Travel; Nice, Cote d’Azur – 10 things you should know
1. Nice is the 5th largest city in France which owing to its earlier history exhibits more than just a few shades of its near-neighbour, Italy. Situated in Provence on the Cote d’Azur, Nice is on the Mediterranean coast of France next door to Monaco and close to the Italian border.
2. If you can, it’s ideal to stay in the Old City which is also near to the Quartier du Port. That way, you’ll do far less walking – Nice is a big city and is fairly spread out. The old city (Vieille Ville) of Nice is a network of narrow alleys and tall buildings, often with Italian façades and beautiful wrought iron balconies. The city has a true café culture with bars and restaurants literally on every corner. It also felt a really safe place to walk in the evenings.
3. We can recommend the accommodation website www.yourniceapartment.com which offers good value, modern, self-catering accommodation and run by an English couple living in Nice. It was a ‘nice’ touch to be met by Simon, the owner, right outside our apartment in the old city, having just got in from the train station via taxi (about 15mins to the old city).
4. Best travel guide? Try AA Citypack Guide to Nice with Foldout Map; ISBN 978-0-7495-5701-0
5. Here’s a suggestion for spending three days or a long week-end in Nice; First day – explore the Old City and the Port Area as there’s plenty to see and do. Second day – take the local Bus (No. 112 from Gare Routiere) up to the spectacular ‘perched’ mountain village of Eze with stunning coastal views. (See http://eddieolliffe.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/photography-coastal-view-from-eze-village-cote-dazur-france) If you set out early, there is still time to catch the same bus on to spend time in Monaco Ville and Monte Carlo with its famous Casino (and unbelievably expensive cars), the Port area with its beautiful yachts’, the Palais Princier and some quite gorgeous public gardens! On your third day in Nice, why not walk the entire 4-mile length of the curving beachfront Promenade des Anglais and back again? – ideal for people-watching too! HereYou’ll see some superb architecture including the world-famous Hotel Negresco and the art deco styled Palais de la Mediterranee.
6. Make sure you find time during your stay to walk to the top of the Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill). This is a public park with marvellous views over the City, across to the airport and away to the Alps in the distance. It’s a good place to take a picnic as it also has high level views over the picturesque Port area with lots of boats and ferries coming and going.
7. When we visited (Spring 2010) France was no longer cheap for UK visitors as the GBP had seriously deteriorated against the Euro. Nice tends to be dearer than the rest of France anyway and the fruit and vegetable markets in particular seemed expensive.
8. How to save money? Eat from fixed price menus or choose ‘Plat du Jour’. Travel by bus along the Moyenne Corniche; particularly good value at 1-euro each way. The new one-line tram system in Nice is also inexpensive at 1-euro per journey. These trams are quiet, look really sleek and are a quick way to get from the station into the old town. The best stop for the Old City is either Opera or Cathedrale.
9. Eating out in the Old City? If so, try Bar du Coin on Rue Droite for wonderful pizzas albeit in rather cramped conditions during their busy times; worth it for the food though! For an evening meal, how about Chez Juliette in Place Rossetti? – lots of atmosphere and very French’. The produce market in Cours Saleya is packed away in the evening and the Place becomes a great place to eat al fresco.
10. For details of overland rail travel to Nice from the UK, see my earlier blog entry; http://eddieolliffe.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/travel-by-eurostar-and-tgv-to-the-french-riviera/