"Nice Life" Top 5 Page for this destination Nice by NiceLife

Nice Travel Guide: 1,829 reviews and 3,935 photos

Discover Nice

A twelve-year veteran of VT on Nice and the Cote d' Azur, an irreverant insider who shares the best and worst of Life on The Riviera, NiceLife gets under the surface onto enable you to enjoy the best of La Vie Nicois, whether you are here for just a day or a lifetime, or maybe longer.

A Brief History of Nice

Perched on top of Mont Boron near the radio mast, above the port looking out in two directions over the Baie des Anges and behind to the deep harbour of Villefranche, Sir Elton John commands what is probably the finest view of all Nice. When the lights are on, everyone can see "Sir Elton" is in town, though less often now baby is in L.A. An honorary citizen of Nice, Elton was not the first to discover the most vibrant city in France next to Paris. Remains of Homo Erectus (calm down Elton, it's only an old fossil) dating back 160,000 years were found at the foot of Mount Boron.

Three thousand years ago the Greeks discovered Nice, and first named it "Nike", after the fashionable sports shoe. A thousand years later more soldiers arrived, this time in sandals, in an early but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at European unification known as The Roman Empire. The Mediterranean language of "Nissart" is a legacy of the Latin spoken by its occupiers. After the fall of Rome, fast forward a thousand years. Then the borders of one-day-to-be France and Italy spent centuries shifting between the Duke of Savoy, the Earl of Ventimiglia, the Count of Provence and the Grimaldi family. Either sides of the river Var, you can hear the collective groan of the Nicois: "Hey Pierre, Franco, - gedda the old flags out - we're changing sides again!"

In the 1820' s a few hundred well-heeled families wanting to escape the British winter founded an English colony. An eccentric British clergyman, the Reverend Lewis Way, raised subscriptions to built the precursor to the Prom, Le Chemin des Anglais, as a leafy idyllic walkway lined by trees straight out of Gainsborough's Haywain. In the 1860's Nice became formally part of France, and shortly after, the railways arrived, with the Paris-Marseilles-Nice Blue Train, providing Europe's aristocracy with convenient access. By the 1920's, the more cosmopolitan wealthy of America and Europe had discovered the Riviera, and Nice became for all year round, not just Winter.

All this burgeoning hedonisim was only briefly interrupted by the occupation of France during WWII. In a French history book I noticed a black and white holiday snap, like millions of others today, but of four Wermacht officers in full military uniform, smiling to camera, behind them the familiar sights of the Promenade des Anglais. Nice survived, and I guess we should be grateful. ("
VT travellers checkpoint: life's more than just a beach!)

Mass air travel, leisure and tourism followed in the 1960's, along with property development, to feed on the growing aspiration for a place in the sun. Thanks to its wonderful Belle Epoche and Art-Deco facades along the Prom and finer streets, and its balance between visitors and real working people, Nice has been largely spared from the holiday apartment blight found in some other parts of the Riviera. Instead, much heritage preserved, terracotta roofs, trompe d'oeil facades, wrought-iron balconies, rich mediterranean colours, a beautiful city by the sea full of people who treasure it. Latest chapter is the arrival of les airlines lowcost making the Riviera accessible to all, even just for the weekend. And there's VT: now you don't even have to get out of bed to visit the Riviera.

So there you have it. 160,000 years in the making. The majesty and magnificence of the French Riviera. What are you waiting for?


Looking out over the Baie des Anges

From his window, Elton, 58, enjoys a view of the entire city of Nice, with the green Colline du Chateau rising up from the plain, and the terracotta roof tops of Old Nice. Climbing back from the centre towards the mountains the vantage point of Queen victoria's beloved Cimiez, with its monastery and Roman ruins

Towards the horizon the whole sweep of the Baie des Anges 7km out to the airport, and onward where sea meets sky the distant silhouette of the luxurious Cap d'Antibes. Inland, the backdrop of the Alpes Maritimes reminds you Nice is a city between the mountains and the sea. On the clearest of days out to sea, I am told you can just make out the coastline of Corsica.

From his balcony, Nicelife enjoys a view of Elton's most truly desirable "derniere etage" address in Nice. It is as you might expect entirely inaccessible. However, you can enjoy the same view as Elton, for only one euro courtesy of the number 14 bus from Nice Centre to Mont Boron, then onwards several hundred yards on foot towards the telecommunications transmitter.

Many people settle for the more easily accessible and unquestionably enchanting view of the Bay from the Chateau, probably one of top ten most photographed views of the western world. . But if you are up for the challenge, there's few more spectacular views of the Riviera than those found here.

Leaving only 31 other items to check off on your "things you must do on your stay in Nice" list.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A city by the sea that's been seducing people for thousands of years. Just say "yessss"
  • Cons:Keep one eye on the azure sky, but the other firmly on the pavement ahead!
  • In a nutshell:Go there, linger, be seduced, and return...
  • Last visit to Nice: May 2011
  • Intro Updated Jan 4, 2015
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Reviews (190)

Comments (84)

  • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
    Oct 4, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Thank you so much for the valuable information and amusing reportage you've put together on this page. It's been a pleasure to read and an enticing 'avant -gout' of Nice. I'll be putting your tips to the test in about ten days and am really looking forward to the trip.

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Great tips

  • TravellerMel's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    I've enjoyed reading (and rating!) your Nice "Warnings & Dangers" tips - very helpful and humorous!

  • adema29's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Your Nice guide is impressive! A lot of work here! Great pictures also! Many thanks!

  • nitrofan's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    I intend to go to Nice and check out the Cours Saleya on my next trip down south this summer. I thought I know who will have something on the subject NiceLife I have spent almost two hours engrossed in your Nice tips, Says it all I think! nitrofan

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    > Hello, Andrew! Your tips are valuable and interesting! Thanks a lot! ~

  • Jun 18, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Thanks very much for your advice and comments. My brothers are doing the 2010 Nice Ironman next weekend. It's our 1st time on the Cote d'Azur. I've enjoyed reading your pages of insight! Thanks again!!

  • Jun 14, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    thanks for posting this advice

  • Apr 29, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    I'm about to make my first trip to Nice - October. Your comments were very helpful. However, I would say, that the same advice applies almost anywhere you travel in the west. Re: the last bus home: how do I ask that qu in french, svp. Jae

  • janetanne's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    How Nice to be in Nice. Instead, I will stay on the Greek Riviera of Vouliagmeni and at the moment on the shores of Anavyssos. I've got a great view too!

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