Nice, Colours and Light

9 September 2021

The light of Nice, so particular, is a real enchantment.

The light of Nice impresses the visitors and fascinates the inhabitants, who never tire of it. Here, more than anywhere else, the colours are of incredible intensity and the contrasts are particularly striking. Here, more than anywhere else, the colours explode and compose wonderful paintings. Here, nothing bland, nothing pastel. Here, the colours burst out and the light exults…

1 – Azure blue for the horizon!

Nice Côte d’Azur lives up to its name… There is something magic in this shades of blue… Turquoise blue, navy blue, celestial blue or indigo blue…. Whatever the colour of the sky here, the sea is always a bewitching blue.

Even before landing on the tarmac of Nice, one’s breath is taken away by the spectacle that is offered through the porthole. No wonder that the Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport has been, for several years in a row, on the podium of the most beautiful approaches in the world! In addition to the extraordinary colour of the Mediterranean Sea, the panorama on the mountains (snowy in winter) also arouses wonder.

Have you landed? Lucky you! Welcome to Nice, Capital of the French Riviera!

From architectural and cultural discoveries to gentle and quiet strolls, from museums to old palaces, the city invites you to discover an art of living chiselled over the centuries. Nice is beautiful and complex, like a city of paradoxes, full of tradition and modernity, multiplying pleasures and emotions through the walks it offers. Open your eyes wide… Nice will blow your mind!

A faire lors d'un week-end à Nice ; un selfie du haut de la colline du Château de Nice
@OTM NCA / J.Kelagopian

2 – A light that seduces artists

Pleasure for the eyes, pleasure for the senses… And we marvel when at dusk, the sun sets the sky ablaze… Never the same, always magical, a sunset on the Baie des Anges !

Coucher de soleil à Nice
@Olivier Arlet

The incomparable light of Nice Côte d’Azur has always attracted artists. Writers, sculptors, painters, film-makers have found here inspiration, dazzle and the joy of creating. Nice has always known how to seduce and bewitch them to the point of inciting them, for some of them, to never leave. Matisse, Renoir, Modigliani, Dufy, Nicolas de Staël, Klein, César, Arman, Ben, Cocteau… have met their muse and formed a special relationship with her: Nice!

“When I understood that every morning I would see this light again, I couldn’t believe in my happiness… I decided not to leave Nice and I stayed there practically all my life”. – Henri Matisse.
The artist set up his easel for more than 35 years in Nice, to transmit, through his works, all the beauty of his adopted city. He immediately developed a passion for the colours of the sky, the reflections of the sea and the mildness of the climate. As you can understand, we people from Nice are lucky enough to enjoy it all year round!

My advice: Don’t forget to visit the Matisse Museum, in the Cimiez district, in the heart of a magnificent building (formerly the Villa des Arènes or Palais Gubernatis), a Gallo-Roman site and a garden planted with hundred-year-old olive trees.

3 – Le Vieux-Nice, a palette of colours and emotions

A ray of light filters through the half-open shutters of the Old Town. Half darkness, half light… The heat behind a shutter… Here you can tame the light and colour your everyday life.

The Old-Nice is, in itself, a festival of sensations! It is difficult to remain insensitive to the charm of this lively and popular district. Narrow streets, yellow and ochre facades, craft shops and small shops, restaurants and lively squares make up the soul of the “Old Town” as the people of Nice call it, without forgetting, of course, THE market of the Cours Saleya! Ranked among the exceptional markets of France, it is a hymn to life, a delicious and colourful bustle! Under the striped curtains, sheltered from the baking sun, the smells and colours of the products on display attract customers as well as the simply curious. Only a few metres from the sea, locals and tourists love to stroll there. Flowers, fruits, vegetables but also spices, olives, soaps and candied fruits are nicely arranged and presented. Mimosas, geraniums, dahlias, roses and other flowers of local production fill the alleys with fragrance.

All year round, a sweet holiday scent floats in the air.

On the terraces of the restaurants, those who have time… take it! Sunglasses on their noses, coffee lovers and thirsty people take a break. The Cours Saleya is a patchwork of colours that invites you to discover and dream.

A certified cuisine, classified as part of the national intangible cultural heritage!

Le Vieux-Nice is also the ideal place to taste the authentic Niçoise cuisine. Among the specialities to be tasted on the go, the socca (chickpea pancake cooked over a wood fire), the pissaladière (speciality made with cooked onions), the small stuffed vegetables, the fougasse (brioche flavoured with orange blossom), the olive of Nice and the mythical pan bagnat (the sandwich of Nice par excellence)! If you want to sit down, there’s plenty to choose from but I advise you to opt for a restaurant with the Cuisine Nissarde label.

In summer, when the evening comes, the market becomes night-time. Stalls of jewellery, pottery and paintings made with passion by craftsmen from Nice are set up.

Pan Bagnat
@OTM NCA / J. Kelagopian

Did you know?

Valued and protected by the Cuisine Nissarde label, Nice’s cuisine is now part of France’s intangible cultural heritage and is the subject of an application for inclusion in UNESCO‘s inventory of the intangible heritage of humanity. All the diversity of the local cuisine can be enjoyed in a small bistro, a gastronomic table or on the terrace, accompanied by a view of the port, the Old Nice or the Baie des Anges.

4 – Nice, green city of the Mediterranean

The Côte d’Azur capital is, along with Montpellier, the largest city with the most trees in France, according to the Kermap agency, a startup specialising in image processing!

Promenade du Paillon@Ville de Nice

26% of the urbanised part of the city is covered by trees. If we take the entire municipal territory (including, therefore, the unbuilt areas such as the protected hills), the figure climbs to 34%! A record among the eleven French cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants, the equivalent of more than 2,000 football pitches and one tree for 5 inhabitants…

Nice has 178 parks and gardens, but the most spectacular of these is undoubtedly the Promenade du Paillon. Inaugurated in October 2013, this 12-hectare green ribbon in the heart of Nice has conquered everyone, with its 1,600 trees, 6,000 shrubs and 50,000 perennials, children’s games, 3,000 m2 of water mirror, 128 jets and 1,400 m2 mist tray. Mediterranean but also exotic essences take us on a journey around the world. Olive trees, vines, carnations, carob trees, pomegranates, fig trees, camphor trees, giant bamboos, Phoenix reclinata, tree ferns 2 metres high, this green flow marks the beginning of a vast project to green the city.

Over the years, nature has regained its rights over bitumen. Bicycle paths flourish everywhere. The green revolution is underway!

My advice: Opt for a bike ride. Self-service bikes are available for hire everywhere, including electrically-assisted bikes (one station every 300 metres). The ideal way to discover Nice in a new and original way! Find out more

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