Top things to see and do on Holiday in and around Nice, South of France

Close to the French and Italians borders and the principality of Monaco, Nice is perfectly situated for family holidays or a romantic weekend for two. Nice is France?s 5th largest city and is a fantastic base for exploring the Côte d’Azur area of the South of France. A cultural crossroads, Nice is an exciting place to visit to soak up the sun, lie on the beach, taste some local gastronomic specialities, take a boat trip or visit some of the famous museums, like the Picasso in Antibes.

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Top things to see and do around Nice

Food and Gastronomy – What are the local specialities in Nice?

There are many local specialities to be found in Nice, and the best way to sample them has to be in the Old Town. Here you will find “Pissaladière” ? a pizza-like pastry with a sweet onion and anchovy topping. “Les Petits Farcis Niçois” ? baked peppers, courgettes, and courgette flowers stuffed with mince and rice, and of course the world famous “Salade Niçoise”.

The wide variety of restaurants in Nice ensures there is something for every taste and budget. Here are a few ideas for local places to eat out:

For a Michelin experience, the two star-awarded chef Jean-Denis Rieubland is the resident chef at the majestic Restaurant Le Chantecler, located within Hotel Negresco, 37 Promenade des Anglais.

For a relaxed lunch on the beach try Blue Beach on Promenade des Anglais, with fish, seafood and steak all on the menu, why not rent one of the sun loungers after lunch for an afternoon siesta.

A family-friendly restaurant, Sarao Restaurant and Bar, located at 7 Promenade des Anglais. An excellent menu for children along with an in-expensive lunchtime menu, this trendy restaurant-bar is near the Jardin Albert I, the perfect place to let the children have a run around after lunch.

Which are the best markets in Nice, South of France?

A holiday to Nice would not be complete without a couple of hours spent experiencing the fragrant and colourful fruit, vegetable and flower market on the Cours Saleya. Also not to be missed is ?The Marché Artisanal Nocturne?, an evening craft market that brings the Cours Saleya to life during the holiday season from June to September. Spend the balmy summer evenings admiring the handmade jewellery, pottery and paintings all lovingly created by local Nice artists.

Beach day, but which are the best beaches in Nice?

It may be hard to drag yourself away from your holiday villa?s private pool, however it is still nice to have a family day out to the French Riviera coast. The beach in Nice starts near to the airport and follows the curve of the Bay of Angels for around 5 kilometres all the way to the old port just beyond Chateau Hill. The beach is composed of smooth pebbles so a good beach mat and “jelly shoes” are advisable. You could add a little extra to your holiday by visiting one of the 15 private beaches. They can be expensive (?12-?25 per day) however you will enjoy a comfortable sun lounger, parasol and table, as well as showers, toilets and waiter service. Many of the private beaches also have a restaurant so you won’t have far to go should you wish to stay for lunch. During July and August the peak holiday time in the South of France, it is a good idea to reserve a sun lounger in advance. If you are looking for soft white sand then head west to Antibes. A good compromise is the gritty soft shale beach at Villefranche, a pretty village just east of Nice.

Promenade des Anglais, why is it called this?

The World famous Promenade des Anglais, takes its name from the English holiday makers who over the centuries have flocked to Nice and enjoyed strolling along the promenade. It is the place to be seen, whether it be on roller-blades (you can hire them!), on a bike, or simply hand-in-hand with your loved one. A six lane dual carriage way separates the shops, hotels and restaurants from the beach make sure you use the pedestrian crossings!

What cultural experiences can be found in Nice?

The Côte d’Azur has always been popular with artists, especially from overseas. There are art galleries dedicated to both Chagall and Matisse in Nice itself, and the Picasso Museum is in nearby Antibes. MAMAC, the modern art museum located halfway between Nice?s old and new town, exhibits much more contemporary works of art. The village of Saint Paul de Vence is a must for Art lovers, just 15 minutes from Nice and the whole village is like an open-air art gallery.

Can I take a boat trip in Nice?

The Mediterranean Sea is calm and inviting, there are numerous boat trips available in Nice. From standard tourist excursions which point out the local scenery, trips to Cannes, St Tropez and Monaco to chartering a Private yacht for the day or longer! Fishing trips can also be found at the port. From nearby Cannes you can sail to the Lerin Islands: Ile de Sainte Marguerite (famous for the Man in the Iron Mask), and Ile Saint-Honorat (where the monks brew ?Limoncello?). The high-speed ferry to Calvi and Bastia in Corsica also sails from Nice.

Monaco worth a visit?

The principality of Monaco is only 20km from Nice, it would be a shame not to visit whilst being on holiday in the Côte d’Azur. The most scenic way to get there is by bus as you travel along the coastal roads, the train is also a quick and easy way of getting there or you can arrive by yacht. The best sights can be seen in a day, for example; The Prince?s Palace, the Cathedral which is the resting place of Princess Grace and the Formula one museum. Monaco has the most amazing collection of ?Mega Yachts? many never even leave the port! If you are feeling lucky then visit the Casino, or enjoy a café outside the Café de Paris which is just across the road and watch the world go by (count how many Ferraris you see in 15 minutes!) Just another 30 minutes eastwards takes you to the closest Italian town which is Ventimiglia.

How about Cannes and beyond?

The world famous town of Cannes is just 30 km south-west of Nice. The month of May is the International Film Festival, the town is absolutely inundated with visitors from the film industry making getting around pretty difficult. Even after the Cannes Film Festival has long since rolled up the red carpet, you can still imagine the glitz and glamour at the site of this annual event at the Palais des Festivals et des Congres. Be sure to stop at the convention centre, which hosts many events throughout the year. Here you can see the handprints of celebrities embedded in the flagstones outside the building. Also west of Nice you will find the trendy resorts of Mandelieu-le-Napoule and Antibes with sandy beaches, restaurants and cute boutiques. For fragrance lovers, a trip to the famous perfume capital Grasse is only a short drive away.

Theatre and Opera

What better excuse do you need to get dressed up than a night at the Opera? A wonderful way to end the last day of your South of France holiday! Book in advance and tickets can be excellent value. The Nice Opera House can be found next to the Cours Saleya market place in the Old Town, with many restaurants close by. Theatre lovers can indulge their passion at the Theatre National de Nice on Promenade des Arts.

Gardens and Theme Parks

Phoenix Park, on the east end of Promenade des Anglais is a great day out and the entrance fee is only 3 Euros. Set in over 7 hectares just on the outskirts of Nice it offers the most spectacular and colourful scenery, an exquisite collection of orchids. The artificial lake and island offer a splendid view bursting with colour and life. Watch out for the free-flying exotic birds. Holiday makers should also take time to admire the Mediterranean waterfalls of the park.

If you are visiting the South of France with children, a day at nearby Marineland, close to Antibes, will provide fun and excitement. Sharks, Penguins, Polar Bears, Dolphins and Sea lions to name a few of the animals that you can visit. There is also a water park and a children?s adventure park at the same development.

All in all Nice offers something for everyone, a wonderful place to stay and explore the French Riviera. South France Villas have a wide selection of holiday properties available to rent to suit all budgets so let us plan your holiday as you would plan your own.