Nice

France
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General

Nice is one of the best summer locations in Europe. Being close everywhere makes it the perfect candidate for staying there. I have only stayed in Nice and it was really easy for me to visit all nearby places including Eze Village, Monaco, Cannes and Antibes.

Nice is not a very large city, but it is probably the biggest one in France in Riviera. That’s why you will see many tourists while travelling. There is a tourist center in front of main train station which you can ask whatever you need. If you are curious of timetables of bus and train departures, you can also take from them. Unlike in other parts in France, they will not only understand you but also answer you in English. There are some people in France who understands you and does not answer you in English for stupid reasons, but you will not experience this at least in the tourist center.

I was in Nice during Euro 2016. France government was well prepared for this whole championship and built some fan zone areas in popular cities. Being there with locals and experiencing how people from different countries watch in a peaceful way was totally an unforgettable moment.

How to reach

I reached there by train from Genoa, but flied back to my country. So, I had a chance to learn both ways to reach Nice. Train travel is very easy as it is like in many cities in Europe. Train station is called “Gare de Nice Ville”. It is very close to the main street of Nice: Avenue Jean Medecin. I really enjoyed walking this street every night. Considering you may travel to many other places, staying nearby may a better option.

Airport is also close, however travel between airport and city center may take time because there are no train or metro options. You have to take a specific bus route which runs frequently. Line 98 departs from Lycee Massena and Line 98 departs from Gare SNCF. The journey will take around 30 minutes. Although there are two or three frequent buses every hour, if you arrival is later than 9 PM, you will only have option to use Line 98. Your ticket will be valid for 75 minutes which includes a transfer in the whole Nice network. So, you may use either tram or bus to reach Gare SNCF in case your hotel is in that region.

Travelling around

The easiest and the best transportation in Nice will be by walking. There is also a popular tram line which passes through Avenue Jean Medecein and turns left when it reaches Place Massena. This will be the same tram line which then reaches to main bus station you will be using if you plan to go Eze Village. You can check my Eze post for detailed information about how to reach there.

There are two close beach areas you may reach from Nice. They are closer than Cannes and Antibes. So, you may consider to go them if Nice beaches near Prom des Anglais don’t satisfy you. The first one Villefranche-Sur-Mer is the best area in whole French Riviera for me. Unfortunately, it gets really crowded after 11 PM. You may go here by train easily. Second spot is Cap-Ferrat. There is no train in Cap-Ferrat, the best way will be going there from either main Nice bus station by bus 81 or taking the same bus from Villefranche-Sur-Mer. Just keep in mind that the last bus for returning Nice was 8 PM when I was there.

What to do

Compared to other spots in French Riviera, Nice is the place offering most attractions to visit. Considering you will probably stay in Nice to visit Eze Village, Monaco, Cannes and Antibes; 1 full-day may be enough. If you do not like waking up early and want to spend more time in Villefranche-Sur-Mer & Cap-Ferrat leaving 2 days for Nice will be a better option for you. Nice is a typical summer holiday place, so you will never get bored.

I started my day by first visiting some shops in Avenue Jean Medecin. All the stores you are looking for –if you are looking of course- are on this street. Nice Etoile is the shopping mall on this avenue. If it rains, you know where to hide right now. You may find many small coffee shops and restaurants also. Ballanger, a shop to buy waffle style desserts is also here. You may find a tram line on the avenue. I really enjoyed walking here, so I have never used it.

When you walk down to the beach side, you will be reaching Place Massena. This is the most popular square in Nice. Colors and tiles on surface make this square as one of the most attractive squares I have been. This square was used as a fan zone in UEFA Euro 2016. Thousands of people were meeting here and watching the matches, so you can imagine how large this square is. Before you reach Place Massena you will see two popular streets one on your right (Rue Massena) and one on your left (Rue Gioffredo) side. These are also shopping streets, but you will be seeing more restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops here.

Just walking 2 minutes from Place Massena you will find yourself on the beach area. Avenue Jean Medecin was a street for shopping, here you will be on Promenade des Anglais and it is only about beaches. Nice has a long beach which is more than 2 km, so it is never full and you feel yourself comfortable. Interestingly, the beach side is mostly used by teenagers from 5 PM for enjoying the evening and night by taking your drinks. The famous Hard Rock Café is also here. It is just 5 minutes walking distance from Place Massena.

What I liked most is definitely visiting Old Town and then reaching Parc de la Colline du Chateau for relaxing and watching the best views of Nice. Old Town area offers you many nice restaurants and small shops. My favorite French shop La Cure Gourmande is also in the old town area. There is no specific route, just again enter every small street to wander around. The best part of your day will end as it should. You have to go to Parc de la Colline du Chateau which is the highest point on beach side in Nice. You can either use the stairs to have the best experience or use the “ascenseur” to go up easily but by paying little. On top, there will be some small shops selling only snacks and drinks. Don’t skip this nice experience in Nice and enjoy the panaromic views. The eastern side of the park faces to port side whereas the western side allows you to watch Promenade des Anglais and Old Town from top.

All above mentioned to-do things will probably take your one full day. If you like spending more time for shopping, one full-day may be short for you. That’s why I have arranged 2 full days for Nice and this way I was lucky enough to visit two popular beach areas not on my list. To be honest, my first spot became my favorite spot in whole French Riviera. By train, I went Villefranche-sur-mer early in the morning on my second Nice day. Critical thing here is going there early. After 11 AM, it started to get very crowded and you may not experience the best beach in French Riviera as you should. So, I left the beach after it got crowded and went to another beach in Cap-Ferrat. Cap-Ferrat is the peninsula which you see on your left when you are in Villefranche-sur-mer. This area is called by some people as the Peninsula of Billionaires. This is probably true, because this area offers you the best beaches and views in French Riviera.

I had a chance to go Plage de Passable and Paloma Beach. However, there are more than five popular beaches on the peninsula. To be honest, I didn’t check all of them, but locals also told me Paloma is the best one. From Villefranche-sur-mer, your only option is to take a bus. On your way back to Nice, you can either take a bus back to Villefranche-sur-mer and take a train or you can use the same bus going back to Nice.

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