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Nissa la Bella – Paul Shawcross favourite places in beautiful Nice

Must-See Nice

Fabulous Nice lies along the shores of Baie des Anges at the eastern end of Provence, on what English speakers call the French Riviera but which the French know as the Côte d’Azur.  The English aristocracy discovered its delights during the early Victorian era but the secret eventually got out and the Riviera soon established itself as an international playground for everyone.

Vieux Ville and the Baie des Anges viewed from Château Hill

Vieux Nice – Nissa

Nice can be divided into two parts, the old town, or Vieux Nice, and the Modern Town. Vieux Nice occupies a relatively small area at the foot of Château Hill near the eastern end of the Promenade des Anglais and can be explored easily in half a day.

Italian in character, and the birthplace of Guiseppe Garibadi, it was in fact part of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont up till 1860 and known as Nizza, or Nissa in the old Provençal language. Even today the unofficial anthem of Nice is ‘Nissa la Bella’ sung in the local Niçard dialect.

Beautiful Nice Cours Sayeya Market Paul Shawcross

Colourful stalls on the Cours Sayeya daily market

A good place to start your exploration is the colourful daily market on the Cours Saleya. Next, stroll along the old streets where you’ll find Baroque churches including Cathédrale Ste-Réparate and Gésu, renaissance Palaces and attractive squares before relaxing in the colourful Place Rossetti.

Beautiful Nice Église St-Jacques Gésu Paul Shawcross

17th Century Église St-Jacques or Gésu

Nice Cathédrale Ste-Réparate Paul Shawcross

Baroque facade of Cathédrale Ste-Réparate

Look out for Adam and Eve high up on the wall in rue de la Poissonerie and if you’ve time visit the fascinating Renaissance Palais Lascaris on rue Droite with its Museum of musical instruments.

Place Rossetti Vieux Nice Paul Shawcross

Cafe tables and diners in Place Rosetti in Vieux Nice

Modern Nice

Modern Nice comprises the urban area which forms a semi-circle around the old town and Château Hill. Famously the Promenade des Anglais lines the shore of the Baie des Anges with its mix of public and private beaches and safe bathing with lifeguards.  There are 25 altogether, but my favourites are Opéra and Ponchettes right outside the old town.

Beautiful Nice Opera Plage Paul Shawcross

Opera Plage, Chateau Hill and Mont Boron

Stroll along ‘le Prom’ and enjoy the Art Deco features of the Hotel Negresco and the architectural gem of the Musée Masséna where you can learn about the City’s history.

Beautiful Nice Church of St Nicolas Paul Shawcross

The onion domes of the early 20th Century Russian Orthodox Church of St Nicolas

Further afield, the incongruous features of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicolas on Avenue Nicolas II are well worth a visit as is the fascinating Roman Amphitheatre at Cimiez adjacent to the Palace Hotel where Queen Victoria used to stay.

Beautiful Nice Amphitheatre Cimiez Paul Shawcross

Roman Amphitheatre at Cimiez

Nice Fontaine du Soleil in Place Massena Paul Shawcross

Fontaine du Soleil or Apollo Fountain in Place Massena

Back in 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!

New Ligne d’Azur tram passing through the Place Masséna

Around Nice

Leave time for at least one trip out of town – you can be in Nice’s Beyond, the amazing mountainous area to the north of the City, in an hour or so. Or, if you prefer to see more of the Riviera, there are plenty of easily accessible attractions to visit along the coast in either direction!

Nice's Best Paul Shawcross

Want to know more? Check out Paul’s latest app, ‘Nice’s Best’, which is available as a free download from either:

Nice's Best Apple  or Nice's Best Google Play

Find a Place to Stay in Nice



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Paul Shawcross

Paul Shawcross is a Francophile, a travel writer and a Photographer who first fell in love with France when passing through on the way to Spain way back in 1979.

Paul has revised and written new text for several Michelin Green Guides to the French Regions as well as penning several Thomas Cook Pocket Guides and contributing articles to leading periodicals including Living France and France Magazine. He has authored several apps for smart devices and has a new one for the Dordogne in preparation. Paul is also the European Acquisitions Editor for Bindu Trips , a recently launched travel planning website which features Provence along with many other European destinations

Paul also has a large photo library much of which is hosted by Alamy Images

Further details of Paul’s work can be found here

Visiting Nice? Checkout his Nice's Best Travel App

Discover his PROVENCE'S BEST App with essential trip-planning information and an overview of key destinations so you can decide where to stay.

Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulShawcrossUK (below)


  1. Sally Kauser
    June 17, 2018 at 6:56 am — Reply

    Bella, Bella. I love Nice.

    • June 17, 2018 at 11:14 am — Reply

      Thank you for reading this article on Nice, we love the city too.

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