Nice by Heart, the French Riviera City Where I Live
Céline O’Donnell is a private tour guide and native of Nice, France. She has lived in this Côte d’Azur city for 40 years and now runs guided walking tours of her city through her company Nice by Heart. After studying and working in the design field in London, and extensive travels, O’Donnell returned to Nice.
Nice by Heart Tours
Four (4) years ago, Céline launched her walking tours, sharing her favourite things about her city with visitors. These tours offer insight into the city’s history and culture along with a healthy dose of local’s tips. Céline’s tours are designed for small groups of travellers who want to know more about the region and the city. The signature Nice by Heart tour is “Discover the Old Town of Nice and its wonders.” The morning starts in a café and ends on the Promenade des Anglais about three hours later.
Nice, Where I Live
After four decades in this French Riviera city, Céline shares Nice’s history, cultural highlights, and culinary delights during her tours. From vintage shops to wine caves to her favourite place for a cocktail, enjoy these local’s tips from the founder of Nice by Heart.
Tell us a bit about Nice, France.
My home is in Nice, a lovely city on the Mediterranean in southeastern France. Located between Monaco and Cannes, it is one of the famous places on the French Riviera. The foothills of the southern French Alps surround the city to the north. After Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse, Nice the 5th largest city in France. Nice is a dynamic city, and its beauty attracts many travellers throughout the year. Also, the city’s history is fascinating and reflects the diversity of its culture.
How long have you lived in Nice?
Born in Nice, I have lived here most of my life. I spent seven years in England studying and working in design. I have travelled extensively to many regions of the world.
What do locals love most about Nice?
I have often heard locals say that what they like the most here is that as soon as they finish work for the day, they feel like being on holiday!
Nature and Climate
Known for its cloudless blue sky, it’s sunny in Nice on average 300 days per year. Locals love Nice’s pleasant Mediterranean climate.
Located in Les Alpes Maritimes department, the Alps near the sea, residents appreciate Nice’s easy access to nature. Trails covered with umbrella pines and beaches for swimming follow the Mediterranean coast. The “hinterland” is reachable by bus and train, with mountains and hillsides dotted with lovely medieval villages. With the mountains so close to the city, there are hiking trails within 20 minutes by car. In winter months, there are also ski resorts nearby, including Auron, Isola 2000, and Valberg.
When you live in Nice, in the summer you swim and fish at the seaside, and in the winter you head to the mountains to look for mushrooms and ski!
We also appreciate the variety of cultural options in the city. Many museums, galleries, and artistic and musical events are scheduled throughout the year. Some museums to visit in Nice include, The Matisse Museum, the Museum of Beaux-arts Jules Chéret, the Massena Museum, the Marc Chagall Museum, the photography Museum, and the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum. Here are the details on 10 of the museums in Nice.
Food lovers enjoy the rich culinary traditions of Niçoise cuisine. Influenced by Franco-Italian history and Mediterranean produce, local dishes form the core of Nice’s gourmet scene. Le Cercle de la Capelina d’Or, a dedicated group of culinary experts, established the “Cuisine Nissarde” label in 1995. The Tourism Office now manages the brand, but the concept remains the same a dedication to promoting the historical cuisine of Nice. Restaurateurs serving traditional dishes with local ingredients are awarded the label and allowed to display the icon. This distinction rewards chefs who use quality, seasonal ingredients in their traditional recipes.
Why is Nice a great place to visit?
Nice is a great place to visit for all the things mentioned above! And, also because visiting the French Riviera is a must.
Is there a must-see attraction in Nice?
The one must-see attraction in Nice is the views from the top of Castle Hill. La colline du Château, as we call it here, is vital to locals because of its history, location, and panoramic vista. Located at the edge of the sea and just above the old town, there is a splendid view of the sea and the Baie des Anges.
La colline du Château is also the ideal place to have a picnic or drink coffee on the terrace overlooking the city. Alternatively, walk through the gardens, and visit the ruins of the old cathedral before the 17th century.
Also, Nice’s Vieux Ville old town is not-to-be-missed, with its narrow, lively, and colourful streets.