Seven must-visit sights in Nice, France
globetrotterkyle.com August 24, 2023
Ah, the French Riviera. Doesn’t the thought of that induce a sense of relaxation in your soul?
Quiet beaches, cozy café chairs all facing the main street, the scent of lavender from the local flower market, and endless sunshine that warms your skin from the outside as a cappuccino warms you from the inside.
Sounds amazing right? Well, that’s Nice. It’s pronounced: Niece; like that cool kid your brother or sister has to deal with that you don’t.
Why Visit Nice?
Nice is the town you should visit if you’ve done enough city breaks and you need someplace to lie low for a while; a place to blend in with the locals and relax.
It’s here that you’ll overhear a conversation between a resident and their favorite flower vendor set to the backdrop of small waves lapping against the shore. In other words, you can easily gauge the pace of life here simply by listening.
“Nice embodies that of a relaxing, easy-going coastal town. I recommend taking your time. Here is what to do.”
1. Stroll along the boardwalk bordering the Ligurian Sea
When I first arrived in Nice after a wonderful four days in Barcelona, my soul was in need of a slower pace. I had my fill of walking 20,000 steps in a day and eating tapas until I was ready to explode, so the beach was the most logical answer.
As I meandered down to the end of the Marché aux Fleurs, the smell of the sea breeze increased with each step until I was only a few hundred feet away. Passing by a small courtyard and through some iconic archways, I was face to face with the Ligurian Sea and ready to sit down and relax.
However, I saw the beautiful boardwalk along the beach’s edge and knew right away that I needed to go for a run instead. It was sublime, to say the least. The ocean breeze filled my lungs with each step and the sound of seagulls and waves lapping against the shore provided the perfect soundtrack to help clear my head.
Maybe a run along the boardwalk isn’t for you, and that’s ok! However, don’t leave Nice without at least a stroll along this wonderful, soothing attraction!
2. Buy lavender-scented everything at the Marché aux Fleurs
If you search any other site for “what to do in Nice” you’ll find the flower market, Marché aux Fleurs, at the top of the list, and rightfully so! This incredible street market full of fresh produce, flowers and gifts is perfect for an authentic Nice experience.
Located just a block north of the sea, you’ll find this venue to be well worth an hour of your time. In fact, if you’re looking for that perfect travel gift, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find it here. I bought lavender-scented soaps and lotions for my family back home and they absolutely loved them!
And because it was my first stop in France since having moved from Korea to Germany, I promptly ate my weight in buttery croissants as well.
3. Catch a beautiful sunset from the Colline du Château Park
Prior to visiting Nice, I was convinced that sunsets were most enjoyable from the side of a mountain. Call me crazy but, I never thought sunsets over the ocean were anything to write home about! However, after climbing the stairs to the top of Colline du Château Park and catching the final remaining rays of light as our star set over the French Riviera, I now know why people rave about this part of the world.
The Colline du Château Park is just as enjoyable during the day. I loved visiting this little piece of heaven so much that I went twice during my visit! I loved being able to stand in one place and look out over the sea and city at the same time.
To make your journey extra incredible, bring a bottle of wine and sit on the ledges at the top of the Colline du Château Park during sunset. It is guaranteed to make you feel small and nostalgic at the same time!
4. Take a day trip to Monaco
I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest a day trip to Monaco. Only a 30-minute train ride along the French Riviera’s coast, this tiny little nation is home to a handful of sites that are well worth one of your days spent in Nice.
Start your trip by visiting the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for amazing sights of the city. If the flag is up, the prince is home! Because it’s still a working and living space for the prince, you’ll not be able to visit the interior while the prince is home. Don’t worry though! There’s more to see in Monaco than just the Palace.
After visiting the Prince’s Palace, head down the street to visit the Chapel of Mercy and Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Both were beautiful. I preferred the quaint scale of the Chapel of Mercy to that of the grandeur bestowed on the Saint Nicholas Cathedral.
From there, consider making your way over to the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Here you can see where James Bond spent an evening gambling before saving the world! I didn’t feel the need to visit the casino (let alone spend $10 just to get in) so, I ate lunch instead.
“5, 6, and 7: Visit Nice’s most majestic churches. If you are in Europe, you have the opportunity to see some amazing churches. Here are the top three churches I recommend seeing while you’re in Nice. The best part is that admission is free at all of these churches!”
5. Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice
Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice comes in at #1 because of its uniqueness, both in architecture and background. At first glance, you can easily see that this church lacks buttresses and elongated windows stretching towards the heavens like traditional Gothic architecture. That’s because it’s a Russian Orthodox church; completely different! Be sure to take time to walk around the grounds and admire the round cupolas (domes) from all angles.
Also, and this really blew my mind while I was there, the cathedral is actually the property of Russia! Russian imperialists frequented Nice during the winter months in the mid-1800s so, Tsar Alexander II had this church built to welcome the vacationing families. Fast forward to a French court ruling in 2006 that conferred the cathedral grounds to the Russian government on the basis that the church was on private property owned by the Imperial government during the Russian Revolution. Maybe turn your cell phone off when you visit.
6. The Nice Cathedral
Adorned with a beautiful mosaic of tile on its cupola, The Nice Cathedral stands out like a rose against the city’s monochromatic skyline.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Nice Cathedral for the opportunity to sit in a pew and gaze at the magnificent arches and paintings inside. As you cross the threshold into the cathedral, you are instantly overtaken by the sheer size and glamor of the building. Once past the impressive organ above, you’ll find that the balance between the white-washed walls and gold-plated capitals adorning the columns is intricate and perfect.
As sunlight filters in through the stained-glass windows beneath the dome, you’ll also be amazed at how light the building feels for being so rigid and massive. Take a moment to appreciate the stillness here before heading out into the small courtyard and enjoying a gelato or cappuccino!
7. Basilique Notre Dame de l’Assomption
You wouldn’t believe that the Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Assomption was modeled after a church other than the famous Notre Dame in Paris, but it’s true! Though this cathedral and the epitome of Gothic architecture look strikingly similar, this church was based on a monastery in Angers, France. Built in 1879, this is the largest church in Nice, and is well worth a visit.
While visiting the Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, be sure to take advantage of the surrounding area! This basilica is located along a rather vibrant main street full of restaurants and boutique shops. So, it’s a perfect place to rest and reflect if you’re out exploring Nice for the day!