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Day Trips

The best things to do in Nice and Villefranche

sky view of Nice

Discover Nice

Enjoy a day trip in Nice the capital of the art of living. Nice has long been famous as much as for its light and natural beauty as it has for its associations with many rich and famous personalities. It is a great city to discover on foot, as most of the main sites are within close proximity to each other.

Walk along the “promenade des anglais”

Visiting the town of Nice

As the second biggest city of Provence after Marseille, Nice is both upscale and popular, festive and dynamic, it is a city with a lot of diversity. To visit Nice is to discover the historical, multicultural, tasty and charming treasures of the Riviera capital.

Nice is a lively and dynamic city with many cultural and sporting events every year. “Nissa la Bella” moves at any time of the day. The city of Nice has all the assets to charm all the travellers.

On the program: stroll through the streets of the old town, discover the blue sea on the legendary “Promenade des Anglais”, taste the local specialties, or admire the most beautiful views of the city and the Bay of Angels. Are you ready?

nice place massena fountain and red building

Place Massena: the starting point of Avenue Jean Médecin, the shopping street.

 

A day trip in Nice, what to do, what to see?

1. Free walking tour Nice

Take the Villa Hostels own guided walking tour to get a free in depth introduction to Nice and its history.

This beautiful walk in Nice will make you discover sights and monuments hidden among the winding streets of the old town. Through areas like the place Massena, the opera House, the cours saleya market and other attractions, you will get a true idea of what Nice as to offers.

It’s a great way to meet others travellers staying at the hostel and good introduction to the city itself. Ask at the hostel for more details.

Our Walking Tour (leaving form Villa Hostel) end in a picnic on top of ‘Le Chateau’ with some amazing views of Nice!

 

2. Promenade des anglais

The “Promenade des anglais” is a huge promenade on the edge of the coast, 6 km long from the entrance of Nice to the old town.

We suggest you to start your day with a beautiful morning walk on the Promenade des Anglais. On the way, have a breakfast on a typical french terrace or buy a croissant that you will eat on one of the famous blue chairs. Meanwhile you will surely see many joggers, cyclists, families and seniors who come to enjoy this magical setting.

Make sure to admire the beautiful facades of hotels that have crossed the ages. There is the famous Negresco, the West End and Westminster Belle Epoque style, or the imposing Mediterranean Palace in Art Deco style.

famous-blue-chairs-for-vacationers-of-promenade-des-anglais-france-nice

The “Blue chairs” have entered the legend of Nice

 

3. Castle Hill, colline du château Nice

At the end of the Promenade des Anglais, there is castle hill that overlooks the old town and the port. You can climb it by the stairs or by the free elevator located at the end of the Promenade des Anglais.

This rocky hill once hosted a fortified citadel, now you can only see its ruins. Today, it is a beautiful wooded park, perfect for a pause and to refresh yourself near the big waterfall. Therefore you can also bring your picnic or take a nap in the shade during the hot summer.

It is a must see because the hill offers incredible views of Nice, the Bay of Angels, and in the distance, the Alps! That is to say, we advise you to go there in the morning, when the light illuminates the promenade of the English and the old town. 

sky view from the castel hill of nice

At the top of the hill you will have a view of Nice and the Baie des Anges

 

4. The old town of Nice

Old Nice looks like a small village in the Middle Ages, a real labyrinth. Barred with yellow and red facades, wander through the maze of narrow and shady streets to find the best french products: craft shops, small food shop (fresh pasta, traditional biscuits, food specialities from Nice, butchers, bakeries ,…). There is an innumerable number of good restaurants, cafes, wine bars, ice cream vender and souvenir shops. 

After doing some shopping, do not miss to make a passage on the place of the Palace of Justice and also on the place Rossetti, located in full heart of Old Nice. This place is known for its cathedral Sainte Réparate, its terraces of coffees and its glaciers: Fenocchio, it is very known for its succulent ice creams with its many original flavours. (tomato-basil, thyme, avocado, beer, calisson, etc.).

orange facade old nice

The narrow streets are lined with high buildings coloured with red, orange or yellow.

 

5. The Cours Saleya market

This pedestrian street is known for the lively food and flower market. You will find fruits and vegetables from the region. But also specialties of the country such as olive oil, spices, tapenade, anchoïade, socca, and many others. 

The market takes place every day except the Monday where the antique market takes place. We love its dynamic atmosphere, it’s swarming with people! We even hear the oldest discuss in Nissart, the local dialect.

Market Nice

The Cours Saleya is the little center of the animated Nice, with its market and its restaurants

 

6. La promenade du Paillon

La promenade du Paillon is a green lung of 12 hectares in the heart of Nice which separates the old town from the new city, on the route of the river Paillon. It begins at the MAMAC museum, passes by Place Masséna and ends at the green theater located close to the Promenade des Anglais.

This parc is perfect for locals and tourists who would like to rest and enjoy a green setting. There are many facilities for children, shaded areas, and many fountains. In the summer, everyone enjoys the freshness of the garden, especially the water mirror and the giant misting machines. In winter, there is the Christmas market and the Ferris wheel which allows to enjoy a beautiful view of the roofs of the city.

water game and green promenade paillon

The perfect place to relax and enjoy a romantic stroll with friends or family

 

7. Matisse museum

Climb the Cimiez arena district to visit the Matisse Museum and discover this beautiful 17th century Genoese villa, entirely renovated, located in the heart of the olive grove of the Cimiez gardens. This museum dedicated to the art of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is simply the must in Nice if you like art. You will have access to nearly 70 paintings, 200 drawings, engravings, sculptures, illustrated books, photographs and objects that belonged to the painter.

Did you know that this famous painter lived in Nice from 1917 until his death in 1954?

red facade of the matisse museum

Matisse museum, housed in an elegant red building, surrounded by olive trees

 

8. Russian orthodox cathedral

Classified Historical Monument, the Russian orthodox cathedral is located close to the train station. The time of a short visit you would feel out of time, at the time of the Tsars, on the Red Square of Moscow! The St. Nicholas Cathedral is one of the most important Russian Orthodox buildings outside Russia. The interior adorned with blue contains many icons dear to the Orthodox religion.

Cathedral St Nicholas Nice

Cathedral St Nicholas Nice

 

Visiting Villefranche

Villefranche is a charming fishing village protected by a 17th century castle and set in a stunning little bay 15 minutes along the coast from Nice. A perfect place to relax at the end of the day.

The beach of marinières overlooks the most beautiful harbor in the world, its setting is beautiful, cruise ships stop there.  On the promenade above the beach there is also the best Pan Bagnats, at the place named “Nicette”. It is reached by foot, by car, and by train, the station is just above the beach.

 

Nice spot for a swim

Travel Tip

To save time, take the train to Villefranche from Nice. It’s just two stops away and takes 5 minutes!

Local guide tips
  • Take the Villa’s own guided walking tour to get a free in depth introduction to Nice and its history. Ask at the hostel for more details.
  • Walk along the Promenade des Anglais and enjoy the views of the Bay of Angels which stretches 5 km towards the airport.
  • Head into the fruit and flower market, the largest in France, to see the hustle and bustle of the local culture.
  • Stroll around the mazy streets of the old town where you’ll find baroque churches, boutique shops, quaint cafés and many restaurants. Try the local snacks like Socca at Lou Pilha Leva snack bar in old Nice.
  • Visit the Parc de Chateau from where you get incredible birds eye views over the city and the arc of the Bay of Angels, curving away in the distance towards the airport.
  • Head to the old port area and take a guided boat trip to see the Bay of Angels and Villefranche from a different perspective. For more information see the website: http://www.trans-cote-azur.co.uk/departing-nice/coastal-tour-boat-cap-nice-villefranche-bay
  • Jump on the bus 100 from the port and go visit the picturesque harbour village of Villefranche, only 15 minutes from Nice.
Villahostels, Nice

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Gardens

6 Rue Sacha Guitry
F-06000 Nice

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