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For most travelers, Nice is the introduction to the fabulous French Riviera. Here are our top five sights.
People-watching and dining on the colorful cours Saleya
This has been the main street of Vieux Nice (Old Town) since the Middle Ages. You must come here if you visit Nice. At times it seems that everyone in Nice is here, especially at night when its restaurants and cafés fill with locals and tourists. It’s the home to a wonderful daily flower and food market. On Mondays, it’s an antique market. Walk through the maze of narrow streets in Old Nice past small churches and under drying laundry for photo opportunities at every turn.
Strolling on the Promenade des Anglais
This wide boulevard runs four miles along the entire length of Nice’s waterfront. The name means “walkway of the English” because it was financed by wealthy English tourists who came here in droves in the 1800s in search of sun and sea. Today it’s a beautiful walk made all the more interesting by sunbathers, walkers, runners and skaters from so many different parts of the world. Oh, and put your eyes back into your head. While nudity is prohibited, topless bathing is not.
Avant-garde art at the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain
You can’t miss the contemporary structures (four gray marble towers) that house this museum of avant-garde art from the 1960s to today. Works featured here include those by Lichtenstein and Warhol. Check out the fantastic rooftop terrace.
The Largest Collection of Paintings by Henri Matisse at Musée Matisse
The Matisse Museum, located in a 17th-century villa, contains the largest collection of paintings by Henri Matisse, who spent the last years of his life in Nice, and some of his personal effects are on display. Matisse is one of the 20th century’s greatest painters. Most of his works here were created while he resided in Nice. Everything from his works as a student to his late-life works – from nudes to religious art – is featured here.
The Beaches East of the Port and the Sentier de Mer
One of our favorite places in Nice is an area often ignored by travelers. Past the port (to the east) you’ll find boulevard Franck Pilatte. Follow this boulevard along the sea. Look for the signs “Sentier de Mer.” This is a walkway that runs along the sea. There are several small and rocky beaches in this area and restaurants and bars with great views of the city. The path ends at Coco Beach.
For more information on Nice’s sights, check out Open Road’s Best of the French Riviera and Provence. It will be available online and in bookstores for the holidays.
Andy Herbach is the author of the Eating & Drinking series of menu translators and restaurant guides, including Eating & Drinking in Italy , Eating & Drinking in Paris , and Eating & Drinking in Spain and Portugal . He is also the co-author of Wining & Dining in Paris and