The Promenade, Nice
Girls, mark your calendars for a weekend getaway in 2015 to sunny Nice, the perfect way to start the New Year! What’s not to love about sparkling turquoise water and belle époque architecture standing proud in the sunshine? For a local Niçois experience, take note of this 48-hour itinerary from Mel Dark, author of the French Riviera blog, Nice by Dark.
3 p.m. Stroll the Prom
It’s time to get acquainted with the most spectacular views of the French Riviera by taking a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. With glamorous hotels on your right and swanky beach lounges on your left, there’ll be no shortage of Facebook selfies. But please – put down your iPhone for five minutes, park yourself on one of the iconic blue chairs and take in the sparkling azur blue waters. Don’t speak. Don’t move. Just be.
After filling your lungs with fresh coastal air, I suggest wandering back to the Quai des Etats-Unis (the east section of the promenade) and stopping for a crisp glass of rosé at Ark, whose balcony overlooks the beach. From there, you can either continue east towards Hotel Suisse and climb the steps up to the Colline du Chateau for its postcard views, or follow the roads behind Ark into Vieux Nice to buy some obligatory lavender and get lost in a maze of cobblestones. Be sure to stop at Fenocchio in Place Rossetti to marvel at the 94 ice cream flavors!
7 p.m. Join the hipster set
Café des Chineurs
A weekend in Nice is not complete without an apéro on Rue Bonaparte behind the Port, affectionately known as “le petit Marais Niçois”. There, you’ll find the city’s coolest hangouts such as Comptoir Central Eléctrique, an exposed concrete hipster haven, and Café des Chineurs, the best bar on the block with a decor to die for.
9 p.m. Dine with the locals
After observing the hipster in his natural habitat, it’s time to follow him a couple of streets over to Rosalina Bar, a buzzing loft space with a mix of modern art, vintage furniture and wall projection. A swing in a restaurant? Of course! Eat back the calories burned from today’s walking by getting stuck into a Saint Felicien rôti àu miel et thym (baked cow’s milk cheese with honey and thyme) followed by a tasty Mediterranean main.
12 p.m. Get your groove on
If you haven’t yet run out of steam, head back to Rue Bonaparte for some dance beats at Gossip Bar. Friday night is 80’s night where people of all sexual orientations fling their arms around in a dark disco ball lit room to A-ha, Tears for Fears and Pat Benetar. Expect to lose your voice around 2am.
11 a.m. Sunbathe in style
After a well-deserved grasse matinée (sleep) and a few croissants, head back to the Prom and pick up one of the city’s Vélo Bleu (bikes). You’ve already walked the Prom – now it’s time to experience it on two wheels with the sea breeze flowing through your hair.
Nice’s port at sunset
Cycle as far as the famous Hotel Negresco (unmissable pink dome), park your bike and spend the day chilling at Hi Beach, part of the hip, eco-friendly hotel dreamed up by French designer Matali Crasset. Here you’ll find a playful mix of turquoise, royal blue and lime green furniture that includes day beds, giant beanbags and family-sized tents. You can even enjoy a massage at the outdoor mini-spa or grab a snack at a wooden hut. When you’re basking in the sun sipping fruity cocktails to an electro play list, you’ll realise that the 22€ admission was worth it.
5 p.m. Pop to the park
When you’re suitably bronzed, put on your floppy hat and go check out the city’s new €40 million park, the Promenade du Paillon, which extends from the Promenade des Anglais, past Place Massena and up to Place Garibaldi. You’ll see dancing water jets, carved sea animal playground games, botanical gardens and the stunning Riviera hillside in the distance.
8 p.m. Overdose on cheese
A cave-like setting at Bistro du Fromager
If you love gooey French cheese, caves and candlelight, you can’t go wrong with Bistro du Fromager, tucked on a quiet street in the old town. Fondue au Comté 16 mois, Risotto parmesan fermier 3 ans, Tagliatelles flambées avec parmesan, Mont d’Or pulled fresh from the oven… it’s a cheese lover’s paradise. Most of the wines are natural with little to no preservatives or chemicals so you can at least feel good about that while you’re scooping up half a cow. It’s one of Nice’s best addresses so be sure to reserve well in advance.
10 a.m. Relax on a rock
The rocky part of the coastline
This morning, swap sunburned tripists for overly tanned locals rocking up to the beach in jeans. First, stop at a boulangerie and pack a picnic of Niçois specialties such as Pissaladière, the caramelized onion pizza, or Tripte de blettes, a savoury-sweet Swiss chard pie. Then walk east of the Port onto Boulevard Franck Pilatte where you’ll find La Reserve beach with kids jumping off rocks and artists painting waves. Walk a little further and you can claim the peaceful rock of your choice and watch the Corsica ferry sailing by. Just don’t doze off and forget you have a flight to catch!
Written by Mel Dark for Girls’ Guide to Paris. Mel Dark is a British copywriter living in Nice, and author of the French Riviera blog, Nice by Dark.
Ark, 41-43, quai des États-Unis
Fennocchio, 2 Place Rossetti
Hi-Beach Hotel, 3 Ave des Fleurs
Hi Beach, 47, promenade des Anglais
Comptoir Central Électrique, 10, rue Bonaparte
Café des Chineurs, 1, rue Cassini
Rosalina Bar, 16, rue Lascaris
Gossip Bar, 7, rue Bonaparte
Le Bistro du Fromager, 29, rue Benoît Bunico