About Nice beaches
With its fantastic natural setting, a lively old town, art galleries and museums galore, numerous festivals (including its world-famous carnival) and year-round sunshine, Nice’s appeal is obvious. Yes, the tourist hordes can get too much in summer, but this is the price to pay for what is one of the most popular spots on the Côte D’Azur. Whether you are wandering through the narrow streets of Vieux Nice or taking a stroll on the famous promenade des Anglais, Nice’s rich architectural and cultural heritage is a delight, and although the city’s glory might be a bit faded, it is still a vibrant place and one well worth exploring.
Nice has no sandy beach, only pebbly beaches. There are 8km (5 miles) of beaches lining the Baie des Anges, including some 15 private beaches (along the promenade des Anglais and the quai des Etats-Unis), and 23 public beaches. The private beaches are well signposted and hire out sunbeds, umbrellas and cabins; they also have showers, towels, beach bars (with waiter service) and restaurants. A good range of watersports is available, including jet-skiing, windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing and paragliding.
Beyond the beach:
No visit to Nice would be complete without taking a stroll on the famed promenade des Anglais, the boulevard running along the waterfront. Start here and admire the Belle Epoque hotels that line this avenue, then go explore the Vieux Nice (the old town) with its atmospheric narrow streets, quaint cafés, several baroque churches, and yet more belle époque buildings. Nice also boasts some excellent museums, among them the Musée Matisse (164 avenue des Arènes de Cimiez), the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (promenade des Arts), the Musée Chagall (avenue Docteur Ménard) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts (33 avenue des Baumettes); art galleries like the Galerie des Ponchettes (77 quai des Etats Unis); and several parks, the best of which are the Parc du Château (rue de Foresta/montée Monfort) and Jardin Albert 1er (Place Massena).
The promenade des Anglais is a good spot for taking a stroll with the family, rollerblading or even kite flying before or after a day on the beach. The Parc Floral Phoenix (405 promenade des Anglais) is the largest greenhouse in Europe. It offers a fantastic discovery area for young and old. The Parc du Château is a big park with sparkling views of the city, a waterfall, café and a sizable playground.
Less than an hour’s drive away (10 minutes by helicopter for those feeling flash) is Monaco. Not only does Monte Carlo boast a spectacular setting, it is also a great place for shopping and eating out. You can catch a glimpse of the Palais du Prince, the famous Grimaldi family’s home, try your luck at the casino or take the kids to the Musée Océanographique or the Jardin Exotique. Another good day-trip option, especially for those wanting to escape the summer heat, is to explore the steep hillside of Nice’s hinterland and the nearby town of Digne-les-Bains on board one of the old diesel trains operated by Chemins de Fer de la Provence.
An unmissable landmark on the promenade des Anglais (its pink dome has been watching over the waterfront since 1913), the Hotel Negresco (37 promenade des Anglais) (www.hotel-negresco-nice.com) is a local institution. It boasts sumptuously decorated rooms, two restaurants (including The Chantecler, which has long been established as the best in town, and has one Michelin star), valet parking, several exclusive boutiques and its own private beach.