The aim of my 3-day trip to the southeast of France was always going to be Monaco. However, since I had to drive right past Nice, I could not refuse the tantalising ‘invitation’ to make a quick stopover here. I’m glad I did as I was pleasantly surprised. To be honest, I only had time to walk around the Old Town or Vieux Nice and to climb up Castle Hill but it was still worth it!
Nice is the second largest city in France and attracts attention from tourists all over the world for its prime location in the middle of the French Riviera or Cote d’Azur due to its charming Mediterranean character and beautiful architecture. I only spent a couple of hours or so in this beautiful place so I’ll share the little I could do. However, I definitely recommend you spend at least a couple of days here as there is so much to see!
After parking in one of the public car parks near the city centre, I ventured into the Old Town area. You’ll know you’ve reached it as soon as you find yourself lost in winding narrow streets shaded by awnings and lined with baroque architecture dating back to the 1700s! By the way, speaking of parking, make sure you park your car in one of the many public car parks as trying to find an empty parking space in the streets is close to a nightmare!
This historic part of Nice feels like a medieval town with its narrow streets curving between old buildings with red-tile roofs, small restaurants and open-markets. Being a Saturday morning, It was not too crowded except for a whole lot of customers at one popular meat shop! I felt I had gone back in time and was feeling the spirit of Old Nice! I too got lost wandering around the narrow streets of the Old Town but that was a blessing in disguise actually, as instead I found myself walking up Castle Hill after a while.
Castle Park, or Parc du Chateau, is an easy 30-minute walk from the Old Town (or you can take the lift from the beach). It’s also called Castle Hill or Colline du Chateau and divides the seaside part of Nice into two parts, the eastern part with the port, and the western part with the Old Town. Admission to Castle Park is free. You only need to take along some cash to buy some food and drinks during or after your tour as there are some little cafes at the top.
Castle Park is considered to be one of the top tourist attractions in Nice and rightly so as it offers an incredible view of the city, beaches, azure waters and distant mountains. And sound travels really far up here as I could even hear a brass band playing along the Promenade des Anglais, more than 300 feet below! This is the most famous stretch of seafront in Nice – if not France. It gets its name from the English expat patrons who paid for it in 1822.
I had an amazing time in Nice and wish I could have stayed longer but Monaco was calling! However, I hope this little diary about my whirlwind visit to Nice was helpful if you’re planning a future trip there!