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Nice, France, is located along the stunning Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur coastline. Rich in history, charm, culture, quaint villages, and picturesque beaches, the South of France is the perfect summer destination. If you haven’t already, you must add Nice, France, to your summer bucket list!

Keep reading to learn about the best things to do in Nice, France, before planning your trip to the South of France!

Best Time to visit Nice, France

If you hope to enjoy your days in the French Riviera under the warm sun along the Mediterranean Sea, then it’s no surprise you should visit in the summer! May to August is the peak summer season. You can expect hot, sunny days and many other summer vacationers enjoying the South of France.

But if you’d prefer to have a peaceful visit with fewer crowds, we recommend you visit during shoulder season (March to April and September to October). Our favorite time to visit the South of France is in September. It’s still the ideal summer weather but with a lot fewer people than in peak summer!

10 Best Things to do in Nice, France:

#1. Walk along the scenic Promenade des Anglais

The Promenade des Anglais is a 7-kilometer (approx. 4.5-miles) promenade along the Mediterranean coastline in Nice. It’s a scenic walk great for walking, biking, and skating. It has views of the crystal blue sea, lush palm trees, and beautifully historic buildings, including the Le Negresco Hotel, one of the most luxurious and expensive hotels and casinos in Nice.

Not only is a scenic pathway, but a great way to walk between many of the other things to do in Nice, France!

#2. Explore Villefranche-ser-Mer

Villefranche-ser-Mer is a colorful seaside town about a 15-minute drive from the center of Nice. It’s a quaint area with lots of restaurants, shops, and the beautiful beach, Plage des Marinieres. It’s the perfect place to grab dinner and watch the sunset. Or you could spend your day soaking up the sun at Plage des Marinieres, walking over to the waterfront dining area to grab lunch while watching the ships enter into the harbor!

During the summer nights, it’s a popular spot! If you want to dine along the water, be sure to arrive early to get a spot or make a reservation in advance. We were too busy enjoying the sunset by the time we went to eat dinner; most places were full or only had tables inside the restaurant!

If you are looking to stay outside of Nice but still in a convenient area with lots of charm and things to do, then Villefranche-ser-Mer may be the perfect place for you!

Eze one of the best things to do in Nice, France

#3. Wander the streets of Èze

Èze is a medieval seaside commune perched on the coastline overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a small, fairytale-like village filled with cobblestone streets and ivy-covered stone houses. While it’s technically outside the city limits of Nice (only a 30-minute drive), it’s definitely worth visiting!

Depending on what you’d like to do during your visit, you only need to spend around 1 to 3 hours here. It’s a very small village! You can wander the streets, visit Le Jardin Exotique, shop in the local stores, and dine at one of the restaurants with a stunning ocean view.

It’s free to visit, but you do have to pay for parking (outside the village). You have to park below and walk up into the village because there are no cars in Eze! For parking, we recommend parking in the La Colette parking garage right outside the city center (coordinates are 43.729542, 7.361172).

Èze can get very busy! If you want a more peaceful experience, we recommend you get there early in the morning. But just be aware that most of the shops don’t open until 10:00 am, and restaurants only serve lunch and dinner (not breakfast). Full Disclosure: we got to Èze at 7:30 am to take these photos. We wanted to get photos without having to navigate hundreds of people walking the narrow streets. But we went back later in the day to go to some of the shops that caught our eye but weren’t open yet!

#4. Enjoy a beach day at one of the many stunning beaches

Nice is home to many beautiful beaches! Not all beaches are public; there are many private beaches or sections that are private beaches. Below is a list of some of the best beaches in Nice (Plage is french for beach):

  • Plage des Ponchettes
  • Coco Beach
  • Plage des Marinieres
  • Plage Petite Afrique
  • Plage Cros Dei Pin
  • Plage Publique Magnan
  • Plage Paloma
  • Le Voilier Plage
  • Plage de la Plateforme
  • Plage de Passable

There are many public beaches along the coast, but many beaches have private sections with beach clubs where you can rent chairs, towels, and umbrellas. While it can be pricey for you to do every day of your trip (around $20 to $80 per person, per day), it’s a luxurious place to spend your day at the beach! If you only have time for one beach day, we definitely think it’s worth the splurge. Plus, many of them have full-service restaurants with waiters who will bring you drinks and food. It’s a more relaxing, resort like experience!

One thing to know before you go is that most beaches in the South of France are pebble beaches, not white sand beaches. Many people bring water shoes or pads under their towels to avoid direct contact with the pebbles. It was a little painful at first to walk on the beaches, but we got used to it and didn’t mind it (we didn’t have water shoes)! I’d say most people we saw in water shoes were tourists, not locals.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, one of the best things to do in Nice France

#5. Coastal walk along Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is another incredible area to explore in the Nice area! It’s a fishing village located out a peninsula around a 20-minute drive from Nice. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is home to many wealthy and famous people who live or vacation in some of the most luxurious villas. That being said, it’s still a lovely place for anyone to visit!

The Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula has lush tropical vegetation, stunning beaches, and many beautiful coastal walks. There are many different coastal paths you can take to walk along the seaside to different towns, beaches, and areas of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It’s a great place to spend an entire day, walking from beach to beach, stopping to eat at cafes in-between!

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, one of the best things to do in Nice France

#6. Wander the streets of Old Town Nice (Vieille Ville)

Old Town Nice is truly the heart of Nice, located just on the border of Promenade des Anglais. It’s filled with so much history, character, and charm. The Mediterranean-colored tall, narrow buildings are home to many residents, delicious restaurants, and local shops. This is a lovely area to wander around for hours and see where the cobblestone streets lead you!

FYI, the streets can get very crowded during peak summer. Typically, during the morning, the crowds are slimmer, and you can enjoy a more peaceful stroll through the cobblestone streets and courtyards!

One last thing: the Old Town of Nice (Vieille Ville) is also known as Old Nice (Vieux Nice). So just know if you see either one on a street sign or map, they mean the same place!

Watch our video, the “Ultimate South of France,” to see many of the best things to do in Nice, France, in action!

Cours Saleya Market, one of the best things to do in nice france

#7. Shop local at the Cours Saleya Market

Cours Saleya Market is a local market in Old Town Nice. Depending on the day of the week you visit, the goods are slightly different. When we visited, they had lots of fresh produce, flowers, and local goods. But typically, every day of the week, except Monday, you should find fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Since it can be a bit confusing, below are the hours for each day of the week and what type of goods should be at the market.

Cours Saleya Market Schedule:

  • Flower Market (Marché aux fleurs) 
    • Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 6:00am to 5:30pm (6.00-17.30) 
    • Wednesday and Saturday: 6:30am to 6:30pm (6.30-18.30) 
    • Sunday: 6:30am to 1:30pm (6.30-13.30)
    • Closed Mondays
  • Fruit & Vegetable Market (Marché aux fruits et legumes)
    • Every day except Monday: 6:00am to 1:30pm (6.00-13.30)
  • Antiques/Flea Market (Marché à la brocante)
    • Monday: 7:00am to 6:00pm (7.00 – 18.00)
  • Evening Market (Marché artisanal nocturne) 
    • Every day June through September: 6:00pm to Midnight (18.00-0.00)

We got fresh fruit from a local vendor as a snack while we walked around! Typically, we aren’t travelers who purchase souvenirs since we live a pretty nomadic lifestyle. But I found the most beautiful olive oil holder, and I just had to buy it! We use it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It’s the sweetest reminder of the memories of our time in the South of France, one of our favorite places ever!

Fun fact: In French, “souvenir” means “memory or to remember.” I just learned it in my French class, and I thought it was so cool knowing the origin of the word and the meaning behind people purchasing “souvenirs” from their travels!

#8. Take a day trip to Monaco

Monaco is the second smallest country in the entire world, and it’s also one of the richest! You may have heard of it because of the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye was filmed there!

It’s a great place to day a quick day trip over from the South of France. Here are some of the best things to do in Monaco: Monte Carlo Casino, walk the F1 racetrack, Prince’s Palace, walk the streets of Monaco-Ville, enjoy the view from Rue des Remparts, walk around the Monaco Yacht Club, and visit Musee Oceanographique. There are also a few beaches you can go swimming!

Just be warned that almost everything in Monaco was $$$ – the shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. This is not a place to visit if you want to stay on a tight budget! Unless, of course, you are like us and visited the country without paying for anything other than parking, lol.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild things to do in Nice, France

#9. Tour the iconic Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Villa de Rothschild is located just outside of Nice in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It was built in 1907 for Beatrice de Rothschild as her “dream villa”. After visiting ourselves, we can understand why she chose this breathtaking location! The views from inside the villa and the entire estate have stunning panoramic views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild things to do in Nice, France

In addition to the Villa itself, the property includes nine themed gardens, a musical fountain show (every 20 minutes), and a restaurant and tea room. It’s open 365 days a year from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (July and August open until 7:00 p.m.). You can buy tickets in advance online or in person when you arrive. The ticket includes entry to all of the areas on the property and a free audio tour of the Villa. If you are arriving by car, there is free on-site parking.

Pro Tip: I recommend getting there the last hour before they close. There was hardly anyone there, and it was very peaceful!

#10. Enjoy the beauty of the art at Villa Masséna Musée

The Massena Museum (Musée Masséna) is an art museum just steps off the Promenade des Anglais. It houses beautiful art and decor about the history of Nice and even artifacts about Napoleon Bonaparte. The museum was opened in 1921 and used to be the residence of Prince Essling, the grandson of one of Napoleon’s best generals, André Masséna.

Musée Masséna is open from Wednesday to Monday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in summer and 11:00 am to 6:00 pm all other times of the year. Tickets are €10. Admission also allows you entrance into other museums in the city for 24 hours.

Since it’s so central to other great things to do in Nice, France, it’s definitely worth stopping by for an hour or so!

Enjoy reading about the 10 Best Things to do in Nice, France? SAVE for later planning!

If you want to visit another area of France, check out our blog about Visiting Mont St. Michel in Normandy!

Comments +

  1. L Herring says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experience in Nice and appreciate your helpful tips and fun facts! Would love to retrace your footprints in the gorgeous areas of the world!!

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