Old Town in Provence, France
Destination Immersion

Nice, France: Hub of the French Riviera

Wednesday, February 23, 2022
By Azamara

Looking at its name, you might think Nice is selling itself a little short. After all, this is a city that basks in year-round sunshine and sensational seaside sights. It’s a manicured city, one full of opulent structures and colorful palm-lined streets. But look a little deeper, and you’ll discover an impressive authenticity in this Queen of the Riviera. Simply put, Nice is more than another beautiful Mediterranean city with a lot to see and do; it is the hub of the French Riviera. Nice brings the world to the South of France and gives it a reason to stay awhile.

Nice Le Belle

A cityscape panorama of the city Nice in the south of France

As a city, Nice offers a lot of what its neighbors don’t (or can’t). It’s a city for all budgets — one where you can splurge or simply lose yourself in timeless beauty. 

For a taste of the city’s stunning views, take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, known by locals as the Prom. Situated along a three-mile stretch of the Baie des Anges, this palm-lined promenade is the perfect spot to fall in love with Nice, especially around sunset, when the views are spectacular. Prefer pedals over being a pedestrian? Then, join us on the Biking the Nice Promenade des Anglais shore excursion, where you’ll explore the Côte d’Azur — beginning along the Prom — on a guided bike ride. You’ll get an insider perspective on Nice, along with plenty of commentary, from your helpful guide — all while enjoying a little exercise in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

Old town of Nice, French Riviera

You’ll also want to make your way to Vieux Nice, the city’s legendary old quarter. The layout of this neighborhood has remained mostly unchanged for 300 years — though it certainly looks much different than it did in the 1700s. Today, its narrow streets are lined with restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and establishments where you’ll love grabbing a drink and watching the world go by. While you’re here, make sure you stop by Cours Saleya — a vibrant market square that’s a hub of activity. Visit the flower market for a fresh-cut addition to your room aboard your Azamara ship. If you ask us, the best way to see the old town is on a shore excursion. We’ll take you on a walking history tour of the quarter, complete with stops for famous snacks and a glass of wine.  

It should come as no surprise that the old quarter is the place to be for a delicious dish. You’ll find no shortage of excellent Niçoise options here, as well as plenty of impressive Italian. One thing to remember, your best bet is always to avoid restaurants with pictures of the food — that’s a general rule, not only for Nice! Whatever you do, enjoy Nissa La Bella!

Pretty as a Painting

City streets in Nice, France

Nice has a well-earned reputation as an art lover’s paradise. This is a city that captured the hearts and imaginations of Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, and Renoir over the years. In fact, this was the home of Ecole de Nice, an avant-garde collective famous for its work across several movements, including New Realism, Supports/Surfaces, and Fluxus. So it should come as no surprise that Nice is a must-visit destination for those with a keen eye for art. 

At Musées Matisse in the Cimiez quarter, you can peruse an impressive assortment of works by Henri Matisse, including sculptures, drawings, oil paintings, and tapestries. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection, there are also temporary exhibitions on display. Those wishing to honor the late great French artist are in luck, Matisse is buried in the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez cemetery, which is located across the nearby park. 

Much like Musées Matisse, Musée National Marc Chagall is primarily dedicated to the works of one artist, the early modernist Marc Chagall. The museum is home to the most extensive public collection of his work, and is highlighted by his interpretations of stories from the books of Genesis and Exodus. 

However, the true highlight for art lovers in Nice is the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain. Dedicated to modern and contemporary art, the MAMAC (as it’s commonly known) collection spans from the late 1950s through today, showcasing works of European New Realists, American Pop art, neo-Dadaism, and more. Of particular interest are their works by Warhol, Liechtenstein, Christo, and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Saint Paul de Vence, south of France

If you’re venturing beyond Nice, be sure to visit Saint-Paul-de-Vence. This picturesque walled city is one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, and it’s hard not to be immediately captivated by its charms. It’s another spot that art lovers will adore, with streets lined by art galleries and museums showcasing brilliant modern and contemporary works. Best of all, it’s only about 20 minutes or so from Nice, so it’s easy to visit for a few hours or the entire day. 

The Road to the Riviera 

 Monte Carlo, Monaco during summer sunset

Beyond its innumerable charms, Nice is also a gateway to so much of the French Riviera’s charm and glamor. So while you’re here, make a point of visiting some of the city’s illustrious neighbors. Join us on the Sights of Monaco and Monte Carlo shore excursion for a journey through Monaco’s iconic Old Town perched on Le Rocher. Then, feel the rush of the F1 circuit as you ride a portion of the Grand Prix motor raceway. And, if you’re feeling lucky, you’ve come to the right place — we’ll cap the excursion off with a visit to the Monte Carlo Casino, where a roll of the dice could change your life forever! 

Cannes, France at sunset, beautiful sky and sea line

More interested in movie magic than Monaco’s charms? Join us on the Taste of Cannes shore excursion. We’ll whisk you away on a scenic drive to France’s famous film-festival home, where you’ll enjoy strolling along the palm-lined Promenade de la Croisette toward Rue d’Antibes — the city’s signature shopping district. Oh, and if you’re ready for your closeup with Hollywood, we’ll tour the Festival and Convention Center, where the Cannes Film Festival marvels crowds every year.

There are Nice Days Ahead

Colorful street architecture and church view in Nice, France

Ready to knock Nice off your bucket list? Take a look at our upcoming voyages to this jewel of the French Riviera today.

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