May 31, 2016

Once overlooked for its sister, Marseilles, the blossoming city of Nice is now the star of the French Riviera.

Begin any trip to Nice by rising early and strolling through the Riviera’s most famous outdoor market, the Cours Saleya. Here, beneath striped awnings and shady umbrellas, vendors sell everything from bouquets of geraniums and dahlias to fresh fruits and vegetables. The colorful blooms, however, are the market’s most beloved attraction, and the market is often called the Marché aux Fleurs. Legend has it that this was the first cut-flower market in the world.

Continue your tour of Nice on the Promenade des Anglais is an attractive, four-mile stretch of seafront with a dedicated bike lane. Whether you walk or ride, the paved promenade boasts uninterrupted Mediterranean views. Keep an eye out for the oversized Le Chaise de SAB: an iron sculpture by local artist Sabine Géraudie.

You’ll have no problem deciding what to do in Nice for food—after all, eating along The French Riviera could be a trip in its own right. Try socca, a crispy crepe made from chickpeas, at Chez Pipo. This restaurant behind the port has a 300-year-old Biot stone oven, which has turned out an impossible number of the thing, golden pancakes. There’s also, of course, Niçoise salad (the traditional version comes sans potatoes, and trades tuna for anchovies).

For a bird’s-eye view of the city—and a bit of greenery—head to Parc de la Colline du Château. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramas of the coastline and Old Nice. Look closely to find ruins of a castle destroyed by Louis XIV and a single, unexpected waterfall.

You don’t have to go to Italy for exceptional gelato. Our favorite ice cream parlors include Fenocchio, which boasts more than 100 flavors (think: cactus sorbet and a savory-sweet blend of Swiss chard, raisin, lemon, and pine nut blend evoking the unusual Niçoise tart, tourte de blettes), and Crema di Gelato, which offers all-natural, traditional varieties like pistachio and dark chocolate. 

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