Nice in the south of France is a beautiful city blessed with sunny weather almost all year round. This beautiful town in the French Riviera is an amazing place to visit especially when the carnival is taking place. For tips on the carnival see my post: A guide to Nice Carnival, France.
Here some non-carnival things to do in this fantastic town all year round.
St Nicholas Cathedral
This stunning cathedral is a hidden gem and is only a short walk from Nice train station. I did not expect to see a Russian style church in the middle of Nice, France. What I expected even less was 2 white rabbits hopping around on the grass just outside it. They seem to be pets of the cathedral and add to its serene atmosphere.
The inside is just as beautiful as the outside. Photography is not allowed inside the cathedral but there is a small souvenir stall where books and postcards can be purchased.
Castle hill or the Nice Chateau is perched on top of a cliff, close to the coastline. It offers the best viewpoint of Nice. No longer a castle or a chateau this attraction now has extraordinary views, wonderful old ruins and parks for the whole family to enjoy. But what stood out most to us was the impressive waterfall. The spray from the water creating countless rainbows on this beautiful sunny day. It really is a place you can relax at for hours at a time.
To get up the hill you have a choice of either the stairs or the free elevator ride. We decided to get the free lift up and take the stairs down.
The #ILoveNice sign
The #ILoveNice sign in blue white and red, the colours of the French flag. There are 2 in the city of Nice. One is at the airport but the more impressive one is by the seafront on the Promenade des Anglais. It is very touristy but perfect for Instagram, especially sitting in the ‘C’ with the sea in the background.
Further along the Promenade des Anglais you will come across a blue chair statue. The blue chair (chaises bleues) has become a symbol of Nice. There is also a row of blue chairs looking out towards the sea, the muse of this artwork.
Very close by on the promenade there is also a small version of the statue of liberty. The Statue de Liberté is only 1.30 meters tall and located opposite the opera house. Its very famous older sister in New York is 93 meters. But as the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi stated, “we wanted it to be modest, in order not to rival New York!”
La Tête Carrée
The unique ‘Thinking inside the box’ sculpture for the Central library was my personal favourite. Unfortunately the inside of the building is not open to the public but seeing the 30 meter tall structure from the outside is impressive enough.
The gardens surrounding the sculpture also have some other interesting art pieces.
Colourful umbrellas hanging above a narrow road are now popular in so many European cities. But the patterned umbrellas on Rue Droite road are my favourite. They are located directly outside the Indian Lounge restaurant.
Nice Old Town
Nice old town is an attraction in itself. The beautiful houses with colourful shutters and little balconies are stunning. You could spend hours, and we did, wandering these streets with hidden gems around each corner.
There are so many great ice cream options in Nice. We were planning on going to Gelateria Azzurro in old town, but because it was closed we went to the nearby Fenocchio Glacier.
Fenocchio Glacier have an amazing range of flavours, from the conventional to more unusual like olive, lavender or cactus. They also have a wide range of popular chocolate bar flavours, which we went for because we weren’t feeling too adventurous. It is definitely the perfect place for gelato and sorbet lovers.
The Healer cafe
This tiny cafe serves healthy soups, smoothies and a meal of the day option. When we ate here it was a delicious wild rice and vegetable curry. They also have take away options if you want to be healthy on the go.
If you want something less healthy but still delicious and quick I recommend Big Fernand. They serve burgers with high quality meat as well as a tasty vegetarian burger.
Patisserie Lac is a chain of takeaway dessert shops, with three branches in Nice. They specialise in macaroons, desserts and chocolate. The macaroons were delicious and became our go to dessert during our time in Nice.
Nice Train station
Nice is a good place to base yourself if you want to visit other towns along the French Riviera. They have a fantastic train system, unfortunately the same cannot be said about the train station.
The ticket machines at the station do not accept any foreign cards or even Euros in the form of notes. This means that you either have to pay in coins or find the ticket office which isn’t very clearly labelled. However it took a lot of confusion and googling before we figured this out.
There aren’t any staff member to be found in most of the station and the ticket office is a small room at one end of the station. In the offices are desks with people organising trains to all over the country, you will have to take a ticket and wait to be called. This whole system was quite confusing for us, but we have now learnt for the next time we go to Nice.
Our advice would be to hoard your coins if possible and then use them for the train tickets. Also something to be aware of is the machines can time out. So if you are trying to buy multiple tickets it is best to buy them one at a time which means you have enough time to put all the coins in before it resets and you have to start all over again.
Nice carnival was what brought us to the city but we ended up really our time there. See my article on the Nice carnival for a specific post about it:A guide to Nice Carnival, France.
It is a good weekend destination as most things can be seen in 2 or 3 days. But if you have time I recommend seeing other places along the French Riviera. For some sun that we never have in England during February!