Nice itself is an attraction: the rich blue-green sea, diverse shopping, splendid dining and lovely art-deco façades. But there are several spots that a tourist simply must see, such as the Cours Saleya Flower Market, the Matisse Museum, ancient Roman ruins, the Russian Cathedral and more. Nice is second only to Paris in the number of museums and galleries. Be sure you know which spots have the most allure before you come to Nice.
1. Promenade des Anglais
Few spots epitomize Nice -- or, in fact, the joie de vivre of the French Riviera in general -- than the inviting Promenade des Anglais. It is always bustling with humanity.There are tourists relaxing in the royal blue chairs lining the shore. There are locals roller blading, biking or jogging along it. Vendors sell crepes and drinks on it. Best of all, there are delightful (if over-priced) seaside restaurants. Splurge on a chaise lounge, and let waiters bring you cocktails and appetizers.
Profile: Promenade des Anglais
2. Cours Saleya Flower Market
Nice's famous Flower Market is one of the best attractions in the whole city. The edges are lined with cafés and souvenir shops, and the stands themselves are packed with amazing produce and myriad flowers. It operates six days a week, replaced on Mondays by a flea and antiques market.
3. Matisse Museum
The lovely and innovative art of Henri Matisse was inspired by the fresh colors and lines of Nice. Just take a look at any of his art peering out of balcony windows, and you will surely see the Riviera shoreline. This vast museum shows Matisse's works from his more traditional early days to the end of his career. There are also some of his personal effects here. The museum gift shop features prints of the artist's works.
4. Vieux Nice, or Old Nice
Old Nice is downright dripping with atmosphere. Its narrow streets are a one-stop shop for take-home finds, such as Provençal wares, household items, wine, gourmet gifts, hip clothing and more. There are numerous restaurants in the area, as well as several fun bars and nightclubs. Be sure to stop off for a delicious ice cream in this neighborhood.
5. Le Chateau
The best reason to visit the chateau is for the spectacular panoramic view of the city and sea. You won't actually see much of a castle (only a few sections of it remain). You can take the free elevator up or hike up the stairs for free to the park atop the hill. Be sure to bring your camera.
6. Rue de France Pedestrian Zone
The Nice pedestrian zone, or "zone pietonne," is a hub of activity. This is the place if you need to load up on souvenirs. Street entertainers frequent this area. There are gourmet shops, clothing shops, news stands, bookstores and more. (Check out the Ducs de Gascogne store for some real finds). Grab a café au lait and watch the world go by, nibble on a crepe, or visit in the evening for a robust meal with an Italian accent. This is just a lively spot!
7. Theatre de la Photographie et de l'Image
This homage to the photographic arts is housed in a lovely renovated building a couple blocks off the busy Boulevard Jean Medicine thoroughfare. The museum typically hosts exhibits of universal appeal, such as a show dedicated to portraits of Hollywood celebrities over the decades and an exhibition on American Indians. Entry is free.
8. Russian Cathedral
What a juxtaposition: the traditional Russian onion towers in the background, and the tropical palm trees in the foreground. As odd a pairing as the two seem, the Russian Cathedral is just one of many Russian attractions in the city. The Russian aristocracy used Nice as a balmy getaway, and left their indelable mark on the Riviera city. The cathedral is the finest example, and provides a rare opportunity to experience the former U.S.S.R. on the Cote d'Azur.
9. Nice Archaeology Museum and Roman Ruins
The Russians weren't the first to succumb to the allure of Nice. The ancient Romans also called the area home, and to this day visitors can see the ruins of a Roman arena and bathhouses at (or next to) this museum in the Nice Cimiez neighborhood (right next to the Matisse Museum). Inside, the archaeology museum houses an interesting mix of historic and archeological exhibits on the area.
10. Nice Port
The Nice Port area is one frequently overlooked by tourists, but it shouldn't be. Just around the corner from Old Nice and the Quai des Etats Unis, this is a great spot to watch the Corsica ferries lift off. There are also some of the city's hippest nightclubs here.