48 Hours in Nice, France
Leah Walker June 22, 2015

Mention the French Riviera and visions come to mind of the jet set from Europe lavishly enjoying the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Yes, the Côte d’Azur exudes its fair-share of glamour, but it’s much more than Champagne and yachts, particularly the city of Nice.

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As the fifth largest city in France, Nice is a mix of history, culture, unique cuisine, beautiful vistas, and exceptional weather {around 300 days of sunshine}. The Alps stretch almost to the sea, with the city built into the foothills, just along the water.

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This city in the heart of the French Riviera is close to the Italian border, which explains why it feels more like Italy than France to me. But don’t be mistaken, Nice is 100% French and just another layer to this rich and varied country.

Stay

A few blocks off of Promenade des Anglais is the Windsor Hotel. This four-star boutique hotel may not be beachside, but there’s plenty of beauty to be found on the inside. Filled with art, each room is unique in its design. Various contemporary artists designed the artist rooms, while other contain frescoes by Antoine Baudoin. Indeed, the entire hotel is filled with art, with a yearly rotating exhibition. Playful and fun, even the elevator is an artistic experience. When the floor button is pushed inside the rocket-themed elevator, a countdown to blast off accompanies the lift. The tranquil garden filled with bamboo, fruit trees, birds, and a small pool, also contains artist installations.



Booking.com

Eat & Drink

If you’ve never been to the French Riviera then you’re likely to be surprised by the food. Niçoise cuisine {the term coined for the style of food from Nice} isn’t the typical French food. With influences from the Mediterranean Sea, its warm and sunny climate, and proximity to Italy, the offerings in Nice include lots of fresh fish, vegetables, and herbs, along with Italian favorites such as pizza and gelato. What sets Niçoise cuisine apart from traditional French fare is the use of olive oil rather than butter. After all, the French Riviera is one of the biggest producers of olive oil in France.

Some of the regional dishes that can’t be missed include:

Salade Niçoise—There are many different versions of this typical dish, so it just depends on where you take your table. Basically, it’s sliced tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs with a vinaigrette dressing. Other possible toppings include olives, potatoes, green peas, red peppers, shallots, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and fresh tuna.

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Socca—A typical street food, this chickpea pancake is made in a giant, steel skillet over hot coals. It’s blackend and crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside.

Pan Bagnat—Literally meaning, “moistened bread,” this round sandwich is basically a Salade Niçoise on a bun. Messy? Yes. Delicious? No doubt.

Pissaladiere—This dish is where Italy meets France. With dough thicker than pizza, pissaladiere is topped with olives, caramelized onions, garlic, and anchovies.

Tapenade—A common starter, tapenade is a paste made of local olives, capers, and anchovies that is served with crispy bread.

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Rosé Wine—Even the biggest wine snob will be tempted to drink rosé while in Nice. Cold, dry, and cheap, the pink vin pairs perfectly with the Mediterranean cuisine.

Farcis—Vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are filled with a mixture of ground meat, garlic, and breadcrumbs then baked. It can be served warm or cold, but I prefer it hot out of the oven.

With so many places in Nice to eat and drink, here are a few that stand out among the rest:

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Le Marché—Located on Cours Saleya, home of Nice’s famous antiques market, is the apply named Le Marché. In a sea of other cafés along this Old Town stretch, Le Marché offers a menu filled with typical Mediterranean offerings made with the freshest ingredients. 12-14 Cours Saleya

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Attimi—Part of the Slow Food Association and meaning “moments” in Italian, Attimi is located on the edge of Old Nice and next to Place Massena. With pizza, pasta, and salads, the menu is simple, but made with the best ingredients from throughout Italy. 10 place Masséna

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Restaurant Acchiardo—For four generations, the Acchiardo family has been serving up traditional Niçoise cuisine since 1927. This lively place feels more like a home than a restaurant. 38 rue Droite

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Oui, Jelato—As a delicious alternative to the Nice gelato institution of Fenocchio {over 100 flavors}, give Oui, Jelato a chance. This shop has been around since 2005 and offers homemade Italian ice cream made with the freshest ingredients. Get a scoop of the mango and yogurt flavored, and you’ll be in heaven. 5 rue de la Préfecture 

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Maison Auer—In business since 1820, this traditional chocolaterie and confiserie is treat to enter. The shop is just as divine as the sweets it makes. A variety of chocolates line the shelves, but it’s the candied fruit known as Caisson de fruits confits that are the most unique. Try the whole candied clementine orange. 7 rue Saint-François de Paule

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Cave Bianchi—Part wine shop and part tasting room, Cave Bianchi has been pouring vin in Nice since 1860. Stop by for the twice per day tastings {12:00 and 6:00} or simply to pick up a bottle from one of the local producers. 7 rue Raoul Bosio

Experience

It’s tempting to sit in a lounger with a bottle of rosé on the smooth, rocky beaches of the Mediterranean. However, there’s so much more to Nice to enjoy. Whether exploring the various parks and gardens, wandering the colorful streets of Old Town, or checking out one of the many museums or galleries, the options for visitors abound. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Cours Saleya—This pedestrian-only street in the middle of Old Town was built on ramparts that were dismantled during the 18th century. On Mondays, it’s home to one of France’s most famous antiques market, while the rest of the week, the fruits and vegetable market sets up shop.

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Promenade des Anglais—One can’t rightly visit Nice without spending a good bit of time walking along this historical stretch. Running parallel to the Baie des Anges, the promenade is the place to people watch, ride bikes, and enjoy a glass of rosé at one of the many restaurants along the beach. The sunrise and sunset from here are both spectacular to see.

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Castle Hill—Climb the incredible number of stairs or simply take the elevator, but make it a point to go to Castle Hill. Now a park and botanical garden, this was the site of the first town founded by the Greeks. There are still some preserved remnants from this time, along with remains of an 11th-century cathedral. Castle Hill also offers one of the best vantage points with views of Baie des Anges, the port, and Old Nice.

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Promenade du Paillon—Lined with palm trees, this modern green space in the heart of Nice runs from Promenade des Anglais to the Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art. Filled with playgrounds, classic and modern sculptures, and an interactive water feature, Promenade du Paillon is a pleasant surprise. There’s also free wi-fi available for those looking to stay connected.

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Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art {MAMAC}—With works from artists such as Andy Warhol and Cesar Arman, the MAMAC is impressive even for a novice. The building is just as impressive as the art inside. With glass passageways connecting the four square towers, don’t miss going to one of the rooftop terraces for an excellent view over Nice.

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I’m craving another trip to the south of France. As Paris heats up, I can hear the Mediterranean calling my name. I want to watch the waves disappear over the rocky, white beaches. Sipping rosé under a blue and white striped umbrella would be heavenly. And strolling the colorful, narrow streets of Old Town would be a feast for my imagination. There’s something about Nice and Côte d’Azur that leaves me longing for more–48 hours just wasn’t enough.

48 Hours in Nice France by Leah Walker

I was a guest of Atout France and Nice Tourisme. In no way was my opinion swayed by the warm sea breeze, the sun-kissed skin I acquired, or the never-ending supply of olive oil. As always, opinions are mine.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

18 Comments

  1. Pour me a glass of Rosé girl! I am so there, we are heading to AIX this August for a wedding but I have always been quite curious about Nice. You certainly have me convinced with these gorgeous photos. Thank you!

    1. Yes, you should definitely go. Wait until September when the crowds are gone and the weather is still perfect.

  2. Great post. Nice is my favorite vacation spot in France. I love walk down the promenade des Anglais and Nice is always beautiful. You have captured the essence of the southern charm.

    1. I think Nice has so much to offer, and it’s a great jumping off point to explore the entire area. It was such a pleasant surprise.

    1. Yes, try it! I promise you won’t be disappointed. I would have killed for some of the mango and yogurt this afternoon in Paris.

  3. You’re tempting us to think of Nice for an upcoming trip :-). Chilled Rose and the Mediterranean coastal scenery sounds quite appealing! Years ago we stayed just for one night in Nice before a cruise. It was early spring, so the weather was cool and the beaches were bare – in summer, they’re probably a tad too crowded. September would probably be a nice time to visit though!

    1. Yes, I don’t think you could get me there in July or August. I just don’t like crowds that much. September would be ideal. Let’s meet there!

  4. Our first trip to Nice was a complete bust. We were young, backpackers and didn’t know what to do, where to start. I think this calls for a return trip. 🙂

  5. I have wanted to visit Nice for as long as I can remember. This post just made me want to hop on a plane and go now! Love all these tips, so when I finally get there, I’ll have the best experience.

  6. I’ve been to Nice a few times and your photos really capture exactly how it looks and feels. One of my favorite things I ever did there was visit the Musee Matisse. It really made me fall for this artist. You should check it out when you visit next!

  7. On my first trip overseas I was in Normandy with a class of 20 other college students. As soon as the class was over we headed straight for Nice. This post brings back great memories. I loved the food, especially the salade Niçoise. Need to retrace my steps one of these days.

  8. I found your site by doing a search on the Owl’s trail in Dijon on Twitter and boom … I am on your site. Your Nice post is very nice. Ha! Well organized and easy to read, which is rare in the travel blog world. We are in Dijon, traveling through Europe, and about to head to Lyon then Nice. Any recommendations for tours?

    We were just in Paris as well for the big day without cars well

  9. Hi Leah
    I and my wife often go there and we love Nice. We’re from the UK and we’re well travelled. We have two apartments in Vieux Nice.
    There’s a fresh (uncooked) and cooked seafood platter minutes away at Torinino’s fabulous seafood restaurant close to Garibaldi in Vieux Nice. We love to people watch there eating lunch as Place Garibaldi is packed with people making their way into the narrow streets, or alleys should I call them, in the Old Town/Vieux Nice.
    You can wander to Le Port and see the superyachts and megayachts anchored at Port Lympia, with Quai Lunel running past Pointe de Rauba-Capéu to the sea.
    We have competitive rates for the two, one-bed apartments, beautifully and tastefully decorated. The two apartments/flats have separate doors to each and we let them out individually or as a two bedroom unit. We are able to do this as they are each self-contained. The one was purchased about in 2008 and the other was in 2013. You and others are welcome to see our site https://uk.pinterest.com/ianrobinson9655/vieux-nice-france-apartments/
    There are many more appetizing and delectable pics there as well and you can see the inside of the apartments. We regularly stay there and let them out as well.
    Cheers, Ian Robinson

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