Stroll, cycle or tram-ride your way around Nice
You’ll need everything from designer sandals to your comfiest sneakers to make the best of this chic corner of the Côte d’Azur. With a straight-from-the-movies promenade, sprawling cycle paths and trams to whiz you from monument to museum, the boutique hotels of Nice are just a stylish starting point – allez!
BIKE IT WITH VÉLOBLUE
If you plan to see as much of the Côte d’Azur as possible, Véloblue has cycle tracks that cover around 125 kilometres of it. 175 bike stations (that’s one roughly every 300 metres) accessible around the clock let you hop on a bicycle from almost wherever you are.
It’s a piece of cake to hire one. Either download the dedicated app or call the phone line listed at each bike station. You can even select the language of the automated service if your school French is a little rusty.
Pay the hire fee by credit or debit card, then help yourself to a bicycle and return it to whichever Véloblue station you wind up at. Serious cyclists can rent everything from racing to mountain bikes at other outlets around town. Try Elite Rent-a-Bike for straightforward hires and guided tours (plus scooters for more power) or Roller Station if you fancy skating along the promenade.
Top Tip: Many Véloblue bikes come with handy baskets, so nip into a local shop to stock up on water for the ride.
TRUNDLE AROUND ON THE TRAM
From boutiques to beaches, architectural wonders to art galleries, there’s very little you can’t reach by tram in Nice.
The green line runs in a rough U-shape, covering Vieux Nice – the old town of zig-zagging streets – and looping right down near Promenade des Anglais.
• Libération: hop off here to visit little, lesser-known Musée National Marc Chagall, especially if you favour the surreal side of art.
• Cathédrale Vieille Ville: nearby sights include 17th-century Cathédrale Saint-Réparate, up-and-coming artists’ works at Galerie Renoir, and Théâtre Francis Gag.
• Opéra: stop for its namesake, the Nice Opera, Palais de Justice and Cathédrale Saint-Réparate.
Close by, Cours Saleya Markets are famous for flowers and food, but transform into a flea market on Mondays. And, as this is the southernmost point of the green line, you can reach the glamorous seafront.
Don Catherine Deneuve-esque sunglasses for lunch and sunbathing at Plage Beau Rivage private beach.
You can also take the blue line that runs from east to west from the Port, along Promenade des Anglais to the airport.
• Garibaldi: very convenient for a mooch around Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) or an evening at Théâtre National de Nice. Near the blue line branch is neoclassical-meets-Baroque Chapelle du Saint-Sepulcre, and smaller Église Saint Augustin – one of the oldest churches in the city.
Top Tip: If you’re here for a few days, think about a ten-journey tram ticket or a seven-day pass. Both are reasonably priced and available from the tram station ticket machines.
PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD
You’ll need comfy footwear to make the best of Colline du Château – especially after wandering the close-by old town. But it’s 100% worth it. Staircases wind their way up this wooded hill, past waterfalls and picnic pockets, all the way to the best city views. If you can’t face the climb, there’s always the free lift. Just don’t spend all your time looking for the castle – there hasn’t been one here for centuries, despite the name.
Top Tip: go up to Parc du Château late morning to make it there for the daily noon ‘cannon’ firing.
Back at base level, you’re within walking distance of the pebbly public and private beaches of Castel Plage. For lunch, seek out some shade beneath the lemon trees of über-elegant Hôtel La Pérouse.
To see more of the Côte d’Azur coastline, simply stick to Promenade des Anglais. It’ll take you to Ruhl Plage, a famous beach hangout since the 1920s and Plage Publique des Ponchettes. Or, to expand your horizons, combine a bus ride with a careful walk down the steep steps to Plage Mala. It feels a bit more hidden than some of the town’s-edge beaches in Nice.