When we were first planning our trip to Italy, we knew we were flying into Milan and would have a week to visit a few places on our own before meeting up with friends in Florence - and eventually make our way down to Positano. It was hard to plan ahead, only because I was maybe 20 weeks pregnant and although I was feeling great at the time, I had no idea how I would feel at 32 weeks pregnant. We first thought we would play it safe by choosing just one place to stay for the week to relax, settling on Lake Como as our region of choice. After more thought, B had a great idea of driving down to the French Riviera and staying for a few nights in Nice. After doing more research, it seemed like the best option because it would provide us with an easy jumping off point for Cannes, Antibes, and Monaco cities that were all 30 minutes or less by train. This ended up being a great decision because we were able to see a lot without having to worry about packing up and jumping on a train to check into another hotel in a different location - ideal for my 32 week pregnant self. (The least amount of luggage movement the better.)
We loved everything about the area! It gave off a bit of an Italian vibe but felt very much like an upscale beach city - I kind of explain it as a (much grander) European Laguna Beach or other Orange County, Ca beach city. I highly recommend a visit!
where to stay
We looked at several hotels and air bnb's around the city but settled on the beachfront Mercure Nice Promenade des Anglais Hotel with a deck that overlooked the water. This was the perfect location - a quick walk from a ton of restaurant options, and about 15 minutes from the train station. We were able to walk everywhere from our hotel and we loved having a view of the beach from our room. The staff went above and beyond for us, and had great suggestions for where to go, what to eat, etc. Bonus points for a free breakfast every morning and a Nespresso machine in our room!
We also made a move our last night in Nice to the Hotel Negresco. Both historic, and famous for its eccentric yet grand style, we had to check this place out, just to say that we stayed there. (I also thoroughly enjoyed our plush robes and slippers after a long day of exploring the city!)
where to eat
There were two areas that we gravitated to for dinner every evening. Rue Massena is a long promenade of restaurants with any type of food you may be craving. Our favorite meal -Seafood Paella - we found at the restaurant Boccaccio here on Rue Massena. For about 32 Euro total, we had a HUGE platter of the best seafood paella I think I have ever had and made out with full happy bellies and a take away box that could have served as 2 more meals. Another great area of restaurants was also close to our hotel and can be found near the Opera de Nice. We had French pasta with chicken and truffles here at Le Grand Balcon, great food and a little less crowded than the Rue Massena area.
where to wander:
When we travel to a new place and have limited time to really get to know a city, our favorite thing to do is to just explore cool areas, shoot photos, and eat at little cafes we stumble upon. Rather than spend half a day in a museum or on a tour, we prefer to just wander and discover little corners of the city. Nice was pretty large, but we were still able to walk to a few main areas.
Place Massena: A big plaza with lots of people watching, a huge fountain with dancing fountains, and gelato shops (a must stop to grab a scoop or two before wandering around the plaza)
Old Town: Hands down my favorite part of Nice. Narrow streets lined with shops, restaurants as well as busy plazas with cafes to sit and sip espresso. There is so much character in these buildings, brightly painted buildings and red tile roofs with contrasting shutters, laundry hanging from the lines that cross little alleyways and flowers blooming in window boxes everywhere you look. Unlimited photos opps in every direction.
Castle Hill: After exploring Old Town, its just a short walk (well up a few flights of stairs) to Castle Hill, where you can catch a spectacular view of the entire city.
Promenade des Anglais: Just walk the beach boardwalk! We loved to do this in the evening as the sun went down, just to see the light reflect off the water and to watch cruise ships depart for their next stop.
I will be sharing more travel diaries from our trip and what-to-do's soon so stay tuned!