If you’re doing 10 days in Paris, first of all, good for you! But if I may, could I suggest a delightful little side trip to Nice? Taken in the middle of your trip, this vacation within a vacation (INCEPTION!) will have you returning to Paris feeling like it’s home – or, if you want a bit of relaxation after schlepping through the City of Light, Nice provides the perfect excuse for doing a whole lot of nothing – and then you can fly direct from Nice to JFK.
Well, OK, not nothing, exactly. There’s lots to see and do in Nice. But as a city that has the double-whammy influence of Southern France and Italy, nothing gets done, seen, eaten or drunk with any particular hurry.
Can you already feel your shoulders coming down from around your ears? Let’s continue, shall we?
Nice Itinerary: Day One
Take the 7:46AM train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice Ville station. It takes 5h39m and costs about €67 one way. This is not only a super-fast TGV – it’s an iDTGV, which means for a nominal fee you’ve got WiFi the whole way down to Nice. It’s a perfect way to get all your web surfing done before turning off for a couple days. Or, you know, just sleep. I know it’s an early time to do anything while on vacation, but this way you’ve got plenty of time in Nice – including lunch, which is below and which you’re going to love. Here’s some more information on how to get to Nice, particularly if you’re coming from somewhere else:
- How to get from Paris to Nice
- How to get from London to the South of France
- How to get from Barcelona to Nice
- Cheap flights to Nice
- Budget airlines that fly to Nice
Quick search for flights to Nice (NCE) from Paris (CDG), Barcelona (BCN), and London (LON):
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Arrive about 1:30PM, and check into your hotel. My top recommendation is the Mercure Nice Promenade. It’s ideally located, well-priced, it has free WiFi, and you’ll have a view of the sea. Boom, done. If you want some other choices, check out these links:
OK. Now that we’ve got the booking stuff out of the way, it’s time for lunch! Throw down your bags and head to Vieux Nice, and more specifically to La Voglia, on the corner right past the Opera. Order some tasty tartines and a fabulous carafe of rosé. They also have delicious little desserts. And they’re open “no-stop” or through the break between lunch and dinner, so even if you get a late start from the hotel you can still chow down.
Next, stretch your legs by heading back to the Promenade des Anglais and taking a stroll. You’ll also be doing some recon here, finding the perfect beachside bar at which to park yourself for the rest of the afternoon, just like the couple in the picture above. That’s right – they have full sofas, coffee tables, and laissez-faire service that will ensure you’re in for a long afternoon of relaxation.
For dinner, you can just wander around Vieux Nice and see what floats your boat. The Cours Saleya, where the market is during the day, has its share of restaurants, some of them complete with those guys who stand out front and beckon you to come in. Avoid those, and you’ll be fine – just choose one with a menu that strikes your fancy. (I’m partial to Le Safari.)
Nice Itinerary: Day Two
Market day! Check out these links for more info on making the most of your market visit:
Pick up some fixins for a picnic lunch; the vendors are happy to cut up cheese and met for you, and some have napkins as well. Just ask! After you’ve visited the market (at around 11:45AM), head to La Merenda to make a reservation for dinner. They don’t have a phone or a website, so you have to go there in person. Trust me, it’s worth it. It’s just up the street from La Voglia, where you had lunch the day before.
Once that task is out of the way, walk through the entire Cours Saleya to the end, then cut over to Rue des Ponchettes. Follow that to the end, and take the free elevator up to the top of Château Hill. There’s no Château there, but there is a huge park with strategically placed benches with prime views of the city and the sea. Unwrap your purchases, and feast like royalty!
Between lunch and dinner, the choice is yours – roam the city, go back to another beach bar for more lounging, or hop on the train to Monte Carlo for an afternoon of seeing how the other half lives! Here’s some more information on how to spend the day:
Nice Itinerary: Day Three
Road trip! Nice is close enough to so many fantastic destinations along the French Riviera, your options are nearly endless for getting out of town – and the best part is, it’s not an all-day thing. You can have a leisurely breakfast and still make it to Italy for lunch!
Need more ideas? Want a specific France itinerary question answered? Hit me on on Twitter @WhyGoFrance. I’m happy to help!