The beaches of the French Riviera have a year-round allure, and the city of Nice plays welcome host to those looking to take in their beauty. With a casual yet cosmopolitan setting that offers everything from sophisticated shops to waterfront dining on the pebbly sand, the many people—both French and foreign alike—who flock here know what they're doing.
Nice is the perfect mix of old and new, where modern boutiques and luxury cars are juxtaposed with sunny Belle Époque edifices and traditional flower markets. The Cours Saleya is the best-known of the latter, renowned for selling gorgeous local bouquets of flowers that bloom no matter the time of year. It’s open daily, but go on a Tuesday through Sunday morning to see the most color and variety. Otherwise, wander through the food stalls—if you linger for long enough, you’ll definitely score some samples of zucchini flowers, tomatoes, melon, or whatever else happens to be in season.
From the market, walk a little farther away from the coast and you’ll soon be in the Old Town. This is where you can find those yellow-hued buildings, as well as gorgeous old churches, small shops, and more. Nice is located just an hour's drive from the Italian border, and it shows its neighbor's influence through the gelaterias scattered throughout the streets. In Old Town, the best is Fenocchio. This parlour has been open for over fifty years and boasts almost 100 flavors of gelato and sorbet. The best part? It’s open from 9AM to midnight, and nobody will so much as bat an eye if you’re there first thing in the morning. They even have flavors like grapefruit, coffee, and orange to help convince yourself you’re getting a healthy start to the day. But if you’re not after any illusions, violet, iced chestnut, and Bailey’s are great ones to try.
Like the Cours Saleya, most things in Nice are located on or directly off of the Promenade des Anglais, the long road that runs along the the sea and provides ample opportunity for biking, people-watching, and getting tan. In other words, all roads lead to the beach! We can’t help much if you’re looking for classy waterfront casinos (mostly because there aren’t any). But if a great dinner is what you’re after, Le Siècle is where you should end up when the sky begins to darken. It’s one of (so, so) many restaurants here, but the crêpes made tableside and the expansive windows overlooking the Mediterranean definitely set it apart from the rest.
That proximity also makes it easy to wander back to the beaches before catching a Nice sunset, which in our opinion might just be one of the best in the world. When ending the day facing the waves as the sky's colors turn strikingly bright—electric even—framed by palm trees and accented by the rushing cacophony of cars, it's hard not to feel a part of something magical.
Bring along our Zip-Top Medium Tote, and you'll be able to go from flower shopping to an elegant dinner with ease.
This article was originally posted in October 2015 and was updated in August 2017.