Nice Côte d’Azur experience

13 July 2021

Nice Côte d’Azur’s undeniable assets have been seducing and inspiring millions of visitors every year for decades. Nothing is missing here!

Which unique experiences can you find in the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan area?

The Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan area is indeed a destination that is both unique and multifaceted. Sea or mountains? Why choose? The unity of this area, unique in Europe, between the coastal cities (Cagnes-sur-Mer, Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cap d’Ail,…) and the Mercantour resorts (Isola 2000, Auron, Saint-Dalmas-le-Selvage …) through the hilltop villages of the middle country (Vence, Saint-Jeannet, Gattières, Gilette, Falicon…), allows all types of stay (urban, active nature, events, cultural, seaside, mountain…) for all kinds of visitor profiles (solo, couple, family, friends). With its international airport just 15 minutes from the city centre, its hotel complex of nearly 200 hotels, numerous museums, architectural heritage, climate, seaside, festivals and art of living, Nice Côte d’Azur is the ideal destination that knows how to get everyone to agree… Everyone who stays here is surprised to have so much to do!

What are the 6 must-see attractions?

@OTM NCA / Lisa Del Sol

– Climb up the hill of the Château de Nice and enjoy an exceptional panorama of the city, the mountains and the Baie des Anges.

– Stroll through Old Nice and the Cours Saleya where, except Mondays, the flower and vegetable market takes place every day.

– Walk on the coastal path or on the heights and admire the view.

– Take a hike in the Mercantour National Park and meet the local wildlife.

– Enjoy the thrill of outdoor sports (France’s largest zip line, canyoning, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, road biking, Nordic walking, via ferrata, scuba diving, water skiing…).

– Visit the authentic hilltop villages.

When is the best time to visit Nice Côte d’Azur?

Here, all seasons are good for discovery. In summer and winter, this area offers beautiful landscapes.

In winter, the destination dresses up in its festive attire and lights (Christmas Markets, Nice Carnival…) but also in a white coat on the peaks, allowing the practice of winter sports while the sunshine and mild temperatures are conducive to urban walks and hikes. Skiing during the day and walking by the sea in the same day is a dream come true here.

A must-see summer destination for many French people and visitors alike, Nice Côte d’Azur is more than just sea, beach and cocktails. Canyoning, mountain biking, hiking, lakes and other outdoor activities are also part of a successful holiday. 

Nice Côte d’Azur is also a destination of choice in spring and autumn. The metropolitan area indeed conceals many treasures which it is then possible to discover in all tranquility outside the high summer season.

@Ville de Nice

What are the main festivities in the region?

The Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis lives in all seasons. Numerous events such as the IronMan, the Nice Carnival, the Nice Jazz Festival, the Square Bowls Festival, the Southern Nights, the Guitar Nights, the IronMan 70.3 World Championship, the French Mountain Bike Xco Cup, the Alpes-Maritimes Marathon and a multitude of other musical, sporting, traditional and cultural events punctuate the year in a consistent manner and contribute to make Nice Côte d’Azur a dynamic and modern tourist destination.

What is the local tradition that best describes Nice ?

Placed in the top three of World Carnivals with Rio and Venice, the Nice Carnival is also the 1st carnival in France. It takes place every winter, during two weeks and three weekends in February, attracting several hundred thousand spectators, both French and international.

Originally a pagan festival, “Carne levare, levamen – remove the flesh”, takes place before the Lent period, during the fat days (Mardi Gras). It is the last feast before a period of abstinence and lean cooking, which therefore justifies all the excesses. It was in 1873 that Andriot Saetone from Nice took the initiative to found the “Comité des fêtes” (Festival Committee) in charge of organizing festivities for the rich wintering people. Thus on February 23rd 1873, Carnival 1st entered the city. Three years later, the Battles of Flowers were created. Originally simple exchanges of flowers, they became the poetic and elegant side of Carnival and the showcase of local production. A unique show in the world.

Nowadays, the influence of the Brazilian, Caribbean and Latin American Carnivals on the European Carnivals is undeniable. The participation in the Nice Carnival, a real international crossroads, of carnival groups from all over the world allows the discovery of the richness, the dynamism and the music of other Carnivals. As a result, samba schools, steel-band orchestras and salsa are gradually replacing the marches and farandoles of yesteryear. The festival is imbued with this mix of cultures which needs new means of expression. The street arts inspire the carnivalist, who has become a visual artist-scenographer.

What is the most delicious gastronomic speciality in the region?

A cuisine with simple origins, a cuisine of social conviviality and integration, of respect for fresh and regional products, the Niçoise cuisine is totally integrated into a strong local identity. It reflects the art of living and respect for regional products. Culinary specialities can be tasted either on the go (socca, pissaladière, small stuffed dishes, fougasse, chard pie, Nice olive and pan bagnat – the Niçois sandwich par excellence), or comfortably seated at a table (daube à la niçoise, stockfish, salade niçoise, ratatouille, gnocchi, beignets de fleurs de courgettes, tripes,…).  Good small dishes served in a bistro, a large table, on the terrace or on the beach, accompanied by a good local wine with a view of the port, the sea or Old Nice.

Some establishments display the label “Cuisine Nissarde, the authenticity of tradition”… a guarantee of respect for traditional recipes and the customer.  The cuisine of Nice is now part of the national intangible cultural heritage. It is in the running for inclusion in UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity!

What type of regional product can we bring from the trip?

The Olive de Nice and the olive oil, both in “Appellation d’Origine Protégée” (AOP), but also the Vin de Bellet, one of the oldest grape varieties in France and one of the first AOC in France.

What is the little-known experience in the region that tourists often miss, but which is worth doing?

 Nice Côte d’Azur is a cyclist’s paradise!

@OTM NCA / J.Kelagopian

The capital of the Côte d’Azur offers cyclists a welcome, rental services and adapted equipment. Cycling along the Baie des Anges for miles around, crossing the tourist centre at your own pace and letting yourself be charmed by the panorama and the rich heritage of Nice, a green Mediterranean city, is a little-known but memorable experience. The rest of the metropolis also offers an infinite variety of walks and hikes by bicycle, mountain bike or electrically assisted mountain bike.

–> In August 2020, the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan area has been in the spotlight as it hosted the start and finish of the first two stages of the 107th edition of the legendary Tour de France. The third stage also started from Nice. By hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2020, the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis continues to write its cycling history, which began in 1906 with the first visit of the Grande Boucle.

A new 261 kilometre route has been open since the summer of 2021. It allows you to tackle, by electric mountain bike, 7000 m of difference in altitude between the mountain resort of Auron and the mythical Promenade des Anglais. After crossing 16 charming communes and passing the impressive Bonette pass (the highest in Europe), cycling enthusiasts will certainly appreciate a dip in the Grande Bleue!

Cycling and mountain biking

For a family sightseeing trip or for the more experienced sportsmen, get on your bike and explore the area in a different way Nice Côte d’Azur becomes your own playground. Enjoy your…

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What is the most emblematic place in Nice?

From the top of the Hill of the Castle of Nice, you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the whole city, the Baie des Anges and the surrounding mountains. Between its park and its garden, it is the perfect place to make a photo shooting in a stunning setting!

@OTM NCA / J.Kelagopian

Is there an exceptional site to visit near Nice?

In the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan area, don’t miss the visit of Eze, a very pretty village perched on a rocky promontory of the Moyenne Corniche. Visit it at your own pace, as well as its craft shops, hotels and starred restaurants. At the top, don’t forget to visit the exotic garden set in the ruins of a medieval fortress. The panorama takes you as far as Saint-Tropez. Breathtaking!


What are the possibilities of outdoor activities?

@OTM NCA / Anthony Turpaud

Medium and high mountains, plains, rivers and streams, urban centres cultivating the art of living, parks and gardens, perched villages with an architectural and religious heritage and unparalleled charm, traditional rurality and local produce, colourful and varied markets, high mountain resorts benefiting from quality infrastructures, natural parks (34% of the territory is classified as a Natura 2000 zone), creeks with crystal-clear waters, fishing ports… Combine all these pleasures in one trip! 

Sports enthusiasts and lovers of wide open spaces, did you also know that less than 1 hour from the beaches of the coast, you will find what you are looking for thanks to the numerous activities available in this area? Hiking or horse riding, canyoning, rafting, mountain biking, road biking, bike parks, mountaineering, Via Ferrata, accrobranches, climbing, hang-gliding… Add to this all water sports, such as scuba diving, sailing, parasailing, snorkelling or simply swimming… Nice Côte d’Azur has the answer to all your desires!

Is there a good plan to save money while enjoying your stay?

French Riviera Pass

Thanks to the FRENCH RIVIERA PASS, enjoy the main sites and activities of Nice and its region free of charge. Once you have bought your pass, you will not have to spend any more money for your visits, and this during the whole period of validity of the card (24, 48 or 72 hours as you wish). You will have free access to a multitude of tourist sites as well as activities in Nice and on the French Riviera and will benefit from the cut. Saving time and money, the FRENCH RIVIERA PASS is THE essential companion of your stay.

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Assistant Director of Marketing and Communication at the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau