From sipping coffee in Cours Saleya to basking in sunshine on the famous Promenade des Anglais, city breaks in Nice are ideal if you’re looking for a laid back holiday. Throw in a handful of world-class galleries and bustling marketplaces and you have one of the most popular destinations in France.
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One of the most pleasant parts of Nice is the city’s Old Town, Vieux Nice. Little has changed since the 18th century, making Vieux Nice a delightful maze of alleys and streets lined with picturesque houses and souvenir shops. You can spend a lot of time exploring the beautiful Cours Saleya, a sprawling fruit and flower market where a thousand colours, sounds and smells fight for your attention. If you venture out into the alleys you’ll find plenty of delis and boutiques nestled between narrow lanes. If you’re looking for fresh local produce, Rue de la Boucherie and Rue Pairolière are both great places to discover. This is also where you’ll find the Palais Lascaris, a Baroque 17th-century mansion. More Baroque architecture can be found in the Cathédrale Ste-Réparate and the Chapelle de la Miséricorde, both of which are well worth seeing.
Built by the English colony in Nice in 1822, the Promenade des Anglais is one of Nice’s definite highlights. Walking beside the beach offers sun-basked views during the daytime and sublime vistas at night. The beach itself, Plage Publique des Ponchettes, is covered with smooth pebbles and makes for a picturesque afternoon spent relaxing under a parasol or dipping into the clear blue waters. At night the area is equally popular with couples enjoying romantic waterside ambles. If you’d like a longer walk, a short journey from Vieux Nice will take you to a popular Cliff Walk that leads from Coco Beach towards Villefranche. Or you could climb to the Parc du Château, set on a rocky outcrop above the city. Formerly the site of a 12th-century castle, this area is now an ideal spot for picnics.
After hours spent baking in the sun, pop into the shade of one of Nice’s galleries. Particularly popular is the Musée Matisse, dedicated to the modern artist Henri Matisse who lived and died in the area. There are bright, colourful artworks here that span the entirety of Matisse’s output. Another excellent art museum in Nice is the Musée National Marc Chagall, focused on the Belarusian painter Marc Chagall. Art lovers will definitely enjoy the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, offering both breathtaking panoramas of Nice along with some of the greatest works of post-war French art. For history buffs, the Musee et Site Archeologiques de Cimiez offers a fascinating glimpse in the Gallo-Roman heritage of the area.