Nice is a seaside town located on the French Riviera, South of France. I had the opportunity of visiting the city for the first time during the winter. My stay was short, but I was able to enjoy and see a lot considering the time I had. Planning is essential when you don’t have much time on a destination. But the absence of a definite plan is also interesting in such cases since the pressure of doing too much in a short period can stress you and ruin the trip.
On this occasion, we wanted to have a general overview of the city, and not choose only one thing to do. So we walked around to check out a few sites, and regarding the cold weather, it was awesome. The position of our hotel made everything easier because it was located close to the city center.
For sure Nice deserves more than a few hours to be explored – and a summer weather -, but when your stay is short, then you better enjoy the best way you can with the time you have. Below you’ll find the places I enjoyed in town during my quick visit.
Place Masséna is an important square in Nice, where all the big public events happen (such as the carnival parade and the Christmas market). The square is surrounded by reddish/pinkish and ocher buildings, and the floor is black and white. Charming, I would say! The area is super lively during the day and night (even with the winter weather), full of pedestrians and trams crossing it.
There is a big fountain called La Fontaine du Soleil at the square, with a naked Apollo in the middle. Apollo, which is symbolizing the sun, has a crowd made of horses in his head. The statue is surrounded by bronze sculptures symbolizing the Earth, Mars, Mercury, Saturn and Venus. The fountain was created by the French sculpture Alfred Auguste Janniot, and it was inaugurated in 1956. The statue of Apollo caused a lot of fuss in the city for a few reasons: The size of his crowd (too small), the size of his genital (too big), his nudity (not well appreciated by some virtuous women). The fountain was taken down after a while, but it was reinstalled in the original location in 2011.
Obs: Just for curiosity, the artist made adjustments on Apollo’s private parts after the comments.
Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is a worldwide famous promenade; it’s a busy avenue located along the sea. It has this name because it was the favorite winter destination for the British people in the 18th century. You’ll probably pass through it when visiting the beach, or when getting from the airport to the city.
Vieille Ville is Nice’s old town, a charming and picturesque region full of narrow alleys, restaurants, bars and boutiques. The main street is Cours Saleya where open air markets take place (food market, flower market, flea market), some of them only during the summer – unfortunately, I couldn’t see any of them. This street is supposed to be one of the liveliest in the city, and indeed is full of places to go out, but when I was there during the winter, the area was pretty quiet.
We visited the old town after the sunset; there was a twilight vibe in the air. Walking through the narrow streets is a delightful activity that you should not miss when in the city. We took our time to get lost in there, explore the region for a while. It was getting dark already, and there was nothing else to do anyway, our only concern was to find a place to eat. There were a lot of closed places (I guess because of the offseason), so we didn’t have to think much before heading to a fast food chain.
Promenade du Paillon
The Promenade du Paillon is a landscape park, a green area in the heart of the city, close to the Vieille Ville (Old Nice), the Promenade des Anglais and the Place Masséna. You’ll probably pass through this park when walking around Nice – it was the first place I saw when I arrived in the city. The place is beautiful, there’s a cool water mirror with a lot of water jets coming out of the ground. People (especially children) must get crazy there during the summer. Even during the winter, I saw some kids running in the water mirror.
Rocks instead of sand (in most of the beach at least), an ocean with different shades of blue, fishers trying to get luck, and a fantastic sunset (cloudy but pretty). That was the beach that I found during the winter. The ground is full of little rocks, and sometimes it’s hard to walk, but to get close to the water, you’ll have to. Even though it was winter, there were many people around the beach, watching the sun go down on the Mediterranean sea, fishing, or just hanging.
Le Negresco Hotel
Le Negresco Hotel is a beautiful landmark building in Nice; it’s located on the Promenade des Anglais. We walked there at night just to see how the place looked like, we didn’t get into the lobby (or the restaurants) to see the luxurious interior. The architecture was enough for us at that time of night.
EXTRA: Colline du Château
I wish I had visited the Colline du Château, but I didn’t have the time since it got dark early. The Colline has a beautiful view of Nice and the Bay of Angels, and it’s where the city was founded. The pictures I saw of the view up there were stunning. There’s also a park and some ruins of a fortress to complement the experience.
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Well, there’s more to see and do in Nice during the winter (and even more during the summer), I missed a few interesting spots since I only had the end of the afternoon to explore the city. Also, during the winter the days are shorter, and that means less sunlight and less time to explore open air sites. Have you ever been to Nice during the winter? What did you visit?