Carolyne Kauser-AbbottExploreGuided Holiday Tours

Walking Tour of Old Nice Tours with a Lovely Guide

We only had a week in Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, but we needed a lifetime. Born in Nice, Celine O’Donnell loves her city and has turned her passion into walking tours in Nissa la Belle. On a hot summer day, we joined Celine for a walking tour of Old Nice, a discovery for my husband and a refresher for me.

Perfectly bilingual, Celine O’Donnell combines her experience in art and design (fashion, jewellery, art) with her deep interest in Nice’s history. The walking tour began in the centre of Vieux Nice by the Hôtel de Ville (city hall). From there, we walked to the Opera, where Celine provided an overview of the architecture and some historical details about Nice’s construction.

Celine O'Donnell Nice by Heart

Celine O’Donnell by © Florian Levy

A History Lesson

Celine recommended that we spend time at a local café so that she could provide additional background on how the City of Nice became today’s cultural and tourism centre. Once our drinks arrived, she pulled out a map and gave us a history lesson that stretched 400,000 years into the past. We had enough time for more than one coffee, as Celine explained how Nice came to be. A settlement grew its roots in Ligurian times, thrived under the Phoenicians, and expanded into the Roman era. As rulers changed from the Ligurians to the House of Savoie, Nikaïa, Niceae, and Nizza eventually became Nice. Today, Nice has France’s seventh-largest population and second-busiest airport.

Celine O'Donnell Nice by Heart Tours

Walking Tour of Old Nice

It was time to stretch our legs after the history lesson, which we did as Celine showed us some of the main streets and must-see places in the old town.

We poked our noses into Maison Auer, an institution that has fabricated bonbons, chocolate and fruit confits since 1820. Step into the store to discover confectionary traditions that continue under the guidance of the fifth generation of the Auer family.

Next, we wandered through the Cours Saleya marketplace. It was a Monday, so the flea market displaced the regular fruit, vegetable and flower market stands. The market provides lots of temptation in old linens, silver and crystal, artwork, photographs and prints. Celine shared several theories regarding the origins of the name Saleya; none are concrete but likely include salt, fish, and maritime trade.

Nice French Riviera City Tours

Vieux Nice has several churches for a small geographical footprint. During our walk, Celine highlighted some of the most famous of these religious institutions. She also pointed out museums and galleries so we could make notes for a future visit.

As mentioned, it was a hot day, and my husband is a dedicated ice cream fan. Celine steered him through the seemingly endless gelateria choices to her recommended location.

Nice French Riviera City Tours

During our time together, Celine pointed out secret passages, trompe l’oeil facades, changes in the streetscape over the centuries and quiet back streets. It’s abundantly clear that Celine’s Nice by Heart tours are her way of sharing the best of her city with visitors. We will return!

Nice: Ideas for Food Lovers

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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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