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Nice, France 10 Must-See Places When Visiting the French Riviera City

Thankfully, “gap year” was not something I had ever heard of when I was in school. Otherwise, I would have lobbied to spend a year, or a lifetime, in Europe. Instead, I followed the traditional and well-beaten path, graduating and then travelling through Europe on a Eurail pass for as long as possible, spending the least money. After train rides through Spain, Switzerland, Italy and parts of France, we arrived in Nice, France and found an inexpensive hotel in the Old Town. Maybe it resulted from too many train rides or too much travelling, but I never wanted to leave Nice.

Nice 10 Must-See Places

To this day, Nice is one of my favourite cities on the French Riviera, and here are my suggestions for ten (10) must-see places to visit while you are there.

1. Food Markets

The market days in Nice are Tuesday to Sunday. While there are several markets in Nice, the two (2) most famous and exciting are the Cours Saleya market in the Old Town from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the market in the Liberation district from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Marche du Liberation Nice France

The Cours Saleya market is on the most famous street of Vieux Nice, parallel to the sea and at the foot of Castle Hill. It was where painter Henri Matisse lived on this street—while at the market, look at the Nice Opera House, rebuilt at the end of the 19th century by François Aune, a pupil of Gustave Eiffel. A flea market replaces the fruit and vegetable market on Mondays.

However, many locals prefer the Libration market, which is bigger and offers more choices from regional producers at affordable prices. Visiting this less touristy area is also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the way of life in Nice. Also, there is Cité Marchande, a little covered market still in its original state. Cité Marchand still has the signs of the stores from the 1960s because it’s always a trip back in time. To get to the market, take line 1, Tram, and stop at Libération.

Nice: Ideas for Food Lovers


2. Museums

The French Riviera coast has sandy and pebbled beaches, grand villas and designer gardens. Whether you arrive by car, plane, train or yacht, it is an attractive destination for a holiday. While there is no lack of things to do along the Côte d’Azur, you probably cannot sit at the beach daily. For those days when you want a dose of culture, ten (10) museums in Nice are all well worth visiting. The art choices are varied, including a modern art museum (MAMAC), the Musée National Marc Chagall with his The Biblical Message series, and the Musée Matisse featuring works by Henri Matisse.

Discover Nice’s Museums

10 Museums in Nice, France MAMAC

MAMAC ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France, Anais Brochiero

3. Promenade des Anglais

A celebrated 7-kilometre coastal boulevard between the sea and palm trees offers superb views of the Bay of Nice and gives the city its unique identity. The history of the Promenade des Anglais dates back to the 19th century. At that time, many European aristocrats chose Nice as their privileged sunspot during winter. The arrival of the upper class, mainly from England, significantly contributed to the economic development and improved the city’s infrastructure and reputation.

Old postcard Hotel Negresco #Nice06 #FrenchRiviera @ChiaraOrlandi @ToursofNice

Following an economic downturn due to poor harvest in 1821, Reverend Lewis Way decided to raise funds with his compatriots to finance the construction of the famous seafront stretch and provide work for many jobless Niçois. The work was completed in 1824. Honoring the English initiative, the city of Nice named the new walkway “Camin des Inglés.” After the annexation to France in 1860, it changed to” La Promenade des Anglais.”

More About the Promenade des Anglais

4. Place Garibaldi

After the Promenade des Anglais, Place Garibaldi is likely the most frequented plaza in Nice. Situated near Vieux Nice, this large pedestrian area is the city’s oldest square (actually rectangular-shaped). It was constructed in 1773 and designed by Antoine Spinelli, an architect who also planned the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher. Place Garibaldi is a dynamic place with a tramline and buses passing through, and most visitors will cross the plaza during their visit. Near the centre of the square is a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian politician born in Nice.

Nice Place Masséna Paul Shawcross

Ligne d’Azur tram passing through the Place Masséna ©Paul Shawcross

5. Nice’s Opera House

Since 1992, the Opera Nice Côte d’Azur has been registered as a historic monument. Initially, there was a small theatre located on the same site. In 1776, the Maccarani Theatre was constructed with wood, a building typical of the era. The City of Nice purchased the property from the Maccarani in 1826, intending to replace the theatre with a larger opera house. Designed and constructed by two architects, one local and the other from Turin, the Municipal Theatre opened its doors in 1870. However, tragedy struck in 1881 when a fire began during a performance, destroying the building and resulting in 200 deaths. The neo-classical building you see today dates from 1885 and seats 1,000+ people. Please read the entire history of this building here.

Opéra Nice Côte d'Az

[caption id=

Basilique de Notre Dame ©l’Office de Tourisme Métropolitain Nice Côte d’Azur

Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur
4/6 rue Saint-François de Paule
06300 Nice

5 (a). Maison Auer is a Must

Maison Auer is located directly across the street from the entrance to the Opera, an institution for food lovers. This boutique is one of the oldest candy stores in Nice. This store sells many tempting sweets within its Victorian-era décor.

Maison Auer #Nice06 @MaisonAuer

Buy some fruit confits traditionally used in ice cream, cakes, or sweet dessert decorations. Fruit confit is sometimes referred to as fruit glacé in France. It was a Roman discovery that they could conserve fruit in honey. The Arabs brought the methodology for saturating fruit in syrup to Europe in the 14th century. Fruit, like many crops, often delivers its bounty all at once. Converting the fruit into a candied form was a way to preserve some harvest. Using osmosis, sugar eventually replaces the water so that the fruit will last long.

Maison Auer Fruits Confits Nice at Maison Auer

La Maison Auer
7 rue Saint-François de Paule
06300 Nice
Open Tuesday – Saturday
Telephone: +33 (0)4 93 85 77 98

Candied Clementines (Clementines Confits) with Moroccan spices
This dessert can be made all year! When I am in France, I buy clementines from Corsica. I can find clementines (sometimes known as Cuties in the U.S.) throughout the year in Los Angeles. It’s a simple dessert that can be served by itself or cut in julienne strips and served on top of ice cream, yogurt or a pound cake (The French version of a pound cake is Quatre Quart)! Please note that the clementines will be a burnt orange colour once they are candied because of the Moroccan spices.
Check out this recipe
Candied Clementines Clementines Confit Moroccan Spices

6. Basilique de Notre Dame

The Notre Dame de l’Assomption Basilica is a neo-gothic design inspired by the large cathedrals in Paris and Angers. Construction began in 1864 when the County of Nice officially became part of France. The architectural elements of this church are awe-inspiring, with towers measuring 31 metres in height and stunning stained glass windows. In 1978, Pope Paul VI confirmed the Basicia status.

Basilique Notre-Dame
Av Jean Médecin
06000 Nice

Basilique de Notre Dame Nice France

Basilique de Notre Dame ©l’Office de Tourisme Métropolitain Nice Côte d’Azur

7. Place Masséna

In the city centre, the most impressive square in Nice is the grandiose red ochre Place Masséna with its controversial Apollo Fountain and its amazing Conversation of Nice, a series of sculptures by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. Go after sunset to watch the ‘conversation’ take place, but keep your wits about you as the Ligne d’Azur trams glide silently through the square!

Nice Place Masséna Paul Shawcross

Ligne d’Azur tram passing through the Place Masséna ©Paul Shawcross

8. The Port de Nice

Port de Nice—Port Lympia—is centrally located in the city. The port is located in the Lympia basin, the watershed for a spring of the same name. It is a marina for commercial and pleasure craft of all sizes, including bright-coloured pointus fishing boats and large ferries. Surrounded by hotels and apartments, the port is a dynamic place where locals and visitors interact in cafés and restaurants along the harbour.

Nice Old Port French Riviera Cote d'Azur

9. Saint Nicolas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

The Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral is a magnificent structure built in 1912 in memory of Nicholas Alexandrovich, the one-time heir to the Russian throne who died in Nice of meningitis. It was designed in the classic Old Russian style, with five beautiful onion domes. Seeing the cathedral, you think you’ve somehow stumbled into Moscow. Today, the cathedral is a national monument in France and one of the most visited sites on the French Riviera.

Russian Church Nice

©Côte d’Azur France: Pierre BEHAR

More about this Cathedral

10. Bellet Vineyards

With the Alps as a backdrop and the Côte d’Azur in the foreground, the Bellet vineyards in Nice deliver great wines and a beautiful setting. Situated in the foothills of the southern Alps, the AOC Bellet is an AOP under EU rules. While the appellation covers 650 hectares, only 50 are planted with vines at 200-300 metres altitudes. Like many others in Provence, this appellation benefits from over 300 days of sunshine per year, sufficient natural rainfall in most years, and the mistral and tramontane winds that ensure the grapes don’t suffer from noble rot.

Discover the Bellet Vineyards


©Château de Crémat

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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