Nice is really worth France

Nice - the cultural capital of the French Riviera

Lively metropolis, El Dorado for those looking for relaxation, bathing paradise and cultural center with numerous sights. Nice, also Nice or Nissa, promises a colorful mix of attractions that magically attract around four million tourists and people who want to spend a language course in Nice every year.

Table of Contents
Over 300 hours of sunshine per year | Picturesque port city between Cannes, Monaco and Italy | Tickets to attractions and activities in Nice | City of summer retreat in the 19th century | Nice for tourists | Language school in Nice | Events worth seeing during the year | Nice's economy and infrastructure | Accommodation in Nice | getting there

This is not least due to the year-round mild climate in the port city in south-east France, which made Nice a popular travel destination for the British and Russians as early as the 19th century. Even the British aristocracy and the Russian royal family spent the winters in what is now the second largest city in the Provencal region of PACA after Marseille and the fifth largest city in France. Many large hotels and gardens as well as the Orthodox Church still bear witness to this time.

Just over 343,000 people live in Nice itself, with Nice and its surrounding area even having around 930,000 inhabitants. A mixture of the native linguric dialect and Latin is sometimes spoken in the country of Nice, the so-called Nissart or Niçard. The population density is 4,764 inhabitants per square kilometer with a fairly even age distribution.

Over 300 hours of sunshine per year

Nice is the second largest city in Provence after Marseille.

The cultural capital of the Côte d‘Azur is known for its year-round mild climate and one of the warmest places on the French Mediterranean coast even in winter. Nice owes this not least to its sheltered location. Those who visit Nice can look forward to around 300 days of sunshine a year and generally slightly warmer temperatures than in Germany. However, there are rainy days all year round.

The warmest months are July and August, the coldest month is January. The annual average is 16 ° C with an average humidity of just over 70 percent. The best travel times are May, September and October. It is often very hot in Nice, especially in midsummer. But even in the mild winters you can easily spend pleasant days in the Provencal city.

Picturesque port city between Cannes, Monaco and Italy

Nice is one of the most popular travel destinations in the south of France.

The port city in southeast France lies between Cannes and Monaco on an area of ​​71.92 square kilometers in the direct extension of the Mercantour massif west of the Var valley. In the east, Nice is bordered by Mont Boron.

The pompous Principality of Monaco, the film festival city of Cannes and Italy are in the immediate vicinity. On the southern outskirts of Nice, the Paillon flows into the Mediterranean.

Nice itself is divided into the districts of Vieux Nice (old town), Les Baumettes, Carabacel, Cimiez, St-Barthélemy, the New Town, Riquier, Thiers, Le Port, Rue de France, Gambetta and Medécin.

Tickets to things to see and do in Nice

Tickets for sights and activities in Nice can be found at www.getyourguide.de.

City of summer retreat in the 19th century

Nice is a port city in Provence, 30 kilometers from the border with Italy.

The area around Nice was settled by Homo erectus 400,000 years ago and the Neanderthals also settled there 190,000 years ago and were to be found in Provence until around 130,000 years ago. Nice itself is said to have been founded as early as the 4th century BC. Around 350 BC the Phocaeans from the area around Marseille defeated the Ligurians who lived there and gave the area the name Nikaia, which means something like the victorious and is derived from the name of the goddess of victory Nike.

The Romans reached the area in 154 BC and built a second settlement next to Nikaia called Cemenelum on the mountains of Cimiez. A settlement that was to become the regional administrative center and which was to receive further growth through the construction of the Via Julia Augusta in 7 BC. At that time there were probably 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants.

The economic importance of the port city continued after the birth of Christ. Due to its predestined location on the azure Mediterranean Sea, Nice remained indispensable for maritime trade for a long time and represented a significant competitor to Genoa. However, the city had to endure conquests, sieges and plundering over the next centuries, among other things by the Saracens. Rulers changed frequently, also because Nice was of great interest to various rulers due to its strategic location with access to the sea. Among other things, Napoleon Bonaparte began his Italian campaign there in 1796.

The upswing was accompanied by industrialization

In the 19th century, Nice became more and more important as a summer resort, especially among the British and Russians. This upswing was accompanied by increased industrialization and brought many Italian guest workers with it, who settled in the districts of Riquier and Madeleine. The railroad reached Nice in 1864.

During the Second World War, Nice was occupied first by the Italians and then by the Germans. During the war, resistance centers of the Resistance were located in the mountains above the city. The proportion of British people who found a home in the city decreased after the Second World War. On the other hand, the proportion of immigrants from former French colonies rose.

Nice for tourists

Place Masséna is a centrally located square in Nice.

The sheltered location of the port city on the Mediterranean, which also offers a pleasantly mild climate in winter, soon attracted rich people from other European countries who escaped the cold and inhospitable weather in their homeland and spent their winters on the Côte d'Azur . Among them were the European aristocracy such as the Tsar of Russia and the British Queen Victoria. And there were more and more. While "only" around 22,000 guests visited the city in Provence in the winter of 1890, in 1910 there were already 150,000 who enjoyed the pleasant winters in southern France.

Sights for lovers of architecture and architectural style

Nice has a rich architectural heritage. If you want, you can admire numerous villas, palaces and baroque churches from the Savoy era. In addition, there are clear traces of the Le Belle Époque from before 1914 in the southern French port city.

Buildings such as the Russian Orthodox Saint-Nicolas church with its imposing architecture and lavish treasures, the Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc church with its 65-meter-high bell tower decorated with flames from the 70s of the 20th century and the Gothic church are particularly worth seeing Notre-Dame de Nice Basilica with its elaborate sculptures.

In the old City

The well-preserved old town of Nice is one of the city's figureheads.

The picturesque old town with its picturesque alleys and colorful markets is home to numerous sacred buildings from the Baroque period, such as the Sainte-Réparate Cathedral, the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of Saint-Martin-Saint-Augustin, the Église la Liséricorde and the Église du Gésu. In addition, secular buildings such as the prefecture as the former seat of the Dukes of Savoy and the Palais communal with its monumental portal are worth a visit. Above the old town, the ruins of the citadel from 1706 can be visited on the castle hill Colline du Château.

In the new town

Those who like to walk in the footsteps of the Belle Époque should definitely take a detour to the new town, which is connected to the old town via Place Garibaldi and Place Masséna. There are many luxurious hotels, apartment houses and villas from this period, such as the world-famous listed Hotel Negresco, which was built there around 1912 on the beach promenade. On the south side of the new town is the Promenade des Anglais, one of the most famous boulevards in the world, which was laid out between 1822 and 1824.

The Promenade des Anglais

The Promenade des Anglais is a seven kilometer long street in Nice.

The palm-lined Promenade des Anglais is one of the landmarks of Nice and at the same time the most important thoroughfare and promenade in the city with a wide pedestrian area. The promenade runs seven kilometers along the pebble beach of Engels Bay and is the scene of almost all major events in Nice, such as the carnival. There are numerous upscale restaurants and luxury hotels along the famous boulevard.

The street, which is running for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gained notoriety during the national day celebrations on the evening of July 14, 2016. At that time, a truck drove into the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais. 86 people died in this attack, over 200 people were injured, some seriously. In the gardens of Villa Masséna there is a memorial commemorating the victims of the terrorist attack.

On the Cimiez mountain

The Cimiez Monastery.

There is also a lot to discover on Mount Cimiez, in addition to an elegant district for those interested in architecture. Because there in this tranquil olive grove are not only the excavations of the former Roman garrison town of Cemenelum, but also the palace where Queen Victoria of England once received her guests during her stays in southern France. There is also a Franciscan monastery with paintings by Jacques Bréa and the cemetery with the grave of Henri Matisse on the hill.

Worth seeing museums in the southern French port city

In addition to the architecture that is well worth seeing and the national sports museum in the Allianz Riviera Stadium, Nice also has numerous attractive museums, particularly from the fields of art, history and local traditions.

Attractive art museums in Nice

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts: The Musée des Baumettes, which opened in 1878, is located on the Avenue des Baumettes. There, visitors can expect collections from the late 16th to the middle of the 20th century. Works of art from the Mannerism, Rococo, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Fauvism styles by French artists such as Jules Chéret are represented.
  • Musée Matisse: Opened in 1963, the Musée Matisse houses Henri Matisse's private collection with a permanent collection of 218 prints, 7 sculptures, 68 paintings, 95 photos, 236 drawings, 14 illustrated books and 187 objects that were in Matisse's property, including serigraphs , Tapestries, ceramics, stained glass windows and documents.
  • Musée Message Biblique Marc Chagall: In Cimiez there is a collection of 17 works by Marc Chagall. The Musée Message Biblique Marc Chagall was inaugurated in 1973 and is dedicated to biblical themes from Genesis, the Exodus and the Song of Songs.
  • Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC): Anyone interested in modern art should definitely visit the MAMAC in Nice. New realists such as César are exhibited there, as well as pop art artists such as Andy Warhol and representatives of American abstraction such as Frank Stella. In addition, there are often interesting temporary exhibitions.
  • Musée des Arts Asiatiques: Collections of Buddhist and Asian art await the visitor in this museum. The modern Musée des Arts Asiatiques takes a historical, artistic and ethnological approach.
  • Musée International d’Art Naif Anatole Jakovsky: The museum, inaugurated in 1982, shows works of folk art from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The collection consists of donations from Anatole and Renée Jakovsky.

Interesting museums in Nice devoted to historical themes

  • Musée de Paléontologie Humaine de Terra Amata: In this museum, visitors can find artefacts around 400,000 years old with the oldest known dwellings in Western Europe.
  • Musée Archéologique de Cimiez: On Mount Cimiez you can visit the finds of archaeological excavations from the time of the Romans.
  • Musée de la Résistance: The Resistance had its resistance centers above the city during World War II. This museum is dedicated to this and the resistance of the Alpes-Maritimes region against the German occupation in World War II.
  • Musée Masséna: The museum is dedicated to the history of Nice.
  • Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Nice: Opened in 1846, the natural history museum is the oldest museum in Nice and contains collections from the 19th century put together by local naturalists. Among the exhibits are birds, shells, minerals, fossils, flowering plants and mushrooms from Nice.
  • Musée de la Marine: In the Musée de la Marine in the Bellanda tower, paintings, ship models and navigational instruments are worth a visit.
  • Musée Prieuré du Vieux-Logis: This museum contains a collection of furniture from the Gothic and Renaissance periods. There are also objects of religious art on display.
  • Palais Lascaris: The Palais Lascaris is a building in the old town of Nice from the 17th century. It houses an important collection of over 500 musical instruments, making it the second most important collection of its kind in France.

Cultural institutions in Nice

The Opéra de Nice is an opera house in the old town of Nice.

Nice also has a lot to offer for culture enthusiasts. The Orchester Philharmonique de Nice, founded in 1945, is one of France's leading opera and symphony orchestras, while the Center Cinématographique film center combines theoretical university education with the practical requirements of everyday production. The film center has a remarkable collection of audiovisual media on historical topics, political education, art, culture and business. The Nice Opera is located in the heart of the old town and offers operas as well as ballet and concert performances.

Sights for nature lovers

This is the view from the Colline du Château.

City trips and the associated marches from one attraction to the next can be exhausting. So it's a good thing that there are more than ten large gardens and parks in Nice, where you can relax and unwind while taking a walk. The nicest, largest and most romantic park in Nice is the one on the Colline du Château. There, on Nice's castle hill, visitors can expect not only a remarkable waterfall, the ruins of a fortress and the Notre Dame du Châteaux cathedral, but also the Cimetierre Israélite with its beautifully decorated tombs and, last but not least, a breathtaking view over the roofs of Nice and the Baie des Anges (Angel Bay). The view of the sunset from the Parc du Château is an unforgettable experience. If you don't want to cover the route on foot, you can drive almost all the way to the top.

The magnificent fruit and rose garden Jardin du Monastère in the Cimiez district also offers a wonderful view. Other worthwhile places to relax are the Parc Vigier and the Jardin d’Eden. And if you would like to experience exotic plants and animals, you should definitely visit Nice's botanical garden with around 3000 plants from the Mediterranean region or the Parc Phoenix. With the Promenade du Paillon, a green corridor with children's games, water mirrors and water sprayers is currently being built in Nice, which will connect the Promenade des Anglais with the Théâtre de Verdure.

Do not Scare: Since 1860, a cannon has been fired at full volume every day at 12 noon from the Château east of the old town. This tradition goes back to Sir Thomas Coventry, who wanted to promote punctual lunch for the residents of Nice.

Bathing pleasure and water sports in and around Nice

The stretch of coast near Nice is a real Mecca for water lovers and sun worshipers and is considered one of the most beautiful bathing paradises on the Côte d’Azur. There are twenty public and fifteen private beaches along the seven kilometers of the city's coastline. However, these are all pebble beaches. Smaller sandy beaches can be found at Saint-Raphaël, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Basically, numerous types of water sports such as swimming, diving, jet skiing, windsurfing and surfing are possible in Nice due to the close proximity to the azure blue Mediterranean Sea.

Nice for kids

If you are on holiday in Nice with children, you should definitely visit the Carol de Roumanie park on Avenue de Fabron and the Castel-des-Deux-rois park on Mont Boron. In the park on Avenue de Fabron, the young visitors can find playgrounds, ball and water games and a mini golf course, while at Mont Boron, in addition to mini golf, giant chess and mini trains are an invitation to activity.

Families with slightly older children should definitely visit the four-kilometer-long adventure labyrinth in Villeneuve-Loubet with exams, secret tips and passwords, or take a trip to Escape Marineland in Antibes. There is not only the largest sea show in Europe, but also an exotic mini golf course and Aqua Splash, the largest water park on the Côte d’Azur.

City tours and sightseeing tours in Nice

Plenty of hop-on hop-off buses are available in Nice.

Guided tours of the old town and historical and architectural topics are offered by the Nice Tourist Office. The city tour in the evening is particularly beautiful. Those who wish can also take part in commented city tours in seven languages ​​on the “Nice Le Grand Tour” bus or in hop-on hop-off city tours and trips in small tourist trains. Mini cruises and the Nice Greeter walks are a special experience. During these walks, volunteer Nice ambassadors take visitors into their neighborhoods and show them special places and more. Perfect for learning more about the Nice away from the usual tourist attractions.

Other great things to do in Nice

  • Shopping and strolling: Nice's old town has more than 600 small shops that are perfect for browsing for original souvenirs and souvenirs to take home. The Cours Saleya market square is lively. Hundreds of market stalls with hawkers offer an incredible variety of goods, ranging from traditional dishes to small souvenirs. The antique market in the old town takes place on Mondays, on the other days there is a vegetable and flower market. Those looking for luxury brands will find what they are looking for near Place Masséna and Avenue Jean Médecin as well as in the Galeries Lafayette and Nice Etoile shopping centers.
  • Feast and enjoy: Nice is a paradise for connoisseurs and lovers of Mediterranean cuisine with numerous upscale restaurants. It is also said that Nice is the city in France that has developed its own cuisine the most. When you visit Nice, you should definitely visit one of the restaurants that has a sign with a woman in Nice costume in the window. The authentic “Cuisine Nissarde” with specialties such as socca or pissaldière awaits you there. Those who like to party will also appreciate the lively nightlife of the Mediterranean city.
  • Do winter sports: When you think of a holiday on the Côte d’Azur, you don't necessarily think of a skiing holiday. But only an hour's drive from Nice are areas with guaranteed snow and wonderfully beautiful winter landscapes with ski lifts, slopes and cross-country trails. The famous winter sports resort Valberg-Beuil is closest to Nice, Isola 2000 is around 75 kilometers away and Auron is around 95 kilometers from Nice. There is also an ice rink in Nice with the Palais des Sports Jean Bouin.

Worthwhile excursion destinations around Nice

A holiday on the Côte d’Azur offers numerous opportunities to spend entertaining days. From Nice there are several very worthwhile destinations that are suitable for excursions.

Digne-les-Bains is France's lavender capital on the Bléone. The health resort with five differently warm thermal springs not only offers clean, low-irritation air in a protected, sunny location, but also great photo opportunities. Every first weekend in August there is also the “Corso de Lavande”, a five-day lavender festival with a parade, markets, music and fireworks. By far the most beautiful way to get there is a trip on the Train des Pignes, the pine cone train, through the picture-perfect landscape of the southern Alps with its wild rivers and rugged slopes, through tunnels and viaducts to Digne-les-Bains.

The train owes its name to the fact that the steam locomotive, which was once used for the 150-kilometer route, drove so slowly that passengers were supposedly able to collect pine cones during the journey. Today the journey in modern trains can be done in three hours. However, nostalgia trips through the extraordinary natural landscape in the hinterland between the Mediterranean and the mountains are still regularly offered.

The Principality of Monaco is well worth a visit

Monaco is an extremely densely populated state on the Côte d’Azur.

The pompous principality Monaco is the second smallest independent state in the world and combines numerous attractions within its borders. The city-state is about 20 kilometers from Nice and can be easily reached by train or by car along the picturesque coastal roads (Corniches). The city of gardens is therefore a perfect destination from Nice.

Corsica, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, is just outside Nice and can be reached by ferry or plane. The ferries from Nice go to the two largest cities in the north of the island, Bastia and Calvi. The mountainous and sparsely populated Corsica is a perfect destination for all those who are looking for peace and authenticity, adventure and wilderness. Perfect for hiking over lonely roads, through canyons and mountain ranges. There are also sandy beaches on the east coast of Corsica. Besides that, can also Sardinia can be visited by ferry from Corsica.

Nice is close to the Mercantour National Park

The Mercantour National Park is located in the French Maritime Alps.

Around 90 kilometers northeast of Nice is one of the most remote and pristine valleys in Europe: the Mercantour National Park. The park has many well-developed hiking and park paths and is ideal for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding or to observe many rare animal species. In the Vallée des Merveilles there are also around 39,000 pictograms from the Bronze Age. One of the most popular mountains in the Mercantour National Park is Mont Mounier between the Var and Tinée valleys in the French Maritime Alps.

Europe's oldest mountain observatory, and the first to be operated permanently, is located around eight kilometers from Nice on the Mont Gros. The observatory has a fascinating architecture and is embedded in a beautiful 40 hectare nature park. If you want, you can hike there, watch the paragliders take off and also enjoy a breathtaking view over Nice and the bay.

There are also many other cities and places in the area that are well worth a visit and are well worth a visit. For example, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Antibes, Cannes and Grasse are of interest.

Driving on the scenic coastal roads

The Grande Corniche is between Nice and Menton.

Nice is located on three picturesque coastal roads that are definitely among the most beautiful panoramic roads in the world. Almost legendary is the former Roman road between Nice and Menton, the Grande Corniche, 500 meters above sea level with its tight hairpin bends, which leads past small villages and high cliffs and, beyond that, a fantastic view of the glittering azure blue sea with its snow-white yachts offers. Many of the places along the road are worth a stop, such as Col d’Eze, La Turbie or Roquebrunne.

At sea level is the N98 or Basse Corniche, which is around 30 kilometers long and at sea level leads along some of the most beautiful seaside resorts on the Côte d’Azur. The Basse Corniche is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful roads in France, but it is also one of the busiest, especially in summer. The long time in the car is rewarded with a fantastic view of luxurious houses, tropical gardens, former fishing villages and harbors. The Chapelle de St. Pierre on the water and the Savoy Citadel St. Elme are also very beautiful.

Picturesque route with many curves

The Moyenne Corniche is located between the Grande Corniche and the Basse Corniche. It is a picturesque route with many curves and tunnels with a great view of neighboring glamorous seaside resorts, magnificent villas and of course the sea. Along the road in the direction of Menton are Col de Villefranche and Eze Village with its narrow streets, stone houses and the Jardin Exotique, which are well worth a visit, as well as Menton with its wonderful gardens and the pretty beach with the promenade.

Language school in Nice

Many language schools offer language courses in Nice. A language trip like this is the perfect way to improve your French while exploring picturesque Nice. Most language trips can be booked from the age of 18, but there are also language holidays for young people.

Events worth seeing during the year

Numerous cultural, music and sports events take place in Nice every year.

Every year at least 400,000 visitors celebrate the Nice Carnival.

The Carnaval de Nice is certainly the most famous event in the port city and goes back to a visit by the Prince of Anjou, Charles II. About 20 colorful floats decorated with countless flower arrangements testify to the joy of life of the people of Nice and march in a huge flower parade with imaginatively clad dancers and musicians on the Promenade des Anglais past countless people. The highlight of the Nice Carnival is the symbolic burning of His Majesty's Carnival. In addition to the flower parade, numerous masked balls, a light parade, a children's ball and the Bain de Carnaval also take place during the spectacle.

In March in the gardens of Cimiez with the Festival of the Courgourdons traditionally celebrated the beginning of spring. Also takes place in March Paris-Nice international cycle race instead of.

Every year in April, athletes join the international half marathon of Nice against each other. The Festival of the Book and the Festival de Musique Sacrée will start in June. This month will also be the Ironman France held in Nice.

Two music festivals in July

Every year towards the end of July, the five-day event takes place in the open air on the Place Masséna and in the Théâtre de Verdure Nice jazz festival held. This also takes place in July Crazy Week music festival instead of.

After that in July and August Festival of the Malonat district and in September the Nice Harbor Festival, Lou Festin dou Pouort, Attracting locals and visitors alike, November will be the year for the Nice-Cannes marathon athletic again. Also in November there are two music festivals, namely the Festival of Contemporary Music and the Festival of Classical Music.

The end of the year is what is worth seeing Christmas village with its huts and the beautiful ice rink on Place Masséna in December.

Many other events are held in the arenas of the city and in particular in the futuristic Palais Nikaia, which can be combined with the adjacent sports stadium “Stade Charles Ehrmann” to form a venue that offers space for around 52,000 people.

Nice's economy and infrastructure

The port of Nice at dusk.

The main industries in Nice are tourism and high technology. The Sophia Antipolis technology center is located around 20 kilometers from Nice. Viticulture also plays a notable role, especially in the Bellet wine-growing region.

The airport in the southern French city is around seven kilometers from the city center. It is the third largest airport in France and transports around twelve million passengers a year. Nice's port is the second largest cruise port in the Mediterranean. There is a regular ferry connection to the island of Corsica.

Nice is also easily accessible by public transport. The port city has a connection to the SNCF long-distance network via the Nice-Ville long-distance train station. 500 meters north of this is the station for the narrow-gauge line that connects Nice with Digne-les-Bains. Local public transport is via Lignes d'Azur with around a hundred bus routes, one tram and five night bus routes. There are also many regional bus connections in the area around Nice. And if you want to explore Nice by bike, you have the opportunity to borrow one of the characteristic blue bicycles at 170 public bicycle stations.

Accommodation in Nice

Tourism is considered to be Nice's main source of income. So it is not surprising that the city on the Côte d’Azur has numerous accommodations in all variations, from luxury hotels to youth hostels. There are a total of around 200 hotels, holiday homes, holiday homes, apartments, guest rooms, youth hostels and campsites that offer overnight accommodation in Nice. Especially among the small hotels and guest rooms, there are many gems to be discovered away from the most famous addresses. Find hotels, apartments and vacation rentals in Nice on www.booking.com.

getting there

  • By plane: The international airport Nice Côte d’Azur is served by various German airports. Among other things, Easyjet operates between Nice and German cities. From the airport to the city center, there are two bus routes, 98 and 99.
  • By train: Nice can e.g. B. with the TGV from Germany can also be easily reached by train.
  • With the long-distance bus: You can travel from Germany to Nice with Flixbus.
  • By car: Nice is on the A8 motorway, which has five exits to Nice. Exit number 50, labeled Promenade des Anglais, leads directly into the city center.
  • By boat: The port of Nice is one of the most popular moorings for cruises in the Mediterranean and has 530 berths, including 24 for tall ships.