Discover Nice - A tour of the sights


Nice - capital of the Côte d'Azur

The Nice Tourist Office describes the city in these words: "Nice is the fifth largest city in France, the capital of the Côte d'Azur and, after Paris, the second most important destination for international tourism in France".

Nice - Old Town - Rue Rossetti

Nice - Old Town - Rue Rossetti


It should also be mentioned that around five million tourists visit the city with its 350.000 inhabitants every year. There are also more than 467.000 cruise ship passengers among the visitors. They arrive via the second largest French cruise port, meaning the roadstead of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

At the end of May we visit Villefranche-sur-Mer by cruise ship Celebrity Reflection. We see the small town as an attractive stage destination. This is not surprising, after all, we are visiting one of the most attractive Mediterranean regions. However, there is not much to discover in Villefranche.

Celebrity Reflection - in front of Villefranche-sur-Mer

Celebrity Reflection - in front of Villefranche-sur-Mer


We already knew that before starting our cruise. That's why we decided to visit the attractive city of Nice.

Avenue Jean Medecin

We take one of the clean and regular regional trains from Villefranche to Nice, just a few kilometers away. Its main train station on Avenue Thiers is the starting point for our multi-hour city tour.

We go to the nearby avenue Jean Médecin. We follow this road in the direction of the Promenade des Anglais. If we hadn't turned into Avenue Jean Médecin, we could have visited the Musée National Marc Chagall. But that's not on the agenda today.

Nice-Ville train station


Nice-Ville train station


Nice - Avenue Jean Médecin


Nice - Avenue Jean Médecin 


The usual companies that can afford business locations in the center of a city reside on the dead straight avenue: banks, insurance companies, telephone shops, department stores, etc.

After a short walk we reach the Basilique Notre-Dame de l'Assomption (Assumption of Mary) on the right side of the road, a mighty hall church built in neo-Gothic style. It cannot be missed. Its facade is reminiscent of Notre Dame in Paris. What seems traditional is however deceptive. Construction of the church did not begin until 1864. Four years later, despite the unfinished state, the first services took place. After long delays and lack of money, the basilica was declared completed in 1879. In October 2020 the church was the target of an Islamist terrorist attack with several dead and injured.

Notre-Dame de l'Assomption basilica


Notre-Dame de l'Assomption basilica


Notre-Dame de l'Assomption basilica - nave


Notre-Dame de l'Assomption basilica - nave 


The Fontaine du Soleil on the Place Masséna 

Avenue Jean Médecin leads directly to Place Masséna. On the right and left are extensive promenades with water features and green spaces. Generous buildings limit the space to the south.

Place Massena

Place Massena


The fountain known as Fontaine du Soleil dominates the square. The seven meter high Apollo statue deserves special appreciation. It is made of marble. As can be read, the fountain was unveiled with great pomp in 1956. The statue of Apollo soon became a figure of scandal. After all, the god of light presented himself as a well-formed naked man. In addition, in fourfold magnification. The symbol of his masculinity was correspondingly large.

Place Masséna - fountain with the statue of Apollo

Place Masséna - fountain with the statue of Apollo


That was too much for the prudish moral guards of Nice. The unclothed statues that are standing around everywhere in Bible-proof Rome caused offense in Nice. Before a Catholic women's group could cause the handsome man to disappear temporarily from Place Masséna in 1979, the sculptor first had to tackle the Greek god with a hammer and chisel in order to minimize the stumbling block. About 15 years ago, Apollo was allowed to take its place again.

The Promenade des Anglais

About 150 meters as the crow flies separate the Fontaine du Soleil from the Mediterranean Sea, more precisely: the Baie des Anges. The wide, seven-kilometer-long Promenade des Anglais runs parallel to the sea. On the promenade there are not only the many public and private beaches but also the casino, large hotels and elegant villas. A special landmark is the world-famous, listed Hotel Negresco. We will not miss that.

From Place Masséna we follow the street that runs along Jardin Albert 1er to the Promenade des Anglais. Past an old-fashioned children's carousel and the huge Monument du Centenaire, we walk along the six-lane promenade separated by a wide median. The Monument du Centenaire represents the Greek goddess of victory Nike. It was erected in 1896 on the 100th anniversary of the annexation of Nice to France.

Monument du Centenaire - The goddess of victory Nike

Monument du Centenaire - The goddess of victory Nike


We pass the large Meridien Hotel, the casino, then the Hotel Le Royal. In the distance we can already see the dome of the Negresco. The way drags on. Perhaps the construction work taking place on the boulevard will change our plans. The right mood does not want to arise. So we turn around and follow the beach promenade high above the sea in an easterly direction.

Dome of the Negresco Hotel

Dome of the Negresco Hotel


Below us are the coarse pebble beach and the many well-kept bathing establishments and restaurants. For example, we like the private beach at Hotel Meridien. Incidentally, heavily armed soldiers patrol the promenade in groups of four. Presumably as a result of the terrorist act that killed eighty people on July 14, 2016, France's national holiday.

Heavily armed soldiers on the Promenade des Anglais


Heavily armed soldiers on the Promenade des Anglais


Promenade des Anglais - private stretch of beach


Promenade des Anglais - private stretch of beach 


Art in public space

At the level of the Avenue des Phocéens, the promenade merges into the Quai des États-Unis. There are three works of art in a small space. There are:

  • the Neuf Lignes Obliques monument.
    The 30 meter high steel sculpture symbolizes the nine valleys of the former county of Nice. It was inaugurated on the 150th anniversary of the annexation of Nice to France.
  • the three-meter-high, two-dimensional Chaise de SAB at number 107.
    This chair pays homage to the hundreds of blue chairs that stood on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice in the early 1950s and that were rented out for a small fee.
  • a replica of the New York Statue of Liberty.
    The replica was placed between the Nice Opera House and the seafront.
Iron monument Neuf Lignes Obliques
Chaise de SAB
Replica of the New York Statue of Liberty
Nice's Opera House

 


 

Pointe Rauba Capeu

The Quai Rauba Capeu follows the Quai des États-Unis. At Pointe Rauba Capeu, a large sundial casts a spell over the viewer. It requires human effort. If you stand on certain markings in the ground, your own body casts a shadow that shows the time. With 300 days of sunshine a year, it's worth casting your own shadow.

We follow the road a short distance to see the Monument aux Morts de Rauba-Capeu, which lies behind a rocky peak. The 32-meter-high memorial set into the Colline du Château commemorates the 3.665 inhabitants of Nice who lost their lives in the First World War. Five steps lead up to the monument. Each level represents a year of war.

Monument aux Morts de Rauba-Capeu

Monument aux Morts de Rauba-Capeu


The Colline du Château

The Colline du Château rises above the monument. Stairs and a convenient elevator, the Ascenseur du Chateau, lead up the more than 90 meter high hill. We find the elevator well hidden 50 meters to the left of the Hotel Suisse. That is near the Pointe Rauba Capeu.

Elevator to the Colline du Château


Hamburg Cruise Center Altona


Walk to the elevator leading to the Colline du Château


Walk to the elevator leading to the Colline du Château 


The Colline du Chateau is a 20 hectare park with some decorative ruins and beautiful trees. Cars are locked out. The visitors enjoy the tranquility of the park and they enjoy wonderful views of the Baie des Anges, the old town, Port Lympia and the hilly surroundings. And there are playgrounds for children.

Chateau park - mosaic pavement
Nice old town
Bay of Angels
Port Olympia


The castle and the associated fortress, originally considered impregnable, were razed to the ground in 1706 by French troops at the behest of Louis XIV. At that time, Nice was not part of the Kingdom of France but rather part of the Duchy of Savoy. Panorama boards provide valuable descriptions.

Park of the chateau

Park of the chateau


There is also an artificial, meter-high waterfall. A former citadel dungeon was included in the cascade. From the middle of the 19th century, the waterfall served both to decorate the garden and to supply Nice with water.

Colline du Château - the cascade

Colline du Château - the cascade


Of the three adjoining cemeteries, the Jewish cemetery is the most interesting.

Nice's Jewish cemetery

Nice's Jewish cemetery


Nice old town - Vieux Nice

Stairs near the cemetery lead to Rue Rossetti. We follow it to the Sainte-Réparate Cathedral on Place Rossetti, a small square framed by six- to seven-storey houses. A fountain with an obelisk is not missing, as are the tables in the surrounding bars and restaurants that take up space. France as it lives and lives! The only weak point is the cathedral. It should actually be open, unfortunately it is locked.

Restaurants in front of Place Rossetti


Restaurants in front of Place Rossetti


Sainte-Réparate cathedral


Sainte-Réparate cathedral 


We walk through the maze of streets of the old town over to Rue de la Préfecture and pass the Préfecture, wrongly at the back; the front is more attractive. The prefecture is followed by the side of the courthouse and immediately afterwards we are on the Place du Palais de Justice.

Préfecture - back


Préfecture - back


Palace of Justice on the Place du Palais de Justice


Palace of Justice on the Place du Palais de Justice 


This square is much larger than Place Rossetti. The magnificent courthouse dominates one long side of the square. Another important building on the other side of the square is the Palais Rusca. The listed building was built as a barracks in the second half of the 18th century. It is used today by the administration of justice.

The Tour de l'Horloge rises up next to the Palais Rusca. The clock tower was built around 60 years before the Palais Rusca as a symbol of communal power.

A large fountain splashes on one of the narrow sides of the square. And again the inevitable bars and restaurants invite you to linger and consume. We really like Nice's lively old town.

Fountain on the Place du Palais

Fountain on the Place du Palais


Paillon promenade

We take a modern tram back to the train station. The next tram station adjacent to Nice's old town is on the inner-city green zone Promenade du Paillon. The complex, which is more than a kilometer long and quite wide, runs along the old town towards the Bay of Nice. The promenade was designed to be varied. Lovers lie on the lawn, seniors rest on benches next to trees and bushes and children romp under the eyes of their mothers under bubbling fountains of water through shallow pools.

Water games on the Promenade du Paillon

Water games on the Promenade du Paillon


Nice - conclusion

We saw a lot of beautiful things in Nice. Much more was hidden from us. Nice cannot be done in one day! We would also have liked to see some churches, such as the Musée Marc Chagall. Not to mention the more than 20 other museums.

And yet what at the end of the 19th century was only granted to princes, potentates or the money aristocracy as a winter domicile, has become common property. It's nice that it happened. Villefranche-sur-Mer is a wonderful day trip on cruises.

useful hints

Those who don't like walking can take the Nice L'open tour sightseeing bus. The bus stops at all sights. The last trip cost 22 euros (adults). 

The miniature trains of the Trains Touristiques de Nice are also an alternative to walking. The one-hour round trip costs 10 euros (adults).

There are also numerous stations with rental bicycles spread across the city.

The website also contains a lot of useful information https://www.explorenicecotedazur.com/de/ ready in German.

The idea of ​​the Nice Greeters is charming. These are residents of Nice of all stripes. In their free time, they volunteer to guide visitors through the city and show them the places that are particularly close to their hearts.

Updated Aug 2023