Nice: The perfect place for exploring the French Riviera
Words by Sally Meeson
I’m walking onto my hotel room balcony. It’s 8am in the morning, the temperature’s already 25 degrees and a vast expanse of Mediterranean blue sea spreads before me. Immediately below, on the famous Promenade des Anglais, people and traffic are gliding along.
Roller bladers and runners take their morning exercise, while couples walk arm in arm with an assortment of miniature dogs. Tall palm trees line the boulevard, making the the place seem as much Hollywood as South of France, while the occasional private jet slices through a cloudless sky. I’m on a French Riviera adventure and I know Nice was a great place to start.
I chose the Radisson Blu Nice for my stay in Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur. The South of France has always been one of my favourite destinations and walking into this newly refurbished hotel reminds me why. With its stunning sea views and recent 12 million Euro upgrade it captures all the luxury you’d expect from this part of the world.
Fantastic azure blues and beach details now run through public areas, along with retro black and white photographs of the city. All 331 of the hotel’s guest bedrooms have been upgraded. My premium room on the 6th floor was large (27 square metres) and extremely comfortable and I could never tire of strolling onto that balcony – to people watch or simply gaze across the ocean.
On the roof there’s a fantastic outdoor pool with a contemporary open air bar and dining area. Many of my evenings were spent eating al fresco at the Calade Restaurant with its sweeping views of the Riviera. With Monaco situated a short distance to the left and Cannes slightly further along to the right, Nice is a great place to take it all in.
Chef Maxime Bernard uses local produce to serve up the finest Mediterranean meats, fish and vegetables. And may I recommend the Chateau Coussin Rose, which refreshes on the balmiest of evenings and literally goes with everything!
To add to the glamour the hotel also has its own beach club. Just a few minutes stroll down the promenade you’ll find a cool decked area with white and blue umbrellas, rows of sun loungers and another fabulous restaurant. If you are here for a few days I recommend spending your entire first day here to properly unwind and take in the view. The most exerting thing you should have to do is go for a dip in the sea or wander to the bar for an Aperol Spritz!
But once refreshed you must explore this wonderful location properly and the Radisson Blu are happy to organise an array of excursions – you can book them directly through the concierge. Firstly the Old City of Nice is an absolute must see. As someone who loves nothing more than a bustle around an old fashioned market town this place is complete and utter heaven.
Breathe in a myriad of scents as you pass flower and soap stalls and sample local foods such as Socca and Pissaladiere. Go wine tasting in the magical cellar of Cava Biani, the oldest wine shop in the South of France, or try over 100 flavours of gelato ice cream at the Fenocchio store. And don’t forget to soak up the stunning Italian influenced and Baroque architecture. Palais Lascaris, a former aristocratic residence which is now a museum, is a wonderful example.
From the market you can gaze up into the hills above Nice (complete with a man made waterfall!) – an area you must include in your Riviera adventure. Continue along the Promenade des Anglais, go past the port and you’ll start heading towards the exclusive Villefranche-sur-Mer area. Elton John and Joan Collins both own property in this area and the most expensive house in the world, on the market at a staggering 1.1 billion, can be seen across the water in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Climb further and you’ll come to the charming medieval village of Èze. As well as pretty cobbled streets and incredible Mediterranean views, the world famous Fragonard perfume museum sits up here. Take a workshop with a perfumer who will teach you how to make your very own scent or simply wander the laboratories and watch their products being made by hand. And don’t forget to take some home with you. The aromas will keep your Riviera memories alive long after you’ve left!
Radisson Blu Nice offers accommodation on a B&B basis from €284/£248 per room per night.
Address: 223 Prom des Anglais, 06200 Nice, France
Phone: +33 4 97 17 71 77