My recent trip to France was a very last minute plan. The opportunity came up 3 days beforehand and I decided to go for it. When you cut out travelling time, I really only had two days to explore, so one day went to Nice, the other on a day trip to Monaco.
With the short time frame in mind, I centred my exploring in Nice around the old town, or Vieux Nice. This is where most of the things I wanted to see and do were, and it’s compact enough that it could all be covered in a day. This really is a great city to visit, with friendly locals, stunning views, and plenty to see and do.
Read on to discover all the things there are to do in Old Town, Nice!
Cours Saleya (Flower Market)
After doing my research on things to do in Nice, the flower market was the top of my list. It’s great just to walk through the rows of stalls with beautiful displays, from flowers, to plants, to cacti. Walking further down, you reach a fruit and veg market as well as people selling spices, tea, and other stalls with various knick-knacks. This is a lively outdoor marketplace which is a nice place to visit even if you can’t bring any flowers home with you.
After browsing the stalls, we took a walk out to the waterfront and looked over the sunbathers out into the sea.
- Tip: the opening hours for the market are different depending on when you go
- Tuesday-Saturday: 6am-5pm
- Sunday: 6am-1pm
- Monday: flower market closed; replaced by bric-a-brac stalls
- To find out more visit the Nice Tourism website
More images from the market here:
The various guidebooks I read described place Rossetti as the heart of the old town. To get to it, you move through narrow streets, almost like alleyways, which reminded me of the streets of Venice. All along are restaurants, shops, bars and cafes, and once you reach the square there are more streets heading off in every direction. This square is known for its ‘Fenocchio’ ice cream, so if it’s hot out it’s a good spot to cool down with one of their many flavours.
In all I didn’t find there was that much to do here – the Cathedral was closed when we visited, which is something to watch out for – but it’s a good point to wander off from and explore the narrow streets of the old town.
Colline du Château (Castle Hill)
Apart from the flower market, this was also one of the things at the top of my list for Nice. Where once stood a castle looking out over the medieval city of Nice, is now a viewpoint providing breathtaking views of the city. The viewpoint is accessible by stairs that take you all the way up, but there is also a lift available.
There are a number of different routes up to the top with breaks in the climb throughout, giving you the opportunity to stop and look around on your way up.
As you climb up you will eventually reach an amazing waterfall – you’ll certainly hear it before you see it. This is definitely worth seeing, even just as an opportunity to cool off on a hot day!
At the very top of the waterfall you can see people looking out over the top, and that’s the final destination. Follow the steps up once more, and you’ll finally reach the top of the hill. Here is where you will get the best panoramic view of the old city. On your way back down you could do as we did and head towards the Old Port, using the view from above to guide your way.
The Old Port was the last place we visited on our day in Vieux Nice. While there didn’t seem to be much to do in this area, it’s fun to walk around looking at the boats and enjoying the views across the water.
Final thoughts on Old Town Nice
In all this little excursion around Vieux Nice only took us about 4 hours. We could easily have taken longer, spending more time browsing shops and stalls and wandering the streets. If you have the time, allow yourself to simply wander. It’s also possible to move on to the newer parts of the city or visit museums. Or if you’re looking to relax after all that walking, you can always head to the beach!
Word of warning, the beaches are stone, not sand, so be prepared!
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