The first question to answer is – is Nice warm enough in spring? The answer is it definitely can be. On our first day at the end of April I was in the sun for several hours and got quite burnt. The sun wasn’t quite as hot on the following days but it was definitely t-shirt weather for the whole visit.
The beach filled up in the morning, and by lunch time was quite busy. People were swimming in the sea by the afternoon. Even with a thin layer of cloud on some days, the sun was shining through, and the light was bright and the city and sea looked beautiful.
Arriving in Nice after days in the office, Nice greets you with smiling people, glad to be out in the open air, walking, cycling and skating the promenade in healthy fashion.
As mentioned on an earlier blog, there is plenty to do in Nice and even if it is not your first visit, many of the activities are enjoyable over again. Walks along the prom, shopping in the Cours Saleya market, wandering the old town streets, finding somewhere to eat, hanging out by the fountains in the parks or climbing the castle hill to the park at the top with its lookouts across the town and marina are something you don’t mind repeating. You can tell by now, I am a fan of Nice.
In summer there are a number of boat trips you can take, along the coast to the east to Monaco or west across to Cannes, the Iles de Lerin or St Tropez. In spring, not all these trips are running, but we did take a trip around the bay in front of Villefranche sur Mer to see the St Jean de Luz peninsula and then ‘out of the bay’ to the west side of Nice. It was quite reasonably priced at 18 euroes and lasted an hour. There were refreshments available on the boat and a commentary in English and French to describe the locations you were seeing. The boat had open decks on top where you could sit in the sun, or a cabin if you were wanting a respite from it. It wasn’t too full and was a good way to see Nice from the sea.
Rather than walk back around the coastal road we went up the steps to the Colline du Chateau or castle on the hill. There isn’t a castle there any more but there is a really nice park where you can relax in the sun and admire the views. There is also a couple of cafes where you can get a snack, a coffee or an ice cream or you can take a picnic. There is a waterfall on the old town side of the hill which is a favourite spot for Instagram photos. If you don’t want to climb the steps there is a lift near the hill end of the main beach.
As we have made a number of trips to Nice before, we were looking for some alternative options, and one we found was the Russian Orthodox Church. This is set back from the beach to the west of the railway station. It can be easily found on Google maps if you have a smartphone, or ask your hotel for a map – it will likely be on it, or they can show you.
The church is in very good condition externally and in quite beautiful grounds with a smaller building behind the church which is also worth a look. If you are wanting to go inside, best check mass times and go when mass is not on, unless you want to attend mass. The guys on the gate didn’t want to let lots of tourists in while the mass was ongoing.
Near to the church there is a small park Jardin Alsace Lorraine which is worth a look. Mainly frequented by locals, it has a play park, some art, and some very tall palm trees.
For eating Nice has many many options. French food of course is excellent, and also being so close to Italy you can get very good Italian food.
If you wish to save money on food – maybe you are a solo traveller – there is a large Monoprix shop on Avenue Jean Médecin about 5 minutes walk from Place Masséna which was many good food options. Sometimes there is a bit of a queue at the tills when people leave work so avoid that time. You can also buy good food at the market cheaply and take it to the beach for a picnic. Some of the fruit which doesn’t look quite as good is often sold at cheaper prices, but it tastes just as nice.
One of our favourite stops during the day is the So Green smoothie shop in Place Masséna which does very good smoothies and juices to cool down with.
These are just a few of our favourite things about Nice on our latest trip, but you can be sure, we will be back.