Welcome to the French Riviera aka Cote d’Azur! Any trip to the Côte d’Azur should begin with a stop in Nice, France overlooking the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Capital of the French Riviera, Nice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Its assets are unique and numerous.
Nice is known as the “Queen of the Riviera” and is the largest city on this fabled stretch of coast. With streets full of colorful buildings, palm-lined boulevards, and a harbor of turquoise blue, you may feel like you have somehow stepped into a living painting when you arrive in Nice. And in fact, the clear air and soft light of the city has inspired some of the artistic greats like Chagall and Matisee, both of whom have museums dedicated to their works here.
It takes just a mention of Nice, France to conjure up an image of elegant charm, chic style, and fashionable boutiques. The Old Town in Nice, is a must-see for any visitor thanks to its rustic narrow streets, colorful markets, and vibrant atmosphere. The most famous building is the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, which honors the patron saint of Nice, a young girl who was arrested for her Christian faith. The cathedral was built between 1650 and 1699 as a statement of importance. Cours Saleya market is one of the liveliest areas of Old-Nice. Overflowing with fresh produce, cheeses, olives, herbs, flowers, and charm. A kaleidoscope of sights and smells, it is bursting with history, ambiance, and culinary inspiration. The focal point of Nice’s Old Town, the Place du Palais de Justice, is a bustling cultural melting pot of tourists and locals. The central square features a variety of architectural masterpieces, including the wondrous facade of the Palais du Justice and the awe-inspiring bell tower.
The world-famous stretch of road Promenade des Anglais is one of France’s best known and iconic seafronts. The promenade is an incredible experience unto itself, complete with full sensory overload. There are a number of fantastic restaurants and bars to stop in while you wander. Along the way, you can see the ornate Hotel Negresco, the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée and La Chaise, a large iron sculpture of a chair created by Niçoise artist Sabine Géraudie that has become the unofficial symbol of the city. You simply cannot visit Nice without taking a stroll here.
Once you see the beauty of the south of France, you realize why so many artists have made their home here. The landscape is one of the azure blue seas, brilliant white houses, and the vibrant colors of the region. The Musée Matisse (Matisse Museum) is devoted to the work of French painter Henri Matisse. It gathers one of the world’s largest collections of his works, tracing his artistic beginnings and his evolution through his last works. He came to Nice in 1916 and settled in leafy Cimiez in the hills above Nice for the rest of his life,
Saint Paul de Vence is a charming hilltop village, with its medieval fortress walls surrounding the city. A walk through its winding streets reveals elegant fountains, vine-covered stone walls and statues tucked into the walls. There are breathtaking views of mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, sparkling in the background. Even the cobblestones have beauty; they are shaped like flowers. The entrance was erected in the 1400s and features a canon muzzle that was a trophy from the 1544 Battle of Cerisoles in Italy.
If you are looking for authenticity, Haut-de-Cagnes has held on to the calm atmosphere of a village with its history-laden stones, its shady, narrow streets decorated with flowers, and its unique viewpoints over the Mediterranean Sea. The Grimaldi Castle and Museum were purchased by the municipality in 1939, turned into a museum in 1946, and listed as a French historic monument in 1948, today the Château-Musée Grimaldi is a spectacular location home to 20th-century painting collections and contemporary art exhibitions. From the top of the tower, enjoy sweeping views over the medieval town, the Bay of Angels and the Mercantour. The Musee Renoir (Renoir Museum) in Cagnes-sur-Mer was Auguste Renoir’s family home. He lived the last 12 years of his life on this beautiful estate and filled it with his sculptures, paintings, furnishings, photographs, and touching personal effects, like Renoir’s wheelchair placed in front of his easel. You can even go into his studio and see his brushes and the colors that were the last on his pallet. This could be the most beautiful village in southern France.
When your ship pulls into the Port de Nice, you will be right in the middle of this beloved part of the European coastline known as the French Riviera. However, you choose to spend your day in port, you are sure to be wowed by the culture and beauty, old-world opulence, vibrant street life, and stunning seaside location. There is no place in France that compares with Nice – the Capital of the French Riviera.