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Nice Hotels

Nice City Info

Nice Hotels

The capital of the Riviera and fifth largest city in France, Nice scarcely deserves its glittering reputation. Living off inflated property values and fat business accounts, its ruling class has hardly evolved from the eighteenth-century Russian and English aristocrats who first built their mansions here; today it's the rentiers and retired people of various nationalities whose dividends and pensions give the city its startlingly high ratio of per capita income to economic activity.

T he attraction of Nice lies in the sheer range of activities it makes possible. Rollerblade along the Promenade des Anglais in the morning, take in a museum in the early afternoon, stop for flowers or fruits glaces (candied fruits) on the Cours Saleya on the way to the beach, dine in the balmy open air until late into the evening. The town also makes a great base for exploring with excellent rail links to the beautiful town of Antibes, the wealthy glittering resort of Cannes and the romantic principality of Monaco. Nice is, quite simply, an unforgettable experience.

The spectacular Promenade des Anglais curves along the seafront for 6 kilometres and was established by Nice's English colony in 1822 as a seaside walking path. Strolling along it is a superb way to get your bearings and to take in the magnificenct Bay of Angels. Watch out for the pink domed Hotel Negresco along the way. Built in the Belle Epoque style, it dates back to the 1900s and is classified as an historic monument. Nice has hidden treasures around each corner - from the early 19th century neoclassical arcaded buildings in Place Massena painted in a variety of eyecatching ochres and reds to the fantastic flower market on the Cours Saleya to the winding narrow streets of the old town. The town's Matisse Museum boasts a fine collection of the artist's work and is well worth a visit. Don't miss the Musee d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain which specialises in French and American avant-garde works from the 1960s onwards and the Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall.

Politics apart, Nice has other reasons to qualify it as one of the more dubious destinations on the Riviera : it's a pickpocket's paradise; the traffic is a nightmare; miniature poodles appear to be mandatory; phones are always vandalized; and the beach isn't even sand. And yet Nice still manages to be delightful. The sun and the sea and the laid-back, affable Niçois cover a multitude of sins.

Nice Tourist Attractions

Cours Saleya Flower Market

Nice's famous Flower Market is one of the best attractions in the whole city. The edges are lined with cafés and souvenir shops, and the stands themselves are packed with amazing produce and myriad flowers. It operates six days a week, replaced on Mondays by a flea and antiques market.

Matisse Museum

The lovely and innovative art of Henri Matisse was inspired by the fresh colors and lines of Nice. Just take a look at any of his art peering out of balcony windows, and you will surely see the Riviera shoreline. This vast museum shows Matisse's works from his more traditional early days to the end of his career. There are also some of his personal effects here. The museum gift shop features prints of the artist's works.

Promenade des Anglais

Few spots epitomize Nice - or, in fact, the joie de vivre of the French Riviera in general - than the inviting Promenade des Anglais. It is always bustling with humanity.There are tourists relaxing in the royal blue chairs lining the shore. There are locals roller blading, biking or jogging along it. Vendors sell crepes and drinks on it. Best of all, there are delightful (if over-priced) seaside restaurants. Splurge on a chaise lounge, and let waiters bring you cocktails and appetizers.

Rue de France Pedestrian Zone

The Nice pedestrian zone, or "zone pietonne," is a hub of activity. This is the place if you need to load up on souvenirs. Street entertainers frequent this area. There are gourmet shops, clothing shops, news stands, bookstores and more. (Check out the Ducs de Gascogne store for some real finds). Grab a café au lait and watch the world go by, nibble on a crepe, or visit in the evening for a robust meal with an Italian accent. This is just a lively spot!

Theatre de la Photographie et de l'Image

This homage to the photographic arts is housed in a lovely renovated building a couple blocks off the busy Boulevard Jean Medicine thoroughfare. The museum typically hosts exhibits of universal appeal, such as a show dedicated to portraits of Hollywood celebrities over the decades and an exhibition on American Indians. Entry is free.

Russian Cathedral

What a juxtaposition: the traditional Russian onion towers in the background, and the tropical palm trees in the foreground. As odd a pairing as the two seem, the Russian Cathedral is just one of many Russian attractions in the city. The Russian aristocracy used Nice as a balmy getaway, and left their indelable mark on the Riviera city. The cathedral is the finest example, and provides a rare opportunity to experience the former U.S.S.R. on the Cote d'Azur.

Nice Archaeology Museum and Roman Ruins

The Russians weren't the first to succumb to the allure of Nice. The ancient Romans also called the area home, and to this day visitors can see the ruins of a Roman arena and bathhouses at (or next to) this museum in the Nice Cimiez neighborhood (right next to the Matisse Museum). Inside, the archaeology museum houses an interesting mix of historic and archeological exhibits on the area.

Nice Port

The Nice Port area is one frequently overlooked by tourists, but it shouldn't be. Just around the corner from Old Nice and the Quai des Etats Unis, this is a great spot to watch the Corsica ferries lift off. There are also some of the city's hippest.

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