The French Riviera conjures up images of romance, glamour and beauty. The towns that dot the Cote d’Azur are popular destinations for the rich and famous, and you’ll always be able to spot a yacht somewhere off the coast when you visit the French Riviera. Fortunately, you don’t have to be rich or famous to enjoy the beauty of the Cote d’Azur, because you can enjoy the laidback beach town vibes of Nice even if you’re on a budget.
During a recent trip throughout Europe, I unexpectedly ended up in Nice, France. This charming town won me over almost instantly, and I wanted to spend more time enjoying all that it had to offer. So I pulled up the HotelTonight app on my phone, and within minutes I had booked a great last-minute hotel in Nice.
I was lucky enough to book at hotel in the Vieille Ville, or the Old Town, which is a charming district filled with colorful buildings, narrow streets and large, busy squares. If you’ve ever been to Italy, you might notice some similarities between Old Town Nice and Italian towns, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given the fact that Nice is so close to the Italian border. In Nice’s Old Town, you’ll find charming shops, restaurants and bars, as well as plenty of sun-tanned locals. Since the layout of the Vieille Ville has hardly changed since the 1700s, you can get lost in its winding alleys and feel as if you’ve traveled back in time.
You won’t be able to visit Nice without strolling along this seaside promenade, where you’ll pass locals and tourists alike as you meander along the Cote d’Azur. Called “La Prom” for short, this long, wide boulevard is a great way to take in all of the beauty of Nice’s coastline. The pace of life in the south of France is likely slower than what you’re used to, so relax and take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais to really embrace the Cote d’Azur life.
You can spot Coline du Chateau, or Castle Hill, from most places in Nice. Atop this lush hill, there are remnants of an old, crumbling castle, but that’s not why most visitors make the trek up the hill. The real reason why you’ll want to visit Castle Hill is for the sweeping views of the Mediterranean. The lookout point on Castle Hill arguably gives you the best views of Nice and the Cote d’Azur, so it’s well worth the short, yet steep, hike up to the top. Of course, if you don’t want to hike, you can always take the lift up. So really, there’s no excuse not to check out this viewpoint when you’re in Nice.
When in France, you should always check out a local market. So on my recent trip to Nice, I made sure to stroll through the town’s best market, the Cours Saleya. Located in the Old Town, this outdoor market features some of the most beautiful, colorful fruits, veggies and flowers you’ve ever seen. Just wandering through the stalls is a treat for the senses, and you’ll have a hard time walking away from the market without a bag full of juicy strawberries and vibrant flowers. The best part about this market is that it’s open nearly every morning, save for Mondays, when an antiques market takes its place.
You can’t visit Nice without enjoying its beaches. After all, isn’t that why you want to visit this French Riviera town in the first place? The beaches of Nice are picturesque–the water is a bright teal that will make you feel as if you’re living inside of a screensaver. And since it’s the Mediterranean, the water is calm, warm and clear, so you’ll definitely want to spend some time swimming (or floating) in this heavenly water. One thing to be aware of, though, is that most of Nice’s beaches are pebbly, not sandy, so you may want to bring some water shoes to keep your feet comfortable.
Once you visit Nice, this town in the French Riviera will always have a spot in your heart. You’ll quickly see why so many people from around the world travel to the Cote d’Azur every summer to enjoy its beautiful beaches and charming towns, and you just might start planning your return trip before you even leave. That’s certainly what I wanted to do as I packed up my bags and headed out of the town. Fortunately, I know that I’ll always have the chance to return to Nice in the future thanks to HotelTonight, which makes it so easy to book great last-minute hotels in cities around the world. The next time I have the opportunity to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Nice, I’ll hop on HotelTonight to find a great hotel in this idyllic French Riviera town.