Visit the beautiful French Riviera
As the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes on the French Riviera in the southeast coast of France, Nice first hosted an IRONMAN event in 2005 and since then has been one of the most popular locations on the IRONMAN race circuit. In 2019, Nice is the host of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. There is much for athletes and their families to enjoy in the beautiful French Riviera.
With its mix of old-world opulence, year-round sunshine and stunning seaside location, Nice is the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Azur and the fifth-largest city in France. A magnet for beachgoers and culture seekers since the 19th century, this coastal city has fabulous markets, an enticing old town, glorious architecture and a wealth of high-end restaurants. With one of the largest international airports in France located just minutes away from the city, Nice is easily accessible and welcomes over five million visitors every year as one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. Beyond the beauty of the area, Nice also offers a rich culture built by some of the greatest painters, writers and musicians the world has known. With outstanding cuisine and culture, Nice embodies all the benefits of a historic coastal city. If you really want to soak up the Riviera vibe, there’s no better place.
Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais or English Promenade in Nice runs along the beachfront of the Bay of Angels and is one of the most important parts of the city. The promenade runs from the airport in the west to Old Nice and the Quai des Etats Unis in the east. Along the length of the promenade are several points of interest starting with the Cours Selaya market and Old Nice. Place Massena is along the promenade and is one of the busiest and historic squares in the city. You can also see Casino Ruhl, the art deco Palais de la Mediterranee and the historic Hotel Negresco.
It is lined with cafes, landmark hotels and restaurants and is used by locals for cycling, walking, jogging and rollerblading. Of course it is also the perfect place to strut your stuff and see and be seen. The promenade has distinct blue chairs and cabanas where you can sit and stare out to sea. The beaches which border the promenade are mostly private and you will have to rent a chair or umbrella in order to sit on the beach.
Nice Old Town
This quaint area is one of the highlights of Nice. The area is known for its dynamic atmosphere both night and day. The ideal way to see Nice’s Old Town is to wander through the lanes stopping here and there for a coffee to look at one of the old buildings or stores. The area has a baroque-Mediterranean feel with pastel shaded tall buildings, blue shutters and washing hanging from window to window. At one time the Old Town was cut off from the rest of the city by Paillon River but since 2013 Promenade du Paillon connects the old and new parts of Nice. The Promenade du Paillon has many trees, plants, a reflecting pool and jets of water shooting up across the paving.
The Old Town is roughly triangular-shapes bordered by the Promenade du Paillon to the north, Castle Hill to the east and the Mediterranean Sea across the Quai des Etats to the south. Start exploring the Old Town from the Place Massena and follow Rue St. Francois de Paule to see boutique stores and the Opera de Nice (see separate listing). Just passed the Opera House is Palace Square with the Palace of Justice. Continue on to the colorful Cours Saleya market (see separate listing). This lively area running parallel to the sea is where the market stalls sell flowers and fresh produce.
Further on you can see the view across the Bay of Angels from Castle Hill to the right and the rest of the Old Town to the left. As the sun goes down head for Rue de la Prefecture which runs parallel to Cours Saleya. Here you’ll find pleasant bars and restaurants.
Located on the Promenade des Anglais this historic casino is the Nice version of its counterparts a little further down the coast in Monte Carlo. If you want to enjoy the game tables you will need to wear neat attire and all areas of the casino are off-limits to those under 18 and a day. At the casino there are gaming tables, slot machines, dinner theatre, cabarets and Vegas-like shows. There are two bars and two restaurants – American Café and Dolce Vita where you can enjoy a delicious meal. If you have been to Vegas you may be disappointed as the casino is rather small in comparison. There are 9 live game tables with Blackjack, Roulette and Poker.
For most visitors you’ll want to enjoy the atmosphere rather than seriously gamble away your money. So you should probably head for the 280 slot machines spread across two levels plus an open terrace level. The Terrace play area is roof-less and has every imaginable kind of slot machine including the latest models, electronic roulette and electronic Poker.
Opera de Nice
This historic building is situated in the Old Town of Nice; it is an active venue offering performances in opera, dance and music. The theatre is home to the Ballet Nice Mediterrannee and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra. The theatre building we see today is the third reincarnation of the venue which stands on the site of the former petit théâtre en bois which dated back to 1776 and was renamed Theatre Royal in 1790. In 1826 the theatre was demolished, rebuilt and reopened in 1828. Major events during the theatre’s history include a ball in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II in 1856; a performance conducted by Johann Strauss and attended by Napoleon III in 1860; a return visit by Napoleon together with the Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1864 and a performance attended by Louis II Duke of Bavaria in 1868. In 1870 the Theatre Royal became the Theatre Municipal.
In 1881 a gas leak caused a massive fire burning the theatre to the ground and another, final version was built in its place. This time the architect was Francois Aune, former student of Gustave Eiffel and the Theatre Municipal reopened in 1885. In 1902 it got its present name Opera de Nice and is also called Opera Nice Cote d’Azur. The interior has opulent décor, a ceiling mural painted by Emmanuel Costa and sculptures by Raimondi. The auditorium has plush red seats and three levels of boxes around the horse-shoe shaped auditorium facing a proscenium arch stage.
Take a day trip to Monaco
Squeezed into just 200 hectares, Monaco is the world’s second-smallest country. A magnet for high-rollers and hedonists since the early 20th century, it’s also renowned as one of the world’s most notorious tax havens and home to the annual Formula One Grand Prix. When you are so close, we certainly recommend a visit!
Take the short twenty minute coastal train ride from Nice train station and you’ll arrive in Monaco. Trains depart on average every 16 minutes and start at 05.25 and finish at 23.59.
The casino at Monte Carlo is virtually synonymous with the Monaco experience, and this establishment alone is responsible for bringing in as sizeable portion of the principality’s income. From an architectural standpoint, the casino is an impressive structure indeed. Built by Charles Garnier–who was also responsible for building the opera house of Paris–the casino was unveiled to the public in the 19th century. You don’t necessarily have to play the games in order to enter, as public admission is allowed with a fee of €10. If you would prefer not to enter, the surrounding gardens may also be explored at no cost.
Other notable attractions in Monaco are the Prince’s Palace, Monaco Ville, the 19th century Byzantine cathedral, and the Palais de Justice. Those interested in marine life will also enjoy the Oceanography Museum and Aquarium with its diverse exhibits and informative displays.