Nice Neighborhoods & Towns
Sitting in the southeast corner of France along the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is best known as a beach destination. However, those who take the time to explore areas of this small city away from the Sea Front will discover a fascinating historical district, as well as several other charming neighborhoods.
The Sea Front epitomizes how most people picture Nice: beaches and luxury. The renowned Promenade des Anglais (Walk of the English), which runs parallel to the coast, boasts numerous top-notch hotels and restaurants that offer spectacular views of the pebbly beaches and calm, cerulean waves of the Mediterranean Sea. The Promenade des Anglais is always crowded with tourists and residents alike who pass the time away, strolling along the coast and enjoying the fresh sea breeze.
Travel experts refer to Place Masséna — which sits east of Sea Front at the point where Promenade des Anglais (Walk of the English) becomes Quai des Etats-Unis — as the heart of Nice. The square and its surrounding streets are home to the city's more upscale shops and boutiques, including the Galeries Lafayette and the Nicetoile Shopping Center (Centre Commercial Nice Etoile). If you tire of the hustle and bustle of the shopping streets, escape to one of Masséna's two parks. The Jardin Albert I, which sit off of the Promenade des Anglais, features examples of contemporary sculpture; the Masséna Gardens (La Place Masséna), east of the square, offer a serene setting for lazy strolls.
As its name implies, Vieux-Nice (Old Nice) is the city's historic district. Sitting away from the sea just east of Masséna along Quai des Etats-Unis, Vieux-Nice is a maze of narrow streets and baroque architecture, and a history buff's dream: This district houses numerous churches, as well as Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau), the site of Nice's first settlement, and the baroque-style Palais Lascaris. Experts also recommend paying a visit to the renowned Cours Saleya market located just north of the Promenade des Anglais (Walk of the English). Vieux-Nice is also known for having some of the best ice cream parlors in the city, most of them clustered around Place Rossetti, just north of the Cours Saleya flower market.
The Port District
Located at the eastern end of the Promenade des Anglais (Walk of the English), Nice's Port District is described as a peaceful alternative to the busy Sea Front. The Port itself offers picturesque views of the sea and incoming fishing boats. Although there are several great restaurants tucked away along the streets near the docks, the Port District is best known for its abundance of antiques shops, especially down rue Catherine Ségurane, a small street located just a few blocks southeast of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain).
Promenade du Paillon
Although once a forgotten part of the city, the Promenade du Paillon district — located to the north of the Port District — is largely becoming a theater district. The neighborhood's Acropolis Palais des Exhibitions (Nice Acropolis Convention Center) hosts a wide array of live performances, film screenings and conferences. This area's other major site is the Théâtre National de Nice, which features productions of both classic and contemporary theater.
The Cimiez neighborhood sits atop a hill to the north of the Sea Front. What was once a Roman settlement — visitors can still see ruins of Roman baths and amphitheater — Cimiez has become the most fashionable residential neighborhood in Nice. Although it does not attract as many tourists as the seaside districts, art aficionados should take some time to explore this area's creative history. Artwork from former residents and famed modern artists Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall is displayed at the Musée Matisse and the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall.
Mont-Boron and Mont-Alban
Travel experts say that these side-by-side mountains to the east of the Port District offer spectacular views of both the city and the sea. Mont-Boron and Mont-Alban are not within walking distance from the city center, but the city's buses operate routes to and from. If you are heading up Mont-Boron, travel writers recommend making a quick stop at the area's Musée de Paléontologie Terra Amata.
Arénas and Californie
Located just north of the airport in west Nice, travel writers describe these districts as the newest and fastest growing neighborhoods in Nice. Despite numerous accommodation options, these districts are rather far away from city center. Interesting sites in the vicinity include the giant greenhouse at Parc Phoenix, which sits along the westernmost section of Promenade des Anglais (Walk of the English), and the nearby Musée des Arts Asiatiques (Museum of Asian Arts).
Nice's beaches are accessible from the Promenade des Anglais. Keep in mind that there are both public beaches (open to all sunbathers) and private beaches (which charge a fee). You should also note that in addition to paying an admittance fee, the private beaches will also charge you for umbrellas and will not let you bring in your own drinks or snacks (they expect you to buy them from their expensive restaurants and bars).
Similar to many European hot spots, Nice is generally safe but also deals with its fair share of pickpockets. Wikitravel says, "You are strongly advised not to carry anything valuable or annoying to replace in your pockets. Use pouches underneath your clothing for anything valuable, including cash. In restaurants and cafes opportunist theft of handbags is a constant risk - keep them close at hand."