Free Things To Do in Nice
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You'll likely pass by Place Masséna, the city's main square, several times while in Nice thanks to its central location. With the seafront to the south, the shopping street Avenue Jean Médecin jutting off to the north, and the lovely Albert I and Massena gardens surrounding it, you can walk to it from virtually anywhere in the small city.
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The Promenade des Anglais (English Walk) runs parallel to the pebbly shore of Nice's beachfront, stretching for more than 2 miles along Baie des Anges. Locals simply refer to this world-famous stretch of road as the Promenade or La Prom. Recent travelers said that it's not only a beautiful place for a stroll, but it's also a great place to get your directional bearings early on in your trip since the city's main attractions spoke off from here. Plus, with a dedicated lane for cyclists and skaters and plenty of rental shops nearby, it can be a great way to exercise while sightseeing. Along the way, keep you eyes peeled for the ornate Hotel Negresco, the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée and La Chaise, a large iron sculpture of a chair created by Niçoise artist Sabine Géraudie that has become the unofficial symbol of the city.
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Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau) is more of an impressive hill than a castle. Even though most of the original Chateau de Nice structure has crumbled away, travelers still recommend climbing the hundreds of steps to reach the stellar view from its peak.
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One of the main draws to a vacation in Nice is the beach, which is punctuated by the French Riviera sun, the rolling Mediterranean waves and the legendary blue chairs. However, there are some things to note. First, about 15 private (and costly) beaches break up the 20 public beaches, so be prepared to shell out several euros if you are hoping to lounge on a stretch of sand equipped with chairs, umbrellas and nearby restaurants. You should also note that the private beaches don't allow you to bring in your own food and drink, so you'll have to purchase refreshments from the adjoining (and expensive) restaurants. They even charge for lounge chairs and towels.
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This fruit, veggie and flower market makes for a colorful and aromatic experience. Located in Old Town (Vieille Ville) off the Promenade des Anglais as it turns into the Quai des Etats-Unis, the Cours Saleya is open nearly every morning, but an antique market takes the place of the produce on Mondays.
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Tsar Nicholas II, the head of the tragic Romanov family, commissioned the building of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the early 20th century to accommodate the religious needs of the city's growing Russian population. The church's onion domes, bright colors and detailed ornamentation are hard to miss from its location on the aptly named Avenue Nicholas II. Women are asked to cover their heads while inside, but scarves are provided at the entrance.
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For some retail therapy, travelers ought to stroll Avenue Jean Médecin, which begins its upward ascent at Place Masséna. There are international chains, but you'll also find the Galeries Lafayette department store and the Nice Etoile shopping mall, as well as a number of French boutiques and cafes. If you've shopped the entire street and still want more, you'll find that the streets surrounding Avenue Jean Médecin are lined with retailers too.
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The layout of Garden of the Cimiez Monastery (Jardin du Monastère de Cimiez) has not changed since its original construction in 1546, when it was used by the monks as their orchard and vegetable garden. Among the various flora and fauna, the garden boasts beautiful climbing roses and a stellar view of the city and bay.
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For a free retreat from the city and a breath of fresh air, travelers recommend taking a hike in Parc du Mont Boron (located in east Nice). With about 7 miles of hiking trails, you can work up quite a sweat and perhaps burn off some calories from the previous evening's dinner. Climb to the top for the prettiest panoramas. And if you're a history buff, you might enjoy seeing the nearby military fort on Mont Alban. You'll see both tourists and locals enjoying the park daily.
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