Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 10, 2015

Nice, France

For the past three posts, we’ve been exploring a stretch of the French Riviera from the village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. There’s a nearby attraction that deserves a great deal of attention, just on the other side of Monte Alban to the east: Nice. A city of about a million people, Nice is the capital of the Alpes Maritime départment, and is a sophisticated place full of artistic, architectural and cultural attractions. It’s been a center of tourism since the 1700s. When you go there, you’ll understand why its appeal never fails.

Nice is too large, diverse and rich a place to do it justice in only a couple of articles and a few hundred words. We’ll hit a few highlights in this post and the next, and leave the rest to you.

Nice occupies a long, graceful curve on the Bay of Angels on the Mediterranean, fronted by the Promenade des Anglais, named after the English tourists who first popularized the city for tourism. With tourists in the grand age of travel came grand hotels, including this one, the Hotel Negresco, fronting the Promenade.

IMG_7001 (640x480)

The interior is as impressive as the exterior. Below, the Royal Lounge. The chandelier, commissioned by Czar Nicolas II while in exile consists of more than 16,000 Baccarat crystals.

Negresco interior Brad Nixon 7074 (640x477)

There are massive public squares, especially the Place Massena, which is shared by pedestrians and city trams, but no automotive traffic (a relatively recent improvement), making it one of Europe’s most pedestrian-friendly open spaces.

Place Massena Nice Brad Nixon 6810 (640x472)

Immediately adjacent is a long stretch of green space with fountains and lovely landscaping. The photo below shows how it looked in 2011, but that park the Jardin Albert Premier and the Espace Massena has been thoroughly revamped with even more extensive fountains as the Promenade du Paillon.

Nice Brad Nixon 6814 (640x478)

Immediately to the east is the Old Town, Vieille Ville. Along one side, shown below, the Cours Saleya is the scene of a fruit and vegetable market on most days, but regularly transforms into an antiques market, as shown here, with The Counselor in the green shirt visible on the right, proving that bargain hunting is an international sport.

Nice Market Brad Nixon 6840 (640x480)

Old Town is a setting reminiscent of the old centers of countless other European cities, with narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants opening into lovely little squares, like Place Rossini, fronted by the Baroque facade of Sainte Reparate cathedral and its 18th Century bell tower:

Nice Sainte Reparate Brad Nixon 6816 (640x464)

We’ve seen the Vieille Ville day and night, high season and low, in sun and rain, and it always fascinates. Be prepared for crowds in the high season, and bring your appetite at all times. Be certain to sample Nice’s trademark pissaladière and socca, but save room for gelato at Fenocchio, immediate adjacent to the cathedral.

Fenocchio gelato Brad Nixon 6833 (640x407)

While there are “old towns” in hundreds of cities, Nice’s has a character all its own, and there’s nowhere better to appreciate it than the Cours Saleya. Below, in its normal guise, there are always flowers and fruits and vegetables, not to mention some astounding displays of treats like marzipan.

Nice market marzipan 2000002 (640x567)

Always allow extra time for browsing.

We haven’t begun to see a fraction of what Nice has to show us. Be prepared for plenty of walking. Next, a look at the signal place Nice occupies in the art world.

This is the fourth in a series of posts about travel through a portion of southern France. CLICK HERE to see the first, or use the navigation buttons below to go forward or back. 

© Brad Nixon 2015, 2017


  1. man, southern looks more appealing every time i look at it.


  2. You have a very nice selection of photos that beautifully captures the spirit of the place. Your photos of the Negresco really surprised me. When I was in Nice in 1997, I took my pix from the eastern side of the hotel, focusing on the pink dome over the rotunda. I totally missed the interesting west side that you photographed. Congrats on some great photography!


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