The Old Town makes for a great day of shopping and eating in Nice, but don’t forget to visit the other side of the Port!
No doubt about it, Nice is nice! There’s so much to do and never enough time to fit it all in. Museums, the Old Town, shopping at Galeries Lafayette, with so many activities close at hand, many visitors never make it to the other side of the Port, l’autre côté du Port. But for those who make the effort to venture beyond the normal tourist haunts, this flip side of Nice has a lot to offer
60 Boulevard Franck Pilatte
The setting of this restaurant is completely cool, a definite Instagram, selfie-hit! Part of Le Plongeoir sits atop a huge rock in the sea which you access by a short walkway (like walking the plank) with the waves lapping below. The other areas are also right on the sea, with several levels to choose from.
Le Plongeoir on the east side of the Port
Built during the Belle Epoque of the late 1800s, the restaurant was originally in the shape of a fishing boat that you sat in while sipping your drinks. The boat was damaged in the 1940s, and then re-commissioned as a place to plonger, to dive in, with diving boards fitted to one side, thus the name, Le Plongeoir.
Even this update eventually went into disrepair, though the rock remained a popular spot for swimmers to play. It has only recently been restored to a full-on restaurant and bar with a wonderful (though slightly pricey) menu. Still, for the setting, it’s worth treating yourself!
One of the many levels of Le Plongeoir
Le Saint Paul
29 Boulevard Franck Pilatte
This is another place that is being restored to its former glory. It was originally built as a seminary for Catholic priests. It is now a beautiful, massive hotel, complete with a chapel and a library. There’s also a killer terrace where you can have drinks or a celebratory meal while watching the blue and yellow Corsica cruise ships come and go from the Port under the setting Mediterranean sun.
Le Saint Paul Hotel & Restaurant
View from the Terrace of the Saint Paul Hotel
A friend of mine calls the beaches on this side of the Port of Nice, “pocket beaches,” which kind of fits nicely. There are rocky beaches like the other side, but they feel private and hidden away from the tourist crowds, and you’ll find that many of the regulars here are locals who live nearby.
Especially delightful for kids (and brave parents) is the jumping rock where all day long, you can watch the group of mostly young boys diving and plunging into the sea. It’s quite entertaining.
As on the main beaches of Nice near the Promenade d’Anglais, these pocket beaches don’t have much shade to offer, so bring an umbrella, or go later in the day after sunset, either to swim, or just to enjoy the view
Jumpers on the “pocket beaches”
Evening swimmers at the pocket beaches
Hiking along the on the Coco Beach Trail
This other side of the Port in Nice, is also the starting point for a day hike to lovely, Villefranche-sur-Mer, the next little city on the French Riviera east of Nice. The Coco Beach trail starts just after the pocket beaches, where you can drop down off the main road to a well-manicured trail along the sea.
Though it will eventually take you all the way to Villefranche (with a short detour over the hill on the main road), you can also just meander along the trail and enjoy the views of Nice from this perspective.
2 quai D Entrecasteaux
This tiny gallery just at the end of the Port next to where the cruise ships come in is a perfect first stop on your exploration of the other side of the Port. Once a military prison, the lower level of this museum still has the hasps that prisoners were chained to, in what must have a been a dank, dark, and depressing state of affairs at the time. Now, though, it’s a perfect space for art shows such as the exquisite Gaicometti exhibit there this past year. Though small, it’s worth the trouble, and you can pair it with a lunch of moules-frites (mussles and fries) at one of the Port restaurants.
For History Buffs
Grotte du Lazaret
33 Boulevard Franck Pilatte
At the foot of Mont Boron on this side of the port, you will find the Grotte du Lazaret (Grotto of Lazarus), a working archeological site open to the public. Bones found there date to between 200,000 to 130,000 years. Entrance is free, but you might want to pay for a guided tour, which is only three Euros.
Away from the Madding Crowds
So if you’re tired of the crowds in the Old Town on your next visit to Nice, and want a quick escape, check out l’autre côté du Port, just behind the restaurants that line the quay and the colorful fishing boats.
Restaurants, beaches, museums, and ruins, it’s a wonderful discovery away from the summer crowds on the Côte d’Azur.
If you need a place to stay while in Nice, we have 4 well appointed apartments that may be available