In the French Riviera, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is one of the most populated cities in France with over 340 thousand residents. The beautiful architecture and abundance of attractions make Nice a popular tourist town as well. The amazing sandy beaches and warm Mediterranean climate don’t hurt either.
Nice is a popular spot for art lovers, too, with galleries featuring Matisse, Renoir, and Picasso. You haven’t been to Nice before? This first-timer’s guide to Nice will help you narrow it down to a few must-see places. Take note of attractions you want to see next time! Once you arrive, drop off your bags and backpacks at a suitcase storage facility in Nice to get started touring right away.
● Modern and Contemporary Art Museum
Also known as MAMAC, you can find this place easily as it towers 100 feet over the Old City. Featuring mostly pop art and realism, the gallery boasts about 1,300 pieces from more than 300 artists. See Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Yves Klein, and many more. Be sure to get some souvenirs at the gift shop before you go.
● Matisse Museum
With one of the world’s largest collections of Matisse’s artworks, the Matisse Museum is a must-see for art lovers. See 57 sculptures, 95 photos, 218 prints, 236 drawings, and 68 paintings by the French artist. Some of these include Woman Reading from 1894, The Open Window from 1905, and Music from 1910.
● Marc Chagall National Museum
Built for the artist Chagall, the museum shows off the largest collection of Chagall works in the world. Many date back to his works in the early 1900s. Chagall created a lot of the décor of the building and gardens himself as well, including the stained-glass in the concert hall.
● Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice
Built in the 1878 mansion where a Russian princess once lived, this museum opened in 1928. You can find art dating back four centuries from many different artists. Some of these include paintings by Jules Chéret, sculptures by François Rude and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, and even some ceramics by Pablo Picasso.
● Archaeology Museum of Nice
Located in the ancient city of Cemenelum, this is a huge archaeological site from three camps from the first to the third centuries. Although the buildings and ruins are fascinating, the museum also shows off collections from the ages of metals, Antiquity, and the Middle Ages. See bronze statues, vases, sarcophagi, and more.
● Terra Amata Human Paleontology Museum
See how we lived as cavemen back in the stone age at the Terra Amata Museum. Go back almost 400,000 years to see recreations of how the first peoples of Nice lived as well as discoveries from the archaeological site the museum is on. Learn more about how we made tools and discovered fire with some of the artifacts found.
● Palace Lascaris
This 17th-century palace holds more than 500 musical instruments, which is the second largest collection in France. It was owned by the Lascaris family until 1802 and bought by the city to create a museum in 1942. Today, you can see a variety of instruments such as the Bologna viola from 1717 and a Milan violin from 1696.
● Museum of Natural History
Founded by Jean Baptiste Verany in 1846, this museum is one of the oldest in Nice. See geological items like fossils and gems, zoological items like the skeletons of elephants as well as boars, deer, and wolves. You can even see insects and cephalopods. Don’t miss the extensive collection of photos and books.
● Promenade Des Anglais and Castle Hill
Take a walk on Promenade Des Anglais where the English nobles used to take in the views in the 1700s. The stairs to the top of Castle Hill are just off the promenade. Or take the lift to see the waterfall and 11th-century ruins of the cathedral. The park has a café where you can enjoy a meal and the view.
● Beaches of Nice
All along the Promenade Des Anglais, you can find many stunning beaches. Some are lively and popular while others are secluded and quiet. Carras Beach is a public spot with a gorgeous view. La Réserve is a tiny hidden beach. And Nice Beach is huge with a lot of amenities like lounge chairs, lifeguards, and a park.
● Albert I Garden
After a walk on the beach, stroll through the oldest garden in the city off the promenade. Developed in the 1800s, Albert I Garden is full of palm trees, roses, and junipers as well as international flora from all over the world. The garden has shaded seating, a beautiful fountain, and a theater where they hold concerts.
● Old Town
Old Town is a must-see for tourists with a mix of stunning sculptures and buildings, quaint cobblestone streets, and a variety of shops, eateries, and pubs. Built in the 1700s, Old Town features Massena Place, the central square of Nice, the Cathedral of St. Reparata, Rossetti Place, and Lascaris Palace too.
Where to Eat
● Local Cuisine
For the best local cuisine, try Origines for a fancy meal of Carpaccio haddock or Bisque de Foie gras truffle, beef filet, or a three-course tasting menu. Les Bistronome will serve you up some mussels and frites (fries), duck with rice, or just about anything else you want. Or just grab a quick meal at Lou Pilha Leva.
● Burgers and Fries
King Marcel is a popular burger spot that the locals enjoy, so it has to be good. Homemade burgers and fries with higher quality than most places. Smart Delight Room has a variety of foods as well as some of the best burgers in town. And Tribeca Burger is delicious and features vegan choices as well.
● Other Food
The Fat Mermaid serves amazing seafood, including the best fish and chips around. For Mexican, try 100% Tacos. The locals say they have the best tacos in Nice as well as other delights. If you are looking for dessert, Papilla serves all sorts of delicious flavors of ice cream like passion fruit, fig, and nectarine.
Be sure to get your camera from your luggage before dropping it off so you can take a lot of pictures to share with friends on your social media pages. But bring your phone too so you can get selfies with some of the local attractions and memorials.