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Nice, France

Nice is Nice
Gem of the French Riviera

Beach scene


Weather permitting, there is nothing more pleasurable than spending the morning—or afternoon—at one of the city's many private beaches, where you can conveniently rent a comfortable, cushioned chaise lounge, fresh towels and a large umbrella. Lunch on salad Niçoise and a bottle of Rosé without ever leaving your spot in the sun thanks to the small army of friendly, tanned servers. In order to ensure that your refreshing swim in the sparkling Mediterranean brings you bliss and not blisters, be sure to protect your feet from the hot, irregularly shaped stones that cover the shores of the Baie des Anges. You can purchase inexpensive flip flops or jelly sandals in most souvenir shops. Another advantage of choosing a private beach over a public one is the availability of clean, spacious changing and showering facilities, which, depending on where you stay, eradicate a time-consuming return trip to your hotel in order to freshen up before you continue touring the city.

While Old Nice charms with its Italian architecture and atmosphere, "new" Nice is no less endearing thanks to the profusion of Belle Epoque façades that embellish the commercial and residential neighborhoods of the city, from the Promenade des Anglais to the tranquil hill of Cimiez. For a more thorough visit of Nice's architectural treasures, contact the City Hall of Nice, where you can choose from several 90-minute guided tours of the city.

Promenade des Anglais

Spend your second mid-afternoon discovering Le Carré d'Or, the elegant section of the pedestrian zone of central Nice, which begins at the Promenade des Anglais and extends to the tree-lined Boulevard Victor Hugo. Look for street names like Paradis, Alfonse Karr or Longchamp in order to identify this chic quarter of Nice. A structured walk should begin at the majestic Place Massena, the veritable center of Nice—easily recognizable by its series of fountains and large, red, arcaded buildings. Walk along the spacious and verdant Jardin Albert 1er, one of the oldest gardens in Nice, which links the old and new cities while occupying a coveted central location with an unobstructed, sublime view of the sea. The garden is also parallel to the pedestrian zone where you can peruse through small boutiques, enjoy an aperitif or dine in one of many outdoor restaurants. The Taverne Massena, for example, serves a particularly good pizza in a casual, convivial setting.

Eglise Russe

For a more urban experience, walk down the crowded and commercial Avenue Jean Mèdecin. Beside major department stores like Galeries Lafayette, Virgin Megastore and a multi-level shopping mall, you will spot the Basilica of Notre Dame, the largest church in Nice and the oldest example of modern religious architecture in the city center. Note the late nineteenth-century series of stained glass windows. The out-of-the-way Eglise Russe (Russian church) is worth the detour for those interested in the city’s host of holy monuments. This ornate landmark, inspired by St. Basil's cathedral in Red Square, was built between 1902 and 1913 and financed by Czar Nicolas II. The Eglise Russe is a prominent reminder of the importance of Russian royalty in Nice during the second half of the nineteenth century. The royal family's winter holidays spent on the Côte d'Azur motivated the city of Nice to improve infrastructure for the comfort of such prestigious "tourists." Again, contact the City Hall of Nice for information about organized visits of the city's religious architecture.

Bouillabaisse, a Niçoise favorite

After spending a day in the vibrant city center, have dinner in a serene, secluded location. For unbeatable bouillabaisse in an attractive, wood-panelled dining room designed to look like a boat, reserve at Coco Beach. Call in the morning to place your order so the chef can purchase your fish at the market. A spectacular setting above the sea makes Coco Beach worth the short trip, but only if you have a car or don't mind the expensive taxi fare. For a more rustic, authentically Niçois experience, don't miss dinner at Chez Hélène Barale, where a colorful parade of local dishes can be had, including wine, for a reasonable fixed price. It's also a slightly out-of-the-way location but worth the effort. Continue to Day 3


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(Updated: 04/13/06)

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