Nice is the capital of the Cote d’Azur, one of the only actual cities on the Riviera. The terrifying event that hit her recently did affect the locals deeply, but Nice is strong and recovering well.
In order to give the best description possible of Nice I decided to ask a dear friend of mine for his help, as he lived in Nice for over a year, and he kindly gave me a detailed account of all of his favorite spots! So here is what he told me:
At any time of the day or night you should stroll down Promenade des Anglais; that despite the macabre events that occurred is still an ode to life, stretching for 10 kilometers along the sea, from the port in the east to the airport in the west. On any sunny day walking, riding a bike or skating along one of the only city sea fronts in Europe is a pleasure for the eyes. Sky and sea melt together in the horizon into a thousand shades of blue in the day and another thousand at sunset.
If this view doesn’t satisfy you enough, get your leg muscles ready for the hike up the Château hill, that divides the beginning of the promenade from the port. Despite its name there is no castle (château), only some old ruins, but that’s not what you’ll come up here for: from this point you can admire the whole skyline of Nice, from its colorful alleys to the streets defined by liberty-style buildings, up until the Alps and the Esterel massif that looms onto Cannes.
Going back down, if it’s still day time don’t miss the chance to visit the old town: other than the exagerated number of touristic shops, if you really look around you can find some really lovely stores, such as Nirvana, a jewellery shop that sells silver, Oriental-looking, jewellery and you can buy really cute piercings and earings for 1€ or unique pieces with stones that can easily cost more than 100€.
If you’re looking for less refined shopping and something more “humorous” to take back home to your special men you can visit RenDezVous Underwear to find ALL types of men underwear, from simple boxers, to bathing suits, to acrylic jockstraps. If you’d rather add spice to your food than your life then visit one of the spice stores you can find going towards place Garibaldi; and if you really don’t like spices then you can look for something sweet close to Palais de Justice where you can find Lac, the best for chocolate, macarons and tartelettes.
Food wise the city offers many interesting things. La socca is one of Nice’s specialities, and the dough is made of chickpea flour baked in a wood oven. The best place to eat it is of course the place which bears its name, Chez René Socca. https://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g187234-d1104910-Reviews-Chez_Rene_Socca-Nice_French_Riviera_Cote_d_Azur_Provence.html You can find the store in the old city, near place Garibaldi, and I’d recommend it for lunch, snack, or even better for an aperitif but beware of queues around 7 pm. They also sell great dishes of vegetables and fried fish, to eat on the tables on the street while sipping a beer.
Don’t be fooled by the name, Bella Socca, in a square that is quite close to René Socca, is a place where you can eat some local specialties but it isn’t the best place for socca: try the aperitif tray, with an assortment of grilled vegetables, sauces and tapenades, great to end the day in the colorful streets of the old town and to make you thirsty.
On the other side of the historical quarter, along the coast, next to the Opéra, you can try the only real cocktail bar of the city: despite Cote D’Azur’s fame, the french don’t enjoy much sipping colorful drinks in sophisticated locations, they’d rather drink a pint of beer in a bar with live music. But if you don’t want to give up on a dose of G&T, El Merkado is the right place to go: the name recalls Spain, as here you can order tapas of fried squid, Mai Thai to drink, and board games, that can be freely used during the night. Don’t focus all your attention on the games though, because this seems to be the hangout for the most good looking people in town.
If it’s too late for aperitifs but you still want to eat, you can eat at Big Fernand, a burger place with a french twist, that makes some really refined and tasty pairings of meat and cheese, that you can also choose yourself and accompany everything with a beer and some fernandines (french fries covered in sweet paprika).
Unfortunately the place where the capital of the Cote d’Azur seems to be lacking the most is, strangely, nightlife: forget clubbing and sparkly dresses, the locals again would rather go to the old town for beers than dancing! This is why in the city there is only a single disco, but you can dance a little in some of the pubs. If you really want a disco visit the High Club, on the promenade on the corner with Avenue Gambetta, right after the Negresco. The night won’t be lighting up until 2:30, as until then everyone will be in the other open bars, but when all the late nighters of the city meet together the dancefloor promises to be very entertaining, and you might also find some VIPs. Tip: if you like to accompany your dancing with alcohol, it’s best to drink earlier in the other bars and pubs, as here the cocktails are extremely expensive and also bad.