France is well-known for its exquisite beauty and culture, and Nice has long been a favorite destination. However, when time is tight in this French hot spot, sometimes you just have to hit the ground running. Guest contributor, Susan Guillory from The Unexplorer, recently spent 24 hours in Nice and is here to tell us all about it.
While it’s lovely to have plenty of time to explore a town while traveling, it isn’t always possible. Nice, France, is a city worthy of several days, but if you only have 24 hours in Nice before that Mediterranean cruise, hit the highlights and leave feeling satisfied.
Start Your 24 Hours in Nice Out Right
Hotels abound in Nice, but I like to stay just far enough away from the tourist bustle of the Promenade des Anglais along the shore at Hotel Villa Victoria. It’s just a 10 minute walk to the beach, as well as less than that to get to the shopping district.
Because you’re pretending you’re French, if only for a day, find the cutest outdoor cafe you can find and order a café crème and a croissant. Enjoy the people-watching; it’s a national sport.
Make your way to the Cours Saleya, a vibrant outdoor market filled with every manner of vegetable, honey, flowers, and local Niçoise delights. You’ll be sad that you don’t have an excuse to buy a zucchini with resplendent blossom on it, but you’ll make up for it by purchasing some delicious olives.
See the City from Above
A short walk from Cours Saleya is Parc de la Colline du Chateau. While there’s no longer a chateau (castle) on top, you will find a stunning view of Nice on either side. On one, you’ll see the stony beaches peppered with suntanning bodies along the Promenade des Anglais, and on the other, you’ll find the harbor with colorful boats tied up.
Walk around the flat park to take in accordion players, gleeful children, and lovers canoodling on benches.
After you come down in the elevator, look outside for the giant #ILoveNice sign. It’s a great spot for a photo!
You’re probably hungry by now, so head to Vielle Ville, or Old Town. The narrow, winding streets are filled with dining options, but for a true local experience, look for restaurants with the Cuisine Nissarde logo. It identifies restaurants that meet certain requirements in creating authentic Niçoise cuisine. Local specialties like pan bagnat, salade Niçoise, socca, and pissaladière will give you something to remember.
Lu Fran Calin is one example of such a restaurant, with its blend of Niçoise and Italian cuisine (the owner is Italian, which is no big deal since Nice is very close to the Italian border. You’ll often hear people switching from French to Italian in conversations.).
After Your Nap…
I’m a fan of returning to my hotel room for a quick siesta. It refreshes me and gets me ready to go out again in the evening. But I understand that you’re eager to see as much of Nice as you can in 24 hours. You can stay in Old Town and shop or head to Avenue Jean Medecin to take photos of the Fontaine du Soleil, where Apollo reigns among representation of the planets. You’re just steps away from major department stores, so get your shopping fix on while you’re there.
As the sun starts to dip behind the Mediterranean, snag a table at a beachfront bar, like the one at Hotel Riviera. Enjoy a glass of bubbly or Spritz Aperol as the sun turns the beach and water a brilliant orange.
You’re on your own for dinner. Place Garibaldi has many renowned seafood restaurants, or you can head back to Old Town for Middle Eastern, Italian, or French cuisine.
See? I told you that it was possible to see quite a bit in just 24 hours in Nice!
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