- Families with teenagers
- First-time travellers
- Sporty types
- Great views / scenery
The finest sea-side stroll in France.
There may be a more magnificent city sea-front in Europe, but I don’t know it. The Prom curves some seven kilometres (4.4 miles) round the Bay of Angels – proof that man can enhance (as well as foul up) natural grandeur.
The vast expanse of sea sparkles out front, its different blues as distinct as colours on a flag. Across the road, the posher hotels face it with fancy, Belle Epoque confidence and a suggestion of frisky sophistication. And sharply behind the mountains rise like elder statesmen, benign but with power in reserve.
Strolling here, I always feel a sense of infinity. Then I bump into a jogger. Or a roller-blader. Or a nut-brown old lady tugging a brush-head dog. All these are a Nice trade-marks.
The strange thing is that the spell isn’t broken. The Prom needs people. It was built for them - by the British community in the 1820s. The idea was twofold: to put the city’s unemployed to work, and to provide noble ex-pats with a lovely walk where their daughters might amble safe from the attention of swarthy locals.
It’s grown a lot since, mind. It has long been Nice’s main east-west axis, so traffic slices along multiple lanes. But there’s still ample space on the broad pavement, under the palms and among the trade-mark blue metal chairs scattered hither and yon. (Count yourself lucky as you sit to contemplate the briny beyond: you used to have to pay for these seats.)
No sand in your sandwich
Along the way, look out for the Negresco Hotel with its pink dome and, nearby the Musée Massena (see separate entry)
You will note that the long, long beach is all flat pebbles and stones, rather than sand. This has caused adverse comment in the past, but not from me. After all, and unless you try really hard, you don’t get stones infiltrating your sandwiches or swimwear. You can’t skim sand. And, frankly, you don’t come to Nice to build sandcastles, anyway.
Should you wish to join the waves of roller-bladers and cyclists along the sea-front, head for Roller Station at 49, Quai des Etats-Unis (04 93 62 99 05, www.roller-station.com). They hire roller blades at four euros for an hour, five euros for two hours and six euros for a half-day. Respective bike-hire prices are five, seven and 10 euros.
A little further on, the coast bends round to the little Rauba Capeu headland, underneath Castle Hill. This affords the loveliest possible view back along the Prom, and also the locals’ favourite beach. Though it’s Nice’s breeziest spot (‘rauba capeu’ means ‘hat-stealer’ in Nissart dialect), they climb down to the rocks for shelter and calm.
You might like to follow suit.