Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais or English Promenade in Nice runs along the beachfront of the Bay of Angels and is one of the most important parts of the city. The promenade runs from the airport in the west to Old Nice and the Quai des Etats Unis in the east. Along the length of the promenade are several points of interest starting with the Cours Selaya market and Old Nice. Place Massena is along the promenade and is one of the busiest and historic squares in the city. You can also see Casino Ruhl, the art deco Palais de la Mediterranee and the historic Hotel Negresco.
It is lined with cafes, landmark hotels and restaurants and is used by locals for cycling, walking, jogging and rollerblading. Of course it is also the perfect place to strut your stuff and see and be seen. The promenade has distinct blue chairs and cabanas where you can sit and stare out to sea. The beaches which border the promenade are mostly private and you will have to rent a chair or umbrella in order to sit on the beach.
The promenade dates back to the 1800s when the English would come down to Nice during winter. At the time Nice was still quite rural and homes were built on high ground away from the coast while the shore consisted of a long sweeping line of sandy beaches. During one bitter winter in 1820 Nice saw an influx of beggars and the English decided to put them to work constructing a seafront walkway. It was paid for by Rev Lewis Way and originally called Chamin deis Angles (The English Way). When the French annexed Nice in 1860 they renamed the promenade La Promenade des Anglais.
The promenade has become a central part of Nice culture and several events are held here each year including the Carnival, Battle of Flowers and others.
Nice Old Town
This quaint area is one of the highlights of Nice. The area is known for its dynamic atmosphere both night and day. The ideal way to see Nice’s Old Town is to wander through the lanes stopping here and there for a coffee to look at one of the old buildings or stores. The area has a baroque-Mediterranean feel with pastel shaded tall buildings, blue shutters and washing hanging from window to window. At one time the Old Town was cut off from the rest of the city by Paillon River but since 2013 Promenade du Paillon connects the old and new parts of Nice. The Promenade du Paillon has many trees, plants, a reflecting pool and jets of water shooting up across the paving.
The Old Town is roughly triangular-shapes bordered by the Promenade du Paillon to the north, Castle Hill to the east and the Mediterranean Sea across the Quai des Etats to the south. Start exploring the Old Town from the Place Massena and follow Rue St. Francois de Paule to see boutique stores and the Opera de Nice. Just passed the Opera House is Palace Square with the Palace of Justice. Continue on to the colorful. This lively area running parallel to the sea is where the market stalls sell flowers and fresh produce.
Further on you can see the view across the Bay of Angels from Castle Hill to the right and the rest of the Old Town to the left. As the sun goes down head for Rue de la Prefecture which runs parallel to Cours Saleya. Here you’ll find pleasant bars and restaurants. Further north of Rue de la Prefecture the streets are narrower and it is pedestrian-only. Meander through the streets towards Place Garibaldi. Place Rossetti is another great square to soak up the atmosphere and where you’ll see the 17th century Cathedrale Sainte Reparate. On Place Saint Francois you can see the fish market in the mornings (except Monday). The Old Town has some great eateries, old-fashioned bakeries, classic Italian ice-cream parlors and chocolate stores.
Opera de Nice
This historic building is situated in the Old Town of Nice; it is an active venue offering performances in opera, dance and music. The theatre is home to the Ballet Nice Mediterrannee and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra. The theatre building we see today is the third reincarnation of the venue which stands on the site of the former petit théâtre en bois which dated back to 1776 and was renamed Theatre Royal in 1790. In 1826 the theatre was demolished, rebuilt and reopened in 1828. Major events during the theatre’s history include a ball in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II in 1856; a performance conducted by Johann Strauss and attended by Napoleon III in 1860; a return visit by Napoleon together with the Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1864 and a performance attended by Louis II Duke of Bavaria in 1868. In 1870 the Theatre Royal became the Theatre Municipal.
In 1881 a gas leak caused a massive fire burning the theatre to the ground and another, final version was built in its place. This time the architect was Francois Aune, former student of Gustave Eiffel and the Theatre Municipal reopened in 1885. In 1902 it got its present name Opera de Nice and is also called Opera Nice Cote d’Azur. The interior has opulent décor, a ceiling mural painted by Emmanuel Costa and sculptures by Raimondi. The auditorium has plush red seats and three levels of boxes around the horse-shoe shaped auditorium facing a proscenium arch stage.
Nice Cathedral otherwise known as Basilique-Cathedrale Sainte-Marie et Sainte-Reparate de Nice was completed in 1699 after 50 years of construction and stands in the Old Town of Nice. This listed Historic Monument was constructed on the site of an earlier 13th century church. The cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Nice and is dedicated to the city’s patron saint Sainte-Reparate.
The church was modeled on the Santa Susanna Church in Rome with a traditional Latin cross ground plan and overall Baroque style. It was designed by Nice-born J.A. Guiberto. The exterior cupola is covered with exquisite colored glazed tiles. Over the years a few alterations have been made for example a campanile (bell tower) was added in the mid-1700s; in the 1800s a Baroque revival façade was created and in 1900-1903 apses were added on either side of the choir.
Inside there are ten chapels dedicated to various saints. Above the main altar is a large painting of Glory of Saint Reparate. The cathedral also bears the name of this virgin martyr and keeps her relics enshrined under the altar since 1690. Legend has it that the saint was martyred and her body placed in a boat and set to sea. The saint’s body was accompanied by two angels and the boat washed up on the shores of Nice. The cathedral has three organs. The high ceiling cathedral is ornately decorated and the over-the-top baroque style should not be missed.
This is a former aristocratic home in the heart of the Old Town of Nice; it was modeled on the traditional palazzo of Genoa. The remarkable architecture and stunning décor makes it a jewel of baroque civilian architecture. The palace was built from existing buildings in 1648 for one of the first noble families of Nice, the Lascaris-Ventimiglia family. The grandeur and opulence was meant to reflect the station of the house’s owner, Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy. The mansion remained in the hands of the noble family until the French Revolution; in 1802 the house suffered damage and in 1942 it was bought by the municipality. The house was restored and declared a national monument.
As you enter the front hall you are faced with the monumental staircase which slowly twists as it rises. The interior is decorated with frescoes, statues and antique furnishings. On the main floor the State Apartments have the most beautiful ceiling murals depicting mythical themes. There is stucco ornamentation from the 17th century, tapestries and a collection of fine art displayed on the walls.
Among the art work there are paintings, graphic art, sculptures and objets d’art. There is a collection of over 500 historic European musical instruments which is one of the most important collections of its kind. To add to the building’s interest there is an authentic 1730s apothecary’s shop on the ground floor which was transferred here from Besancon.
Castle Hill-Colline du Chateau
Castle Hill overlooks the city of Nice and gets its French name Colline du Chateau due to the remains (very few can still be seen) of a castle which once stood here in the early 1700s.
It is easily accessible from central Nice and is rated as the top attraction in the city. There are three ways you can get to the top of the hill for the breathtaking panoramic views of Nice and the Bay of Angels.
Take the 300 stairs (escalier lesage) from the Old Town. Take the Castle Hill Elevator (ascenter) from the Old Town next to the Tour Bellanda which brings you almost to the top. Alternatively take the Petit Train de Nice also called the Road Train or Tourist Train. The train will give you a tour of several sites in the city then go to the top of the hill and give you 10 minutes to walk around before returning to the train.
Once on top you can discover several hidden gems as well as a café, gift shop and amazing views. The hill is a popular spot for families as there is a playground at the top, space to run around and a picnic area. You can explore what is left of the Chateau, see the ruins of an ancient Cathedral and enjoy Le Park du Chateau on the hill. You can follow mosaic covered paths that meander through the greenery and discover a waterfall/fountain which looks quite natural. On every first Wednesday of the month a siren is sounded from the ruins of the Chateau.
The Place Masséna is a historic square in Nice, Alpes–Maritimes, France. It was named for André Masséna. Its layout was designed by Joseph Vernier in 1843-1844.
The Place Masséna is the main square of the city. Before the Paillon River was covered over, the Pont-Neuf was the only practicable way between the old town and the modern one. The square was thus divided into two parts (North and South) in 1824. With the demolition of the Masséna Casino in 1979, the Place Masséna became more spacious and less dense and is now bordered by red ochre buildings of Italian architecture.
The recent rebuilding of the tramline gave the square back to the pedestrians, restoring its status as a real Mediterranean square. It is lined with palm trees and stone pines, instead of being the rectangular roundabout of sorts it had become over the years. Since its construction, the Place Masséna has always been the spot for great public events. It is used for concerts, and particularly during the summer festivals, the Corso carnavalesque (carnival parade) in February, the military procession of 14 July (Bastille Day) or other traditional celebrations and banquets.
The Place Masséna is a two-minute walk from the Promenade des Anglais, old town, town centre, and Albert I Garden (Jardin Albert Ier). It is also a large crossroads between several of the main streets of the city: avenue Jean Médecin, avenue Félix Faure, boulevard Jean Jaurès, avenue de Verdun and rue Gioffredo.
Palace Square with the Palace of Justice
Thanks to its advantageous location, this place welcomes a big number of tourists every year. Many interesting attractions are within reach of this square, like the vibrant Cours Saleya Market, the monumental Opera de Nice, the imposing Cathedral of Sainte Reparate, as well as on Place Massena, the beaches of Nice are also within reach, accessible by crossing the dreamlike Quai des Etats Unis, but the Square is also an attraction by itself. The neoclassical architecture is very pleasing to look at and provides an atmosphere specific for Nice.
The square got its name from the Palais de Justice, which is the Law Court of Nice. It’s perfect as a meeting spot or as a place to relax, since there are many cafes and restaurants around this area.
Some of the buildings on this square are lit up during the night and provide pretty scenery for anyone who walks by.
Cathedrale Sainte Reparate
Nice Cathedral (French: Basilique-Cathédrale Sainte-Marie et Sainte-Réparate de Nice) is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the city of Nice in southern France.
The cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Nice. The construction of the main part of the current cathedral’s body started in 1650 and finished in 1685. Further construction continued after its consecration in 1699, with new structures and decorative elements added to the cathedral until 1949. The cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saint Reparata. It has been classified as a national monument since 9 August 1906.
The original cathedral on the site, called St Mary of the Castle, was consecrated in 1049. In 1060, relics belonging to Saint Reparata (for whom the current cathedral is named) arrived in Nice. By 1075, a chapel dedicated to St Reparata was constructed at the foot of the castle.
During the latter half of the 12th Century, the chapel became the priory of the Abbey of Saint-Pons. 1246 marked the official elevation of the priory to a parish. The first church on the site was built in the early 13th Century on land belonging to the Abbey of St Pons and became a parish church in 1246.
Population growth led to extensions being built onto the church between 1455 and 1468. During the first half of the 16th Century, a series of acts gradually effected the transfer of the seat of the bishops of Nice from Cimiez Cathedral, which sits on the hill of the castle overlooking the city, to the church of St. Reparata in 1590. After an official ceremony presided over by the bishop Luigi Pallavicini, and in the presence of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, the church was recognized as a chiesa-cattedrale. In 1649, judging the building to be too small, Bishop Didier Palletis commissioned the architect Jean-André Guibert to produce a structure more in keeping with the importance of the city.
The construction of a new cathedral (the current main building) took place between 1650 and 1865. In 1699, the new cathedral was officially consecrated while additional construction continued.
The prominent bell tower was built next to it between 1731 and 1757.
The year 1900 marked the most recent addition to the cathedral, with the construction of new side chapels that replaced the former heavy baroque ornamentation. The cathedral was declared a minor basilica on 27 May 1949.
Quai des Etats Unis
Stretching between Promenade des Anglais (which is why this infrastructural section is often defined as an extension of the Promenade) and Quai de Rauba Capeu, Quai des Etats Unis shares much of the profile of the celebrated Promenade des Anglais.
Initially called Quai du Midi, the street was built approximately at the same time with Promenade des Anglais (the early 19th century) and took its current name in 1917, in honoring the United States’ decision to join the Triple Entente in World War One.
This thoroughfare provides access to the beaches which stretch in east Nice. Just like the Promenade, it is lined with palm trees, blue lounge chairs and cycle paths. Several Velo Bleu bike stands can also be spotted along Quai des Etats Unis.
On top of that, Quai des Etats Unis runs parallel to Cours Saleya, the main pedestrian area of Vieux Nice, and it is located at a stone’s throw from the main tourist sights in east Nice: Opera de Nice, the Ponchettes Gallery, the Castle Hill and, generally the rich tourist patrimony of Vieux Nice. Plenty of hotels, restaurants and bars can also be spotted along Quai des Etats Unis.
By following Quai des Etats Unis, which falls nothing short of the leisure and tourist opportunities featured by Promenade des Anglais, visitors have the chance to sample some of the charm of east Nice and dive into discovering areas like Vieux Nice, Port de Nice and, why not, Mont Boron.