Stationed between two of the most luxurious cities in the world, Cannes and Monaco, Nice is a secret gem that’s bursting with history, heritage and year-round heatwaves (we’re talking 300+ days of sunshine).
There’s the 7 km-long sweeping Promenade des Anglais to walk, the quirky Hotel Le Negresco to explore, and plentiful markets to indulge in that litter the narrow streets of the old town.
Better yet, in 2020, Nice is hosting the Tour de France, so if you’re packing your bags in June, be sure to remember your bike helmet.
There’s a lot to experience in this sun-soaked Mediterranean paradise. But if you’re short on time, you might need to start prioritizing what you see and do.
Here’s how to enjoy the Bay of Angels in just three days.
Day one: Old town and the market
In the heart of old town Nice, there’s a collection of open-air markets that are worth an exploration. Wander through the cobbled streets on any day of the week and you’ll venture through a sensory experience like no other.
Fishmongers, charcuteries and pastry shops are scattered throughout town, and out in the street, there are markets like the colourful Cours Saleya food market, which bursts its banks with a variety of fresh fruit and veg, and the even more colourful flower market, which is reminiscent of Nice’s past as the carnation-growing capital of France.
If you’re visiting on a Monday, be sure to pay a visit to the Marche a la Brocante – an old antique market that replaces the flower market – and rummage through a collection of silver, glassware, jewellery, paintings, watches and more. When you’ve shopped until you’ve dropped, walk the short distance to the Promenade des Anglaise and stop at one of the many coffee shops, take a deep breath and stare out onto the glorious Mediterranean. Nothing says soothing like looking at the ocean with a cup of coffee in hand.
As day turns to night, venture over to the Hotel Le Negresco to enjoy some quirky cocktails in the wood-panelled bar, and if you’re feeling peckish, the hotel is home to a double-Michelin-star restaurant, called Chantecler. Everyone you could possibly think of has wined and dined here, including Liz Taylor, The Beatles, Elton John and even Louis Armstrong.
Day two: Day trip to Eze and Villefranche
Venture out of the city on day two to the small towns of Eze and Villefranche – the quiet country air is the perfect remedy to last night’s cocktails.
Located about 30 minutes by train up the coast towards Monaco, Eze is a mountaintop village that dates back to the middle ages. Rather than train take the bus # 82 – runs every hour and takes about 30 mins. This perfectly persevered historic community is home to a glorious botanical garden, a five-star hotel complete with pool and spa (yes, spa…), and a plethora of weaving stone staircases, sculptures and statues. Compared to the old town of Nice, Eze is a safe haven away from the tourist scene, and you can escape into a day of quaint French living.
If you’re not feeling the 30-minute voyage to Eze, try Villefranche instead. Situated the other side of Mont Baron in Nice, this small village is easily accessible by bus or even by foot. Eat, drink and sunbathe along one of the harbour town’s beaches, and if you’re feeling like a dip, grab a snorkel and explore the Mediterranean’s deepest natural harbour. There’s a smaller ‘old town’ to wander in Villefranche, too, and be sure to walk along ‘dark street’, a historic passageway dating back to 1260 that lets you walk under the harbour-front houses.
Day three: Visit some of Nice’s famed attractions
On day three, we recommend a classic tourist day of museum hopping and park sitting. For one of the best views of Nice’s red-tiled rooftops (and a little shade on an incredibly hot day), hike up to Colline du Château and enjoy the view over the city and out onto the Alpine backdrop that is rural France. There’s an artificial waterfall here, too, which dates back to the 18th Century.
Next, head over to the new town and pay a visit to the architecturally iconic Musée Masséna. Originally built as a holiday home for Prince Victor d’Essling, this building is now a museum dedicated to the history of the Riviera region, and there’s a lot to learn.
If you’re more of an art fanatic, we recommend the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (known as MAMAC for short), which is Nice’s own contemporary and modern art museum. Located near the Place Garibaldi, the MAMAC is home to a collection of Avant Garde French and American artwork dating from the 1960s to the present.
Finding a place to stay
There’s a lot you can do if you have three days in Nice, and arguably a lot more to see, too, including riding the Train des Pignes, day-tripping to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and trying to see one of the many festivals held in Nice every year, like the Carnival de Nice.
With so much to do to soak in, it’s important to make sure you’re staying in the right place, a place that offers you a sense of tranquillity from the hustle and bustle, a luxurious level of comfort and something that is quintessential to the French-riviera experience.
At Paris-Nice Vacations, we pair travellers with luxury apartments located throughout the city of Nice, making sure that you always have a comfortable place to put your feet up at the end of the day, and that your stay is as glamorous as it can be.