Published on November 10, 2023Updated on November 30, 2023
Just 40 minutes from Monaco, Nice is the perfect destination for a sunny city break. Take the Moyenne Corniche road, with its superb views over the Mediterranean, and you'll find yourself in the beautiful city of Nice, capital of the Côte d'Azur. Seaside, old town, museums... Discover the must-sees in Nice in one day, and take advantage of advice from Nice local Guillaume, who’s also a photographer for the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer.
9 am: Park your car near the Rauba-Capeu observation point and start your day in Nice with a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. A walk along this legendary thoroughfare is very pleasant in the mild morning air. An extension of the Quai des États-Unis, the promenade runs alongside the Bay of Angels and the pebble beaches. Along the way, you can admire Art-Deco buildings such as the Palais de la Méditerranée. Take a few minutes to sit on the famous blue chairs and let your gaze wander out to sea.
10 am: Retrace your steps and head towards the Jardin Albert-1er to reach Place Masséna. With its distinctive black and white chequered paving, arcades and red facades, this square marks the entrance to Nice's historic districts. This is the heart of the city. Look up and observe the seven statues perched on top of tall masts. This contemporary work by Spaniard Jaume Plensa represents the seven continents.
10.20 am: Head for the Sun Fountain and its marble Apollo and enter Nice’s old town. The ochre façades with their colourful shutters are a reminder of the city's Italian soul. In the shade of the winding lanes, you'll find Baroque churches - like the cathedral of Sainte-Réparate with its glazed tile dome - art galleries and designer boutiques. On the Cours Saleya market square, flower stalls offer a beautiful burst of colour. From there, take Rue Droite and push open the doors of the Palais Lascaris to admire the frescoes and gilding of this 17th-century Genoese palace, which houses a collection of musical instruments.
12.30 pm: Leave the old town on the northern side and head towards Place Garibaldi, the city's oldest square. If you look closely at its façades, you'll notice that many of the windows are optical illusions. Then head to Port Lympia and Place Ile de Beauté for a stroll along the waterfront. Created in the 18th century, this charming little port is now home to yachts, pleasure boats and traditional fishing boats of the region known as ‘pointus’. In this pleasant district, you'll find a large choice of restaurants for lunch with a view of the port. Take the opportunity to try some of Nice’s specialities, such as socca, pissaladière, freshly caught fish, and more... The choice is yours.
2 pm: Between the old town and the port lies Castle Hill, the historic site where the old medieval town once stood. Today, it is a pretty, landscaped park with shaded paths and a refreshing waterfall. The hill can be reached by several sets of steps and a lift from Rue des Ponchettes. You have to climb to the very top to enjoy the best view of Nice: from there you’ll be able to take in the city, the Bay of Angels and the foothills of the Alps.
3.30 pm: Make some time for a bit of culture with a stop at the must-see museum in Nice, the Matisse Museum. Located on the hill of Cimiez (which can be reached in 15 minutes by car or 30 minutes by bus), the site is an exceptional testimony to the work of Henri Matisse. From his first painting to his famous cut-out gouache creations, a technique developed at the end of his life, the collections illustrate all the periods in the artist’s life, who stayed in Nice for a long time. He is buried in the cemetery of the nearby Cimiez monastery.
5 pm: Head for the Imperial Park district and Avenue Nicolas II. This is where you’ll find Saint-Nicholas Cathedral, Nice's Russian Orthodox church, which might seem a little out of place in the Côte d'Azur sunshine! The largest building of its type outside the Orthodox world, it dates from the early 20th century and was built at the request of Tsar Alexander II, based on Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. Typical of neo-Russian architecture, its emerald domes and interior adorned with floral frescoes and gilded icons are a must-see.
7 pm: On your way back to the seaside, end the day with a musical performance at the Opéra de Nice. Adjacent to the old town and the Quai des États-Unis, facing the Bay of Angels, the building dates back to 1885 and is a listed historic monument. All year round, the large Italian-style theatre offers a programme that stands out for its high standards and modernity.
After the show, why not head back to the old town for dinner or a drink before returning to your hotel in Monaco, and take advantage of its lively nightlife and numerous bars and restaurants.
From our photographer
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