Nice France Travel Guide
Are you making a trip to Nice in France soon?
Surely you would have known that Nice is a nice place to spend?
Too corny. Yes we get it. Moving on now.
What are some of the most memorable things to do in Nice then?
Follow us as we walk you through the Nice France Travel Guide.
Small introduction of Nice France
Lying along the French Riviera and blessed with some of the most beautiful shoreline in the world, Nice blends together old world charm, beautiful historical buildings and a fantastic promenade.
Nice has an apt nickname, Nice la Belle, which means Nice the Beautiful.
The unofficial anthem of Nice bears the same name.
A large part of its charm can also be attributed to the incredible 19th century mansions that line the boulevard, and within a short walk you can find yourself in an old town more reminiscent of Italy than the French Riviera!
Beyond its beachfront lies a natural rugged landscape that just adds to the allure of Nice.
Spend some time here and you will appreciate the abundance of fine restaurants that satisfy the most demanding of taste buds.
Whether it is that quaint cafe serving aromatic espresso or the Michelin starred Le Louis XV, the food is simply delectable and delicious.
Now, just imagine that you are there in the middle of it all. How NICE would that be?
Since we have aroused your interest, check out the following essential information to get your trip started!
When is the best time to visit Nice?
Nice is part of the Mediterranean’s French Riviera (or Cote d’Azur in French), and enjoys mild weather and glorious sunshine for more than 300 days a year.
Temperatures seldom go above 27 degree Celsius even in the height of summer and generally enjoys temperate weather year round.
During the seductive winter months is when the rain comes and there might be a small chance of seeing snow (thought it is quite rare).
During springtime from March to May, the temperature is at its most comfortable, rising from 15 to 20 degree Celsius towards the end of May. This is an ideal time for you to visit and enjoy the mild Mediterranean climate.
This is also the time of the museum festival as well as the celebrity filled Film Festival in nearby Cannes.
Tourist activities usually picks up more along with the rise in temperatures. Rain is seldom present and if it does appear, it comes in short showers.
From June to August, summer comes along together with swathes of tourist.
This is the time of the European summer holidays and crowds becomes the norm here.
If you wish to avoid the crowds, then skip July and August.
The average temperature stays at just below 27 degree Celsius and is the perfect time for you to bring your bathing suit along to dip in the sea, since these are the driest months of the year.
In the months of September to November, autumn sets in and temperatures starts to return to a comfortable 16 degree Celsius from the mid twenties.
Holiday makers have now returned to their jobs and the crowds are much lower during this time.
For us, this is the perfect time to visit Nice, as the weather is super pleasant and you can take part in the grape harvest that happens during September.
And finally between December and February, winter takes over and the whole city feels much more like a small village rather than one of the busiest cities in France.
The mercury drops to as low as 5 degree Celsius but for the most part, it is cool rather than cold.
While the swimming costume will be pretty useless now, there are still lots of activities that can be undertaken. The rain comes in spurts and does not last too long.
Make sure to pack the right clothing depending on the season you are visiting and not make a fashion faux pas!
Tip: You should definitely check out this site to see live streaming videos of the conditions in Nice!
Some Facts about Nice
Population: around 1 million
- Named after the Greek Goddess Nike
- Languages: French, English (in tourist areas)
- There is a replica of Statue of Liberty standing outside the Opera de Nice
- Nice formerly belonged to Italy, and was part of France only in 1860
Nice is situated at the southern part of France, along the pebbly shores of the Bay of Angels.
It is well positioned to allow visitors like yourself to reach it by air, land and sea.
There is only one airport in Nice, the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport.
Its location is merely a few kilometres from its shoreline, hence making transfers to the main part of town simple, fast and straightforward.
It has two terminals and serves both international and domestic flights.
From Paris, the flight time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
It is clean and well organised and offers free shuttles between terminals.
Remember to check in advance which terminal you are flying off from as there are no signages outside the terminals to show the airlines that flies in there.
Check for flights here at Momondo, our favourite comparison site.
Tip: Make sure to get a window seat and admire the gorgeous views of the sea or coastline of Nice when approaching the airport.
The main station in Nice is the Gare de Nice-Ville.
This is where you will arrive at if you took a TGV train from Paris, which takes around 6 hours.
Check schedules at the SNCF website.
The TGV also connects other cities in France with Nice so do check that out too.
Besides trains from within France, there are options to consider from other parts of Europe as well.
From Italy, you can check out the offers from Trentitalia or from other parts of Europe too.
This site tells you more information about the scheduling.
Tip: Make sure to take pictures around the Gare de Nice-Ville station. Although you can tell that it was built a long time ago, but that translates to an old world charm that is simply not present in our modern train stations these days.
If you are driving to Nice, it is likely you will be coming from within France or possibly Italy.
The easiest and best highway to use will be the A8 autoroute which cuts across the whole of Nice and if you are coming in from the East, you are in for a treat when you drive pass the “Three Corniches”.
They are some of the most scenic driving routes you can find and the view from the highest of them all, the Grand Corniche, is absolutely stunning.
We have never had the opportunity to partake in this but from what we know, you can take your own boat and access Nice through the Gare Maritime de Nice, which is the ferry terminal.
But we are guessing if you own a boat you should be able to figure this part out!
Getting Around Nice
Most of the activities and action revolves around the central part of the city, near the Jean Medicin area.
And this is where you will find most of the shopping and the highest concentration of restaurants.
If you are spending just a couple of days in Nice, our advice would be to take to the streets with your best walking shoes and simply walk.
Nice has such a lovely small town feel and the city is well organised, its roads well paved, plus the cool weather, making it perfect to explore on foot.
If however, it is not feasible to walk, there are some great options available to you too.
The public transport system in Nice is well developed and consists of buses, trams and trains.
All of these services are managed by the operator Lignes d’Azur.
Buses and Trams
The excellent bus and tram services in Nice covers almost every part of the city, and is clean and comfortable.
Price wise, each ticket typically costs $1.50.
If you have the intention to travel to a few places within the same day, we would suggest buying the day pass which only costs $5, but gives you unlimited usage on the buses and trams.
Did we mention that walking is the best way to explore Nice?
It is true, as Nice is such a compact city. You will be amazed by what you see along the dense alleys of the old town or the open square right outside.
By walking around, you are also able to fully experience the unique blend of French and Italian architecture. Plus, you can interact with the locals, taste the street food or just stop and pop into one of the many cute cafes.
Nice implemented a city wide bike sharing program called Velo Bleu in 2009, and it turned out to be hugely popular.
As you visit Nice, give it a try too as it opens up opportunities to seek out more activities compared to just walking alone.
Prices for rental are extremely reasonable, with a day rental rate at only $1!
It lets you use the bike for up to 30 minutes each time, beyond which you will be charged $1 for the next half hour, and $2 for the subsequent 1 hour blocks.
Unfortunately, the Velo Bleu website is only available in French at the moment, so you would have to use a translation tool to fill out the booking form.
The alternative is to visit the Velo Bleu office, located across the Gare de Nice-Ville at Thiers Avenue.
Here’s the Velo Bleu website if you wish to try your luck or if you read French.
They do have a mobile app but it is useless when it comes to booking.
The only good thing about the app is that it shows the locations of the stations and if there are any empty bikes.
Tip: Aim to return the bike within 30 minutes and hop onto a new one. You won’t have to pay for it. Also be extra careful to physically inspect the bikes as they may not be in the best conditions. And do not ride on tram lines!
While there are taxis and Uber service plying the streets of Nice, why would you want to take them and miss out of so many other wonderful aspects of Nice?
Unless you are heading out of town to say maybe Cagnes Sur Mer or trying to get to town from the airport, we do not recommend using the taxis/Uber.
Besides, the prices are prohibitively high, starting at $3 but the truth is that a lot of taxi drivers will not take any fare below $15!
From the airport, the price is fixed at$32.
So you go figure if it is worth your while!
WiFi in Nice France
The city of Nice is not only connected well in terms of infrastructure, so is the availability of high speed wireless internet.
From the moment you land in Nice Airport, you can get free access to the WiFi to post your photo of the coastline behind you to Instagram or you can use it to book Uber.
In the city itself, you can get connected to public hotspots whether you are in the Old Town or just strolling along the Promenade des Anglais.
This useful WiFi spots website will show you where you can get on the internet for free.
A great alternative would be to rent a WiFi mobile router where you and your travelling companions can all get signal simultaneously across multiple devices.
You can book yours here and pick it up in the city centre when you arrive. The costs is $6.90 per day and there is an extra $4 for the postage to send the router back.
Best things to eat in Nice
The traditional cuisine of Nice is somewhat different from the main cities of Paris, Marseille or Lyon.
Due to its history and location near the Mediterranean coast, the food in Nice blends together fresh seafood with liberal use of herbs and garlic that makes it unique.
What should you not miss out when here in Nice?
Take a look at some of these mouth watering delights:
The well known salad that got its name from Nice, and made with fresh tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, green peas and lettuce. It is then topped usually with tuna or anchovies.
Socca, also know as Farinata
A quintessential street food of Nice, you cannot say that you have visited Nice until you try one of these flatbreads made with chickpea flour.
They are easily found throughout Nice, so no excuses not to pick one up!
Tourte des Blettes
Another original from Nice, this tart is typically stuffed with Swiss chard, pine nuts and parmesan and then seasoned with cinnamon.
It seems to have a confused identity as you can get this in both sweet and savoury versions, but we think that means another reason to eat more of it.
Soup au Pistou
Mostly consumed in the summer, this vegetable soup comes with pasta, pistou (a type of French cold sauce), and a mixture of some herbs. Best pairing? With a glass of red wine.
After watching the movie with the same name, you would be forgiven if you thought that this famous dish came from Paris. However, this is actually another local creation in Nice, and many restaurants here serve fine versions of it.
While this is not exactly a food nor origin from Nice, the fact is that Rose wines have a Mediterranean background and is closely related to the city of Nice.
Actually, why know so much when you can just enjoy this sweet delight right?
Will you be visiting Paris as well? Check out out our article on Why You Must Visit Paris too!
Best places to hang out and have a drink in Nice
What do you do when you have completed all your day time activities?
Or when you need a break from the hot sun during the day?
Sit down, relax and recharge with a drink of course!
With Nice being the most developed and visited city in the French Riviera, there are no shortages of places to enjoy a tipple.
Bar des Oiseaux
Located in a corner of the Old Town, this unassuming bar is not easily found but once you find it, soak up the lively atmosphere and nightly performances on stage.
The performances range from jazz to cabaret and occasionally comedians put on a show too.
5, rue Saint Vincent, Nice, 06300, France
Cafe de Turin
Well known and frequented by the locals, they are popular for their seafood menu, and you are free to stay around and enjoy some cocktails.
Its prime location also makes access to this restaurant very convenient.
5 Place Garibaldi, 06300 Nice, France
Les Distilleries Ideales
Peculiar and retro looking bar that sits right in the heart of the old town, this establishment offers a nice chill spot to hang out and spend the evening away.
All while sipping on reasonably priced drinks.
24 Rue de la Préfecture, 06300 Nice, France
An amazing wine bar that resides close to the port of Nice, its proximity to many other fantastic bars within a short walk makes this an excellent choice should you wish to bar hop.
Not forgetting the easy going price of organic wines, don’t miss this one out.
10 Rue Lascaris, 06300 Nice, France
Best Nature Places in Nice
There is nothing much more rewarding than to get close to nature, be it to see its natural beauty, to hike and to observe its wildlife.
Nice offers a stunning coastline, and within short car rides are nature reserves that are suitable for hikers and nature lovers of all ages.
Monts d’Azur Nature Reserve
Located about 80 minutes away from Nice, this nature reserve is a perfect escapade from the city and experience safari like experience, in France, not Botswana!
Wild animals here roam freely knowing they are well protected, and they make for a extraordinary sight for visitors.
You can easily spot bison, horses and eagles going about their business without paying attention to visitors.
Do take note though that from April to November, the park is only opened from Wednesdays to Sundays, while it only operates Fridays to Sundays during December to March.
You will also need to know French to book a tour as the site only has French language available.
Your best bet is to find a local agent who can coordinate the logistics.
Chemin du Vinaigrier
Less than 5 kilometres from the Old Town lies the Vinaigrier Park.
It is nestled between the Col de Villafranche and Grand Corniche, and allows you to have a panoramic view of the Bay of Angels from a vantage point.
Follow the footpaths down the hill and you will find yourself in the middle of olive and almond trees.
This is where you can snap Instagram worthy photos of you and your companion frolicking in the sun and make all your followers jealous!
Take note you do have to have a vehicle to access it though, otherwise public transport will take upwards to an hour to reach.
Parc du Mont Boron
Within easier reach from the city area, the park of Mont Boron is actually a hilltop forest that has hiking trails and fantastic spots for a picnic.
If you are in the mood, you can also make use of the exercise circuits for a work out, but remember that there are no shower facilities here.
Before you head up to Mont Boron, or even the connecting Fort du Mont Alban, be certain that you are in good shape and has some experience hiking steep hills.
This is not for the faint hearted but the views at the top are a just reward.
You can walk from the Old Town or if you prefer, you can take bus 14 to reach the top.
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