Looking for a city break somewhere warm with plenty of culture and things to do? Looking to get away from the unpredictable weather across Northern Europe? Or simply in need of some rest and relaxation?
Whatever your motive Nice on the Côte d’Azur fits the bill perfectly.
France’s fifth biggest city with up to 80% sunshine in summer, and temperatures in their late 20s or early 30s, Nice is a hotspot that is a must see place in the south of France.
Furthermore, the prinicipality of Monaco makes a decent day trip for those looking to stretch their legs a little further.
There are sports activities and monuments aplenty, as well as some stunning coastline.
Let’s take an in depth look at what you can do while you are here.
By the sea there are a variety of sports for you to indulge in, such as windsurfing, canoeing and diving.
Nice has more than 40 sites in which you can go diving so there is no shortage for lovers of the sport.
For first time divers perhaps you could try Nice Diving, where you can try a ‘Classic’ with one instructor for up to twenty minutes of exploration.
If you are looking for something a little more extensive you could try the ‘Nice Diving’ option, though this is more expensive than the aforementioned ‘Classic’.
For the full monty you can go for the ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ option where you can have a full day, or two half days if you prefer, made up of two longer dives, one of which is fully accredited towards your Open Water Course.
Finally, the company even organise night dives or day trips including picnics.
Whatever option you go for, the exploration of Villefranche Bay is a must see. It offers some incredible underwater caves where you can see some of the best underwater wildlife in the Mediterranean.
Windsurfing, Kayaking and Canoeing
Also in the Bay of Villefranche you can find plenty of paddling opportunities.
However, for connoisseurs of windsurfing you need to head for Saint Laurent du Var, just a few minutes down the coast from Nice.
Located slightly to the west of Nice, it is accessible by bus and you need to get off at the Centre Commercial, just a two minute walk from the sea.
Once there you will come across the Centre Nautique and you can even have lessons if you are a beginner.
Other Sports and Activities
If you still have the energy, or you are seeking something on dry land, there are walking, jogging and cycling opprtunities aplenty, either along the beach or inland.
In fact, Nice has it own Ironman contest, as well as many popular races for those really looking to get their heartbeat going
What to see: Monuments and the Old Town
Nice old town, know locally as Le Vieux Nice, is the place to come and take in the monuments.
The vintage part is surrounded by the Pallion river valley which is buried underground but it now has an attractive garden on top called the Promenade du Paillon.
Within the town wander along the Saint Francois de Paule, which is the home to some classy shops and the Opera of Nice. Shortly after, the Palace Square will come into view.
The Cours Saleya is where the action takes place. By morning it hosts a market made up mainly of flowers but also fruits, vegetables and even second hand goods. By mid-afternoon, though, the restaurant scene takes over, soon followed by the coffee drinking and watching the world go by.
In the evening, something of a slightly more potent nature can be consumed.
Running parallel to the Cours Saleya is the Rue de la Prefecture and is an equally popular place come evening time. The bars tend to fill up around 7pm and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to choose from.
The Garibaldi square is packed with bars and restaurants too and a popular spot is the terrace which has shade provided by the Sainte Reparate Cathedral.
Built in the late 17th century, this religious building is the focal point not just of the old town, but of Nice itself.
The original building dates back even further, to the mid 1200s, but was later rebuilt to give it a greater stature to match the status of the city.
To get the best views of Nice make the climb to Castle Hill. From here you can see the coastline stretching away for miles and miles, and even the snow capped mountains from the overlooking Alps can be seen from here.
Take a nice stroll up or save your legs some stress, as well as catch some stunning scenery, by taking the train up there. Either way, the sight will take your breath away.
Where to stay
Try the Kyriad Nice Hotel to get the best value for money deal on the Côte d’Azur.
At around €65 (£55) per night for a double room the Kyriad is a popular option if you want to spend your money on other aspects of your trip.
Despite the price, it has all the benefits you would expect from a decent hotel and it is not far from the city centre, just ten minutes on foot.
The rooms come with air conditioning as standard, plus tea and coffee making facilities, as well as a hairdryer and telephone in each room.
As for the generic aspects of the hotel, it has wifi, a 24 hour reception and a concierge available.
For those wishing to spend a little more on their accommodation, why not try the Hotel Aria, which is in downtown Nice, just a short walk from local hotspots such as the Basilique Notre Dame and Nice Etoile Shopping Centre.
This hotel comes highly rated and for a variety of reasons, not least the personal touch it has with its friendly staff, very different from the colder feel from many of the mainstream hotels.
It has a funky décor in the communal area, described by some as a bit like ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and the building itself is from the 19th century.
This place certainly has a classical feel to it.
Described by many as the best five star hotel in Nice, the Boscolo Exedra is the best option for those who want to splash out on their accommodation.
As you enter the plush looking lobby area, it is immediately apparent that this is an up market hotel and this theme is maintained throughout, from the professional staff to the building itself. Everything is just as you would want it to be.
Getting to and from Nice
Fortunately the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is within driving distance thanks to Shuttle Direct.
It is highly recommended to use the luxurious yet affordable services of Shuttle Direct who can whisk you away from the airport quicker than you can say ‘Bon Voyage’ and you will be in the heart of Nice in next to no time.
Furthermore, you will be able to take in the views as you pass along France’s fabulous southern coastline.
If it is efficiency and comfort without breaking the bank you are after, then Shuttle Direct can deliver exactly what you need.