It takes just a mention of Nice to conjure up an image of elegant charm, chic style and fashionable boutiques. But we’re not here to tell you about that. We are here to tell you why the Old Town in Nice, or Vieille Ville, is a must-see for any visitor thanks to its rustic narrow streets, colorful markets and a vibrant atmosphere. Scroll down to read about some of the highlights that we’ve rounded up for you.
The most famous building in Vieille Ville 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, and has no less than 10 chapels. An additional religious building worth a visit is the Chapelle de la Miséricorde, which is considered once of the world’s most beautiful baroque chapels. The interior is extravagant, with an incredible amount of paintings and decorations.
Another example of beautiful baroque architecture is the 17th-century mansion Palais Lascaris, known for its paintings, tapestries and luxurious decorations. The mansion now serves as a museum of musical instruments, some of which are extremely rare and important to music history.
For a soaring view of Nice, put on some joggers and head towards to Castle Hill. At 92 meters above sea level, this is the highest altitude in the city. Not much remains of the 7th century castle that once stood here, but it offers an amazing panorama of the whole area.
Read about a medieval day trip to Saint Paul de Vence for another historic destination in the area.
If you haven’t been to at least one market during your time in Nice, you have missed out. The best ones are found in the Old Town, starting with the various stalls at Cours Saleya. Here you can find the famous flower market of Nice and stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, soaps and handmade products. One stall that sells socca, a chickpea flatbread traditional to Nice, has existed in here since the 1920’s. On Mondays the Cours Saleya turns into a flea market selling antiques, furniture, clothes and miscellanea.
The street behind Cours Saleya is the Place du Palais de Justice, where you’ll find stalls every Saturday selling mostly books, crafts and post cards. There is also a small (but smelly) fish market at the Place Saint-François if you’d like to check out the local goods.
Bistros and eateries
Not surprisingly, some of the most popular dining destinations in Nice are found in Vieille Ville. Visiting foodies have a wealth of choice ranging from French and Niçoise specialities to international classics.
Check out the Bistrot d’Antoine if you want to try authentic French cuisine like risotto, grilled meats and fish platters. This place is very popular with both locals and tourists so make sure to reserve a table in advance.
Oliviera offers mouth-watering dishes made from locally sourced produce. They also make their own olive oils, which are paired with dishes to enhance the flavors. You can also stop by their shop in the daytime to sample their fantastic oils with some bread. A booking is necessary if you wish to dine here, as it is number four of all restaurants in Nice on TripAdvisor.
No meal is complete without dessert, so stop by the Fenocchio ice cream parlor on Place Rosetti for delicious ice creams and sorbets. The 100 different flavors range from classic tastes to some weird ones like, for example, tomato and basil.
There are plenty of things to see, do and eat during your visit to the capital of the French Riviera. Book the Radisson Blu Hotel Nice on the Promenade des Anglais for a great location to explore both the old and the new city.