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Nice

Nice is a large city in France on the French Riviera. It's a popular destination for vacationers both young and old, with something to offer nearly everyone. It is well known for the beautiful view on the Promenade des Anglais, its famous waterfront, and is an ethnically diverse port city.

Its origins can be found among the Gallo-Roman ruins of Cimiez, in the hills up the boulevard de Cimiez from downtown. Cimiez also contains a monastery and some museums, but nowadays, most of the city's inhabitants live closer to sea level. Nice was part of the Italian Duchy of Savoia and then the Kingdom of Sardinia until it was ceded to France in 1860 by a rigged ballot, against the population's will . The ancient local language is Nissart, but of course, everyone speaks French. Don't assume everyone you encounter will speak English — an effort at French will always be appreciated.

Nice, Harbour by Martinp1 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Car Hire at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE)

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When visiting Nice don't forget to see and experience the museums, galleries, Bars, Lounges, Restaurant and vibrant cafe society of this area!

What to see

If you go to Nice for bathing or general lounging on the beach, you may wish to think again. The beaches of Nice consist entirely of large flat stones ("gallets"). A few private beaches have added a layer of sand, but the free public beaches are a stony experience. Besides towels or mats, you should definitely bring sandals as walking on the stones can be painful, and a cushion, if you want to sit. Showers are provided (for free) on all public beaches and there is a beach volleyball area that is netted off with white sand.

Although the beaches are mainly pebbles it is important to note that many visitors enjoy the beautiful light blue sea for a swim. If you can bear to walk for few steps on the pebbles it is definitely an opportunity for swimming rather than playing in the water as the beach drops quickly and the tidal pull can be very strong, and not for beginners. Lying on the beach for a sun tan or relaxation is also manageable as long as you rearrange the rocks/pebbles to a comfy surface for sitting and lying. Private beaches offer various services from restaurants/bars to the rental of lounge chairs and towels.

Much nicer beaches exist in other towns close by, such as Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes and Cannes, which are far more sandy. Villefranche is a particularly preferred beach choice, especially if travelling with children, only 15-20 minutes away.

For views of Nice the best vantage point is the heights of Mont Boron. From the derelict old Fort and the nearby villa of Sir Elton John there are fine views over the city to the mountains and east over Villefranche and Cap Ferat.

Go to Eze. It is a small village on the way to Monaco. The village is situated on a small mountain and there is a beautiful cactus garden with a spectacular view (a must see, 6 € entrance fee). There is also Fragonard perfume factory which you can visit for free. To reach Eze by bus, take the 112 to Eze Village (not the 100 which stops at Eze Gare, a 90 minute steep walk away from Eze Village). There is a path that goes down the mountain from Eze Village to Eze Sur Mer (also Eze Gare). This is the Path of Nietzsche (named after the famous German philosopher Friedrich W. Nietzsche), with some fantastic views and a waterfall (if you know where to look). Walking downhill through this path takes about 40 minutes.

Also close by is the magnificent Villa ile de France, of the Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, straddling the magnificent peninsula of St Jean Cap Ferrat in the so-called Golden Triangle of Villefranche, Beaulieu and Cap Ferrat.

Hiking trails emanate from La Turbie high above Monaco and the Grande Corniche, which are double the height above sea level of Eze and offer the hardened walker truly spectacular vantage points over the Riviera.

Entertainment

When you look at the French Riviera and look at some of the towns and cities on it such as Monte Carlo, Marseille and St. Tropez you know that any of the towns or cities are home to a lively nightlife. Nice is no different. Go on a night out in this city and it won’t be forgotten for a while.

Along the Promenade de Anglais is where you will find many of the city’s best clubs along with the casino which always guarantees a memorable night, as well an expensive one (if you don’t win anything, of course). It is also the perfect place to go to enjoy some nocturnal activities without spending a cent as there are always street performers there at night. Other areas which are home to many different pubs and clubs are Masséna and Vieux Nice.

As you would expect in such a lively city there is a pub to suit everyone’s taste, particularly in the Vieux Nice and Masséna areas. Whether its dance music, rock or maybe jazz which you favour, explore the streets around these areas and you won’t be looking long.

Nice has two particular events which stand out on the social calendar – the annual Nice Jazz Festival (last week in July) and the city’s carnival which takes place every February. For the best guides to what is happening keep an eye out for l’Exés which is a free brochure found in most tourist offices. Another publication which is good for weekly listings is La Semaine des Spectacles.

Eating Out

Cheap & cheerful food in Nice is hard to come by if you don't take your time to look for it, though a baguette with different fillings range from €4-6, which is very reasonable by Nice standards.

The best deals in the center can be found in the port area.

Old Nice and all along the sea front the prices cannot be described as budget. However, lunch-time set menus are certainly good value, if not 'cheap' per se. €10-12 should get you two courses, often with coffee and wine, and like much of continental Europe lunches can drift happily into the afternoon.

A food called "Socca", a chickpea flat bread, is a local specialty (though not universally enjoyed), as is a tuna fish sandwich called "Pan Bagnat." Other specialties include Soupe de Poisson (Fish Soup, made with chili aioli, croutons, and grated cheese), Salade Nicoise (made with tuna), Tourtes aux Blettes (sweet tartes made with Savoy cabbage, raisins, nuts, and powdered sugar) and pissaladiere (a type of pizza topped with sauteed onion, olives, garlic and anchovies). As may be expected, seafood features prominently in Nicoise cuisine, and several restaurants specialise in sea-urchin and oysters.

Check out the daily market in the Vieux Nice for fresh, local produce. You can save a lot of money if you are willing to cook at least some of your meals yourself and if you also eat leftovers, cooking can actually save you time as well since eating at a restaurant will easily cost you one to two hours per meal. There are several decent size 'supermarches' around the city as well as numerous boucheries, boulangeries and fruit and veg shops which are often competetive on price and superior on quality.

With the hot Niçois summers, carrying a bottle of water is almost a must. Bear in mind the largest single complaint to the municipal authority tourist department is the offering in restaurants of branded water bottles whose seal has been broken - ie refilled with tap water - and charged as Perrier or Evian.

You can save a lot of money by buying alcoholic drinks and such in a normal supermarket instead of the vendors geared towards tourists. Carrefour has a huge selection and unlike the other supermarkets has a policy of buying in wine show "prize winners" distinguished by their gold, silver or bronze medal stickers.

Wine in restaurants is often ferociously expensive, do as the locals and order it by the "pichet" - usually a 50 centilitre jug. If however you fancy quality appellation French wine to drink back at base, Les Caves Caprioglio at 16 Rue de la Prefecture in Vieux Nice has a fabulous cellar of the wines you usually only read about in the fine wines books but rarely see. To see French wine making, the Chateau's Bellet and Cremat in the Var are nearest to Nice and will do tours by arrangement. (Reachable via the tiny narrow-guage train from the Chemin de Fer de Provence).

No visit to Nice would be complete without a trip to Fennochio's in the Place Rosetti to sample their (rightly) world famous ice-cream.

Facts

Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse. The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of about 1 million[1][2] on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi). Located on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille.

The city is called Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Niçard), which means Nice the Beautiful, which is also the title of the unofficial anthem of Nice, written by Menica Rondelly in 1912. Nice is the capital of the Alpes Maritimes département and the second biggest city of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region after Marseille.

The metropolitan area of Nice, defined by INSEE, is home to 888,784 inhabitants (fifth most populous in France) and its urban area totals 933,080 inhabitants, which makes it the sixth largest in France.

Nice residents of Vietnamese descent stand in front of one of the many Vietnamese restaurants of the city.

Roughly 10% of the population has foreign citizenship.

Car Hire Pickup Location

Up to 10pm:

The car rental desks in the arrivals hall are open until 10pm.

  • Terminal 1: gates A1/A2, to the right of the information office.
  • Terminal 2: between gates A2 and A3. Vehicle collection and return takes place in the dedicated zone at the Car Rental Center, behind car park P5 at Terminal 2.

After 10pm:

To access the Car Rental Centre or hire a vehicle after 10pm:

  • Take the free shuttle to Terminal 2 from Gate A0 on the arrivals floor.
    Services run every 6½ minutes between 6am and 11pm and every 10 minutes from 4.30am to 6am and from 11pm until the last flight arrives.
  • Alight at the Terminus: Terminal 2, Gate A3. 
  • Pedestrian access: from any exit, use the sheltered walkway following signs for "Location de voitures /Car Rental Center".
  • Cross car park P5.

Useful Links

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE)
The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Nice

Video Intro


Little Nice (Caracola Dreams) / CC BY 3.0

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