Nice Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Nice

Nice, an iconic destination in Southern France, has been the lure for the rich and famous for centuries thanks to its temperate Mediterranean climate and picturesque seafront. Other than chic boutiques, hotels and restaurants, the city is famed for its historic attractions, such as the Promenade des Anglais ("Promenade of the English"), 19th century Opéra de Nice, Château, Cours Saleya, Place Massena, Old Town and more. To find your way around and appreciate the top landmarks of Nice, follow this orientation walk!
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Nice Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Nice Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Nice (See other walking tours in Nice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: karen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Place Massena
  • Arc de Venet
  • Promenade des Anglais
  • Opéra Nice Côte d'Azur
  • Cours Saleya
  • Place du Palais de Justice
  • Old Town Market
  • Vieille Ville (Old Town)
  • Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill)
  • Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate
  • Place Rossetti
  • Palais Lascaris
  • Cimetiere du Chateau
  • Marche St. Francois
  • Place Saint Francois
  • Place Garibaldi
Place Massena

1) Place Massena (must see)

Place Massena is the main square in Nice, where one of the famous streets in Nice, Promenade des Anglais runs. It is a beautiful place surrounded by Italian-style architecture, recently renovated to enhance the atmosphere combining the historical with a modern touch. Given its imposing size, concerts and festivals are frequently held here.

Why You Should Visit:
Interesting and generously structured area which seems to be, as you might expect, at the heart of all things Nice.

Perfect place to do a 360 view of the city and make sure you look up at the buildings to see the classic architecture.
Beautifully lit at night and down the side streets are some lovely places to eat & drink.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Arc de Venet

2) Arc de Venet (must see)

If you go to the part of Nice near the Albert I Garden, you will find one of the most famous outdoor works of art in the town. Named as Arc de Venet, it was built in 1988. At the time, it was considered quite controversial by the French locals, but now it is accepted as a town landmark and icon.

The piece was designed by Bernard Venet. This work represents his early carrier. He came to the town of Nice at the young age of 17 and studied at the Ville Thile. His metal works of art are currently found in places all across the world. Venet has moved to New York but is still held in high regard by the locals.

The arch reaches way into the sky above the area. It stands a full 19 meters tall. Its black metallic color is quite interesting and plays well against the sky on a clear day. It makes quite an impression. The piece is also quite popular among the locals. Often, impromptu meetings are scheduled and held at the foot of this work.

The surrounding park is a lovely walk among palm trees and flowers, and features other highlights such as the historical monument named Triton's Fountain (it came from Greece in the 1800s), as well as fountains and basins.
Promenade des Anglais

3) Promenade des Anglais (must see)

The Promenade des Anglais (Niçard: Camin deis Anglés) is a celebrated promenade along the Mediterranean at Nice. For the local inhabitants, the Promenade des Anglais has simply become the Promenade or, for short, La Prom. On Sundays, bicyclists, baby strollers, and whole families can be seen out for a stroll along the Promenade. It has also become a favorite place for skateboarders and in-line skaters. Aside from numerous events such as the annual Carnival, the Battle of Flowers, etc. that take place along the Promenade, it has its blue chairs (chaises bleues) and cabanas perfect for a lazy time along the Mediterranean and for contemplation of the azure water of the Bay of Angels (la Baie des Anges). The Promenade was the site of the team time trial in the 2013 Tour de France, held on 2 July 2013. It attracts a large number of visitors being a favorite place for locals and tourists. You can as well visit it during the annual Carnival, the Battle of Flowers that takes place along the Promenade.

Why You Should Visit:
An enormously WIDE and LONG promenade traversing the entire seafront.
Lots of examples abound of the traditional seating (chairs) which are wholly representative of this area.
Along the seafront, you can get not just a bit of exercise from a jog, stroll or cycle but the sight of some wonderful building and history.
There's no downside to wander down this promenade so you may as well do it end to end!

Don't walk in the bike lane and take care to look both ways when crossing those lanes.
Try and avoid eating at restaurants on the front – food is nice but more expensive. The more traditional restaurants frequented by locals are a little bit further off the promenade.
One of the most interesting and lively parts is between the Boulevard Gambetta and the Vieux Ville. There you'll find most of the big Belle Époque hotels and résidences and plenty more to see.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Opéra Nice Côte d'Azur

4) Opéra Nice Côte d'Azur (must see)

The Opéra de Nice is the principal opera venue in Nice, France. It offers three types of performances: operas, ballets, and classical concerts; and houses the Ballet Nice Méditerrannée and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra. The “petit théâtre en bois” was first created in 1776 by Marquess Alli-Maccarani. Sold in 1787, it reopened in 1790 under the name “Théâtre Royal”. In 1826, the city of Nice, encouraged by King Charles Félix, bought it from its owners and had it destroyed and rebuilt. It was inaugurated in 1828 with Giovanni Pacini's Il Barone di Dolsheim. In 1902, it was named Opéra de Nice and is today referred to as Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur. It is a must to visit in Nice. They have a wide program with opera and concerts. Nice atmosphere of the interior with chandeliers and fairy-like walls blending perfectly with the performances. The building has Italian-style peculiarities.

Why You Should Visit:
Superb singing and beautiful production in an elegant opera house!

Best to take a cushion as the benches are rather hard for the duration.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cours Saleya

5) Cours Saleya (must see)

A trip to Nice absolutely must include a stroll around the Cours Saleya. This incredible area used to be the city square in the days gone by. It is now an open-air market that has many different vendors available throughout the week. The sights, sounds, smells and the people are sure to be one of the highlights of any trip.

Every Monday morning there is an antique market, where the perfect bit of Art Deco or that one unique souvenir may be purchased. If you love antiques, do not miss coming on Mondays. Tuesday through Sunday, the market is devoted to fresh, colorful flowers and fruits of all kinds. Of course, it really depends upon the time of year one visits as to what produce will be available, but whatever is being sold, it will be fresh.

Be sure to arrive early at the market; the stalls open at 6 am, so try to get there as soon as possible after that. For early birds, this place is a real treat. Reusable bags to carry home purchases are absolutely necessary as well as plenty of small bills and change. The vendors will have enough customers that they don’t need to worry about fussing with making huge amounts of change for one customer.

For those who have cooking facilities where they are staying, do not miss the fresh fish market. There is no comparison of taste in fish that went from the water to the table in just a few hours. What a delight, especially when accompanied by fresh herbs, bread, veggies and paired with an incredible wine.

During the summertime, the Cours Saleya turns in a craft market on the warm evenings. It is possible to go to the market in the morning to pick up fresh flowers, a bit of fruit, cheese, olives and bread for the day and then return in the evening to buy some delightful craft product to remember the trip by. The area is also home to several cafes and restaurants. What a way to spend a summer day in Nice!

Why You Should Visit:
Beautifully located in the heart of the city whilst at the same time not being too far away from the seafront.
Adding to the charm is the whole area leading up to it as you walk down a promenade of magnificent edifices erected yesteryear and oozing class at each and every glance.

Be there around 12 PM – that's when they fire a cannon after an old habit of the Duke of Nizza that tried to get his shop-a-holic wife home for lunch this way.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-1pm
Place du Palais de Justice

6) Place du Palais de Justice (must see)

The Place du Palais de Justice or the Nice Court of Law has recently received a well-deserved facelift. The whole area has been given a bit of polish and shine, making it a delightful and picturesque neighborhood. The fountain in front of the court building is absolutely gorgeous.

The steps leading into the building lend themselves to getting an elevated picture of the surrounding area. They also are a great place to gather a large travel group to get a picture with a nice backdrop of the Neo-Classical Palais.

While the building itself is very impressive, it is really the whole area that makes this attraction a must see. The colorful pavement around the square, the impressive fountain, the cafés in the area all make for a lovely ambiance. The street vendors are also a nice touch, and they may have exactly what is needed to fill out that little spot in the suitcase for a souvenir.

The Place du Palais de Justice is also a favorite hangout of the local youth at night. It is a spot to bring a brew and gather with friends in the lovely Nice evenings. This area also hosts movies and concerts fairly frequently, so be sure and check the schedule of events.

Why You Should Visit:
Another one of Nice's finest squares, with plenty of activity both day and night!

Visit on a Saturday for the regular second-hand book market, selling old posters, postcards as well as books and magazines.
Old Town Market

7) Old Town Market

The Old Town Market is one of the best known markets in this region. Visitors will want to wake up early as it opens very early. A wide variety of goods are sold here. It has a splendid atmosphere with aromas and colors that attract many customers. You can not leave without buying something.
Vieille Ville (Old Town)

8) Vieille Ville (Old Town) (must see)

The Vieux Nice, also known as the Old Town, is in many respects the most colorful area in the whole city. There are lots of small streets that can be wondered for a very long time, most of which end in a shop, or a great place to eat, or an art exhibit. There are lots of pastels that have been used in the paint. Just to make things even more romantic in design, the locals still hang their laundry out across the street on long clotheslines.

Part of the allure of the area comes from the fact that this once was a very poor part of town, so you really get to see a piece of the real city here. There are two main attractions you will also want to check out: the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate (named after the saint of the town) and the famous Fenocchio ice-cream parlor.

You may also want to visit the Chapelle del’Annonciation, home of a famous local museum that has been built inside an exquisite old 17th-century space. Along the whole way, you will find many good cafés and coffee shops, along with places to buy lots of souvenirs. The southern end of the Old Town is home to the Cours Saleya, which is a marketplace well known for its flowers, fish and produce.

Why You Should Visit:
Almost all aspects of this historic and characterful Old Town are just superb!
Not only is it classically French but also has some unique and/or idiosyncratic features such as in Place Garribaldi.
You can spend more than a few days strolling around and visiting whichever bars take your fancy…

It's highly likely that you'll have to book in your preferred choice(s) as the bars and restaurants throughout the area are busy during most of the evening.
Otherwise, do not plan a lot or any of it! Just immerse yourself and indulge.
Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill)

9) Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) (must see)

Colline du Château or Castle Hill is a must see while in Nice with its breathtaking views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. This area is where Nice was founded in the third century BCE. From high on the hill a trading post was established and then a defensive post was maintained. A large wall was built around the city only to be torn down in the early 1700s.

Don’t go to the hill expecting to see the “Castle”, as a few ruins still remain but that is all. The area is still intriguing nonetheless. Aside from the exquisite views, there is a beautiful park, the Musée Naval, stepping stones that depict the Odyssey by Homer and a beautiful old cemetery filled with gorgeous headstones.

There is also a man-made waterfall along the way. This sometimes gets shutoff in the late afternoon, so be sure to visit early if you want to see it. There are plenty of benches around the area to take a few minutes just to revel in the Mediterranean splendor of the park. This is a great place to pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon. There is a small cafe in the area too.

Getting to the hill can be accomplished several different ways depending upon time constraints and fitness. For those who like to walk, take the steps up to the observation platform. There are 213 steps but the view is spectacular along the way. For a fee, there is also an elevator or a motorized train. The train does not really allow for any wandering, so for those who like to stroll and look on their own schedule, take the steps or the elevator or a combination of the two.

Don't forget the camera and a little extra cash for a snack. Plan on spending at least a couple of hours here. The area opens daily at 8 AM but the closing times vary with the seasons, so be sure to go earlier in the day. Keep in mind that some shops in the area will be closed from 12-2PM for lunch, so plan accordingly.

Unless you are quite fit, then take the free lift as the steps are quite steep in places and the overall climb hard going on a hot day.
Alternately, use the rear entrance by the very large war memorial overlooking the port area. The steps are nowhere near as steep as the ones overlooking the promenade, beach and old & new towns.
Note that just down from the cafe is a place where you can fill up water bottles for free.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate

10) Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate (must see)

The Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate is one of the most interesting and beautiful cathedrals in Nice. It is built on the site of a small church that dates back circa 1200. Built in the middle 17th century, and dedicated in 1699, the building is magnificent. It contains 10 chapels, that were maintained by private families, and three organs.

The name comes from a young Palestinian boy who was martyred for his Christian faith. Sainte-Réparate was 15 when he was beheaded and his body set adrift in a small vessel. According to legend, the boat floated up to the shores of Nice and he is now buried at the cathedral.

There have been additions over the years; the Baroque facade was added in the early 1800s. This hides the original cupola which is still there, but a bit hard to see. However, the cupola is covered in colored tiles and is beautiful standing guard over the transept.

The inside also carries on the Baroque theme with plentiful use of marble and gold. The barrel ceilings only add to the huge splendor of the cathedral which is built in the style of the Latin cross. This is definitely a must see when in Nice.

Why You Should Visit:
Fabulous interior and the decor is a wonder to behold. You can spend a very happy hour roaming, sitting and contemplating in this most peaceful setting.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-12pm / 2-6pm; Sat: 9am-12pm / 2-7:30pm; Sun: 9am-1pm / 3-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place Rossetti

11) Place Rossetti (must see)

If you need a place to go for a day to just sit back and watch the world go by in Nice, you may want to visit the famous Place Rossetti. This public square is reachable by several of the old streets that wander through this part of town. It has a beautiful fountain at the heart of the location, done in a classic Italian Baroque style. There are also many areas open to the general public that just come and stay a while.

It is located in the center of the part of town known as the Vieux Nice. The buildings are very old here, and almost appear as though they are leaning far enough to fall over. There is lots of color and uniqueness to the architecture here also – just note the laundry hanging overhead. While in the area, you may want to visit the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate or get yourself some ice cream at Fenocchio’s. The church is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in town while the ice cream is very popular among tourists and locals alike. You will also want to plan on having lunch or dinner in one of the fine restaurants or cafes located around the square. Bon Appétit.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the nicest squares in Vieux Nice – very important focal point during the summer!
Palais Lascaris

12) Palais Lascaris (must see)

Palais Lascaris was built in the 1600s for the Lascaris-Vintimille family. It is one of the best representations of how the truly wealthy lived during that time period. The palace was restored during the 1940s and then was open to the public as a museum. The spectacular Baroque building is well worth the visit for anyone, but an absolute must-see for those who love musical instruments.

Le Groupe AXA loaned an extensive collection of period instruments to the museum. In addition, there are also paintings that depict musical instruments, and it is not unusual to be able to hear some of the instruments being played. The palace also hosts several musical events throughout the year – check the schedule.

Be sure to see the 'étage noble', the noble story, where much of the original grandeur has been restored. This was used as a gathering place and is very fitting for a rich, noble family. The palace has the obligatory Baroque staircase as well as beautiful murals and tapestries. There is also an apothecary on the ground floor that houses many original pieces from the 18th century and some beautiful delft pieces.

Why You Should Visit:
Much to see – from the spectacular entrance of golden aura glory to the rooms that are very unique inside, with well carved magnificent details and infinite complex abstract designs.
The artifacts include musical instruments; a room dedicated to pop/rock music, (including well-known American artists); religious artifacts; paintings; and historic tapestries.

Remember that you can get a combined city museum ticket for €10 valid 24 hours or a week-long ticket for €20 allowing access to all Nice museums.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm; Tue: CLOSED
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cimetiere du Chateau

13) Cimetiere du Chateau

For being a cemetery, it is still an interesting spot to visit in the city. It sits on top of the hill at Cimiez, and has one of the most beautiful total views of the town to be found anywhere. So, visiting the spot is certainly not very depressing. It is a very old place, and most of the graves are very ornate. There are many small chapel style gravesites located here also, that have been done in white marble. Some of the best sculpture in town is also here, and the works of art kind of reflect the love of art that the locals have for all aspects of life. There art is their life. The Cemetery was founded in 1783.

Most people visit this place, though, for two famous people who are buried here. It is the final resting place of Raoul Dufy. This is also the burial spot for Henri Matisse. You will have to look at bit for the site for Dufy, as it is a very simple plot to say the least. It is by the Monastery garden gate. Matisse’s grave is easier to spot.

This spot used to also be the citadel for the city in the 16th Century. There are, en toto, more than 2800 people buried here. Besides the two people already mentioned, you can find the final resting place of other famous people like Gaston Leroux and Emil Mercedes.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Marche St. Francois

14) Marche St. Francois

Marche St. François is located in one of the best known and important squares in Nice. This market is dedicated to fresh fish and all types of seafood. Sardines, poutine and many other types of seafood are found here along with some specialty dishes.
Place Saint Francois

15) Place Saint Francois

The Place St. François used to be the home of the town hall which was built in the 16th century in Baroque style. The square is smaller than some in Nice, but it is still a beautiful place to visit. There is a wonderful fountain in the middle of the square that was built in the 1930s a gift from François Aragon that depicts dolphins.

There is a bell tower on the square that was built by the Franciscan monks who gave the name to the square- St. Francis. This area used to house a large Franciscan convent, but only the bell tower and some of the cloister remain today. Still, it is easy to imagine how busy this little spot was in its heyday when the town hall was here.

The square hosts a fish market every morning with the exception of Monday. Some of the finest and freshest catch from the Mediterranean may be purchased here, so it can still be a busy bundle of activity. It is a nice spot to check out the architecture and people watch.
Place Garibaldi

16) Place Garibaldi (must see)

Another of the lovely squares to be found in the city of Nice, this used to be called the Piazza Vittorio and was designed to be a tribute to King Victor Amedee III. It was built in the late 1700s. When first constructed, it was meant to be a place for the Sardinian rulers to have public functions in Nice, while visiting from Turin. Much later, the square was renamed after Giuseppe Garibaldi, who tried to get Nice included in the governmental rule of Italy during the so-called Italian Reunification Movement (at one point, Nice was part of Italy).

The square was designed by Antoine Spinelli. This is the same designer who worked on the Chapelle du St. Sepulcre building in town. You will also be able to see the statue of Garibaldi which was constructed here.

While in the area, you may want to visit the Place Massena. Place St. Francois is also very close. If you go there, you will want to see the famous Dolphin Fountain located in the center of the square. The Bell Tower Palais Communal is also within walking distance from the Place Garibaldi.

Why You Should Visit:
Apart from the impressive Garibaldi centerpiece, the whole area reflects a feel and style of yesteryear with spaciousness and color.
There are some tactfully placed shops and bars within reaching distance as well (but these do not spoil the overall mood of the square itself).
The clever way in which ALL balconies have been painted in 2D to replicate a 3D range of balcony-like features for all buildings bordering the area is clever and yet a piece of art history itself.

For a nice view of the place, you have Café de Turin and its outdoor tables at which you can eat e.g. excellent oysters.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Nice, France

Create Your Own Walk in Nice

Create Your Own Walk in Nice

Creating your own self-guided walk in Nice is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Museums Walking Tour I

Museums Walking Tour I

Throughout time life has been reflected in art, preserving the past and human history till today in the works that remain. These preserved works continue to be admired by thousands of people and will continue to do so long into the future. Museums keep the history of our ancestors alive. Take the following tour to discover the history of Nice.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches Walking Tour

Catholicism is the main religion in France. Besides Catholic churches there are other churches of other religions including Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelistic, Protestant and others. Take the following tour to discover the churches of Nice.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Museums Walking Tour II

Museums Walking Tour II

Nice is considered one of the oldest cities in the world. Due to its location and climate, Nice attracted many famous painters. Because so many artists have resided here, there are a large number of art museums. Check out the most visited ones in Nice in this next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Shopping Areas in Nice

Shopping Areas in Nice

Nice is a beautiful city with large streets, a beautiful atmosphere, beautiful places, important historical sites, monuments and buildings. It is a great place to shop. In nearly every region of the city are streets with large zones dedicated to markets and shops with everything from clothes and books, to food and souvenirs. Take the following tour to discover the most beautiful places for...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Shopping, Dining, and Playing in Nice, France: Good for You, Good for the Planet

Shopping, Dining, and Playing in Nice, France: Good for You, Good for the Planet

When we travel, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. There are just so many wonderful things to see, do, eat, and drink that our well-being can suffer while we live it up. That’s why a stop in Nice is a great idea when you’re in France. A few years ago, the city of Nice decided to...