Our time in Nice was definitely a highlight of our trip to France for me. In retrospect, I don't know if it's necessarily because Nice is an amazing city or if it's because we spent three nights there and took trips from Nice, using it as our base, so it gave us an opportunity to slow down a little bit (the rest of the trip we'd been in a different town every single night, and after a while that can get tiring). Even though it was only three nights, on our first morning, we found a bakery that we liked, so the next two days we returned...if you've found something good (or delicious), why not stick with it while you can, especially if you have limited time?
We also parked the rental car our first night and didn't mess with it again until we left - after the traffic fiasco the first day, we resolved to get around by foot, train, and public transit as much as possible, and it turns out we were able to do so without any trouble even though when I'd made my plans weeks prior I'd planned to see the area entirely by car. I think this was a really wise decision and removed a lot of unnecessary stress. We may have even saved money on gas and parking fees in the process!
So, what exactly did we get up to in Nice? I'll show you...
On our first day, after visiting Antibes, we planned to have plenty of time to see St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the Promenade des Anglais, and have dinner and gelato in Vieux Nice (Nice's old town). Plans obviously shifted a bit after hitting hours of traffic en route, so we were only able to see the cathedral from the outside that night, and then we found a Tunisian restaurant a block away with great prices, food, and reviews online (lucky us!) but it all worked out.
The next day, we spent the morning and early afternoon in Monaco, and then the rest of the day in Nice. We were able to get a better look at the outside and the inside of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral which we were really interested in as it's pretty outside the norm for cathedrals that we usually come across in Europe. Its history is pretty neat, too, as it was built by the Russian royal family at a time when increasing numbers of Russians were vacationing in the south of France during the winter, and wanted a place to worship, and thus (long story short), the cathedral was built.
A good bit of walking later, we came to one of Nice's most famous attractions, its seven kilometer long (~4.3 miles) boardwalk along the Mediterranean, the Promenade des Anglais. The promenade was named for English expats who enjoyed vacationing in the area and paid for its construction in 1822. The boardwalk is famous for its blue lounge chairs, which are free and are found in groups overlooking the beach all along the lengthy walkway.
It wasn't beach weather (at least not to us!), but that didn't stop us from enjoying some gelato at Fenocchio, a 51-year-old ice cream parlour in Nice's old town. We split a cone as we walked around the area. I don't really have to say much - the pictures do enough, I think - but this area of Nice is classically, charmingly French. Yes, some of it is touristy, but just look at the buildings, the shutters, the people hanging eating outside...and tell me you don't want to experience it too.
D - If I'm remembering things correctly (and I usually do), I believe that the ice cream we got from Fenocchio was some of the best ever. If you ever find yourself in Nice, I highly recommend it! Also, don't you just love French architecture and use of color? I know we do!
I was wearing strappy sandals, but pushed on because I was going to see everything I had planned, even if I had made poor footwear choices that morning!! We walked/hiked up to the Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) for a panorama over the city and the nearby Port Lympia, where yachts visiting Nice dock. It was worth it, and I definitely recommend making the trek up, all the way to the top (there's a few false overlooks/summits). I imagine sunset would be an especially ideal time to be at the top, too.
As we made our way down, we opted to walked back to our Airbnb along the Promenade des Anglais for a final hurrah (feet be darned), because how often do you get a chance to do that?
The next day we filled with a train trip with stops all along the French Riviera - places like Villefrance-Sur-Mer, Èze, and even a stop across the border in Italy. And after many nights of staying in (really great!) people's homes all around southern France, we were happy to have a little space of our own while staying in Nice, and it was really cute...at least from the outside ;)
See more from our road trip around southern France: our day in Toulouse here, and all of our stops on our first day: Cahors, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Bouzies, Rocamadour, Padirac Cave, Loubressac, and Figeac. We began our second day in Marcillac-Vallon and Belcastel, made a stop at the Viaduc de Millau before heading into the Gorges du Tarn, and finally checked out the lovely Sainte-Enimie. That night, we stayed in Le-Pont-de-Montvert.
We started our third day in Labeaume before driving through the Gorges de l'Ardeche and stopping afterwards in Aiguèze and then spending some time checking out Roman remains in Orange and staying the night in Vaison-la-Romaine. The next morning we explored Vaison-la-Romaine, drove on to Sisteron and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and through the Gorges du Verdon and stayed the night in Castellane.
The morning of the fifth day of our road trip, we drove to Grasse, onto Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and then to Antibes and finally onto Nice for the night. On our first morning we took the train to Monaco and then started explored Nice in the afternoon.