Nice offers many historic attractions, art galleries, museums, lovely parks with beautiful fountains. The nightlife, all the wonderful restaurants and the inviting sandy beaches are also helping to make Nice a most attractive resort town.
Some of the most popular attractions in Nice:
Promenades des Anglais
Along Baie des Anges, the most famous of all pedestrain streets in the world, was built in the late 1800’s by wealthy British holiday home owners, hence the name Promenades des Anglais, and still this is one of the French Riviera’s most important ”look-and-be-seen” places. The palm avenue along the promenade adds to the exotic ambience, and an evening stroll here with the fantastic panoramic view of the Mediterranean is unforgettable. Many of the best restaurants in Nice are placed here, and also the legendary Hotel Negresco (established in 1912).
Vieille Ville (The old town)
The old town (Vieille Ville) is a ”must”for all tourists coming to Nice. Here in the narrow, cobbled streets one feels tansported to another time. Low pastel-coloured buildings made of red brick, baroque churches, squares, colourful markets, family-run restaurants nad quaint street stalls characterise the environment. In some of the latter one can buy locally produced wine in bottles or barrels, as well as other things. For early risers, a trip to the morning market in Cours Saleya is highly recommended.
Cathédrale Sainte Réparate
One of the most striking of the buildings in the old town is the Nice cathedral, or Cathédrale Sainte Réparate, devoted to the city’s patron saint. The actual church building was erected over a 50 year period in the 1600’s (opened in 1699) in baroque style. The cathedral has since 1906 been classified as a national historical monument. The altarpiece has very original design; a representation of Nice in the 1600’s.
Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe
One of the things you least expect to find in a town on the French Riviera is a Russian orthodox cathedral with six beautiful onion domes. Nevertheless, there is one of these to be found on the Boulevard du Tsarewich in Nice, opened in 1912 by the Russian tsar Nicholas II. The tsar family had been coming here on holidays for many years and made it into something of a fashion for the Russian aristocracy. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Nicolas, and was built in the pattern of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. This church is now classified as a national historic monument (since 1987).
The very best view over the town and the ocean is to be had at the Le Château hill right next to downtown. 92 meters above street level are the remains of a castle from the 1100’s. The castle itself was demolished in 1706 so the traces are very few, but a tower from the 1500’s (Tour Bellanda) is still standing. The Château hill can be reached in two ways; either by a lift or by walking up the stairs, if you are fit enough for that. The stairs can be reached either from the Rue Rossetti or from Monte Lesage.
Palais Lascaris in Rue Droite was built in 1665 by Jean-Paul Lascaris, who was field marshal to the duke of Savoye. The building is designed in the so-called Genovese style but it is mostly the interior of the building which lures the tourists here. Among other things, there are several interesting frescos, impressive candelabras and chandeliers, plus a wide selection of paintings and porcelain vases. The ceiling in the entrance hall is adorned with the Lascaris family coat of arms.
Fort du Mont Alban
Just outside Nice on a hill 220 meters over sea level, is Fort du Mont Alban, a magnificent and well preserved example of French military architecture from the 1500’s. From here there is an outstanding view over the Mediterranean Sea, Nice, Cap Ferrat and the surrounding countryside. One can also glimpse some of the most charming towns in the area from here, including Villefranche. It may be mentioned that Elton John owns a large private property some 300 meters from the fort.
The famous French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) had a close connection to Nice during several periods of his life and many of his paintings are inspired from here. The Matisse museum (Musée Matisse) in Avenue des Arenes is dedicated to his life and art. In addition to several of his pieces also many of the artist’s personal possessions may be viewed here. In the museum shop one can purchase prints or postrs of many of Matisse’s famous paintings.