Hardly the most exotic or beautiful part of the French Riviera but probably one of the places that most visitors transit through at least once during their stay as the main transport hub, the Gustave Eiffel-designed Nice Ville train station is just about getting to the end of an extensive renovation process. Granted, the neighbourhood still isn’t the safest (which is why hotels are cheaper than elsewhere in Nice) but at least it’s improved a lot since they created this pedestrian square in front (as opposed to the hell-hole it was 15 years ago during my hotel-owning days). Soon there’ll also be a new shopping centre and hotel where those cranes currently are, so should make things improve even more, whilst there are now even escalators and lifts (at long last!) to get to the platforms 🙂 To find out why this station is so useful to transit through, check out my practical guide to getting around efficiently on the French Riviera!
Palm trees, the Mediterranean Sea and the sky on fire… Another spectacular winter sunset over the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, captured last month just in front of the Meridien hotel, the clouds were particularly stunning that evening and the atmosphere was absolutely magical. The weather’s already getting warmer and the days longer, spring will soon be with us… Have a great week!
A rare window seat on a Lufthansa flight from Nice to Munich last April gave me some stunning take off views of the French Riviera which I’ll be sharing over the coming days… This shot encompasses the whole city of Nice, from the Mont Boron to the east (on the right) to the valley of Magnan to the west, just after the airport. Naturally the snow-capped summits of the southern Alps provide a spectacular amphitheatre that makes every take off heading east very spectacular (make sure you get the A/B/C row) 😉
Place Massena in Nice early on a January morning, bathed in the winter sunshine… The main square of Nice, located just 2 minutes from the Promenade des Anglais, is named after André Massena, duke of Rivoli, a Napoleonic general born in the city in 1758 when it was still part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Built over the mouth of the Paillon river on the ancient location of the “Pont Neuf”, it achieved its current look in 2007 when it was pedestrianised for the construction of the Nice tram line and is now the major hub of the city and where most major events take place, such as the Carnival in a couple of weeks. Some people dislike the modern sculptures (which are undoubtedly a hub for bird droppings!) but I personally like the cleaner appearance of the current square and feel that it really represents the vibes of this unique city. Read more about Nice in the essential guide of Nice in a nutshell.
I was deeply saddened by the shocking terror attack last night on the Promenade des Anglais, especially as it hit so close to home. I was in Monaco when it happened but had just flown back to Nice airport in the afternoon after a JCI visit to Luxembourg and stopped in the city centre a few hours before the incident to do some errands: walking around Place Massena and avenue Jean Médecin on a lovely sunny public holiday afternoon, it was impossible to imagine the carnage and fear that were to follow.
The French Riviera Blog offers its heartfelt condolences to all the innocent victims of this senseless tragedy and strongly condemns the mindless violence that has hit this beautiful part of the world and many other cities and countries in recent months.
I am certain that the people of Nice will rise to the occasion and show the true spirit and resilience of this beautiful, tolerant and international city, welcoming visitors from all around the world with open arms and showing that terror cannot prevail. With heavy hearts, the French Riviera remains open for business.
Take care everyone and stay safe wherever you are, all the best,
The Monaco Grand Prix is probably the biggest and most prestigious regular event on the French Riviera calendar, ahead of the Cannes Film Festival and the Carnival of Nice. Each year, it brings a magical atmosphere to the Principality, really kick-starting the summer season with plenty of private parties on the yachts in the harbour, a very cosmopolitan atmosphere and huge amounts of visitors (and therefore VAT income for the Monegasque government!). Of course, the Grand Prix completely changes the face of the Principality for 3 months, as the roads are full of temporary grandstands, crash barriers, tyres and blockades which are prepared two months in advance and take a month to dismantle afterwards, so there are huge logistics behind the event, the statistics provided by the Automobile Club of Monaco are impressive (see the “presentation” tab). Since the turn of the millennium, there has also been a Historic Grand Prix, which runs every even-numbered year two weeks before the main race, rather interesting to remind spectators of the race’s heritage as the first Monaco Grand Prix was run in 1929, though the first official race in the Formula 1 calendar was in 1950. And in 2015, the first electric Grand Prix, run by FIA under the name “EPrix” took place took two weeks before the F1 event and now also runs every two years.
Yesterday I took advantage of a beautiful sunny spring day to visit Nice and wanted to try somewhere a bit different for lunch, so a friend of mine brought me to Attimi, one of his favourites… Now I understand why!
The area in which Attimi (which means “Moments” in Italian) is located is extremely central but very touristy, which generally means that the quality of the location is inverse proportional to the quality of the food: just off Place Massena on the southern side of the Promenade du Paillon, at the entrance of Old Nice and a short stroll away from the Promenade des Anglais. In general, when I see a large colourful terrace in the heart of Nice packed with tourists, I do the opposite of the aforementioned tourists and escape.
However, a quick chat with Fabio, the friendly owner from Alassio, just down the coast in Liguria, Italy, quickly removed these doubts though: his concept is to bring quality Italian “slow food” to Nice. As its name indicates, this concept, that originated in Piemonte, Italy (also ironically the kingdom that dominated Nice for several centuries) is the antithesis of fast food, involving authentic recipes, local ingredients and mainly taking one’s time both to prepare and enjoy the meal to the full. Continue reading
The summer season is fully upon us and the French Riviera is filling up with tourists: this means fireworks, music festivals, farniente beach time and outdoor dinners, amongst plenty of other activities, so here’s a quick guide on how to enjoy a fun-filled week here.
Of course, plenty of visitors just want to relax and enjoy days at the beach, but feel free to pick and mix according to your centres of interest. These day-long excursions are ideal if undertaken from Nice, located bang in the centre of the French Riviera, but plenty of them are also feasible if you are based further down the coast, either east or west, as long as you have access to the main railway line.
The end of October 2013 marked the inauguration with great fanfare of the new “green axis” (coulée verte), officially known as the Promenade de Paillon, covering 12 hectares and 1.2 kilometres right through the heart of Nice. Given the massive amount of hype in the press and social networks and the lovely weather we’ve been having so far this autumn, I decided to head over to Nice and check out what all the fuss was about… At the same time, I also had a proper walk around the Castle Hill so what follows is a nice itinerary to fill a sunny afternoon in Nice, especially if you have kids with you.