While visiting the Formula 1 race in Monaco recently, I had the opportunity to stay in the charming French city of Nice for a few weeks.
Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast. The city is called Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Niçard), which translates to Nice the Beautiful.
The location of the city includes Terra Amata, an archaeological site which contains the historic use of fire in the area dated back to 400,000 BC.
Later in around 350 BC, Greeks of Marseille created a permanent settlement and named it Nikaia, after Nike, the goddess of victory.
Through the years, the city of Nice has changed hands many times. Its location has been of military importance, and the port significantly adds to its naval strength.
Previously it was a province of Savoy, before becoming part of France between 1792 and 1815. It was then returned to Piedmont-Sardinia until its reannexation by France in 1860.
When walking around the centre of the city of Nice, many attractions will catch your attention as you explore the beauty of this charming place.
It’s not long before the colourful square and buildings transform into the Old Town. This part of historical Nice curves round past Castle Hill and near to the beautiful Promenade des Anglais.
The narrow streets are designed in a very traditional North Mediterranean city style.
Like Italy, the streets have been built with tall households. The vibrant buildings are often up to five stories high, and the old narrow streets are full of interesting cafes and boutique stores to explore.
It’s a common sight to see restaurants taking up the bottom floor old buildings, with their chairs and tables covering the street pavements.
Standing on Nice Castle Hill
Castle Hill has to be the number one place for an elevated view of the city of Nice. The journey begins by climbing the hill from the end of the Promenade, or up the steps and rising streets from the Old Town.
Despite its name Castle Hill, there isn’t much of a castle standing anymore as it was destroyed in the early 1700s.
The hill was once the site of a castle that was reported stronghold and was pulled by the soldiers of the French King Louis XIV in 1706.
Even without a castle to look at, the ruins and stunning views are worthy of the short trek to the top.
The climb will take you up nearly 300 feet of stairs to arrive at the top of the hill to witness the best views of Nice and the Bay of Angels.
For those who don’t wish to climb, there is a lift that can transport you almost to the top.
Castle Hill is free, so there is no cost involved to visit.
For food and snacks, there is a cafe at the top serving refreshments. Others may prefer to bring their food and have a picnic while sitting in the sun.
Castle Hill, Montee du Chateau par ascenceur, 06300 Nice, France
Sentier du Littoral – Nice Coastal Walk
Looking for a scenic walk during your stay in the city of Nice, Côte d’Azur?
Head in the opposite direction to the airport and just keep going and as you can see what awaits is a great French coastal path walk.
I walked along the Sentier du Littoral Côte d’Azur coastal path in the afternoon wearing a pair of running shoes. Apart from a couple of steep staircases, there are no major inclines and no real need to wear hiking boots.
The sunny May temperature was around 20’c which was more than warm enough. During the summer months, I would imagine it would be much hotter.
The stroll will take you to Villefranche-sur-Mer and beyond. Located between Nice and Monaco, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a quaint spot on the French Riviera. Walking through the small town and you will find an upmarket vibe with a Mediterranean feel to it.
It’s little tight cobbled streets and alleys look like something out of a film set.
Even after experiencing all the stunning coastal views hiking coming from Nice, the town’s waterfront and pathways still take you by awe as you arrive at this seaside location.
Also, don’t forget to explore the harbour and check out the luxury boats docked there.
If you happen to be staying near to the city of Nice, then I highly recommend hiking along the Sentier du Littoral Côte d’Azur coastal path.
The entire walk does take a few hours but is worth it. Don’t forget to take plenty of water and sunscreen!
Théodore de Banville / Lorrain, 06300, Nice, France
I Tried HouseTrip in Nice
What exactly is HouseTrip?
HouseTrip is an accommodation website booking service similar to that of Airbnb and many others out there offering a house or apartment to the traveller for the same price as a hotel room.
HouseTrip state they have over 300,000-holiday homes, apartments, villas & cottages to choose from in over 19,000 city, beach and rural locations around the world.
There can be many advantages when renting an apartment compared to a hotel room, such as the ability to prepare your meals and a larger living area.
I must admit the ability to cook an attractive selling point and I didn’t fancy spending my years travelling budget on renting a room in Monaco for the F1 race.
Having said that the city of Nice didn’t turn out to be that cheap either.
After a few hours worth of searching, I was struggling to find anything less than 90 EUR a night that wasn’t booked up on the race weekend.
Then when watching the TV late one night, an advert came on advertising HouseTrip. Not being familiar with the company and always on the lookout to try new travel-related concepts, I decided to give them a try.
HouseTrip isn’t like a typical hotel website, you don’t just select the best-suited deal and booked it there and then. Many of the places listed are by individuals, or smaller ‘mum and dad’ run holiday apartments.
To avoid any confusion you must contact the host to see if the place is free still for booking.
I’m sure it said somewhere it’s best to contact up to five hosts to avoid disappointment, but as only two appealed to me so I contacted them.
Checking my inbox the following day, both hosts had contacted me to confirm the availability. There wasn’t much between them in regards to the price per night and facilities, so in the end, the choice came down to the central location.
I accepted the offer, paid the bill and contacted ‘Robin’ the host to exchange contacts details and a time to meet up to hand over the keys when I arrived.
The apartment room I booked in a building called Residence Grounod, located in the old streets of Nice. I ended up staying for a total of 12 nights @ a cost of £526.00 + £15.80 admin fee.
Right in the centre of Nice, the main train station (servicing major locations and Monaco) was only at the end of the road.
Nearby there were also cafes, takeaways, small supermarkets, and a laundry.
Having searched the area extensively, both before and after arriving. The price charged was very reasonable for the central location, and much cheaper than nearby hotels on the joining streets.
The Residence Grounod building had many apartments that were well suited for the budget traveller. Although not luxurious, the price matched the facilities and the amenities provided.
If you do plan on staying there, for reference, I stayed in apartment number 4 on the ground floor.
The apartment was a good size suited for one or two people, and although it wasn’t the one shown in the advertised photo, it was very similar.
Inside the main room, there was desk & chair, TV, microwave, electric stove, cutlery, plates, and pans. The sofa turns into the bed and was supplied with covers and pillow.
Outside there was a cosy outdoor area with a table and chairs for eating and relaxing.
The building does offer free Wi-Fi, but in true European style, there was often lots of problems with the network.
At times, this could be frustrating, especially when trying to find certain travel information.
Having met the manager/host Robin a number of times at the building, he was very helpful and spoke good English. My first booking on HouseTrip went well, although I’m sure every host will be slightly different.
Overall the apartment was in an excellent location and perfect for looking around the city of Nice, with Castle Hill, the Old town and beach all within walking distance.
Along with the location, the kitchen was a real bonus. The only downside of HouseTrip is most of the ‘value for money’ apartment listings appeared to be confined to Europe.
I didn’t see much on offer for my Asia travels for later in the year.
Final Night @ Ibis Budget Nice Airport
There’s nothing worse than being dragged out of bed at some ridiculous time of the morning.
The location was perfect, right next to the airport’s terminal 1, and just at the top end of the Promenade des Anglais.
The Hotel has 151 rooms and all come with air-conditioning as standard. Free WI-FI is included in the lobby area, as well as the rooms. The 24-hrs reception is also handy for those arriving or leaving on a red-eye flight.
All the basic need for a short airport stay were provided – TV, good Wi-Fi, a comfortable bed and hot shower.
The room on the 6th floor had a good view of the airport, and the soundproofing was spot on because I didn’t wake up once in the night.
City of Nice Links
Old Town – Wander around the enchanting streets of Nice Old Town.
Castle Hill – Popular spot to view the city of Nice
Parc forestier du Mont-Boron – Relaxing park to stroll around or sit down and read a book.
Phoenix Parc Floral de Nice – Another relaxing park located close to the airport
Sentier du Littoral – The coastal walk talked about in the post
Running in Nice – Take in the sea air while running along the Promenade des Anglais
NICE – more than just nice – Nice visitors guide