Nice is a multifaceted city, where each neighborhood has a unique feel and style, and each has its share of attractions and distinct offerings for visitors. While any visit to Nice simply must include a thorough exploration of the city, here is an overview of the different neighborhoods:
Old Town (“Vieux Nice”)
Old Town is the centuries-old heart of the city, and for most of its history was distinctly demarcated from the rest of Nice by the river Paillon. The river was covered in 1921, connecting this ancient quarter to the rest of the city, but the narrow streets, slender buildings, and crowded squares still show the legacy of centuries of being tightly compressed and separated.
The beautiful pastel buildings of this neighborhood tower over narrow streets lined with small shops and cafes, with laundry lines strung from balconies above, and tourists and locals alike gossip and mingle. This ancient quarter hosts the famous Cours Saleya flower market, the Cathedrale de Sainte Reparate, and the Palais Lascaris.
Jean-Médecin, New Town
New Town is the center of grand, tree-lined avenues we associate with classic French urban design. The broad boulevards and elegant townhouses of New Town add stately beauty to a neighborhood that is a shopping paradise, with big department stores, trendy boutiques, local design centers, and more. The restaurants, cocktail bars, and cafes of New Town are suitably smart, catering to windowshoppers and fashionistas alike.
But this neighborhood isn't just about retail and dining. It also houses the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, the Musée Masséna, the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, and the Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image, with plenty of history, art, and culture to offset all that shopping.
As the name implies, The Port neighborhood is just a short walk from the Promenade des Anglais, and most visitors to this neighborhood lodge on boats. However, don't let that evoke the idea of fishermen or sailors; these are more like shiny yachts owned by the rich and fabulous. The charming neighborhood offers working-class cafes and homes as well as more posh escapes for the wealthy. And of course the views of the sea and harbor are spectacular.
Cimiez is the quiet, residential neighborhood that rests above the bustle of the rest of Nice. While Cimiez doesn't have the active cafe culture and nightlife of other neighborhoods, it is the home of the biggest and most prestigious museums in the city. Once a Roman outpost, the Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez explores the history and origins of Nice, while museums to Matisse and Chagall celebrate the city's most famous artists. This neighborhood also hosts the gorgeous Monastère de Cimiez with views overlooking the city, and the beautiful Chateau Valrose.
The Promenade and Beaches
Nice's famous Promenade des Anglais runs the course of the bay, with spectacular beach and ocean views on one side, and hotels, bars, and clubs on the other. Nice has many public beaches, which can be densely crowded in the summer, or, if you want more peace and privacy, you can pay for access to a private beach.
The beaches of Nice attract joggers and dog walkers, vacationers and volleyball players, subathers and skateboarders. The incredible turquoise water, fresh ocean breezes, and variety of snacks, sports, and activities are an essential part of life in Nice.
Every neighborhood in Nice has its own atmosphere, mood, and style. Where ever you stay during your visit, make sure you take time to explore the other facets of this complex city and learn more about the local way of life.