Recapping my 4 days in Nice, France, and sharing where to stay, where to eat and what to do!
We LOVED Nice. We actually almost didn’t go there and I’m so glad we changed our minds last minute. We initially booked flights to Paris and planned to spend 5 nights in Paris and while I adore Paris we realized that we probably would spend all of our time on-the-go doing touristy things and taking day trips, etc. The idea of going from one big city (Boston) to another stressed us out just thinking about it.
We finally decided it was worth it to book an extra flight from Paris to Nice and spend 4 nights there and then 1 night in Paris before we flew back to the States. I had spent some time in Paris before so it didn’t feel like I needed a ton of time there. Although, after spending one day there, I realized I could actually live there and spend all my days there sooooo basically for my next life, I’m requesting to be French.
Nice was the relaxing vacation we both needed. I made a point to completely disconnect from social media the entire time I was there (which was a first for me in like 5 years which is crazy!). And we both made a concerted effort to not try and do all the things but simply relax on the beach, read, swim, and eat. After 4 days of relaxation, I’m like why don’t we always do this when we travel?! And I know the answer – a part of me adores the exploration and adventure of travel and seeing and experiencing all the things. And I realize now the benefit of traveling to vacation and relax vs. always traveling to travel.
Because we changed our flight itinerary, we had a long night/day of travel. We flew BOS –> DUB –> CDG. And then from Charles De Gaulle to Nice. By the time we got to our hotel in Nice on Saturday, it was already like 5 or 6pm (and we had left Boston at around 9:30pm the night before). Because this trip was short (for us), we immediately tried to go into vacation mode to soak it all up with the limited time we had. We put on our bathing suits and went straight up to the rooftop pool. Drank a couple aperol spritzes with our toes in the water just sighing relief to finally be on vacation.
Where to Stay in Nice, France
We stayed at the Raddison Blu Hotel in Nice, which is unlike us because usually, we’re Airbnb people when traveling. Scratch that, I’m usually an Airbnb person. Steve prefers hotel living. And since I handed over the planning reigns to Steve, he booked a hotel deal on Expedia and that was that. It was definitely more expensive than an Airbnb would have been but it was nice to reap the benefits of a hotel stay like the pool, a private beach in front, being cozy in robes and slippers, ordering breakfast in bed, etc. And the view wasn’t too shabby either.
I would recommend staying at this hotel if while visiting Nice your goal is to relax on the beach. Because the Raddison Blu is about 2 miles from Old Nice/City Center so it makes for a quiet, intimate, relaxing beach experience. However, if your goal is to spend most of your time exploring Old Nice and getting a feel for the culture, I wouldn’t recommend staying here because it’s either a 40 minute walk or $$ for an Uber or you can take the tram but then you have to buy tickets and wait for it to come. So it’s definitely doable to get down there, just not super convenient because you’re not really within close walking distance.
We ate dinner our first night right at the hotel because it was late and we were exhausted after traveling. I ordered the bouillabaisse, which is one of Nice’s regional specialties. Bouillabaisse is basically a seafood stew and is usually served with grated cheese, toasted crostini and aioli on the side. The seafood stew traditionally consists of several varieties of fish, typically whatever is caught fresh that day. And the broth’s signature feature is saffron, which is gives it its orange color.
We spent the majority of our days lounging at the private beach of our hotel. One of my biggest gripes with the hotel was that you had to pay extra to have your own lounge chairs and umbrella at the beach, even as hotel guests. But we came to beach, and so beach we did. The water was PERFECT. It was cold and refreshing but not uncomfortably cold. We were there the first week of September and it was sunny and in the 80’s every day so having the water to take a dip in was a much-needed reprieve.
What to Eat in Nice
Our second night we ventured to a restaurant called Les Pecheurs, which is known for regional seafood specialties. It’s located right at the docks in Old City so there were beautiful views from the outside patio.
We split the bouillabaisse because I wanted to try it again outside of our hotel at a place that specializes in seafood. It didn’t blow me away, TBH. The best part was dipping the bread with aioli into the broth :).
Another regional specialty is the Niçoise salad. It’s typically topped with tomatoes, olives, hard-boiled eggs, and tuna. This one I ordered for lunch at the beach cafe of our hotel (which was super convenient to have so we never had to leave the beach during the day).
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is trying the local fare so I usually do a little research up front so I can make sure I check off all the meals. The other specialty I tried was socca, also at the beach cafe. It’s a flatbread made from chickpea flour and this one was topped with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, sun-dried tomato and arugula and then I drizzled olive oil and balsamic over top with some salt and pepper. It was heavenly. It’s funny I’d never heard of socca before but when I shared this on my IG, a lot of you said you’d had it or made it at home. I guess I’ve got some work to do in the kitchen!
Quick Stop in Monaco
Even though our goal for this trip was to relax, we decided we would spend one afternoon/evening traveling to Monaco. A few people told us it was well worth the trip and we were both intrigued to see the Monte Carlo Casino as well as this small independent country. Fun fact: Monaco is the second smallest country next to Vatican City.
We caught the train from the train station, Gare De Nice Ville. It was about a 30 minute train ride and there were gorgeous views of the French Riviera along the way.
We spent some time wandering the streets of Monaco, which actually consisted of finding me gatorade and a snack because I was so dehydrated, overheated, and low blood sugar, I thought I was going to pass out (real life: traveling; it’s not all glamorous).
There is a lot of money in Monaco. Probably because there is no income tax on residents here. So people that make a shitload of money buy a residence here so that they don’t get taxed on their income. #GOALS.
Because many of the restaurants in Monaco seemed overpriced, we found a recommended pizza establishment called Pizzeria Monégasque and that felt appropriate since now we’re clearly saving up to buy our next home in Monaco ;). The pizza was awesome and actually hit the spot.
After dinner, we walked to the Monte Carlo Casino. If you’re a James Bond fan, then you might recognize this casino as it’s been featured in some of those films.
We played some slot machines and lost our $20 in about two minutes. If you want to enter the main hall of the casino, you have to purchase a ticket, which includes a credit for the bar or the gambling tables. Unfortunately you can’t take any photos inside this area but it was pretty wild.
We had a little time to kill before the last train left Monaco back to Nice so we popped across the street to the Hotel de Paris to check out the Bar Americain, which Steve had read positive reviews on.
It was one of the coolest bars I’ve ever walked into. I felt like I was transported back to a jazz club in the 1940’s.
They had the best band playing too – the woman’s vocals were incredible. I could’ve stayed and listened all night. If I could go back, I would’ve spent less time hanging around the casino and more time listening to the music at this bar. But word to the wise, don’t plan on having many cocktails here if you don’t want to splurge. Steve ordered an Old Fashioned and it was like $40 or something ridiculous.
Our last day in Nice was beautiful and of course, we spent it on the beach.
Treated myself to a mojito on the beach for our last day (and because I had been on the phone with airlines for 3 hours trying to reroute my flight from Paris to Charleston back to Boston because of the hurricane. Airlines are the WOAT.
For dinner our last night, we made reservations at a restaurant that our cab driver on the first night recommended, Le Safari. She said it was where the locals go to eat and I said SOLD. Although I didn’t hear too many people speaking French there lol. This restaurant is in the heart of Old Nice and the patio made for great people watching.
We shared calamari to start.
I ordered the Niçoise cod, which was delicious.
And then we shared a warm peach tart with vanilla gelato. It was heavenly.
I would go back to Nice and the French Riviera in a heartbeat. Next time I’d love to spend more time and visit some of the other French Riviera towns like Cannes and Antibes and make it to Provence, which isn’t far. Stay tuned for my recap on one day in Paris!