Things to Do in Nice
While a stay at the Hotel Negresco might break most budgets, it's rightly a historic landmark and one of the most visited sites in the city. It also provides a unique look into the true Old Nice. With doormen in period-correct uniforms and its interior lovingly maintained or restored to its original grandeur, entering Hotel Negresco is like stepping back in time. The Belle Époque style is simply breathtaking, even if to some modern standards it seems a bit gaudy. But the Negresco doesn't simply ride along on its historical bonafides; its two-star Michelin restaurant is the best in Nice, and the rooms are meticulously decorated to reflect the era while discreetly providing modern amenities. Visitors wanting a bit of a splurge can reserve a place for cocktail hour at the Relais Bar, with its polished woodwork and expertly made drinks. And la Rotonde Brasserie should be experienced at least once–not only for its over-the-top carousel-themed décor, but its spectacular sea views.
Château St Martin is a former 12th-century Knights Templar fortress on the French Riviera that is now a prestigious five-star guest property. This historic building sits amid acres of natural beauty and affords its guests some spectacular views across the Côte d’Azur.
The château itself blends perfectly with its environment, with red and green vines clinging to the walls for most of the year. The building was restored by the contemporary architect, Luc Svetchine, and decorated by the property’s owner, Maja Oetker. Aubusson and Gobelins tapestries, 18th century pendulums, plus Persian and Turkish carpets combine to make the château a fascinating place to simply wander around. Château St Martin offers some dramatic and varied views from all angles and the grounds’ perfectly-maintained gardens provide a sense of peace and tranquillity.
For every visitor who rolls their eyes at the newest addition to the Promenade des Anglais, there is an equal number of visitors–and locals – who are thrilled at the recent arrival of a Hard Rock Cafe in Nice. Its exterior blends in quite nicely with the facades along this famous strip, and its location ensures that it will be around for the long haul.
Unlike many American-style restaurants in France, this is the real deal; there are no French concessions to the American palate, and it can be a welcome treat for Americans to have a taste of home after days of the finest the Riviera has to offer. And as usual, plenty of memorabilia is on display here – although the big draw is the “Rock Wall Solo,” which allows visitors to take an interactive, virtual tour of Hard Rock Cafes around the world and the memorabilia they have as well.
There are three Corniche roads of the Cote d'Azur, each with spectacular views.
Forged by the Romans and shored up by Napoleon, the Grande Corniche is the highest of the roads along the coast, and also the most dangerous. But not only is it the least safe driving-wise, its altitude also often means a whitewash of fog, which does a driver no favours. Confident drivers wishing to see the Cote d'Azur at its most unspoiled will want to take this road.
This road goes along the coast, often side-by-side with the train line – thus its name, which translates to the Low Cornice. Exits for all of the French Riviera towns make this a convenient route for road trippers, but this can also mean extreme congestion on the weekends and during the high season.
The Moyenne Corniche is the newest of the routes along the Mediterranean, and it sits in altitude between the upper Grande and the lower Basse. Eze, the popular inland destination, is accessible via the Moyenne.
Known by locals as the Gateway to Verdon Gorge, Castellane is home to four mountain passes and a popular that make it the ideal destination for hikers and wanderers looking to explore scenic trails and take in picturesque views.
The steep trek to Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc, which rises more than 900 meters above the Verdon, is one of Castellane’s most popular stops and one of the area’s most incredible overlooks. White water rafting on the roaring Verdon River tends to attract the more adventurous set and lovers of old-world architecture find the historic churches and ornate municipal buildings well worth the stop.
Tourrettes, a hilltop village in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, consistently makes every list of day trips from Nice. It's exactly what visitors dream of when they talk about “discovering” a place in the South of France that seems like it's all their own.
The pedestrian-only and oldest part of the town is a warren of narrow streets lined with stone homes, many with ground-floor shops that could empty the wallet of even the most budget-conscious traveler. With brightly painted doors and perfectly grown creeping vines and flowering plants that would make Martha Stewart swoon, even an hour spent in Tourrettes provides plenty to take in. The intoxicating smell of violets is everywhere, and there are also the outer roads, which offer borderline-vertiginous views of the valley below and the neighboring hills. It's nothing short of stunning.
Things to do near Nice
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