Nice, France - French Riviera Gem, Beaches, Villages, Art, Seafood
Nice, on the French Riviera is 'my kinda town' with its huge beach front and focus on fun and 'Joie de Vivre'. Add the scenery, many fine attractions, boutique shopping and the charming medieval mountain villages inland from Nice, it makes Nice a winner compared with Cannes.
Marseilles or Monaco. The beach has large stones, rather than sand, which makes access to the water difficult, but the water is lovely, blue, clean and refreshing. The beaches get very crowded during the middle of the day in summer and about half the area is set aside for private access. The only sand on the beach was on the beach volleyball courts.
It was nice to see people wandering around town with their beach gear carrying umbrellas and children's beach toys.
I spent four days in Nice, on two separate visits, returning to spend a day trip on a bus visiting the charming mediaeval villages in the mountains inland from Nice.
The hop-on hop-off bus provided a good way to see the major attractions. You can also see a lot by walking around from you accommodation or catching the local trams and buses. Nice has a lot to offer from many different perspectives.
All Original Photos by the Author - janderson99
Central Area of Nice, France
Nice has a charming modern and open layout. It is easy to get around by bus, tram or on foot. There is a large central park set back from the beach which is very popular. there are several wonderful museums and art galleries in Nice. The hop-on hop-off bus provides an excellent way to explore the major attractions and there is a stop near the central beach area. Walking down the stony beaches is a challenge for visitors because near the water they become like 'quick-sand' causing you to stubble. I guess you get used to it, because the locals have few problems. Though very crowded on hot summer days, the water was clean and very refreshing for a swim. Taking a dip is very worthwhile. There are many fabulous restaurants and cafes in the 'old-town' area, with many specializing in seafood. The closed streets have a market atmosphere.
Views of Nice and the Beach - All Original Photos by janderson99Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Medieval Mountain Villages
Do yourself a favor and take a one day bus tour from Nice to Cannes and the delightful mountain top villages. The best ones to visit are: Biot, EzeGourdon, MouginsSt Paul de Vence, Tourrettes-sur-Loup. The tour we used also visited a local fragrance center and a delightful confectionery and chocolate factory, both of which had been run by the same families for many generations. There are mountains streams and caves to visit as well. These villages offer the charm of narrow street, stone medieval architecture , fabulous mountain views and wonderful food and boutique handcraft shopping. Most villages date from the 12th and 13th centuries. The roads are mostly closed so you can stroll at your leisure exploring the many shops and seeing the sights. The local glass works, ceramic and clothing are especially interesting along with the inevitable souvenirs and gifts.
After a postwar period of neglect, the perched villages gained new life when coastal residents renovated the crumbling town houses to serve as second residences. Next, artists and artisans moved in and set up boutiques and galleries to show their wares. Now, most villages have a thriving commercial life catering to tourists, retirees, and part-time residents.
Visiting the Hilltop Villages
The core of each village is a web of streets that is pedestrian-only. Parking is available at the edges of the village. There is a limited amount of free parking and it fills up quickly especially in the summer. There is bus service to each village, usually from coastal cities such as Nice and Cannes. A good time to visit is during the summer when there are likely to be medieval festivals and free concerts.
Mountain Villages Near Nice - All Original Photos - janderson99Click thumbnail to view full-size
© 2014 Dr. John Anderson
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