Nice (pronounced “Neece”) is a beautiful, popular coastal city in France on it’s Southern Coast. This well known area, which is part of the French Riviera, is a great place to vacation and visit. The prices vary, so you have a choice how you want to spend your time there, and the people are friendly and open, yet aware of privacy and personal space.
Train or Plane
I visited the South of France with the same friend I had traveled through Paris with. Our biggest mistake was our transportation from Paris to Nice. We chose the train because we thought it would be fun and cheap. We were wrong about both. The train, which was an overnight trip, sort of a red-eye, was about 12 hours and that was too long. We chose a 2nd class sleeper car, or couchette as it was called, which was a 6 berth unit – meaning 6 beds. Well, they were stacked up 3 high – like bunk beds, but 3 on each side instead of two. The cabin was TINY, the window was TINY (and it was dark anyway) and one of the guys who shared with us had not taken a bath in a year. On the way down to Nice, I slept in the middle bunk and was so claustrophobic, that I just lay there all night thinking about my demise.
We found out a flight round trip from Paris to Nice was one hour long and cost about that same. So, FLY, do not take the train UNLESS you plan on making stops in between, go during the day, or pay extra for your own couchette.
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Aston. We chose it because it was literally minutes from the beach. It also had a lot of amenities for tourists – pool, currency exchange, 24 hour front desk , a casino and shopping nearby and so much more. It was the perfect location for us to tour the town. There are pricier and cheaper hotels, obviously, but that’s what nice about Nice. It is affordable to everyone. There are other Southern French towns that are more expensive and exclusive, but in Nice, you are still getting all of that glitz and glamor for less.
Colline Du Chateau [Castle Hill] (war memorial)
Nice is a place to sun on the beach and shop at fun stores and eat outside, but we also wanted to learn some history in Nice. We took a tour to Colline Du Chateau which is a war memorial to French soldiers from Nice mostly from World War I and II. There is also a gorgeous, man made waterfall there. It all sits high up with a fantastic view of the town and the Mediterranean.
The tram in Nice is a wonderful way to get around. The tram system has drastically changed since I’ve been, but it is a helpful way to investigate this hilly town on the coast. It is also a great way to see more local Nice life, as well as learn your way around the city.
Moulin a HUuile d’Olive
My friend and I bought the most fabulous Olive oil at this shop. The outside has changed, no old, lanky awning, but I am sure the olive oil is still fantastic. Garlic cloves weaved and hung from the ceiling, and every kind of olive and olive oil could be found. This is worth a trip if you are a foody or just someone who loves oils. I brought home bottles as gifts. They can also be mailed so you don’t have to take them on the plane.
The beach in Nice is not white sands or sandy at all for that matter. It is rocky, but not so you can’t sit down, or put a chair down or lay out. The rocks, which they call “galets” are actually very smooth. They can be hard on your feet, but once you sit and stare out at that incredible Mediterranean Sea, you will immediately relax.
A lot of women go topless there, and yes, that sounds intriguing and fun, however, a lot of women who go topless are not twenty- two with hard bodies. It’s part of the culture, so don’t be shocked if Grandma Bridgite’ is sitting on her towel on the galets, topless, eating grapes. She was there when we went!
Nice was a welcome break from Paris. A more relaxed pace. Warmer climate. We did not feel forced to do cultural activities every day like we did in Paris. We were able to enjoy Nice as vacation time – gamble a little at the casino, stroll by the Mediterranean, peruse the local shops and drink a glass of wine at noon. Although, you can do the ladder in Paris as well.