Last summer I took an amazing vacation to the South of France, and it was the best trip I have ever been on! I did an extensive amount of research for this vacation and learned a few helpful things while I was there. Hopefully you find this travel guide useful!
GETTING TO NICE
We spent a few days in Paris before Nice, so we only had to take the brief flight into the Nice Airport. From there we took our rental car about 20 minutes to our vacation rental. Nice also has a train station that takes you right into the middle of the city if you’re traveling by rail.
WHERE TO STAY
We decided to go with this Airbnb, which was only five blocks from the beach and had a great little balcony. We had rented a car for our day trips, and this rental came with private parking which was very convenient. If you decide to go with a vacation rental in the summer, make sure it has AC! A lot of places don’t have it—not the most comfortable after spending hours on the beach in the sun.
If you’re looking for a luxury stay, I suggest the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée. This hotel has a pool and anything you could need during your stay including a gym, sauna and restaurant.
Hotel Le Negresco is an iconic and historic hotel in Nice named after Henri Negresco, who had the hotel constructed in 1912. The famous architect Édouard-Jean Niermans designed the Le Negresco and its now famous pink dome. This hotel boasts a two-star Michelin restaurant, Le Chantecler, a bar with an outdoor terrace and a carousel themed restaurant called La Rotonde Brasserie.
AC Hotel Nice is also located on the promenade. This family and pet-friendly hotel is equipped with a pool, fitness center, breakfast room and ROOFTOP 360° Terrace Restaurant & Lounge.
Hôtel West End is another beautiful historic Belle Époque era hotel situated in front of Blue Beach. It’s beautiful restaurant, Le Siècle has an outdoor terrace with gorgeous sea views.
WHAT TO DO IN NICE
Nice has many private and public beaches along the Promenade de Anglais. All of the private beaches charge either per half or full day for a chair, umbrella and towel. Prices range between €15-€30, with the front row chairs having a higher price. Most of the private beaches also have restaurants, so you can order food while you lounge or take a break from the sun. I have never been a huge fan of sand so I loved that the beaches in Nice were all dark rocks!
We went to Plage Beau Rivage on our first day. Reservations can be made in advance via email or phone for a chair. I recommend doing this if you’d like the front row to get a great view of the sea. Plage Beau Rivage opens at night with a “zen” and “trendy” area as well as a bar with a DJ.
Our favorite private beach in Nice was definitely Blue Beach. We spent a couple days here and enjoyed their massive stuffed crêpes and club sandwiches. Just like the rest of France (and Europe), you typically have to buy glass bottles of water. Instead of paying $10 per bottle of water, we opted to buy large bottles before we headed to the beach—it was much cheaper and easier.
Climb the 300+ feet of stairs of Colline du Château “Castle Hill”
To get a beautiful panoramic view of the “Bay of Angels.” The climb will give you a great workout with an amazing instagram-worthy view as a treat at the end. I recommend making this hike in the morning before it gets too hot. If you don’t want to take the stairs, there is a lift that will take you most of the way.
Take a stroll down the Promenade des Anglais.
The Promenade extends all the way from the airport to the bottom area of Castle Hill. You’ll see many bikers and walkers strolling up and down the beach as well as street artists and entertainers.
Explore Old Town and its Cours Saleya flea market.
We wandered Cours Saleya after dinner one night and found a lot of unique jewelry and fun items to bring home. Old Town has tons of restaurants and shops to explore. We also came across an adorable store with soaps made in Marseille and essential oils.
Visit the Museums of Nice.
There are a handful of different museums to peruse in Nice such as the Matisse Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Fine Arts Museum.
Take a day trip to Saint Paul de Vence.
Just a 30 minute drive outside of Nice and situated in the midst of the Côte d’Azur wineries, this old Medieval village is a great place to wander around for a day. Don’t forget to try some of the amazing local wines at the restaurants here.
WHERE TO EAT
For breakfast and lunch we grabbed pastries from local bakeries or ate at the beach restaurants. I don’t know if there is anything that I love more than a freshly-made French croissant. We also couldn’t resist all the delicious combinations of crêpes available.
Old Town has an abundance of restaurants that are very budget friendly. After our long days on the beach we would head over to Old Town for nights that we didn’t have dinner planned already.
Here are a few great spots to try for dinner:
- Le Chantecler – This two-star Michelin restaurant is in Hotel Negresco and is open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner only.
- La Rotonde Brasserie – We ate here one night and loved watching the sunset over the sea. The crème brûlée with pistachio ice cream was amazing.
- La Favola – We came across this place during our walk through Old Town during the day and knew we wanted to go back for dinner. It’s a tiny Italian restaurant. I will NEVER forget the delicious gnocchi we had there.
- La Colombe d’Or – Our trip to this little family-owned inn was the most spectacular dinner I’ve ever had. We sat in the garden terrace under a lemon tree! The small menu was hand-written and the ambiance was cozy and magical. Our server told us about the history of the inn and how the original owner, Paul Roux had been friends with famous artists such as Picasso and Matisse. The artists had spent much of their time there and some of their paintings were even displayed inside along with many other pieces of art throughout the inn. We enjoyed the platter of hors d’oeuvres which was two-dozen small plates of anything from sardines to dips to pickled vegetables. We were also given fresh bread and a basket of WHOLE vegetables from the inn’s garden. When I say whole, I really mean it—they literally gave us a whole cucumber, tomato and other veggies!
For something sweet:
Fenocchio – An American man we met while we were there said he had been vacationing in Nice for 10 years, and every trip got ice cream at Fenocchio in Old Town. With that being said, Mary and I decided to find this little gem and managed to make it back there four out of the five nights we stayed in Nice. FOUR! Their fresh fruit sorbets were so delicious we had to try every combo!