The French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) Nice
A Day at the Beach in Nice
The city of Nice, on France's Côte d'azur is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. If you love art galleries, museums, casinos, boutiques, elegant cafes, jazz festivals or Belle Epoque architecture, Nice has something to offer you. It also has a 7 kilometre stretch of beach situated within minutes of the city centre.
In the late eighteenth century many aristocrats, artists and writers began to regard France's Côte d'azur as an ideal place to get away from the bitterly cold European winters. Now, the "blue coast" is a favourite amongst tourists from all walks of life, making a summer day in La Baie des Anges (the Bay of Angels), a lively and bustling festival for sun lovers. If you prefer to avoid the tourist season crowds, the weather in Nice is mild all year round. Even in November - one of the coldest months - the temperature hovers around the 8 to 10 Celsius mark (46-50 °F).
You can stroll, roller skate, ride a bike or skateboard along the coastal stretch of the bay on the Promenade des Anglais (Walkway of the English) to take in all of the beaches. The Promenade dates back to the nineteenth century when well-to-do English people who had come to love Nice, financed the construction of a road that would allow them to fully enjoy their beloved coast. From the Promenade you can inspect the beaches, and decide where you would like to soak up the sun. If you prefer to enjoy the beach from a distance, there are bars and restaurants all along the bay, where you can sit and watch the sun worshippers.
The beaches in Nice are pebbly, and the pebbles hurt your feet when you try to walk across them. To make matters worse, if you attempt to sit on them in the summer, they burn. The hostile nature of the pebbles makes plastic sandals and beach mats essential for enjoying the beach in comfort. How you approach the challenge of spending a day at the beach comfortably depends largely on your budget. There are public beaches where you mostly make your own arrangements for amenities, and there are private beaches that charge an admission fee as well as fees for additional services and amenities. Some of the private beaches have a layer of sand spread over the pebbles to give beachgoers the illusion of being on a "real" beach.
A few of the public beaches have indoor showers where you can use shampoo and soap for the cost of a few euros, while others have free showers where you are not allowed to fill the drains with anything other than water. There are public toilets along the Promenade and on the beaches, as well as strategically placed portable toilets. If you really get caught short, you can use the toilet on a private beach on the condition that you buy something from the snack bar.
As you walk along the Promenade des Anglais, you will see notices advertising the services on offer at the private beaches. For a daily fee, you can enter the beach, and hire footwear, cushions, towels, umbrellas and mats. In the summer you might need to reserve a sun-lounge beforehand. For security, several private beaches have monitored lockers as well as indoor showers and restrooms. You pay for these facilities as you use them. You can also buy coffee, ice cream, drinks and meals. Some beaches even have waiters who will bring food to you on the beach. Most of the private beaches have restaurants but you will need to put some clothes on if you want to eat indoors. If you prefer to remain casually undressed, there are plenty of snack bars. To allay those unexpected hunger pangs, there are vendors doing the rounds of all of the beaches with coffee, beer and other necessities.
As for the water in Nice, it is warm, blue and seductive, but the sand shelf drops away sharply not far from the shore, and sometimes the current can be too much for an inexperienced swimmer. Families with children can visit the private beaches that have paddling pools. There are lifeguards and patrol boats on duty in the summer in case anybody gets into difficulties, and two of the private beaches have wheelchair access.
Between June and September the first aid stations on the beaches display coloured flags that tell swimmers about swimming conditions. Green flags indicate that swimming conditions are safe, and a lifeguard is on duty. A blue flag says that the water is clean, and a yellow flag says water quality makes swimming a bad idea. If you see an orange flag, it is best to stay out of the water because of strong currents or the presence of swarms of the famous Côte d'Azur jellyfish. A red flag means that swimming is not allowed under any circumstances.
The Promenade des Anglais leaves images of cabanas and blue lounge chairs in the minds of tourists. It is also home to the glamorous Hotel Negresco which has presided over the Promenade since 1912. One of very few five-star hotels in Nice, the Negresco is a short distance from the railway station, a movie theatre, a casino, and the Old Town. The hotel has two gourmet restaurants and a four poster bed in each room, as well as free Wi-Fi and a flat screen TV. Nearby, the B4 Nice Park is a four-star hotel decorated in baroque, art-deco and provincial styles. Guests have only a one-hundred metre walk to the Promenade des Anglais and the Old Town.
If you cannot afford a swank hotel, there are cheaper hotels in Nice, mostly located close to the railway station, and there are many cheap hostels that have rooms with a bathroom plus a common kitchen. You can also rent rooms that include facilities for preparing meals. All of the lower-priced accommodation is extremely clean and well maintained.
Travelling to Nice is not a problem because Aeroport International Nice- Côte d'Azur- France's second busiest airport - is only six kilometres away. Flights to and from Paris are quite frequent, and there is a range of train services along the coast to Marseille and Paris.
The public transport system on the Côte d'Azur has been undergoing constant improvement since 2005. This includes itineraries that make travelling between towns cheap and convenient. If you prefer the luxury of touring by car, there is an abundance of local car rental companies. Even though travelling by car is a convenient and enjoyable way to see the Côte de Azur, the train and bus services offer a much safer and quicker way of seeing the sights during the high season.
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