The largest city on the glamorous Côte d’Azur has long held a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous and the hotels along the famous, palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais have accommodated many illustrious residents. Musicians, film stars and footballers now rent the rooms previously occupied by literary figures such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Europe’s royalty.

Nice’s beauty can be attributed to both its situation on the Mediterranean below the Alps and its diverse medieval, classical, Belle Époque and art-deco buildings that form a timeline of architectural history.

The ownership of Nice changed repeatedly since its foundation in the 5th century BC by the Greeks of Marseille and for many centuries Nice was a possession of various Italian Kingdoms whose heritage has left a strong impression on the city. Its Genoese, baroque public buildings lend a distinctly Italian character, which is further emphasised by its energetic markets, passion for Opera and vibrant nightlife.


During two weeks of February, the Nice seafront witnesses parades of street performers, flower-decked floats and orchestras celebrating Mardi Gras. Hundreds of thousands of spectators come for the carnival that culminates in fireworks and the burning of a cartoon-like effigy of a King.

Hosted in an amphitheatre amidst the Roman ruins of the tranquil Cimiez Gardens, the annual Nice Jazz Festival is considered one of the world’s top jazz events. Past performers in its near 50-year history have included Nina Simone and BB King as well as more contemporary artists such as Jamiroquai.

The abundance of art galleries in Nice is testament to its artistic legacy and the city has provided inspiration for many of art’s grand masters, including Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir and Chagall. Some of the latter’s work are displayed in Nice’s Marc Chagall Gallery.

The Port, just next to the old town welcomes over 180 000 cruise passengers annually and is the base for ferry services to Corsica and other Mediterranean destinations.


A renowned shopping Mecca, Nice boasts an abundance of designer boutiques. Names such as Hermés, Cartier and Louis Vuitton are mainly clustered around the exclusive Carré-d’Or district near the seafront.

Commerce in the medieval streets of the old town is aimed towards the tourist, with shops selling regional products, such as soap and Provencal earthenware, jostling with small art galleries and clothes shops.

The old town’s main square, the Cours Saleya, hosts a daily flower and local produce market; except on Mondays when the market stalls are occupied by antique dealers. In the summer the flower vendors give way to an evening arts and crafts market.

Nice’s considerable antique trade centres on the neighbourhood behind the Port, earning it the name of Les Antiquaires.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The epicentre of Nice’s nightlife is in the old town, whose restaurants serve local Niçoise cuisine and international fare at all prices. Musicians play both inside and outside the many late-night bars, pubs and nightclubs that crowd its numerous squares, creating a bohemian ambiance that is particularly attractive to artists, students and tourists.

The Carré-d’Or is also a popular area for dining and hosts several of Nice’s esteemed Michelin-starred eateries, which appeal to more affluent tourists and locals.

Tourist Information

Office de Tourisme et des Congrés Avenue Thiers, BP 79, 06302, Nicecédex 4, France Tel: +33 (0)892 707 407Fax: +33 (0)492 144


France’s biggest airport outside Paris welcomes over nine million tourists a year to its twin terminals and is serviced by a total of 41 airlines. Nice is a popular destination for both budget and prestige airlines and receives regular flights from all over the world, including 13 different UK airports.

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