to visit now the Castle Hill with its waterfall and fantastic view. You will see as well some Greek ruins and a famous cemetery that you could visit.
I advise you to don’t forget to visit the roof of this modern art museum with a fantastic view from all the city.
The Square Head: This is the first sculpture, which is also a library where people work on it.
I think that for the first day it will be enough, and congratulations if you had time to do everything: for the day of arrival I gave you a lot, you can divide this planning into 2 parts if you prefer to take your time in the cool of a beach bar, or on the marketplace.
Then you could start with a modern breakfast in a French house with Emma. Her breakfast or brunch is the trendiest on the French Riviera.
If you are a true gourmet, this is the place to be: you can enjoy French cuisine, have a hot and crispy croissant, cakes and other delicacies … and believe me, all are delicious, made with love and local ingredients like the rose of Grasse or the lavender of Provence.
Yes, you could have cakes with such flavours. It’s so original.
After your breakfast or brunch, you can visit the Russian Cathedral which is the only Orthodox cathedral outside Russia: a real jewel not to be missed, then from there on foot you can reach the Chagall museum: why not take the bus or Uber: because it’s not that far and you had a huge breakfast. Now you have to eliminate the calories 😉
– The Marc Chagall Museum houses some of the greatest religious works of the artist to whom it owes its name. ( my favourite: take the free audio guide which is very good )
– Not far from the Chagall museum, the Henri Matisse Museum which is dedicated to the artistic career of the painter from Nice. It’s not my favorite one but it’s still a great one. You could visit as well the garden from the Matisse house and you will arrive at the Monastery of Cimiez. Nearby you have as well the Roman Arena
It is comparable to the crypt at the Louvre as far as its history and heritage are concerned and offers the same type of facilities for the general public.
French Guided visits only on reservation.
The Nice Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in Nice, at the top of the Mont Gros, at 370 meters of altitude and in the heart of a forest of thirty-five hectares. The cost of its construction was entirely paid by the banker and philanthropist Raphaël-Louis Bischoffsheim
-Citrus (local food, a fantastic chef !) –Le bar des Oiseaux ( local food that I like a lot) –Attimi (the best pizza in Nice with fresh vegetable as topping)
–L’atelier ( Socca, which is a local specialty made which chickpea Flour revisited by the chef )
–Zorzetto (Italian food, specialty : pasta – at 5 min from my place).
–Le café de Turin: seafood –Le Bistrot d’Antoine : French traditional food. -Peixes : French modern way to prepare fish. –Le Bocal: Inspired cuisine, fresh products, homemade. –La Retonde: One of the Negresco Palace’s restaurant, fancy and affordable:-) –Le Comptoir du marché : a retro grandmother’s kitchen. –Délibo fine cuisine, affordable, and open to the world. –L’Antica: French food where there is a fire place for cooking the meat for the evening. -Kokogrenn: Vegan, gluten-free, organic and home-made . –Wayne’s bar (for some drinks and dancing on the tables 😉
But there are a lot of more which are very good too;-) as my breakfast or brunch
I advise you to stay in Nice for exploring the French Riviera. Nice is very central with a lot of public transports and as it’s the 5th biggest city in France, it’s a very lively place.
What can you do in Monaco for half a day?
On your way back from Monaco, take the bus which is located in front of the Monaco’ s train station, to stop by Eze Village which is a beautiful medieval village
– Nietzsche path link EZE train station on the sea and Eze Village, stroll that the Philosopher use to do : 1hour. It’s a very beautiful walk that you could do with good shoes.
-Fragonard’s factory at the village’s entrance : free guided visit which explain to you how to make a perfume
On your way to Monaco by train or by bus from Eze Village stop at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
There is one of the most fantastic sea side walk : Sentier du littoral. On the way you could have a look on the Chapel Saint Hospice At the end of the walk you will reach Paloma beach which was the one from Paloma Picasso
Don’t forget to visit the Villa Ephrossi Rothschild: with its fabulous gardens (roses garden, stones garden, French garden, water garden, cactus garden, english garden … and its art collection inside the villa )
It’s a sumptuous residence of Italian Renaissance style, and its 9 superb gardens to be crossed along flowered and romantic alleys.
– Kérylos villa : a fantastic Greek villa that you can’t miss!
Kerylos means “alcyon” or “sea swallow a poetic bird of mythology, which announced a happy omen.
The Villa Kerylos is not a simple reproduction but a reinvention of ancient Greece.
In Villefranche, I like so much the Chapelle which was designed by Jean Cocteau in a very modern way. Did you know that you could go to Villefranche by walking on the seaside? It’s one of my favorite stroll on the French Riviera.
Villefranche has one of the most antic street in France. This street from the XIII century, where lot of movies have been done: rue obscure, is a defensive walkway, open air allowing the circulation of the military and facilitating the maneuvers
As I love so much walking, it’s often that I am walking from Nice by le sentier du littoral to Villefranche-sur-Mer and most of the time I continue on the Cap of Saint Jean.
Those 3 cities : Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Villefranche sur Mer are close to each others. You could walk from one to another.
Take the train and on your way stop by Antibes.
In Cannes, you have to walk on the Croisette, then visit the Old town which is called le Suquet with is beautiful market in the morning (marché Forville) and the Castle from Caste on the top of the city
You could take a boat at the port to go to the îles de Lérins – Sainte Marguerite-Saint Honorat : which are islands easy to reach by boat from Cannes port. There is a boat all the 30 min until 6pm.
Antibes is on your way to Cannes where there is a Picasso Museum
-The Port is famous to visit and you could see the Fort Carré
– I love the stoll on the Cap D’Antibes : sentier du Cap d’Antibes
Take the bus 400 on the seaside near Phoenix Park – It’s the same bus line to go to Vence. By Uber it’s faster and it coasts around 35 €.
Saint Paul de Vence was elected the second most beautiful village in France, surrounded by fortifications made for artists.
In addition to being picturesque and charming, it has the specificity of hosting many creators and artists. There are many art galleries, small atypical stores and you can also visit the Maeght Foundation.
-Don’t forget to visit the Modern art foundation: The Maeght foundation made by Miro It’s a wonderful modern art museum! – Visit chapelle des Pénitents Blancs and other churches. In this village, which is dedicated to the art, you will have modern churches made by famous French artist.
A very authentic Provencal village where there is a chapel made by Matisse : chapelle du Rosaire.
Remember that I gave you a link with lot of more suggestions and details on your welcoming message 😉
In Nice and around there is events: here a link to follow well what’s happening 😉
Menton is a very beautiful city at the Italian border. But as you know there is no more physical borders nowadays in the Schengen.
Menton, like each city of the French Riviera, could enjoy the sun by summer and winter. A climate that explains the presence of many gardens in the city and the important culture of citrus fruits that makes the reputation of. Moreover, the city is particularly famous for organizing each year, in winter, the lemon festival.
What can I visit in Menton:
The perched village of Roquebrune, with its medieval appearance, overlooks the Mediterranean Sea from 200 meters. It has the oldest keep in the country, dating from the 10th century, and the oldest olive tree in France!
On the seaside you have the famous Le Corbusier house: Eileen Gray: A veritable icon of modernist architecture, villa E-1027, Eileen Gray’s first architectural creation, testifies to the thought and attention that she put into every detail of the design
Roquebrune is a city which joint Menton on the seaside, where you could walk until Monaco. It’s an amazing and very easy walk that I recommend a lot.
The medieval village with its castle is on the top of Roquebrune and you could visit it by walking from Menton on the seaside, then you will go up to the hill. As it’s a hill, it’s a little less easy than the first part, but it’s really worth it! It’s the Cap Martin tour
Capital of perfume
And what made the reputation of Grasse is its perfume industry. So much so that the city has become the perfume capital of the world.
You can not only visit the international museum of perfumery retracing 3000 years of history, but also one of the 3 historical perfume factories known all over the world: Fragornard, Galimard and Molinard.
The guided tours are free and allow you to discover all the secrets of perfume making, from the collection of flowers to the distillation and bottling.
I’m not a fond of Grasse as the access is not very easy and there are only the perfume factories to visit. My advice is, instead of visiting a factory in Grasse, you could visit the same in Eze village: Fragonard and Molinard.
Nearby Cannes where there is a modern chapel made by Tobiasse.
You could visit as well the Bonnard museum, have a look on Peynet wall…
This is the village where Picasso was living, and he let his signature on this village. There is as well the ceramic museum.
It’s a village famous for the art of glass. Visiting a factory is interesting, as they have a specific method where you could see airs bubbles in any products. It’s their signature. After that, you could visit the Fernand Leger museum.
However, if you pass by, do not hesitate to stop and visit the castle of Mandelieu (listed as a historical monument) and its park, classified as a remarkable garden.
This ancient medieval fortress, restored in 1918 by an American couple who are art lovers, is now used to promote the arts.
The Escoffier Museum of Culinary Art is housed in the birthplace of Auguste Escoffier, a 300 m² authentic Provencal-style home from the 18th century, nestled in the heart of the village of Villeneuve-Loubet, between Nice and Cannes.
The Renoir Museum with its collections, its 14 original paintings, its 40 sculptures, its furniture and its studio… it constitutes a moving testimony of the creative and familiar universe of the impressionist Master who spent the last 12 years of his life in Cagnes-sur-Mer.
Very beautiful medieval village with, at the turn of each alley or each staircase, a new perspective on alleys or facades.
Every summer, this small coastal town sees people to enjoy its lively nightlife, do a little shopping in the luxury boutiques and show off on the beach of Pampelonne.
From Nice you could take a boat for visiting this village.
The largest canyon in Europe, between the communes of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, offers majestic landscapes.
The Verdon river took its time and dug during thousands of years this canyon that we can admire nowadays.
For me, the Esterel massif is one of the most beautiful places on the French Riviera.
With its red rocks of volcanic origin and its creeks with turquoise water, it is one of the emblematic images of the region.
To discover it on the sea side, you can opt for a kayak trip, a snorkeling excursion or a boat trip.
On the land side, the Esterel is the ideal destination for hiking on the French Riviera. There are many circuits that allow you to walk through the massif:
The hike of the pic de l’Ours: a beautiful loop of 1h30 on foot to enjoy splendid views
The balconies of Cap Roux, a rather difficult hike of 4h30 but worth the effort for its magnificent landscapes
The rock of Saint-Barthélémy, a 1h walk with a beautiful panorama on the sea.
The Mercantour National Park is one of the eleven national parks of France.
From the olive trees to the high crystalline summits exceeding 3000m of altitude, this wild space abounds in varied landscapes with the Mediterranean as a backdrop.
Stretching over 6 valleys, it invites you to discover a wild world of exceptional biodiversity that the visitor will discover from traditional mountain villages.
Still wondering what to see on the French Riviera?
Why not push the visit a little bit further and discover the beautiful calanques of Cassis.
Embark on a cruise in the exceptional setting of the Calanques National Park, which stretches between Cassis and Marseille.
You will have the choice between several circuits: 3, 5, 8 or 9 creeks passing in particular by the creeks of Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau or Sugiton.
The duration of an outing varies from 45 min to 1h50 and tickets are on sale directly at the port every day of the year (except bad weather).
Marseille, a port city in the south of France, has been a crossroads of trade and immigration since it was founded by the Greeks around 600 B.C. At its heart is the Old Port where fishermen sell their catch on the boat-lined quay. The Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is a Romanesque church of Byzantine inspiration. Modern buildings include the Cité Radieuse, a housing unit designed by Le Corbusier and the CMA CGM Tower by Zaha Hadid…
Italy is at just 30-40 min by train from Nice and as there are no borders anymore, the access is extremely easy.
Each Friday in Ventimille, the first city at the border with France, there is a famous market. Do not rent a car for going there as you will be stuck in the traffic.
You could go as well to San Remo where there is each year a famous music festival