Glittering on the Mediterranean coast, Nice is more than just nice it’s gorgeous.
Tourists have been coming here since the 18th Century, and today it still attracts thousands of travellers every year.
Its enduring popularity probably has something to do with its great weather and the sheer beauty of its palm-lined avenues, pebbly beaches and lush, green gardens.
Or maybe it’s down to its glut of great museums, or the friendly locals and the great food.
Either way, it’s one of the cheapest and least pretentious places to stay on the French Riviera, and therefore perhaps the best.
The very best place to head is to the Parc du Chteau. There is no castle here, but that’s a good thing as it would only tempt you to spend a while inside.
If you did that you would miss the spectacular views over Nice and the Baie des Anges (Angel Bay) from this beautiful park. The kids will love this place too, as there’s a large playground and loads of space to run about in.
You can walk up here, or you can take the lift from Quai des tats Unis which runs from 7am-7pm daily.
Place Massna is right in the middle of town, and although it calls itself a square, it’s really a large green park filled with fountains, lawns and benches under shady trees. More meanderings can be made at Jardin Albert 1er.
During the day you can take a stroll along the palm tree-lined paths, whilst at night it’s all lit up in funky colours to add a bit of fun.
Of course, you can hardly ignore the beaches. A stroll along the ever-busy Promenade des Anglais will take you past the beaches, and will give you the time to decide which one to base yourself at.
For a town popular because of its coastline and great weather, Nice has a surprisingly large number of very good museums.
One of the best, and most novel, is the Muse des Arts Asiatiques. Built by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, the building itself is stunning and has all the airiness and simplicity for which Japan is famous.
Inside you will find an exhibition covering four geographical and cultural areas with objects from Cambodia, China, India and Japan.
Nice is where all the talented, moneyed people used to come, so another great museum celebrates the works of the locally-born Henri Matisse.
One of the champions of Fauvism, his work is displayed in a beautiful 17th Century villa in Cimiez, a long-fashionable area of town.
There are loads of good shops, too where else would all the fashionable bods here buy their stuff?
One of the main drags is along Avenue Jean Mdecin, whilst if you’re into little one-off shops then anywhere in Old Nice, to the east of the modern town, will provide you with lots of shopping scope.
If you want something out of the ordinary, there’s a flea market every Monday at Cours Saleya.
I stayed at the wonderful Hotel Windsor, just behind the Promenade des Anglais. It’s as much an art gallery as a hotel.
Built in 1895, its faade is characteristic of the Eiffel school. This family-run property is an absolute delight. Every room is different and has been decorated by a different artist.
Contemporary artists show their work in the lobby, and 25 of the 30 “artist rooms” have frescoes.
As if that’s not enough, it has an outdoor swimming pool, spa and a garden with an aviary and plenty shady corners.
The dining room is also well worth knowing all in all, it’s a fabulous hotel. Rooms from just 79 euros. See hotelwindsornice.com.
Another great place to eat is Restaurant Salsedo, run by Luc Salsedo who has cooked in some of France and the UK’s best restaurants.
His menu changes every 10 days, according to markets and seasons and reflects the southern Provenal style of cuisine. Expect fabulous pates, fish and delicious meat and game dishes.
Outstanding French food and a very popular place so book ahead. Dinner from 45 euros. See restaurant-salsedo.com.