NICE – more than just nice

The number one tourist attraction in Nice is quite clearly the sea. With 7 kilometres of beach along the Promenade des Anglais, Nice has one of the longest and most famous beaches of the French Riviera. It’s worth noting however that the beach is made of small pebbles, not sand – which does not seem to have deterred the millions of bathers who come here each year.

To the west of the old city is “Castle Hill” – La colline du château, whose former fortress was demolished three hundred years ago. Today Castle Hill is a park filled with luxuriant Mediterranean trees and shrubs, separating the beach to the west from the old port, le vieux port, to the east. The old port is nowadays a yachting marina, where visitors can come and admirethe luxury yachts of the super-rich. A warm evening wander round the old port can be an unusual experience, with the underwater floodlights on some yachts shining through the clear blue water.

The old city of Nice arcs round inland from “Castle Hill”, from the Promenade des Anglais to the old port. Most of the historic quarter, including the famed flower market, is just behind the east end of the beach. Entering the old city, one moves from the open spaces of the Promenade des Anglais into the narrow streets of a traditional north Mediterranean city. As in Italy, the narrow streets are flanked by tall houses, up to five stories high, and painted in warm colours, reds, yellows and ochre. In many places  restaurants spill out of the old buildings, their chairs and tables half covering the streets where vehicles could not pass easily even if they were allowed to. In warm weather, the aromas of Mediterranean cooking drifting out from the kitchens can be a mouth-watering experience. Even if Nice had nothing in the way of museums and monuments, it would be a place whose charms would be enough to satisfy many of its visitors.

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