Another family wedding took us overseas in September 2019. This time the wedding was in Ireland so being so close to France we couldn’t help ourselves and decided to spend a few nights in Nice and it was nice.
We flew from Cork, Ireland on Aer Lingus, as we only had 3 weeks in Europe we didn’t have the luxury of time to go overland. Nice airport is located very close to the main centre of town. Arriving was a little complicated for us as I travel on a New Zealand Passport and Alisdair on (a soon to be redundant in Europe…) British passport. It took a while to get through customs but once we were out it was very easy to catch the tram into the old town. The only issue in getting the tram is the lack of ticket machines and a large number of tourist who struggled to use them…
We stayed just outside the old town in a beautiful but small Air BnB close to Place Garibaldi square. This location meant we could walk everywhere, it was also close to a Monoprix and lots of Boulangeries for our morning pastry fix. Every morning we would eat at least 2 each, when in France right? Alisdair has a particular love for croissants!
An Air BnB was a much cheaper option for us and gave us the most value for money, we even had a little kitchen and a tiny view of the street. It was, however, up 4 flights of stairs so something to be mindful of when booking private accommodation in Nice. It was a good workout for us after all the eating we did.
Eating and drinking
France offers so much in terms of food and drink. Despite what we had heard we found restaurants in Nice to be reasonably priced. It did take a bit of work to find ‘authentic’ places but it was worth the effort. Generally, a lunch including beer/wine was around €15-30 for 2 people. The best places we found were;
- Da Giulia – Probably had one of the best salads ever! The salad had figs and burrata cheese. They also had great pizzas and were vegetarian-friendly
- La Tapenade – Had amazing mozzarella and roast peppers
- Café du Cycliste – Very good coffee and beautiful cycling clothes
- Primo Piatto – A small Italian restaurant just outside of the old town, it had great pizzas and massive bowls of fresh pasta
- Boulangerie Blanc – Very yum pastries for breakfast, we found most of the Boulangeries we visited to be good. However, something that caught us out the first time, is that you don’t pay via a person but rather an unusual money machine at the counter
Our favourite thing to do every evening was to have an aperitif. Around 5pm we would find a little bar and people-watch with either a beer, an Aperol spritz or a €3.50 glass of Rosé. The drinks were always accompanied by free snacks!
We enjoy going to supermarkets whilst overseas, there is something interesting about all the different things you can buy. We particularly liked all the cakes and cheeses you can buy in France, although many were way too stinky for us. We did consume a lot of baguettes with cheese as well as olives. Supermarkets are an easy place to find a cheap lunch.
What we did in Nice
Other than exploring the old town, walking the Promenade de Anglais, and eating and drinking, Nice also has a famous stony beach, historical sites and amazing views of the Côte d’Azur from the surrounding hills. Here is a summary of the best things we did whilst in Nice;
Hired an E-Bike
The best thing we did was to hire an E-Bike, this meant we had transport for a whole day and allowed us to explore much further than we could have on our feet. We were easily able to cycle to Fort du Mont Alban where we were treated to amazing views of Nice and the Medderterian sea. We also managed to cycle all the way around Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, home to some of the most exclusive homes in the area.
We had lunch at the port in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and had a swim at a feet friendly beach called Paloma Beach. On the way back to Nice we also stopped at a sandy beach called Plage Villefranche-sur-Mer. No day was complete in Nice without our evening aperitif and Villefranche-sur-Mer was the perfect spot.
The cycling got a bit hairy at times as the roads are narrow and quite steep. With an E-bike the hills don’t exist so we weren’t tired even after cycling for hours. We rented our bikes from E-Bike the French Riviera and found it reasonable at €35 per E-bike for a 5-8hr hire. The team were also very helpful and gave us advice on where to go. They also offer guided tours if that is more your thing.
Visited Monaco for the day
It was easy to get to the main train station in Nice via walking or taking the tram. It is a short train ride to Monaco from Nice (around 25 min) so who can resist visiting another country?
The train station at Nice has electronic train ticket machines and we found the machines easy to use. The train also gets very busy (both directions) as most tourists have the same idea as us. We found train many of the passengers to be very rude, and people try and get on before people are off, it was very strange. Be mindful if you have small children as they could get caught up in the rush.
It was a long day out in Monaco. We did lots of walking and because Monaco is not flat we recommend you wear good shoes. It was great to see the famous Monte Carlo Casino (where we quickly lost €10), wander up to the castle and walk around the cliff tops.
Although worth a day trip, I wouldn’t rush back to Monaco. It was very expensive, congested with cars and less charming than Nice.
Relaxed at the beach
Nice has an infamous beach with massive stones which means walking and swimming is a bit difficult. Not to worry, everyone looks stupid getting in and out (apart from those smart enough to have swimming shoes). One of the best moments we had was going for a swim at sunset, it was so beautiful seeing the lights along the Promenade de Anglais whilst floating in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
We recommend picking up snacks from a supermarket and having a picnic at the beach. There are also private parts of the beach you can visit where you get a seat and shade, however, we couldn’t justify the price.
Our next stop was Milan, Italy. Once again we headed back to the main train station (Gare de Nice Ville) and got our train ticket to Milan. It was very easy to book our ticket using the machines again and to save money perhaps book in advance.
Although it was touristy, we had a really great time in Nice and would happily visit again. We ate amazing vegetarian food and enjoyed our daily aperitif time. It is a very easy place to visit and there is something for everyone to enjoy.
For more on Europe check out