Nice is perhaps the most iconic French city after Paris – a piece of touristic paradise on Earth! However, if you think of holidays on the Cote d'Azur as only relaxation on beach – then you do not know anything about Nice. There is a lot more! To get a first-hand experience, we spoke to Joëlle Maestracci, Marketing and Communications Manager at Nice Tourism Office.
What to see in Nice?
For what unique experiences can we come in Nice?
Nice Côte d'Azur's undeniable assets have been seducing and inspiring millions of visitors every year for decades. Nothing is missing here!
The Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan area is indeed a destination that is both unique and multifaceted. Sea or mountain? Why choose? The unity of this area, unique in Europe, between the coastal cities (Cagnes-sur-Mer, Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cap d'Ail,...) and the Mercantour resorts (Isola 2000, Auron, Saint-Dalmas-le-Selvage ...) through the hilltop villages of the middle country (Vence, Saint-Jeannet, Gattières, Gilette, Falicon...), allows all types of stay (urban, active nature, events, cultural, seaside, mountain...) for all kinds of visitors profiles (solo, couple, family, friends). With its international airport just 15 minutes from the city centre, its hotel complex of nearly 200 hotels, numerous museums, architectural heritage, climate, seaside, festivals and art of living, Nice Côte d'Azur is the ideal destination that knows how to get everyone to agree... Everyone who stays here is surprised to have so much to do!
Please name 5 best attractions?
Climb up the hill of the Château de Nice and enjoy an exceptional panorama of the city, the mountains and the Baie des Anges.
Stroll through Old Nice and the Cours Saleya where, except Mondays, the flower and vegetable market takes place every day.
Walk on the coastal path or on the heights and admire the view.
Take a hike in the Mercantour National Park and meet the local wildlife.
Enjoy the thrill of outdoor sports (France's largest zip line, canyoning, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, road biking, Nordic walking, via ferrata, scuba diving, water skiing...).
Visit the authentic hilltop villages.
When is the best time to visit Nice?
When is it best for tourists to come? What season do you recommend?
Here, all seasons are good for discovery. In summer and winter, this area offers beautiful landscapes.
In winter, the destination dresses up in its festive attire and lights (Christmas Markets, Nice Carnival...) but also in a white coat on the peaks, allowing the practice of winter sports while the sunshine and mild temperatures are conducive to urban walks and hikes. Skiing during the day and walking by the sea in the same day is a dream come true here.
A must-see summer destination for many French people and visitors alike, Nice Côte d'Azur is more than just sea, beach and cocktails. Canyoning, mountain biking, hiking, lakes and other outdoor activities are also part of a successful holiday.
Nice Côte d'Azur is also a destination of choice in spring and autumn. The metropolis indeed conceals many treasures which it is then possible to discover in all tranquility outside the high summer season.
Which festivals in Nice can you recommend?
The Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis lives in all seasons. Numerous events such as the IronMan, the Nice Carnival, the Nice Jazz Festival, the Square Bowls Festival, the Southern Nights, the Guitar Nights, the IronMan 70.3 World Championship, the French Mountain Bike Xco Cup, the Alpes-Maritimes Marathon and a multitude of other musical, sporting, traditional and cultural events punctuate the year in a consistent manner and contribute to make Nice Côte d'Azur a dynamic and modern tourist destination.
It should be noted that following the health crisis, major events have been cancelled, with the exception of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France which has been postponed from 29 to 31 August 2020 and the Etape du Tour to 6 September 2020.
Best food to try in Nice
What is the most delicious gastronomic speciality in your region? Could you name a few?
A cuisine with simple origins, a cuisine of social conviviality and integration, of respect for fresh and regional products, the Niçoise cuisine is totally integrated into a strong Niçoise identity. It reflects the art of living and respect for regional products. Culinary specialities can be tasted either on the go (socca, pissaladière, small stuffed dishes, fougasse, chard pie, Nice olive and pan bagnat — the Niçois sandwich par excellence), or comfortably seated at a table (daube à la niçoise, stockfish, salade niçoise, ratatouille, gnocchi, beignets de fleurs de courgettes, tripes,...). Good small dishes served in a bistro, a large table, on the terrace or on the beach, accompanied by a good local wine with a view of the port, the sea or Old Nice. Some establishments display the label "Cuisine Nissarde, the authenticity of tradition"... a guarantee of respect for traditional recipes and the customer. The cuisine of Nice is now part of the national intangible cultural heritage. It is in the running for inclusion in UNESCO's Intangible Heritage of Humanity!
What type of regional product can we bring from the trip?
The Olive de Nice and the olive oil, both in "Appellation d'Origine Protégée" (AOP), but also the Vin de Bellet, one of the oldest grape varieties in France and one of the first AOC in France.
Insider places in Nice
What is the little-known experience in Côte d'Azur that tourists often miss, but which is worth doing?
Nice holds the national label "Ville Vélotouristique". The capital of the Côte d'Azur offers cyclists a welcome, rental services and adapted equipment. Cycling along the Baie des Anges for miles around, crossing the tourist centre at your own pace and letting yourself be charmed by the panorama and the rich heritage of Nice, a green Mediterranean city, is a little-known but memorable experience. The rest of the metropolis also offers an infinite variety of walks and hikes by bicycle, mountain bike or electrically assisted mountain bike.
From 27 to 31 August, the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolan area will be in the spotlight as it will host the start and finish of the first two stages of the 107th edition of the legendary Tour de France. The third stage will also start from Nice. By hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2020, the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis continues to write its cycling history, which began in 1906 with the first visit of the Grande Boucle.
Planned: A new 261-kilometer route is announced for 2021. It will enable electric mountain bikes to tackle the 7,000 m difference in altitude between the mountain resort of Auron and the mythical Promenade des Anglais. After passing through 16 charming villages and over the impressive Bonette Pass (the highest in Europe), cycling fans will certainly appreciate a dip in the Big Blue!
Is there a legendary place in Nice?
Paris has its Champs Élysées and Nice its Promenade des Anglais! Running along the Baie des Anges for 7 kilometres, this internationally renowned avenue is a must for all visitors, as it is for the people of Nice. You will quickly understand why... The extraordinary colour of the water and its ideal temperature will invite you to take a swim, without leaving the city!
Where can you get the best picture in Nice?
From the top of the Hill of the Castle of Nice, you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the whole city, the Baie des Anges and the surrounding mountains. Between its park and its garden, it is the perfect place to make a photo shooting in a stunning setting!
Travel hacks in Nice
In which part of the region would you advise tourists to stay and why?
In the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan area, don't miss the visit of Eze, a very pretty village perched on a rocky promontory of the Moyenne Corniche. Visit it at your own pace, as well as its craft shops, hotels and starred restaurants. At the top, don't forget to visit the exotic garden set in the ruins of a medieval fortress. The panorama takes you as far as Saint-Tropez. Breathtaking!
Do you have any tips for tourists to save money in the city? Maybe you have passes to several attractions and special promotions, or you can recommend free visits to incredible places?
Thanks to the FRENCH RIVIERA PASS, enjoy the main sites and activities of Nice and its region free of charge. Once you have bought your pass, you will not have to spend any more money for your visits, and this during the whole period of validity of the card (24, 48 or 72 hours as you wish). You will have free access to a multitude of tourist sites as well as activities in Nice and on the French Riviera and will benefit from the cut. Saving time and money, the FRENCH RIVIERA PASS is THE essential companion of your stay.
* The French Riviera Pass can be purchased at the Nice Tourist Office (5, Promenade des Anglais), both terminals of Nice airport, in many larger hotels and via official site. (editor's note)
Fun things to do in Nice
What are the possibilities of outdoor activities: hikes, caves, bike rides, other entertainment?
Nice Côte d'Azur is home to all of France's tourist attractions. Medium and high mountains, plains, rivers and streams, urban centres cultivating the art of living, parks and gardens, perched villages with an architectural and religious heritage and unparalleled charm, traditional rurality and local produce, colourful and varied markets, high mountain resorts benefiting from quality infrastructures, natural parks (34% of the territory is classified as a Natura 2000 zone), creeks with crystal-clear waters, fishing ports... Combine all these pleasures in one trip!
Sports enthusiasts and lovers of wide open spaces, did you also know that less than 1 hour from the beaches of the coast, you will find what you are looking for thanks to the numerous activities available in this area? Hiking or horse riding, canyoning, rafting, mountain biking, road biking, bike parks, mountaineering, Via Ferrata, accrobranches, climbing, hang-gliding... Add to this all water sports, such as scuba diving, sailing, parasailing, snorkelling or simply swimming... Nice Côte d'Azur has the answer to all your desires!
Tell us about a local tradition that best describes Nice?
Placed in the top three of World Carnivals with Rio and Venice, the Nice Carnival is also the 1st carnival in France. It takes place every winter, during two weeks and three weekends in February, attracting several hundred thousand spectators, both French and international.
Originally a pagan festival, "Carne levare, levamen — remove the flesh", takes place before the Lent period, during the fat days (Mardi Gras). It is the last feast before a period of abstinence and lean cooking, which therefore justifies all the excesses. It was in 1873 that Andriot Saetone from Nice took the initiative to found the "Comité des fêtes" (Festival Committee) in charge of organizing festivities for the rich wintering people. Thus on February 23rd 1873, Carnival 1st entered the city. Three years later, the Battles of Flowers were created. Originally simple exchanges of flowers, they became the poetic and elegant side of Carnival and the showcase of local production. A unique show in the world.
Nowadays, the influence of the Brazilian, Caribbean and Latin American Carnivals on the European Carnivals is undeniable. The participation in the Nice Carnival, a real international crossroads, of carnival groups from all over the world allows the discovery of the richness, the dynamism and the music of other Carnivals. As a result, samba schools, steel-band orchestras and salsa are gradually replacing the marches and farandoles of yesteryear. The festival is imbued with this mix of cultures which needs new means of expression. The street arts inspire the carnivalist, who has become a visual artist-scenographer.
We deeply thank madame Maestracci for great insight into magical world of Nice!
Photos are courtesy of Tourist Office of Nice. Official site: https://www.nicetourisme.com