Top 5 Reasons to Visit Nice
1. The Stunning Seafront Location
Nice may be a city of over 200,000 people, but it still manages to feel like an intimate beach resort. For the people of the city, the beach is a magnet, and the promenade is a great place to spend time.
2. Art Galleries and Museums to Inspire You
Nice is one of France’s great artistic centers. The pure light of Provence is legendary, and Nice has inspired masters like Matisse and Picasso in the past. Visit the exceptional Matisse Museum, see the collection at the Massena Palace Museum of Art and History as well as galleries devoted to Marc Chagall and Asian Art.
3. Delicious Provencal Cuisine
The south of France is famous for its gastronomic delights, and Nice is a great place to savor them. Grab a pot of bouillabaisse at Les Pêcheurs, try the daube (beef stew) at La Merenda or a healthy Nicoise Salad Le Chat Gourmand.
4. The Chance to Explore the Wine of Provence
Nice is also a destination for wine lovers. You can base yourself at a luxurious seafront hotel and join organized wine tours with companies like Grape Tours, who can whisk you around the finest vineyards and explain how everything is made.
5. World-Famous Film and Music Events
If you time your visit well, you can use Nice as the ideal base to visit the Cannes Film Festival in May, the Monaco Grand Prix (also May), July’s Jazz à Juan festival at Juan-les-Pins or Nice’s own carnival, which takes place in February.
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Facts about Nice…
Nice is the seventh most populous urban area in France and the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes department. The metropolitan area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of nearly 1 million on an area of 744 km2 (287 sq mi). Located on the French Riviera, the southeastern coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the French Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region after Marseille. Nice is approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the principality of Monaco and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the French–Italian border. Nice’s airport serves as a gateway to the region.
The city is nicknamed Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Niçard), meaning ‘Nice the Beautiful’, which is also the title of the unofficial anthem of Nice, written by Menica Rondelly in 1912. The area of today’s Nice contains Terra Amata, an archaeological site which displays evidence of a very early use of fire 380,000 years ago. Around 350 BC, Greeks of Marseille founded a permanent settlement and called it Νίκαια, Nikaia, after Nike, the goddess of victory. Through the ages, the town has changed hands many times. Its strategic location and port significantly contributed to its maritime strength. From 1388 it was a dominion of Savoy, then became part of the French First Republic between 1792 and 1815, when it was returned to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the legal predecessor of the Kingdom of Italy, until its re-annexation by France in 1860.
The natural environment of the Nice area and its mild Mediterranean climate came to the attention of the English upper classes in the second half of the 18th century, when an increasing number of aristocratic families took to spending their winters there. In 1931, following its refurbishment the city’s main seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais (“Walkway of the English”), was inaugurated by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught; it owes its name to visitors to the resort. These included Queen Victoria along with her son Edward VII who spent winters there, as well as Henry Cavendish, born in Nice, who discovered hydrogen.
The clear air and soft light have particularly appealed to notable painters, such as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Arman. Their work is commemorated in many of the city’s museums, including Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée des Beaux-Arts. International writers have also been attracted and inspired by the city. Frank Harris wrote several books including his autobiography My Life and Loves in Nice. Friedrich Nietzsche spent six consecutive winters in Nice, and wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra here. Additionally, Russian writer Anton Chekhov completed his play Three Sisters while living in Nice.
Nice’s appeal extended to the Russian upper classes, Prince Nicholas Alexandrovich, heir apparent to Imperial Russia died in Nice and was a patron of the Russian Orthodox Cemetery, Nice where Princess Catherine Dolgorukova, morganatic wife of the Tsar Alexander II of Russia, is buried. As are General Dmitry Shcherbachev and General Nikolai Yudenich leaders of the anti-Communist White Movement.
Those interred in Nice at the Cimetière du Château, include celebrated jeweler Alfred Van Cleef, Emil Jellinek-Mercedes, founder of the Mercedes car company, film director Louis Feuillade, poet Agathe-Sophie Sasserno, dancer Carolina Otero, Asterix comics creator René Goscinny, The Phantom of the Opera author Gaston Leroux, French prime minister Léon Gambetta, and the first president of the International Court of Justice José Gustavo Guerrero.
Because of its historical importance as a winter resort town for the European aristocracy and the resulting mix of cultures found in the city, UNESCO proclaimed Nice a World Heritage Site in 2021. The city has the second largest hotel capacity in the country, and it is one of its most visited cities, receiving 4 million tourists every year. It also has the third busiest airport in France, after the two main Parisian ones. It is the historical capital city of the County of Nice (French: Comté de Nice, Niçard: Countèa de Nissa).
The main port of Nice is also known as Lympia port. This name comes from the Lympia spring which fed a small lake in a marshy zone where work on the port was started in 1745. Today this is the principal harbour installation of Nice – there is also a small port in the Carras district. The port is the first port cement manufacturer in France, linked to the treatment plants of the rollers of the valley of Paillon. Fishing activities remain but the number of professional fishermen is now less than 10. Nice, being the point of continental France nearest to Corsica, has ferry connections with the island developed with the arrival of NGV (navires à grande vitesse) or high-speed craft. The connections are provided by Corsica Ferries – Sardinia Ferries. Located in front of the port, the Place Cassini has been renamed Place of Corsica.