The definite guide for two nights in Nice.
The Côte d'Azur, this charming and alluring destination that, more often than not, guarantees sunshine for those wanting to skip a few grey days Britain provides so often. Don't get me wrong: I adore the UK (not so much with the whole Brexit chaos, but I still pinch myself for living in such a beautiful place. ) One of the advantages of this island is that it is within easy reach of all the culturally diverse continental countries. After less than two hours on the plane, I landed in the French Riviera at Nice Airport.
Do not bother with a taxi, unless you have a considerable amount of luggage. Bus number 98 is right outside the airport and will drop you off pretty much anywhere at Promenade des Anglaises, which is the main beach avenue with Hotel Negresco majestically dominant with its heritage and History.
I did not stay at the Negresco, and that is alright, because I was invited to stay in one of the most charming four star hotels I have encountered. Le Grimaldi Hôtel offers super stylish and spacious rooms in the city centre, perfect for those who want to explore more than the obvious.
I only had 3 days and want to do it all: museums, (there are so many! After Paris, Nice is the French city with most museums.) the promenade, the market, the castle hill, Antibes. In only 3 days, who was I kidding?
Well, surprisingly I managed to do absolutely all I planned to. Better still, no rush, not butterflies in the stomach when I got a little lost at the affluent district of Cimiez /Arénes trying to find the Chagall Museum. Exactly, this trip ran so smoothly I even had time to get lost and not panic. So, here is my definite guide to 2 nights, 3 days in splendid Nice.
Arrived at 2pm at the airport. Bus 98 took me on a lovely ride along the Promenade des Anglaises. I only had hand luggage, so I got off and walked to my hotel which was a fine 10 minute stroll from the bus stop.
Checked in and out again to explore the magnificent promenade. Casinos, imposing hotels, joggers, homeless people, fishermen, all incredibly busy for a week day in February. I ended my stroll at a good, yet quite touristy restaurant. The duck was well cooked, the wine was delicious and the crème brûlée was rather nice.
After some gorgeously fresh pastries at Le Grimaldi Hôtel, I made my way to the station. A delightful 10 minute walk from the hotel when you can appreciate the stunning Niçoise architecture. At the station, frequent trains to Antibes, Cannes, Milan. A scenic and quick trip to where, not surpisingly, Picasso made his home, Antibes and its dreamy beaches dramatic alpes framing the port where the rich and famous keep their yacht is nothing short of stunning. I decided to forget my map and just get lost in this small but extraordinary village. The Picasso Museum is a must. The collection are not the most impressive, but the sight is breath taking. I met Sabine, a lady who lives in Antibes but comes daily to the museum to take in the phenomenal view of the Mediterranean. A walk around town will undoubtedly lead you to a sea food restaurant. I suggest asking for the dish of the day for guaranteed fresh fish. Enjoy the relatively emptness of the low season , try something sweet at one of the many patisseries and if you can, visit the many wine shops for good advice. After a glorious day I took the train back to Nice., making sure I didn't fall
My plan was to sacrifice the famous Cours Saleya market and Castle hill to immerse myself into the art of Matisse and Chagall. But with an early start (I was out of the hotel by 10am), I walked along the promenade and within 20 minutes I was in the busy and vibrant market of Cours Saleya, one of the oldest in Europe. . An absolute feast for the senses. Try some local olive oil if you can. If you want to try some French croissants and pain au chocolat, the market is a great place for a quick breakfast too. Right outside of the market square, Castle Hill with its many, many steps. Do not be put off. (There is a lift, just in case it is too much but you do not want to miss the view.) From up there what you see is indeed magnificent. You can see tha lot of the city and the glorious sea at its feet. Quite a treat!It wasn't even 1pm and I was already on the bus 15 (you can also take number 17 or 25 and stop at Les Arènes). I went straight to the Matisse Museum, an elegant 17th century terracota villa overlooking a park with olive groves. A rich collection of his work is on permanent display. It is reat to learn more about the artists and his move to the south of France and how this reflects into his works. (If you have time and interest, next door there is the Archeological Museum and it is free to vist if you pay for the Matisse one.) In absolute no rush I walked down to the Chagall Museum. I got a little loston my way and this is a very residential area without a single shop in sight, so I strongly recommend you take your GPS because after a little while it was no more fun to to be clueless. The Chagall Museum was a beautiful sight. Lots of History and a rich collection of his work. I felt the garden needed a little more life to it, but it was still winter, so maybe things will change in spring time. After feeling very cultured, I took the number 17 bus back to the city centre, fetched my bag from the lovely Le Grimaldi Hôtel and took the same 98 bus back to the airport for the 8pm flight back to London. Naturally there is a lot I didn't manage to see, but for 3 days, this is very good indeed, and if anything, it just is another reason to go back.