Time of year: March
Length: 3 days (Thursday-Sunday)
Location: Old town, Nice, France
- Promenade des Paillons
- Place Massena
- Promenade des Anglais/Quai des Etas-Unis
- Colline du Chateau
- Cours Saleya
- Wander the streets of Old Nice
- Coastal roadtrip: Villefrance-sur-mer, Eze, Monaco, Menton
With current travel restrictions I’ve found myself reminiscing on previous trips more than usual and am finally putting “pen to paper” to document all all of these memories and recommendations! It’s been just over a year since my significant other and I travelled to Nice, France for (a very short) vacation – 3 days to be exact. After a work gig in the UK I had a few days before I had to be back in Canada, so we decided to make the most of that time and chose a European destination.
Truth be told Nice was not my top destination choice, but this location was just calling my SO’s name and, well.. I conceded. But with that said, I couldn’t be more grateful that this is where we wound up. For all its beautiful architecture, delicious food and scenic views, Nice (and surrounding areas) was more than I could have expected and more.
Day 1 - arrival & exploring
After my work commitments in London ended on Wednesday evening, we set out first thing the next morning (let’s just say we left long before the sun came up). The best deal we found was a roundtrip flight with British Airways.
My favourite way to search for a flight is through flights.google.com, especially if you have travel flexibility. You can enter as little information as your departure city and a simple search will show you the cheapest travel destinations and the cheapest dates/times. You can also view price trends + set email alerts should the price go up/down!
Once we arrived at the Nice Côte D’Azur Airport, we set off towards the city. You can get there by train, bus or taxi. Because we were staying in Old Nice, we decided to take the 98 bus:
- Operates every 30 mins
- Costs €6 per person – which you can pay on board
- This bus takes you along the ocean (Promenade des Anglais) and makes various stops as it enters the old town
- Takes about 20-30 minutes total
If you’re staying in a different area of Nice, the 99 bus or the train might be a better option for you. I found this Best of Nice blog to be a great resource in comparing options!
WHERE TO STAY
As soon as we stepped off the bus we quickly realized how lucky we were to have chosen this location to stay! We rented this cute Airbnb in Old Nice, near the Promenade des Paillons. The host was great, the price was reasonable, and everything we wanted to see was within walking distance. And bonus: there was a small grocery market around the corner (travel cost savings in mind, ya know?). If you’re planning to visit, I couldn’t recommend this location enough.
After settling in, our first mission was to find coffee. We stopped by Emilie & the Cool Kids – a coffee shop with an abundance of yummy treats, food, tea & coffee. We enjoyed croissants and nutella lattes (so good!) before setting off to explore.
EXPLORING OLD NICE
Once you start walking, you’ll find that so many sights in Old Nice are within walking distance of each other. We crossed through the Promenade du Paillon, taking in the beautiful architecture of the buildings lining the roads. Taking various side streets south – including the Marché du Cours Saleya – we passed through a tunnel of arches that revealed The Mediterranean ocean at the end. Walking (or even driving) along the sea is made easy by The Quai des Etas-Unis. Walking which leads to the Colline du Chateau (see day 3 for more on that).
There’s benches along the way… and even an “#ILoveNice” sign for a photo-op (who doesn’t love a good photo op). Because it was March, unfortunately the iconic beach umbrellas and chairs weren’t available. If you have your choice of travel dates & you’re a beach person, like me, I’d suggest visiting later in the season.
Day 2 - travel along the coast
Possibly my most favourite day of this trip – we took a day trip along the coast of the Cote D’Azur! We rented a car from Elite rent a car (a 10 minute walk from our airbnb) and headed off towards:
Parking: 11 Place Wilson, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Time: 20 minute drive
Activities: walk along the water & town, stop for coffee/drinks/food
This picturesque, harbour town was our first stop. It was early so we stopped for a cappuccino at Achill’s Restaurant Bar Rooftop. A must for this town is a walk along the water – and if you have time through some of the winding streets. On Quai de l’Amiral Courbet, there’s an abundance of restaurants and patio seating along the water.
Parking: 2 Place Charles de Gaulle, 06360 Èze, France
Time: 14 minute drive
Activities: wander the streets, take in the views of the Mediterranean ocean from 1,400 ft above sea, visit the Botanical Garden or Exotic Garden.
Pictures just do not do this village justice! The medieval village of Èze is a winding set of uphill paths full of small shops/galleries, architecture and gardens. A stop at the Tourism Office is helpful if you’re looking for a map, have any questions or need to use a washroom (paid, behind the building). From there we spent about an hour losing ourselves through the upward streets. *good walking shoes are a must*
Time: 15-20 minute drive
Activities: Ocean views, Monaco Top Cars Collection (€8 pp), Monte Carlo Casino, Tourism office (for a passport stamp).
Ah, Monaco. We got a bit lost after finding a place to park, but once we found our way up to the Terrasses de Fontvieille the ocean and marina came into view. Our first stop was The Car Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco museum. We spent about an hour here viewing over 100 vintage cars collected by Prince Rainier III of Monaco since the 1950s. This was more-so for my car-buff boyfriend but I have to admit that this was actually pretty cool to see!
After getting our car fix we drove about 5 minutes to the Monte Carlo Casino, a must-see even if just from the outside. There’s a convenient underground parking garage nearby AND if you walk around the corner to the Tourism Office, you can get a Monaco stamp in your passport!
Parking: 1773 Prom. du Soleil, 06500 Menton, France
Time: 20 minute drive
Activities: Ocean views, beach, promenade
Now by this point, I have to say that we were pretty tired. Four stops along the coast may not sound like much but there really was so much to take in. Looking back, I wish we could have spaced this “day trip” among a couple of days. Next time, right?
Moving along… Menton was possibly the best city to end our drive along the coast. The sun was just beginning to set and cast a beautiful glow between the colourful buildings and onto the ocean. We walked around the Plage des Sablettes and Quai Impératrice Eugénie (for the views!).
Day 3 - Old Nice
After 2 days of exploring and being on the go, we took a relaxing approach to our final day. On the morning agenda was taking in Place Massena, a stroll through the Saleya Food Market, wandering the narrow streets & Plazas, and visiting small shops such as Trésors Publics.
For lunch we stopped at an outdoor restaurant near the Cours Saleya where we tried socca, a chickpea pancake that originated in Nice. In addition to this specialty, the market itself had so many delicious options. From olives, to meat & cheese and lavender soap to flowers – I wish we had the space to bring more home with us!
In the afternoon we tackled the Colline du Château, a historic park with the most amazing views of the city and ocean. You can walk up various sets of stairs OR take an elevator up. With every level reached, a new and even more picturesque vantage point came into view. Definitely allow yourself to spend some time here, as there are gardens, waterfalls and a cafe.
And that’s a wrap on Nice! It was a lot to fit in 3 days and there are still many stones left unturned, but that’s more of a reason to travel back one day. I hope you find value in this suggested guide on how to spend 3 days in Nice :).