Where to stay when visiting the South of France

Nice is centrally located in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur making it easy to take the train for day trips.

Antibes – 25 minutes
Cannes – 37 minutes 
Grasse – 1 hour
Monaco – 22 minutes 

If you’re planning a trip to the South of France and looking to relax along the French Riviera and take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea, you’re probably deciding between staying in Nice, Cannes, or Monaco. Without a doubt, Nice is where the action is unless of course, you’re arriving on your private yacht then you’ll want to head straight to Monaco to party with the Elite. 

Nice offers a bike path that runs alongside the beach as well as its trendy bars, restaurants, and shops. If you’re accustomed to powdery sand beaches, you may be surprised to find that most of the beaches in this region are pebbled however they do offer beautiful sunsets. 

Nice has only been a part of France since 1860 when Italy reluctantly gave it up to repay France for helping defend itself from the Austrians. For this reason, the architecture in Nice is both French and strongly Italian-influenced. It also has one of the prettiest train stations I’ve seen in Europe. 

the best views in nice

look out over the city

The best views of Nice can be found by walking up to Castle Hill. There are numerous viewpoints where you can stop and take photos and while the stairs are not overly strenuous, an elevator is also available. 

massena square

visit the main square of nice

Commonly known as Place Masséna, Massena Square is the main square of Nice. Bordered by red Italian-style buildings, palms, and sculptures, it’s the perfect mix of restaurants, bars, boutiques, cafes, and ice cream shops.

The square is especially lovely in the evening when illuminated by numerous light posts and the Seven Statues of Massena Square. These resin statues created by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa are perched above the square and represent the seven continents, and the smooth flow of colorful interaction represents communication between societies across the globe.

where to eat

sweet & savory

Gelateria Azzurro has some of the best ice cream I’ve tried in Nice, their cone cups with Nutella drizzled inside is the cherry on top, although you can certainly ask for one of those too. 

Another shop I recommend is Fenocchio Glacier which offers a huge selection of classic flavors and others such as coca cola, chewing gum, cactus, and mojito. This shop is popular with both tourists and locals, I definitely recommend grabbing a scoop or two. 

Gelateria Azzurro
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Address: 1 rue Sainte Reparate, 06300 Nice France
+33 493 13 92 24

Chez Pipo
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Address: 3 Rue Bavastro, 06000 Nice, France
+33 493 55 88 82

Socca, a thin unleavened pancake or crêpe is extremely popular in Nice and is made by mixing chickpea flour, water, and olive oil to form a loose batter which is then baked on a tinned copper plate more than a meter in diameter. Paired with Rosé, Socca makes a great mid-day snack and is Vegan too! There are many Socca places in Nice however Chez Pipo is the most popular and after trying others, I can vouch that the Socca here is pretty tasty. 

things to do in nice

ideas to fill an afternoon

  • Open Air Market: A great way to spend a sunny afternoon is walking through the open-air market along Cours Saleya. Depending on the time and day of the week markets vary from flowers, fruit and vegetables, antiques and arts and crafts. I was lucky enough to be there when the stalls were filled with brightly colored fruits and vegetables and when artists displayed there beautifully handcrafted jewelry, paintings, and crafts. There is a socca stand at this market however after giving it a try I realized that not all socca is created equal. This one tasted strongly of chickpeas and unfortunately nothing more. Don’t get me wrong I love chickpeas however I found Chez Pipo to taste more like a pizza-bread hybrid and much tastier, you will pay a bit more but it’s worth it.
  •  St. Nicholas Cathedral: I’ve always been fascinated by Russian architecture and since I haven’t yet visited (it’s on my list), I was ecstatic to find St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. 
    *Open to the public and free to visit inside. 
  • Picnic on the Riviera:  We’re all familiar with the cliche Rosé all day, well now is the time to take it to heart and live your best life lounging on the French Riviera.  There’s nothing better than a good ol’ picnic and ‘Monop’, a grocery store conveniently located in Massena Square is the perfect place to pick up all of your picnic supplies. I recommend grabbing your favorite French cheese, a loaf of French bread, and a bottle of Rosé just not the one I picked up because it was unfortunately pretty terrible. If you don’t have a bottle opener don’t worry, kindly ask a grocery clerk and they’ll have one available for you to open your bottle before heading to the sea. Don’t forget to grab a few clear plastic cups from the front of the store near the bread and coffee.

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