Day 1 – Get your bearings
Unlike some other French cities, Nice isn’t exactly swarming with budget travellers. It is more commonly frequented by many of France’s elite, or ‘beautiful people’. To get your bearings and get used to seeing flash cars and people, take a leisurely stroll around the area in which you are staying and begin to explore this cosmopolitan city.
Once you have moseyed around for a while there’s nothing left to do apart from head straight for the beach! Nice doesn’t exactly have golden sandy beaches, more like rounded stone beaches. This can prove to be quite uncomfortable when you first lie down, but like anything else you get used to it. The beach commands amazing views over the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) and planes constantly fly over the bay going in and out of the city. This will provides you with more than enough to look at while lying on your back.
From the beach you won’t have far to go to enjoy a few sociable beers with the Promenade des Anglais overlooking the beach. Dotted all along this promenade that was built by a group of English tourists, are a string of bars, cafés and restaurants. Particularly in the summer months when you can sit outside, it is perfect for people spotting as well as enjoying a nice relaxing evening.
Day 2 – Antibes
Situated across the Baie des Anges from Nice is the town of Antibes. This is where the really rich residents on the Côte d’Azur can be found. Situated just 20 kilometres from the city of Nice, getting there isn’t a problem and you can get there using public transport or by availing of a day trip from Nice.
Finding things to do in this coastal town isn’t very challenging as for a small enough settlement there is more than enough to keep one occupied for a number of hours.
The town’s best-known attraction is Museé Picasso. Used by the celebrated artist as a studio for six months in 1946, today it boasts an excellent collection of the artist’s paintings and sketches. What makes the museum even more interesting is that it is situated on the site of the town’s former Acropolis. By 1928 it was purchased by the town council and then passed on to Picasso. The museum is also home to some well kept gardens which command some powerful sea views.
While he isn’t as well known as Picasso another of Antibes’ museums is dedicated to the life of local artist Peynet. Regarded first and foremost as a cartoonist, along with drawings, there are also some of his sculptures on display also.
Before returning back to Nice, take some time out to stroll around the Old Town. You will come across the city’s harbour filled with fishing boats as well as marketplaces and old villas with bright coloured roof tiles.
If you are up for a bit of dancing when you get back to Nice that evening, make your way to La Palousa which is regarded as the largest nightclub on the Côte d’Azur.
Day 3 – A spot of culture
Nice has some very impressive museums, the best of the bunch being Musée d’Art moderne et d’Art Contemporain (Museum of Modern Art). Comprising of four towers which are connected by glass walkways, there are collections from the world’s best known ‘pop artists’ such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein along with a display containing nothing but work of one of France’s best known modern artists Yves Klein. Temporary exhibitions are usually on display also.
After visiting the museum of modern art, or one of the city’s other museums, a pleasant way to spend an afternoon is by relaxing in Parc du Château situated just at the bottom of Quai des État-Unis. The park boasts amazing views over the beach and Vieux Nice along with some nice walks. It also presents a nice alternative to the beach for those who wish to lie in the sun for a while.
Nice has more to do at night other than visit pubs and nightclubs. Culture vultures won’t have too far to search to keep them happy. Opéra de Nice is where the best of the city’s operas and orchestral performances are held. And for an alternative evening, make your way to the Manoir Café is a bar/restaurant/ that also doubles up as a gallery and has exhibitions on regularly.
Day 4 – Monaco
While it isn’t actually part of France, and an independent principality in its own right, Monaco is only 30-40 minutes away from Nice on the train. While it is home to the rich (as are many places around the French Riviera), the train only costs approximately €7.
Walking around Monaco and Monte Carlo will keep any person occupied for a number of hours. Walking around the streets, it is fascinating to actually witness the starting grid for the annual Grand Prix along with the array of yachts which protrude just how much wealth there is in the miniscule state.
If you want to see exactly how the local royal family, the Grimaldis, live then you must visit Prince’s Palace. Situated on the top of a hill, getting to the palace can be tough but the view from the top makes it more than worthwhile. Naturally, walking around the palace makes up for a lot of the walk also.
One of Hollywood’s most famous icons, Grace Kelly (later to live under the title of Princess Grace of Monaco) who was killed in a car crash in 1982 is buried in Monaco. Killed with her husband Prince Rainier III in 1982, her grave today lays in the Cathédrale de Monaco. The cathedral itself isn’t the most spectacular one in the world, but it is still worth a visit, if only to visit Grace’s grave.
Other points of interest in Monaco include the Le Casino, the opera house and Jardin Exotique.
Day 5 – Vieux Nice
Beginning the next day of your break along Promenade des Anglais is perfect for clearing your head if you had too many beers the night before. Otherwise, the pleasant walk is the perfect way to begin any day in Nice. You may even feel like spending a couple of hours on the beach again!). But keep travelling east on the promenade (with the sea on your right) you will eventually reach Quai des États-Unis. Upon reaching this street you will begin to notice a difference in architecture. You are now entering Vieux Nice.
Better known to English speaking tourists as Old Nice, this area is a maze of winding streets, cafés, restaurants and ice-cream stalls – lots and lots of ice-cream stalls. If you are fond of the sweet dairy product then you will have no problems finding it in the old town.
You could spend half day in this quarter of the city. Its old streets are fascinating, as is the architecture of the buildings. One trademark of the buildings in Vieux Nice is that it resembles an old Italian town rather than France.
Conveniently, Vieux Nice is also one of the liveliest parts of Nice. Most of the restaurants stay open until midnight, the bars serve until 1.30am-2am, and for the real night owls the clubs stay open until after 5am! The best known bar in the area is Wayne’s which is jam-packed basically every night which is due to the many bands playing there nightly. And once they shut up shop, the busiest and most popular is Blue Whales.