Nice (pronounces Nees) stretches over a coastal plain opening southward onto the Mediterranean, bounded from East to West by a succession of wooded hills. In the background, rise the first magnificent peaks of the foothills of the Alps, some reaching over 9000 feet above sea level. This spectacular city is the capital of the French Riviera and the largest city between Genoa and Marseille.
Modern Nice stands on the same spot in the hills overlooking the sea that was originally selected by the Greeks and subsequently the Romans for settlement. In the intervening years, the city has spread down to the flat land along the water. Sheltered to the east and the west by outcroppings of rock, and with the Maritime Alps to the north, Nice has an ideal climate with mild winters and perfect summers.
Nice is also France's fifth largest city, and the top cruise ship port in France. Almost 200,000 passengers use the Port of Nice-Villefranche annually. Located in Southern Europe at the southeastern extremity of France, Nice is a privileged crossroads between the Alps, Provence, Corsica and Italy.
The French Riviera is not only famous for its coastline, and its incomparable weather. The ski resorts in nearby mountain villages have steadily gained in popularity over the years. Guaranteed sunshine, pristine snow and mountain peaks are all within easy reach of Nice.
Easily accessible to Nice are the towns of Eze, Vence, Grasse and St. Paul. The route in their direction is one of olive groves and pine woods stretching for miles down to the shore. Foothills are carpeted with flowers in the light that inspired generations of painters from Renoir to Matisse to Picasso.
For many, the Riviera offers all the grandeur of bygone days: casinos, stately hotels, villas, and historic sites. Hotel Beau Rivage is where Henri Matisse lived and painted. Now a gentle, low-key resort, life thrives in Nice amid pure air and sun above the blue of the Mediterranean, and modern art museums flourish.
As long as anyone can remember, the French seaside Riviera was Europe's foremost resort. Graced by palms, beaches and sub-tropical flowers, the Azure Coast (Côte d’Azur) ranked for over a hundred years as the preferred first class travel destination.
In the mid 20th century the Riviera additionally became known as the place where the bikini got its start, and a whole new leisure lifestyle evolved. Mid-July to early September now marks the high season, when stars of the entertainment world arrive for sun and sports from golf to horse racing.
It is easy to get around the Riviera with its excellent rail service, luxury buses, and car rentals. In Nice, just a few blocks from the Promenade des Anglais is the colorful "old town" with open-air market for shoppers, and restaurants with hearty Niçoise cuisine at moderate prices.
Centrally located, Nice is 77 miles south of Paris, and 20 miles northeast of Cannes.
From the Nice airport, (the second largest in France), trains and buses travel the entire coast. Because of its brilliant sunshine and relaxed living, artists and writers have been attracted to Nice for years. The city has, on average, 300 days of sunshine a year.
It also has 5 miles of marvelous beaches, many attractions of interest to families with children, and the relaxed lifestyle that makes it the perfect place for a family vacation. The French and Italian influenced cuisine can also be described as “sunny? The favorites range from seafood, salads, stews, grilled fish and meat, to delicious pancakes and fine wines.
Shopping in Nice is exciting as well. In addition to quality department stores there are hand crafted and embroidered items and many fascinating antique shops.
Nice has a selection of dynamic theaters, concert halls, and an opera, as well as nightclubs, a casino, a variety of cabaret restaurants and live music bars. Local festivals are always popular, especially Carnaval et Bataille de Fleurs and the annual Jazz Festival.
Acres of parks and gardens, filled with paths for walking and cascades of brightly colored flowers, add to the warm welcome, joyful spirit, and many reasons to visit and revisit this city without equal.