Want to go to the French Riviera but not sure which city you should stay in?
The French Riviera is immensely beautiful to say the least, however, unlike what many people believe, there are a large number of cities on the French Riviera. It doesn’t just consist of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco, but rather tens and tens of other cities.
If you’ve never been to the Riviera, or just visited a few times, it’s hard to know where on the Riviera you should go, and which city suits your preferences.
Nice is considered the largest capital city on the French Riviera, and it is also the city on the French Riviera which attracts the most tourists every year. But what are the reasons to visit Nice? What is it that make people think that it’s so special, what does the city have to offer, and what makes it more preferable than other cities on the French Riviera?
In this article, we’ll present a list of the top reasons to visit Nice, France. Mainly, we’ll be focusing on the factors that make millions of tourists visit every year, and look at what the reasons to visit Nice according to these people are.
Reasons to visit Nice in summary
- Nice is more relaxed than other cities on the Riviera
- The stunning water
- The carnival of Nice
- Amazing food
- The views from chateau hill
- Stroll Along the legendary and iconic Promenade des Anglais
- The weather
- Watch The Tour De France
- The accessibility
- Take The Mini Train up to chateau hill
- Its many parks
- The legendary “Musée Matisse”
- Swim In The Mediterranean sea as much as you want
- Explore the stunning old town
- Rent A Bike
- Reasons to visit Nice: Easy to access surrounding cities
- Reasons to visit Nice: explore Monuments and historical places
- Experience the history of the Romans
- Admire the stunning ‘La Belle Epoque’ Architecture
- Experience Socca
- Experience Nice’s long Jazz history
Without further ado, let’s dig in.
21 Reasons to visit Nice
1. Nice is more relaxed than other cities on the Riviera
All cities on are unique in their own way. Saint-Tropez is a town for the super wealthy, especially if you plan on visiting some of the iconic beach clubs. Monaco has a mixture of celebrity-reputation and ultra-wealth, and Cannes attracts the celebrities.
Nice, on the other hand, is more relaxed, less luxurious, and not flashy. At the same time, Nice is immensely beautiful. Nice is more of a ”regular” seaside resort that isn’t so regular after all. It is a city of immense beauty, and stunning scenery, where you can lye on the beach hour after hour.
2.The stunning water
The stunning waters which contrasts the shore of Nice is absolutely stunning, like seen in a movie. The water is definitely one of the reasons to visit Nice, as it not only provides you with stunning views, but also makes for some beautiful photographs. The azure blue water of the French Riviera is a signature element of the Riviera, closely associated with the south of France, however, if there’s one place you should go for absolutely magic blue water, it’s Nice.
It’s no news that Nice has cobblestones as opposed to sand on its beach, and these white stones contrast the water beneath and giving it an even more stunning blue luminance.
The water in Nice truly makes the city feel like a paradise city, where you just want to swim for countless of hours.
3.The carnival of Nice
If you are to trust the opinions of the crowds, one of the reasons you should visit Nice is because of its carnival.
Nice’s carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in the world and takes place every February.
The first carnival in Nice stretches all the way back to 1274 but it wasn’t until the 19th century that it becomes official.
Because of Nice’s size, and more importantly, that it attracts so many tourists and visitors, the city has to make sure that it is alive all year round, and continues to draw more people, but also satisfies those individuals that are there.
Throughout the year, a large number of events are held in Nice, each and every single one of them working as reasons to visit Nice, France.
The carnival of Nice is celebrated in the winter for more than 15 days and is divided into two parties: the “Corso carnavalesque” during the day and the “Bataille de Fleurs” in the evening. The parade cars with animation, art and international musical performances are everywhere, especially along the Massena square. Here you will find the most beautiful creations.
The carnival isn’t just one parade but rather takes place over several days when you can admire the stunning floats. The most impressive part about the carnival is the Bataille de Fleurs. This emphasizes the floral heritage of the region and is the most poetic part of the Carnival of Nice.
Mediterranean food is the heart of the food culture in Nice and the French Riviera, which is not very surprising, and the Mediterranean food, in particular, is known to be fresh, healthy, and absolutely delicious. This is good news if you are looking for reasons to visit Nice and are also a food lover.
What’s interesting is that Mediterranean cuisine is one thing, but then you have Nicoise cuisine as well. Of course, Nicois cuisine is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cooking for obvious reasons. In Nice, you can find a number of delicious local dishes which will offer you a different food experience.
What’s especially interesting is that Nice is one of few cities which has the cuisine named after it (Nicoise food)
In fact, in the city, there’s a program which labels and awards restaurants serving authentic, local Cuisine Niçoise, and these get the authentic seal of approval, which is a lady with a basket. If you spot one, you know that the restaurant serves traditional Cuisine Niçoise that will give you a unique food experience out of the ordinary.
In terms of food, Nice is obviously heavily influenced by its location and surroundings, and as such, the Nicoise cuisine is a blend of French and Italian, and Mediterranean cuisine.
There are a number of local foods you want to try when visiting, from pan bagnat, salade Niçoise, socca, and pissaladière, and many more.
It is said that the best food is found in Nice. Also, Nice is considered the inventor of the ravioli and gnocchi. Now, you might be thinking that those two are Italian, but have in mind that Nice belonged to Italy and has only been a French city for less than 150 years.
5. The views from chateau hill
If you’ve seen pictures of Nice, you’ve probably seen pictures from the chateau hill. This is a hill located on the right side of Nice, and the reason that it’s called chateau hill is that there was once a castle situated there but which was blown into pieces from having gunpowder in the basement and then having enemies attack.
The chateau hill is accessible for anyone, but it is a steep incline and some distance to walk, so reaching the top can be tiring, especially in the extremely warm sun during the summer. However, the view is rewarding once you reach the top.
Not only are the views from the chateau hill incredible, but the whole hill and its park are reasons to visit Nice as well.
The Parc de la Colline du Chateau is the park which is situated on the hill, and this is the ultimate place to just sit and relax in the woods, enjoy a picknick, or just listen to the birds’ song. Tthe park that towers above the Promenade des Anglais is stunning in 360 degrees.
On one side, you have a stunning view of the iconic Promenade des Anglais, and on the other side, you’ll see the harbor.
6.Stroll Along the legendary and iconic Promenade des Anglais
There’s nothing more iconic than the Promenade des Anglais, the English walk, built by the English Aristocracy when they had Nice as their winter vacation resort, wanting to be able to walk along the coastline without getting their shoes dirty.
Because of it being so legendary and historic, one of the reasons to visit Nice is this iconic walk.
It stretches a whopping 7 kilometers, so if you plan to walk along the whole thing, you’re in for a serious workout, however, the sights you are served with along the way are absolutely magical.
There’s a lot going on on the iconic walk, and you’ll be able to experience a lot on the way while walking here. If you want to experience it but don’t have the energy to walk the whole promenade, you can always rent rollerblades or a bike.
The Promenade des Anglais starts all the way at the airport and stretches all the way around the Baie des Anges (‘the bay of angels’) to the headland in the east. The promenade is full of bars and restaurants, beach clubs, ice cream places, cafés, and more. Also, along the promenade are numerous benches where you can sit down and relax, and just adore the magnificent view over the Mediterranean.
How can we talk about Nice and not talk about the weather and climate, as these are two of the most important reasons to visit Nice. At least if you look at all the tourists who visit Nice for sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing in the sun.
Nice is blessed with an amazing Mediterranean climate, which means mild, short winters, and long, warm summers, Nice has, just like the rest of the French Riviera, an average of 300 days of sunshine per year which makes it a perfect place to visit all year around.
It has very few days of rain per year, which means being outside is religion. People seldom meet at their home, but rather meet outside in the sun which is not very surprising.
Best of all is that during the summer months when all the sunbathing tourists come to Nice, you don’t even have to check the meteorology because you can be quite sure that it will just say sun, sun, sun, and more fun. This means that many people don’t plan their actives according to the weather, because essentially, it’s the same most of the time during the summer, with plenty of sunlight and few drops of rain.
8. Watch The Tour De France
The iconic and legendary tour de France is mainly held in July and begins in Monaco and passes through Nice. if you are in Nice, you get to take part and experience this amazing event of hundreds of cyclists.
9. The accessibility
How could we talk about the reasons to visit Nice and not mention just how accessible the town is.
Some cities are complicated to get to, as they are situated far away, don’t have an airport, no direct flights, and so on, but Nice is undoubtedly the most easily accessible city on the French Riviera, which can be reached effortlessly in a number of ways.
Firstly, there’s the fact that Nice has its very own airport – Nice international airport, literally minutes away from the city.
Furthermore, the city is situated in southern Europe and is a connection between the Alps, Provence, Corsica, and Italy.
Nice is also well-connected with the other surrounding cities on the French Riviera, and by bus or train, you can easily travel to and from the surrounding areas.
When arriving by plane, you literally step right into the city and don’t have to travel long distances just to reach the city.
10. Take The Mini Train up to chateau hill
As mentioned, walking all the way up to the castle hill can be tiring, but the good news is that from the Promenade des Anglais, mini trains regularly depart, and these will not only take you to the castle hill without having to take one single step, but they will also take you on a guided tour around the city, and you’ll be able to listen to a guide speaking about the buildings you see and the areas that you pass by as the train goes past some of the most iconic places in Nice before ultimately climbing up the hill to reach the stunning views.
The train passes by Place Masséna, then runs through the old town. The mini train is the perfect way if you want to explore more of the city but just don’t have the energy to cover it all by foot, as it soon adds up to quite long distances if you are to walk.
11. Its many parks
There are several parks in Nice, and each of them works as reasons to visit Nice.
If you enjoy nature and the calm of it, the parks are definitely worth a visit. They are also great places to bring kids.
The parks in Nice are:
- Central Nice play area
- Parc du Chateau
- Parc Phoenix
- Parc du Castel des Deux Rois
12. The legendary “Musée Matisse”
If you didn’t know, Henri Matisse lived in Nice, and today, there’s a museum in the city which honors and showcases his work. In fact, much of the artwork of the French Artist is housed at the Musee Matisse, the Matisse museum which is situated in the villa which was his home for 50 years. The museum offers a wonderful insight into the famous artist and his work.
The museum showcases his works from earlier and more traditional periods of his career, all the way to the end. This museum also has a gift shop, so don’t forget to pick up some prints and souvenirs before you leave.
13.Swim In The Mediterranean sea as much as you want
When in Nice, the Mediterranean sea is not far away, with its azure blue color, glistering in the sunlight.
The beach and the Mediterranean are among the top reasons to visit Nice if you ask the tourists during summer, as the beach and shore of the water are absolutely packed during summer.
The beach is extremely long, and the majority of the beach consists of public plages (beaches). If you want, you can go to a private plage and rent a sunbed. Just be prepared that it can set you back 15 to 20 euros for a chair for the day. If you are to go to the public beaches, go to the public beaches of either La Réserve or Coco Beach.
With its miles long coastline beaches, spending the whole day on the beach in Nice, and the next day and the next day isn’t difficult.
In fact, that’s what many people do.
Have in mind that it is rocky beach, so footwear such as flip-flops is to recommend.
Furthermore, if you don’t like rocky beaches, you can always travel to other cities on the French Riviera such as Cannes and Menton to enjoy lovely sandy beaches.
14.Explore the stunning old town
The old town in Nice is truly something special.
The Old Town or “Vieux Ville” has an incredible atmosphere, and the town is set out just like your traditional Mediterranean town, with narrow alleys, colorful houses, and cobblestone streets. Visiting the old part of Nice will allow you to get an idea of what it was like living in Nice many, many years ago.
In the old town, you’ll find lots of souvenir shops, but most importantly, you’ll find shops that sell all types of local Provencal products, from wine to spices, to perfume, to soaps, and much more.
Furthermore, you’ll also find a large number of restaurants here, which allows you to enjoy the local Mediterranean and Nicoise food in a picturesque surrounding.
15.Rent A Bike
There are a lot of things to see and explore in Nice, and it’s easy to get carried away and excited to want to see it all. The catch is that there’s so much to see that if you are to run between all of them, it’s a great distance, and you’ll probably be immensely tired in your legs and completely exhausted. Of course, when exploring, you don’t want to be completely exhausted when you reach your destination, and in this case, renting a bike is a great solution.
Throughout France, you’ll find self-service bicycle rental systems called Vélo Bleu ( Blue bicycle).
These self-service bicycle rentals are a practical and economical service that is available 24 hours 7 days a week which has over 200 self-service bicycles and 120 stations located around the city.
Taking a bike is the ultimate way to discover the city and explore it on your own terms, and not have to wait for any public transportations to arrive.
Rental rates are extremely cheap, about 1€ a day or more. For more information, visit www.velobleu.org. Do note that the website is in French.
Best of all is that there are super long cycle paths along the Riviera and in Nice which are definitely worth taking, as it allows you to explore and experience a ton of new things.
16.Reasons to visit Nice: Easy to access surrounding cities
Nice is a stunning and popular city on the French Riviera, but let’s not forget that the cities on the French Riviera are many, and so visiting only Nice and not exploring anything else would be a real shame.
There is an endless number of cities on the French Riviera worth visiting, from Cannes, to Antibes, to Grasse, and many, many more, and the good news is that visiting these cities is a simple thing to do since the surrounding cities can be easily accessed with the public transportation systems. The train is the most popular for getting between different cities on the French Riviera for tourists, but bus also works fine for many towns and cities.
In fact, there are more than one hundred bus routes in the 27 towns making up Nice Côte d’Azur. There is also an 8.7 km tramway line which crosses the city of Nice.
For more information about traveling by train, visit Tourisme.trainprovence.com
17. Reasons to visit Nice: explore Monuments and historical places
Nice is a city with a great history which stretches far back. It has been through a lot over the years, and this is something which can be seen from its monuments and historical places.
Firstly, you have the iconic old town of Nice where tight alleys and cobbled streets can be experienced, furthermore, you have the Promenade des Anglais, which isn’t really historic due to its young age, yet still very iconic to Nice. Furthermore, you have mythical places such as the town hall, the Palace of Justice, the cathedral of Ste. Réparate and the main square Marché aux Fleurs.
Furthermore, there are also a large number of museums another culture cites where you can travel back in time and experience what it used to be like, and learn more about history.
The legendary hotel museum “Negresco” is not only a hotel but a museum where celebrities like Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway, and many more once stayed.
In the Masséna Museum, you’ll be able to learn about the history of Nice and adore works by local painter, in the centre of Nice you will find Place Massena which is the most famous square in Nice, and in the Russian quarter, you can take a look at the jaw-dropping St. Nicholas Cathedral is located which is the second oldest Russian Orthodox church in Western Europe.
18.Experience the history of the Romans
The history of Nice stretches far back, even back to the Roman times. In fact, the Romans founded the city of Cemenelum in the 1st century. The remains of this city can be found in the chic neighborhood of Cimiez. The Romans built an amphitheater as well as thermal baths, and both of these buildings are celebrated in the Museum of Archeology. Visiting this area will take you on a journey to the past.
19.Admire the stunning ‘La Belle Epoque’ Architecture
The French Riviera is an area with a long and rich history, but it was during the Belle Epoque in particular, and the 19th & 20th century that the French Riviera started evolving into what it is today: a luxury resort of great beauty.
As the aristocracy first started going to the French Riviera to get away from the cold winters in northern Europe, mainly England, they needed somewhere to live, and as such, the aristocracy built many luxurious Belle Epoque buildings and villas, many of which still stand and are being used today.
The Belle Epoque means ”the beautiful age”, and the name itself can reveal what you can expect about the architecture at that time. The architecture of this period can be distinguished by grand boulevards laid out and the beautiful houses that were built.
On the French Riviera and in Nice, you’ll be able to see many Belle Epoque buildings if you look closely, the most iconic being Hotel Negresco with its iconic pink domes.
If you find the reasons to visit Nice convincing, you need to experience Socca, which is France’s Chickpea Pancake.
Bocca is a traditional local fast food made from chickpea flour, olive oil, and water and then made in copper pans over a very high heat.
It is then cooked until has turned into a crispy pancake. Socca is extremely popular, especially in Nice, and when walking in the city, you’ll be able to see a number of places making it. Rene Socca and Lou Pilha Leva are two popular places in Nice to enjoy Socca at.
21.Experience Nice’s long Jazz history
Many people don’t know this, but Nice has a long and rich Jazz history which arrived in the 1920s, brought by the American expats who made Nice their home. Several of these individuals were iconic and world-known individuals such as F. Scott Fitzgerald who hired big houses and threw jazz parties.
Nice has numerous jazz clubs and even a popular jazz festival in July.
Furthermore, you can also visit two of the places that are associated and iconic with the period, which are the Hotel Belles Rives and Hotel Du Cap, two hotels which Fitzgerald used as inspiration for two of his novels.
As you can see, there are a ton of reasons to visit Nice, France, and if you haven’t done so already, you should definitely start planning your next visit. Which of these points did you find the most interesting and appealing? Let us know in the comment section below!