The Complete Guide to the Old Town of Nice: Nice Vieille Ville
The town of Nice on the French Riviera might be mainly known for its Promenade des Anglais, and its stone pebble beach.
While the new part of Nice where most tourists spend their time in, Nice can be divided into two parts: new Nice, and Nice Vieille town, which translates to the old town of Nice.
The old town of Nice has a still-standing quarter with lots of charming buildings and monuments that are a must-visit when on the French Riviera, and particularly in Nice.
The Nice old town is a place to visit both during the day as well during at night, as the old town of Nice is full of life during the evening, with lots of restaurants that offer traditional Mediterranean food, among much else
Today, the old town district of Nice looks almost identical to what it did three centuries ago, with beautiful traditional French buildings, which are a must-see for tourists that love history and architecture. The streets are narrow, as you’d expect in an old town, and the houses are painted in beautiful colors, with traditional French windows.
In the old town of Nice, France, you can find multiple churches, which is not very strange considering the fact the church played an enormous role in people’s lives.
For the tourist, there are lots of souvenir shops as well as a flower, food, and fish market, that attracts lots of tourists as well inhabitants. These markets take place every Monday.
In the old town of NIce, you can find everything from local vegetables to spices of all kinds, to trendy clothes shops.
At night and during the evening, the old town of Nice is a meeting point for a lot of people. The narrow streets are packed with everything from bars, restaurants, and clubs.
Borders of the old town of Nice, France
The old town of Nice borders the hill of the castle to the east, but if you visit, you’ll notice that there is no castle there today. The reason is that the castle of the Nice old town was destroyed in 1704 by the troops of Louis XIV who besieged it. And furthermore, one of the bullets that were fired from the army hit the place where they kept their gunpowder, thus the citadel blew up.
To the south, the old town of Nice borders the quay of the U.S, which is an extension of the Promenade des Anglais. To the north, it borders Piazza Garibaldi.
Plenty of administrative buildings are located in the old town of Nice. This includes the town hall and the courthouse. The old town of Nice also has its very own opera house: Opéra de Nice.
If you want a tour of the old town of Nice, you can take a look at this video:
In 2009, a lot happened to the old town of Nice. As a part of its 150 year anniversary, embellishment was begun, and large investments for major renovations put in place.
The old town of Nice is the district on the French Riviera where Henri Betti was born, on July 24, 1917
The old town of Nice has slowly but surely lost its old charm, starting from the 1070s, as traditional French shops that were previously crowding the place have slowly died out, giving way for shops mainly dedicated to tourists, which all sell things you can find everywhere else.
The local language was highly used up until the 1960s, but since then, it is hardly spoken anymore.
When building the old town of Nice, the builders took advantage of the Mediterranean water and leveraged it as a natural air conditioner to cool the city with its large chilled air masses and the sea winds. In other words, the old town of Nice is not just built the way it is by coincidence and by random, but it is strategically built to make the climate in the town much more pleasant during the day.
During summer, the roofs absorb the immense heat from the sun, making it much more pleasant to walk on the narrow streets.
While the buildings itself look almost identical to what they looked like a few centuries ago, the vibe of the town in the evening is a lot different today when loud music plays from the bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.
Included in the old town of Nice is the Vieux Nice harbor, the old harbors of Nice. Since Nice wasn’t a trading town which relied heavily on trading and exporting, the old harbor of Nice isn’t huge or remarkable, like the old harbor of, for example, Marseille. But that is not to say that the old harbor of Nice isn’t something to visit, because it is a beautiful sight with small idyllic fishing boats.
Things to do and visit while in the old town of Nice
There is a lot to do in the old town of Nice. And there are things to do for all ages.
The daily market in the old town of Nice takes place in the Cours Saleya, which is essentially the center of the old town. it is a morning market, so if you want to take part, you better visit during the morning. Back in the days, Cours Saleya was the place where the wealthy residents of old Nice spent their time and lived.
On the northern side of Nice, you can find the Chapelle de la Miséricorde, which is a testament to the Cours Saleya. It was built in 1740 and is still today considered a masterpiece in terms of baroque architecture.
In the old town of France, you’ll be able to find Eglise Saint-Jacques, which is also known by the name of Eglise du Jésu. The build of this church was begun in 1612.
Moreover, in the Nice old town, you’ll also be able to find Cathédrale Sainte Réparate, which was inaugurated in in 1699. The cathedral was named to honor the patron saint of Nice.
The old town also has the beautiful Palais Lascaris, which was built in 1665 in Genoan style.
Parking in the old town of Nice, France
If you come here by car, parking inside of the old town of Nice isn’t ideal, because as you can imagine, there were no cars at the time this city was built, therefore the narrow streets.
You can, however, park near the old town of nice in the parking lot at Casino Du Palais, located on the street Rue du Congrès. Another option is to park your car int he parking lot located on Palais Massena at the Rue de France.
Ideally, if you want to go to Nice, including the old town of nice, it is best not to go by car, as the streets are narrow, the traffic is often heavy and stressful, and the parking lots are few. You can get to the old town of Nuce both by bus or by train.
Cours Saleya – Marche aux Fleurs in the old town of Nice
Cours Saleya is the name of the main street in old Nice, which is pedestrianized. The street is famous for its several markets that take place during different days of the week, where you can find anything from perfume, spices, fish, to locally farmed fruit and vegetables.
As it is the main pedestrian street in the old Nice, it is the place where most tourists go when they want to explore the town. There is an amazing atmosphere, which is a wonderful contrast from the large and hectic main Nice.
Colline du Chateau in old Nice
Colline du Chateau, also known as the castle hill is the hill in Nice which you can see from virtually everywhere on the Promenade des Anglais.
The hill is located just right next to the sea, but the hill is quite large, and considering castles, forts, and towns were almost always built on hills to protect from intruders, it’s not that strange that a castle was once built on the hill. In order to get to the hill, you can either take the stairs or, you can take the elevator that is free of charge. The castle hill is located just a stone throw from the old town of Nuce.
If you want to take the elevator, it is located on the left side of the Hotel Suisse. The top of the hill offers the most magnificent view over the Promenade des Anglais, as well as a stunning view over the rooftops of the Nice old town, and the new part of Nice.
The streets of Old Town of Nice
The streets in the old town are narrow and beautiful, and a well-worth visit to tourists.
There are lots of small cafés and restaurants in the streets of the old town, thus allowing you to sit down and relax for a bit, while enjoying the beautiful scenery and houses. The streets are full of history, which can almost be felt when walking through them. There is a great selection of restaurants who serve traditional and true Mediterranean cuisine, such as moules frites and oysters.