French Riviera Part 1: Nice


The French Riviera could be mistaken for another country altogether if one did not pay attention in Geography class. What’s the difference? For one, being much farther south than capital Paris, the sun shines throughout the year. More importantly, it’s on the coast and you get to see the Mediterranean Sea!

An unexpected holiday
My visit to Nice was not a planned holiday, but rather, a side trip after business meetings. As such, we did not put together an itinerary but simply roamed around the city and headed where the footpaths led us. Perhaps it was this randomness that spared us the busy tourist routine and let us slowly explore the city instead. We also had the good fortune of making multiple trips back to Nice. And so, each time we returned we explored our way farther down the coast.

The pebbles beach in Nice.

The pebbles beach in Nice stretching as far as the eye can see.

Relaxing is an activity on its own
Nice is the largest city on the French Riviera, and the most famous attraction in Nice is probably the Promenade des Anglais. Named after and funded by the English who frequented Nice, it is a 4-km boardwalk that runs the length of the coast.

You can walk, jog, cycle or just sit on the benches and enjoy the cool sea breeze. You could also head down to the pebbles beach (yes, pebbles!) and dip your feet in the water. For once, I can walk on a beach without getting sand in my shoes. Nice!

The pebbles beach in Nice.

Up close with the little pebble art pieces.

It is said that the city is losing pebbles to tourists who bring them home as souvenirs. I must admit I am a culprit myself. But how can you resist, when each pebble is like a little piece of art, its smooth surface “painted” with artistic brush strokes.

Place Masséna, the main square in Nice.

Early morning at Place Masséna, the main square in Nice.

A great way to experience Nice is to watch the city slowly wake up. On weekends, we usually start with an early morning stroll through Place Masséna, the main square in Nice. Soon after, the early morning tranquillity gives way to bustling activity as the city got to work.

The Cours Saleya market square in Nice.

A feast for your senses awaits at the Cours Saleya market square.

In the heart of it all is Cours Saleya, a market square in the old town famous for the wide range of produce on offer and its daily flower market. The colours of the goods were truly a treat for our senses and we happily lapped it all up.

Goods at the Cours Saleya, Nice.
Flowers at the Cours Saleya, Nice.
Goods at the Cours Saleya, Nice.

Elsewhere, we stumbled upon a pop-up weekend flea market in front of the Palais de Justice.

A flea market in front of Palais de Justice, Nice.

A weekend flea market in front of the Palais de Justice.

And if you need your big-city shopping fix, don’t worry. The major names in European fashion are all available here.

The shopping street in Nice.

Shops to scratch the shopping itch.

Part resort, part city – best of both worlds
Nice qualifies as a resort holiday more than a sightseeing location, being on the coast and all. While there was less grand architecture and historical sites a la Paris, Nice offered a more laid-back feel. One where we could enjoy lazy days strolling through the old town, shopping at the farmers’ market or just chilling out at the beach.

But the French Riviera is not just about the sand and the sea. There are gorgeous medieval villages and even a perfume factory. Intrigued? Stay tuned for the next article!


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