If you’ve seen my post earlier this week, featuring Cannes in the French Riviera, you will know that I spent 5 days in France a couple of weeks ago, with the wonderful team at We Like Travel. The second stop on our whistle stop tour was the beautiful town of Nice, with Visit Côte d’Azur. I had previously visited Nice, almost 7 years to the day, as part of an Interrail trip I took with a couple of friends shortly after university. I remember liking Nice for it’s never-ending beach and crystal clear water. After spending 4 weeks traveling to cities all over Europe in the height of summer, we were very grateful to be able to relax in Nice, do a spot of sunbathing and swim in the ocean. However, because of this we did very little exploring of the town, so I was thrilled to be heading back on this trip to hopefully see a little more.
From Cannes we had a chartered coach that drove us up the coast, just 45 minutes to Nice. Our first port of call was lunch at Italian restaurant Sentimi. There is a strong Italian influence in Nice, because of it’s close proximity to the Italian border, and you can find some of the best Italian food there. Sentimi is one of those spots. This restaurant serves up a wonderful selection of pasta, pizza and salad, plus other traditional Italian foods. The waiters and chefs are incredibly friendly, and considering they had 23 very hungry guests with a variety of dietary requirements, they calmly catered for us all, and the food was delicious!
After filing ourselves on bread, pasta and lots of wine, we eventually left our comfortable surroundings at Sentimi and began our tour of Nice. Sentimi is ideally located to explore Nice. Just a short stroll away from the restaurant was an array of cafes, bars and shops, including lots of interior boutiques and art galleries. We stumbled upon Les Puces de Nice, which a small vintage market, selling an array of furniture, soft furnishings, paintings and knicknacks. Each store was decorated in beautiful pieces of graffiti too. Well worth a look if you find yourself with time to kill.
From here you can curve up and around the coast to Monument aux Morts de Rauba-Capeù, an incredible stone statue created in the side of the hill. Further a long you will find the #ILoveNice sign to have a photo in front of, and from here you get a wonderful view of Nice beach and the stunning blue waters. We spotted a number of kids diving off the rocks beneath us into the water. At the time, the temperature was pushing 30+ degrees, and nothing looked more refreshing, although I would be far too much of a scaredy cat!
From here we made our way up to the top of the cliff to Colline du Château. From the top you get the most incredible views across Nice and further into the French countryside. It’s a must for any tourists heading to Nice, whether you’ve been there before or not. The views are really stunning! There’s a small cafe at the top too, so you can take some time to relax after the climb. Or if like us, you couldn’t face the climb up, there is a free lift, but queues can get very long in peak season. Just down from the look out point is a stunning waterfall running down the edge of the cliff, and is the perfect way to cool off in the sun. Not that you can get in it, but it’s so large that the spray itself is lovely and refreshing.
As we made our way back down to the bottom, a few of us headed to a bar on the beach to enjoy the late afternoon sun and make the most of Nice’s incredible beach. There are a number of bars and restaurants lining the shore, but we chose Castel Place, and it had a really nice, chilled out vibe to it. Whilst the boys caught up on emails a couple of us wander down to the edge of the water to dip our feet – you can’t come to Nice and not go in the sea! (Even if it is only a paddle). I should say that the beach here is a pebble one, so it’s not the most comfortable but it’s so long and the water is so blue, you will definitely want to spend a few hours here enjoying the view, and the sun!
That evening I stayed in the Villa Bougainville by HappyCulture, who own a number of hotels and hostels dotted all over Nice. Villa Bougainville is located close to the main train station in Nice and has an exotic style to it. Each room is brightly coloured with lots of greens and blues, and amazing palm print wallpapers. My room was very quirky and had two French doors that opened out onto a very small balcony. Not big enough to sit out on or anything, but it was glorious to be able to open them up and have the breeze come in. The hotel also very kindly supplied a pair of ear plugs on the pillow. I didn’t use them, but my room was overlooking a busy road, so if you’re a light sleeper you may need to. There was also a fresh bouquet of flowers waiting for me on arrival. I’m guessing this isn’t the case for all guests, but it was very much appreciated 🙂
That evening we all had dinner and drinks at one of HappyCulture’s hostels nearby. I say hostel, but it didn’t look like any hostel I had ever stayed in before! From the reception and bar, it looked much more like a boutique hotel. It was extremely modern with an industrial vibe to the decor. The bar was home to a number of board games, DJ decks and table tennis tables. I imagine staying here would be a lot of fun!
From there we got back on the coach and were taken to an alternative festival called Crossover, located just outside the city at a derelict abattoir. It had very ‘Shoreditch’ vibes too it, with lots of large warehouse style buildings that houses art work and outside was a main stage where electronic acts performed, whilst inside there was a large projector playing old school 90s hip hop and dance songs It was like watching MTV Hits! A very random, but ultimately fun night. After a couple of glasses of champagne (yes, they sell champagne just about everywhere in France, including festivals!) we were soon in the party mood, and out came the bubbles, which soon proceeded to us all claiming we were the best bubble blowers and having a competition. Ha! It’s safe to say, we go home rather late that evening and woke up with a bit of a sore head! But there was no time for a hangover the next day, as we were set to board a train to Paris for the final leg of our trip with Voyages SNCF… More on that in my next post!