Half day in Nice, France Review
The heart of Nice was a breeze to reach from the airport with the sleek and modern tram system linking the two easily. We arrived at our hotel within the hour of leaving the airport and after setting down our bags were ready to explore our surroundings.
Avenue Jean Médecin
Our location was very central in Avenue Jean Médecin, a wide street lined with countless shops and with the tram-line running through it.
The street was busy late morning into the evening (the South of France is generally slow to start the day) and the reasonable temperatures meant that we took several night time walks along the lit up area. In terms of shopping there were plenty of high street brands as well as expensive stores. Since high street stores are the same across Europe (aside from C&A which died years ago in the UK but is alive and well elsewhere) and I’m not interested in designer shopping, I didn’t do much shopping at all aside from some skincare (French women have amazing skin).
Saying that, I also enjoyed browsing the gigantic Monoprix store which is unique to France. Several of such stores are dotted across the country and they have a dizzying range of food and goods; we bought many snacks and drinks during our stay.
We also visited the upscale department store Galeries Lafayette and…it was fine. Upscale department stores pretty much all look the same to me with the notable exception being the Liberty store in London. I bought an overpriced universal adaptor (hard to find here!) which was packaged in a very cute bag. Apparently the staff there were known to be very rude but I didn’t find them too different from UK department store staff.
Outside was Centre square, a large open social space with a Ferris wheel and…translucent naked figures on poles?
I don’t get it.
Anyways the area was very pretty in the late afternoon with the wheel lit up.
The statues were still weird though and just became more creepy in the dark.
We didn’t linger long and spent a good portion of the afternoon exploring the Old Town and getting lost amongst the orange and yellow buildings.
The streets were very narrow and appeared mostly residential with a main shopping street snaking through. We rarely saw anyone except around the main street and square, so it felt like we were discovering a new area by ourselves.
The Old Town housed a late 17th century cathedral which we peeped into for a while.
The abundance of etchings and gold felt more in line with Catholicism, so I wasn’t surprised to find out later that this is a Roman Catholic church.
After getting lost for a while (So. Many. Dead. Ends) we manage to reach a main road close to the sea. I really like that you can see the mountains from all angles, although it was more difficult to access the area from within the Old Town.
Promenade des Anglais
The famous Promenade des Anglais was a hustle of activity with stalls, skateboarders and beachgoers. Wide, flat and running as far along as the eye can see, this space is easy for anyone to navigate.
The sea was beautiful that day.
I took so many photos of the sky this became a problem.
I managed to catch all the changing sky views from more or less one spot.
These were taken from Castle Hill, a fortified area located at the end of the walk.
There were steps leading up to Castle Hill but my mum wasn’t much of a walker so we chose to take the lift which was accessible from an entrance at the bottom of the hill. The price of taking the lazy route was passing an awful pineapple man statue posing as someone about to be arrested. It scared the crap out of me.
We came out of the lift located in a circular building near the top of the hill.
Castle hill is an old fortified site in nice where it acted as a formidable citadel in the 15th – 17th century, was converted to a cemetery in the 18th century and finally turned into a park with a waterfall in the 19th century.
The first thing we did was order a coffee in the park area.
Afterwards we passed an archaeological site showing the remains of a Romanesque cathedral from the 11th – 12th century. Effort was made to virtually reconstruct the church from the foundation remains.
The remains fitted in well with the mosaic floor designs running through the park.
There were modern touches though in the play area and some unfortunate etchings on the surrounding cacti.
I was really disappointed that I missed out on the waterfall since I half forgot about it and didn’t try hard to look out for this feature. A brisk walk through the whole area on top of the hill didn’t give any indication on where this waterfall was and unfortunately I missed this pretty view. Instead I made do with views of the nearby port.
Nice is large and interesting enough to warrant a full day visit for the average tourist. I really enjoyed Castle hill and Prominade des Anglais in particular and felt these two sites made Nice stood out from the surrounding cities.
Great weather, easily navigated surroundings and beautiful skies and sea; what more do you need for a relaxing outing?
Galeries Lafayette Nice
Address: 6 Avenue Jean Médecin, 06000 Nice, France
Mon – Sat: 9:30 – 20:00
Jul – Aug: 10:00 – 21:00
Address: Old Nice Vieille Ville Nice France
Address: 3 Pl. Rossetti, 06300 Nice, France
Tue – Fri: 9:00 – 12:00, 14:00-18:00
Sat: 9:00 – 19:30
Sun: 9:00 – 12:00, 15:00 – 18:00
Address: Château de Nice 06300 Nice France
Opening hours: Oct – Mar: 8:30 – 18:00, Apr – Sep: 8:30-20:00
Promenade des Anglais
Address: Prom. des Anglais Nice France