City Breaks

City Guide to Nice

Soak up sun, sea, art and culture on your trip to the capital of the French Riviera. Our Nice city guide tells you everything you need to know.

City Guide to Nice

Nice is one of France’s most captivating and sun-kissed cities. With its beaches, flower and food markets, world-class museums and Mediterranean climate, could it get any better than a Nice city break with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle? 

Where is Nice?

Nice is on the French Riviera in the south of France, and is the second largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. 

Driving to Nice from Calais    

There are a number of different ways you can drive to Nice from the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle terminal, but the fastest route is via Lyon (with tolls). This will take around 11 ½ hours plus stops. It’s also a handy way to avoid congestion that can sometimes occur around Paris.

Things to do in Nice

Stroll the Promenade des Anglais

A beach resort’s palm-tree lined promenade as the sun is setting, with only a few people about and no cars on the road.

The Promenade des Anglais is a 4-mile long waterfront walkway between the main road and the beach on the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels). It is the main artery of Nice, thronged with runners, cyclists, dog walkers, couples and families from dawn to dusk, and with revellers during the night. It is the place to see and to be seen, but more prosaically to get all the way from the airport in the west to the United States Quay in the east. 

It gets its name from the English aristocrats who built it in the 19th century, when Nice was emerging as a fashionable winter holiday spot. The ‘English Walkway’ is one of the icons of the city. It has hosted the Tour de France several times, most recently in 2020 when it was the start and finish of the first two stages. 

See Matisse’s famous cut outs at Musée Matisse

A three storey terracotta palazzo-type building with a large piazza and small trees in white tubs

The celebrated artist Henri Matisse lived in Nice on and off for nearly 40 years and did some of his most famous work here. Towards the end of his life, unable to paint or sculpt due to ill-health, he turned to cut paper collages as his medium. The monumental pieces of colourful découpage are one of the highlights of the Matisse Museum, which should be top of your list of things to do in Nice.  

The museum is housed in a sumptuous 17th century villa in one of the most exclusive districts of the city. As well as the cut outs, visitors can view one of the world’s greatest collections of Matisse artworks and objects, many of which were donated by the artist himself and his family. The Matisse Museum is open daily except Tuesdays, and guided tours are available.

Visit the incredible flower market

When visiting Nice you have to go to the flower market, or Marché aux Fleurs, which has been held in the city since 1897. It is one of the most famous markets in France, and takes place six days a week in the square near the Old Port. Locals and tourists throng the market, which includes fruit, vegetable, food and drink stalls along with the ubiquitous flower traders. 

What better way to spend a morning than strolling around the food stalls, smelling the floral aroma and tasting the samples conveniently on offer? It is a delicious assault on the senses which will almost certainly leave you with a bouquet or two and a bag of fresh produce for your supper. The food market closes by 1.30pm but the flower stalls are open until 5.30pm. 

Cut flowers for sale and plants in pots on display in a market square, with people shopping under market awnings on a summer’s day

Marc Chagall National Museum

Not many cities the size of Nice have two globally renowned museums dedicated to world-famous artists. Attracted by the quality of its light, Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was another great French modernist drawn to Nice. Chagall is best known for his use of colour and expertise in many mediums, from painting to stained glass. He lived in Saint-Paul-de-Vence just outside the city from 1948 to the end of his life. Chagall himself was instrumental in creating the museum in his name. 

Today the Marc Chagall National Museum houses a diverse collection of Chagall’s works, including his biblical and spiritual canvases, engravings, sculptures and illustrated books. The museum is open every day except Tuesdays and is a short tram or bus ride (or 30-minute walk) from the seafront. 

Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMAC)

If it was not obvious by now, Nice is a mecca for art lovers. Another must-see is the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMAC), next to the Place Garibaldi. The MAMAC collection features 1400 works by 370 artists, with around 200 on display, and focuses on the European New Realism and American Pop Art from the 1950s to the present day. 

As well as rooms dedicated to artists such as Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle, MAMAC tells the story of the Nice art scene of the post-war period, which drew experimental artists from around the world. The building itself is one of Nice’s most striking, straddling two major boulevards on a tetrapod arch, its modern façade contrasting with the pastel colours of the surrounding historic buildings. 

The botanical garden and zoo at Parc Phoenix

An oasis of greenery in the business district, Parc Phoenix is a great place to take the kids. The zoo has ostriches, kangaroos, lemurs, marmosets, porcupines, flamingos, kookaburras and some very chatty parrots, plus there is a children’s playground. 

The botanical gardens are imaginatively laid out, with the main features being the lake and the 25-metre high glass greenhouse pyramid, the largest structure of its kind in Europe. Inside are seven different climatic zones. Elsewhere in the park you will find areas dedicated to cypress and olive trees, prehistoric plants, citrus fruits, a vegetable garden and a vineyard. Fun Phoenix fact: the park has 50 different species of palm tree! 

Stroll around Nice old town

An attractive historic small city square with an Italian style church and bell tower, fountain and pedestrianized area.

The narrow streets of the old town make for a pleasant walk at any time of the day, but particularly early morning and in the evening. The setting sun illuminates the oranges and yellows of the buildings in even more beautiful hues, while the bells of churches ring and snatches of conversations come and go. 

Among the treasures of the old town is Place Rosetti, which is the site of Nice’s compact and beautiful cathedral and bell tower. Cafés and restaurants spill out onto the piazza which gets extremely busy in summertime. Also head for the Lascaris Palace museum, a baroque mansion with a lavish interior.  

Admire the views from the Castle of Nice

Nice was overlooked by a castle for hundreds of years, until it was destroyed in 1706 on the orders of Louis XIV, who had recently captured it. While the castle is no longer there, the hill on which it stood is one of the main attractions of Nice. There are 92 steps from the Promenade des Anglais, and a lift built into the rock also goes most of the way up. 

The main viewing area affords breathtaking views of the Baie des Anges and the Old Port. There is also an artificial waterfall, cafés, cathedral ruins and a moving memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack on the Promenade in 2016.  

A woman in a straw hat gazes from a stone view point high above a bay and city

Visit the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church

The Basilica of Notre-Dame is the largest church in Nice. It was built in the 1860s in the neo-Gothic style, inspired by the design of the cathedral of Angers, with two similar square towers. Its rose window features scenes from the Assumption of Mary, and it is notable for more beautiful stained glass windows in the nave and chapels. 

Start your visit to Nice with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Nice is more than nice. It is vibrant, beautiful, exotic, passionate and warm – very warm, in fact, even in the winter months! Nice could be your ultimate destination or just one part of a road trip to the south of France. Whatever your plans, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle can get you on the first part of your journey from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes.

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Start your visit to Nice with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

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More to explore in the south of France