The must-see sights
The Bay of Angels: The glorious curve of urban seafront is clearly visible as you jet into Nice airport, and is definitely worth checking out. Promenade des Anglais is a great place for a morning stroll, and is popular with cyclists and skateboarders too.
Monastere de Cimiez: If you fancy stunning views and a tranquil setting, there are few places better than this 9th-century monastery. Renowned early 20th-century painter Henri Matisse is buried in the cemetery of the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, with his grave signposted from the cemetery's main entrance.
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: Located slap bang in the middle of town, MAMAC (Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain) boasts a sizable collection of European and American modern art, should you wish to sprinkle your visit with a little culture. Since opening in 1990, MAMAC has built up a stellar reputation.
Vieux Nice: For a taste of how things used to be, head to the old town of Nice, which features an array of local cuisine and stunning architecture. The narrow streets are a hive of activity through the day and night, with a host of restaurants, bars and cafes doing a roaring trade.
Chococooning: If you fancy something a little ‘different’, head down to La Bulle d’Isis spa. This stylistic retreat offers ‘chococooning’ – essentially coating yourself in chocolate in an attempt to relax. You’ll probably want to shower afterwards.
Road to France: Nice - courtesy of Continental Tyres
Ooh, it's rather nice here – the setting for four fixtures at Euro 2016, including Northern Ireland's clash with Poland on June 12.
3 fast facts
- The city was founded by Greek settlers around 350BC, and originally named Nikaia after Nike, the Greek Goddess of victory.
- The Bay of Angels was named after a supposed 3rd-century miracle involving a young Christian who was beheaded in Palestine. According to the tale, her body was put out to sea on a raft only to be guided by ‘angels’ to the bay of Nice, where it arrived pristine and untouched.
- Every day at noon, the city is rocked by cannon-fire. This custom dates back to 1860, when a British Lord, irked by his wife’s lack of punctuality, wanted to let his better half know it was time to head home for lunch.
Local cuisine you have to try
- Farcis: A speciality in this neck of the woods, Farcis is baked vegetable – usually tomatoes, aubergine or zucchini – stuffed with meat, breadcrumbs and garlic.
- Socca: Not to be confused with the game we know and love, ‘socca’ is the quintessential street food of Nice. Baked over hot coals on enormous steel platters, this large chickpea pancake is best served with pepper and, if the mood takes, a glass of the local rosé. Speaking of which…
- Rosé: The local rose is dry, inexpensive and the traditional accompaniment to to a summer meal in Nice.
Allianz Riviera (Stade de Nice)
- Capacity: 35,624
- Year built: 2013
- Record attendance: 34,459 (OGC Nice vs FC Valenciennes, Sep 2013)
How to get there: The Allianz Riviera is situated in the western suburbs of Nice – about six miles from the town centre and three from the airport. The stadium is just off exit 51 of the A8 motorway. You can also catch a train to Digne, get off at Saint-Isidore station and walk 10 minutes downhill to the stadium. The No.95 bus from the city centre also goes straight to the stadium.
Having only opened relatively recently – the opening match was between Nice and Valenciennes in September 2013 – there’s not much big-game history to speak of. That will change this year: the arena will host four Euro 2016 matches, including a big Group E clash between Sweden and Belgium.
3 most Instagrammable locations
- The Bay of Angels: (see above)
- Castle Hill: Perched high on a hill overlooking the stunning coastline, this is a fine spot to capture the whole bay from a distance.
- Fontaine du Soleil: This spectacular fountain features a statue of Apollo, the Greek Sun God. The fountain and the surrounding park-like area can be found between the Avenue des Phocéens and the Avenue de Verdun.
How to speak local football
“Issa Nissa!” – "Go, Nice". This might not be that helpful when you're cheering on Europe's finest national sides, but it’ll certainly win you a few friends in this neck of the woods.
Sons and daughters of the city
Hugo Lloris: The Tottenham goalkeeper will certainly be one of the key figures in France’s push for the European Championship this summer. He began his career (and life) in Nice. Les Bleus’ No.1 spent three years in Nice’s first team before moving on to Lyon in 2008, and Spurs in 2012.
Gilles Simon: Since turning professional in 2002, the 31-year-old tennis star has won 12 tournaments on the ATP World Tour. When asked to describe his playing style, he once said: “I can play slow and run right and left for a long time, but finally I can hit it very hard, very fast.” Yes, that sounds like tennis to us.
Dick Rivers: The singer and actor was a key figure in introducing rock and roll music to France. Rivers started his music career in 1961 as the lead singer of the band Les Chats Sauvages, with one gig descending into a full-scale riot according to the NME.
Elton John: OK, so the British singer-songwriter wasn’t born in Nice, but he does own a home on the Mon Boron mountain (as well as houses in Atlanta, London, Venice... and Berkshire). Apparently he rarely leaves the grounds of home during his stays in France, which is probably fair enough given it features a 360-degree view of the region from up high.
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio: The writer and professor was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008 for his life's work as "an author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”. Which is more than Hugo Lloris, to be fair.