When I’m in Nice, I can never think of any good reason to be anywhere else. Whether I’m on the Promenade des Anglais, in the old town or up on the heights … hell, this is where pretty much everyone has wanted to be for the last 250 years.
The most Italian of French cities - it joined France only in 1860 - is by turn raucous and tasty, sophisticated, cultured and racy. It’s been endlessly seductive to artists, many of whom left great works here. It boasts a top-flight tourist tradition going back, via Frank Sinatra and Queen Victoria, to Tobias Smollett.
Thus the city glints like crystal on the world stage … but it needn’t crack the wallet. It can, of course, but it needn’t. The sea, light and mountains cost nothing at all. Most museums and galleries have been free since 2008. And, on top of all that, the buses and trams are cheap.
That said, the centre – where most (though not all) of the attractions are found – is easily walkable, so no need for public transport.
No need, either, to try to cram all the culture into one trip. Space it out. Walk the prom, the streets or the parks. Sit on the beach. Stop often for coffee or a glass of wine on a pavement terrace. If you don’t manage all the museums this time, well, they’ll still be there next time.
And if one thing is certain once you’ve been to Nice, it is that there will be a next time.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
There are certain things which you should try to see on the first trip to Nice (other than the bar terraces and restaurants, I mean). These are the ones mentioned here, together with a couple of diversions useful if you're with children - or have a child-like side yourself.