Nice is located at the foot of the Alps on the southeast coast of France, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This gem of the French Riviera nestles in the glorious curve of the Bay of Angels and has miles of the loveliest cosmopolitan sea-front in Europe. The new Promenade du Paillon encompasses 30 lush acres of well-kept park sweeping down from the city centre to the sea and is a wonderful place to stroll and absorb the bustling atmosphere of this glamorous city. Famed for its wonderful light and clear-blue waters of the Mediterranean, it has attracted many artists over the centuries such as Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall, many of whom resided in the historic Old Town with its narrow streets and tranquil pace (which it still retains today).
Nice has a long history. At the archaeological site Terra Amata, evidence was found of one of the earliest uses of fire. The Greeks of Marseille settled here in 350 B.C., naming it Nikaia after their goddess of victory Nike. Visit the fascinating Musée et Site Archéologiques de Cimiez to learn about the area's chequered history and see the ruins of the Gallo-Roman settlement. Nice abounds with history and architecture. It's characterful squares, such as Place Garibaldi, Place Massena and Pace du Palais, are surrounded by distinctive buildings, cathedrals and statues dating back to the 18th century.
With one of the longest (7 km) and most well-known beaches on the French Riviera, Nice attracts tourists who want to enjoy the mild climate and relax by the sea. The resort boasts over 20 world-famous, ultra-luxury hotels, many of which were designed in the Belle-Époque style or Baroque style. A taste of the good life is reflected in the high-quality eateries in the city and the prestigious boutiques and shopping facilities where exclusive designer wares are the norm. Throughout the year, there are a range exciting events such as the Côte d'Azur Boat Show, Fête du Château and the Nice Jazz Festival. This stunning beach resort certainly has a great combination of things to do and see.
Things to do
Nice is a thriving bustling city that attracts visitors throughout the year and offers a wide range of activities from visiting ancient ruins and historic attractions, exploring the quaint alleyways and lanes of the Old Town, attending concerts at the Opéra de Nice or simply strolling along the lovely Promenade des Anglais on a warm evening. Enjoy browsing round the regular local markets such as the traditional Villeneuve-Loubet market, the antiques Les Puces market and the colourful Cours Saleya Provencal Market selling fresh food and flowers. The city also has a nightlife that's second to none.
Visitors to the city are spoilt for choice when it comes to evening entertainment. Sip an aperitif on a charming terrace in the Old Town and then pop into the Les Distilleries Idéales for a jazzily artistic atmosphere. Dine al fresco at a romantic candlelit café or bar such as Le Before with its chic décor. Try your luck at the Casino Barriere Le Ruhl with its legendary reputation and expansive ocean-front views.
The Colline du Chateau that looks out over the sweeping bay and port has stunning views right across Nice. Take the ascenseur (lift) three-quarters of the way up and climb the remaining part to the castle ruins and viewpoint -- the effort is well worth it. There are some exceptional parks on the outskirts of the city such as Parc forestier du Mont-Boron that offer fabulous views, picnic areas, hiking trails, olive trees and traditional boules pitches.
Swim in the light-blue Mediterranean water and top up your tan in the warm summer months. The main Nice beach consists of flat stones, but travel a little further to discover more sandy and family-friendly beaches such as Cannes and Villefranche-sur-Mer. The palm-fronted Promenade des Anglais is a highlight -- walk, cycle, skate or hire a Segway to travel along its famed walkway.
Art lovers paradise
Call into the Museum of Asian Art for an inspiring selection of Indian, South-East Asian and Chinese artwork. Musée Matisse has a charming collection of sculptures, drawings and paintings, all housed in a lovely 17th-century Genoese villa. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art houses many outstanding installations and don't miss the amazing panoramas from its open-air roof terraces.
Nice is a great place from which to explore the surrounding countryside, villages and Riviera resorts. Eze is a picturesque village situated on a mountainside that affords views of the western coastline and is home to the famous Fragonard perfumery. Cross over into the independent state of Monaco to see the Grand Casino, Royal Palace, Formula One Grand Prix circuit and potter around the Old Town of Monte Carlo.
Calendar of events
Music, arts and food festivals galore, Nice's calendar of event is brimful of thrilling fairs, shows, concerts and activities. Events take place all year round, and one of the most popular festivities is the Mardi-Gras-style Carnival held over two weeks in February and March.
Music festivals and concerts. Music fans will love the Les Nuits Musicales chamber music concerts, the La Castellada concerts held in the ruined chateau, Europe's biggest open-air Jazz Festival and Festival de Musique Sacrée celebrating religious and choral masterpieces. The summer Fête du Château features a mix of trip-hop, funk, rock and Latin artists.
Sports. Sport fanatics are welcome to participate, or watch, the Nice-Cannes Marathon with its challenging route up the winding coast road. The punishing Paris to Nice International Cycling Race takes place just before spring, while the TriMed Regattas are held in mid-May. Each year the Ironman France Triathlon is battled out on the Promenade des Anglais out with swimming, biking and running races.
Feast of the Port. This is one of the best annual food festivals with tasty traditional quayside food as well as live music and street entertainment. The Chef's Village offers a wonderful opportunity to sample the culinary delights of the top chefs from around the city, at only 5 Euros a portion -- who could resist?
Winter events. These include Le Village de Noel, which features an ice rink as well as Christmas stalls, The Luna Park, which arrives in December with its indoor amusement rides, and the first day of January kicks off the year with the New Year Concert performed by the Philharmonique de Nice in the Acropolis.