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Recently, in 'The Times', Nice was described as: 'Europe's finest and grandest seaside city'. That combination is the key to the resort's attraction. Nestling in the spectacular Baie des Anges with its popular beaches, stunningly blue sea and year-round sunshine, Nice is both an elegant seaside resort and a perpetually active city with a rich architectural history and a vibrant cultural life that includes concerts, music, sporting events and festivals. Alongside the richly decorated Baroque churches sit the grand Belle Époque buildings which house banks, hotels, villa and apartment rentals. You will be spoilt for choice in terms of accommodation and will find your homeaway.
Wide, spacious, chic and graced by grand hotels such as the pink-domed Negresco or the Palais de la Méditerranée, The Promenade des Anglais, now bidding to become a World Heritage site, is the place to stroll or jog; and to relax on its famous blue chairs.
Pebbles rather than sand mean the beaches are popular with couples of all ages rather than families with children. Alternating private and public beaches provide access to the sun and the sea; here you can have a meal or drinks, or relax and enjoy the sea in comfort. One newly opened restaurant, the Cocoon, even has a row of tall palm trees planted on the beach itself.
It's a city steeped in music - free Sunday afternoon concerts take place in the bandstand in Garden Albert 1 throughout the summer. There are lunchtime concerts as well as evening ones in the churches and at the beautiful Opéra de Nice which stages five operas and nine ballets in a year. In addition to the annual Lent Carnival, there are many festivals, including an annual jazz festival in July. A hot air balloon carrying a piano, and pianist playing live music was one of the most amazing sights recently.
Art lovers can visit the Musée d'Art Moderne, the Villa Massena full of artefacts and paintings depicting old Nice, the Musée Matisse in Matisse’s villa and the Musée National Marc Chagall. These are all within easy walking distance or short bus rides with fascinating histories, gardens and collections. And if you climb up to the Colline du Chateâu, or take the free lift, you can play boules and view the bay below.
No car is needed: walking and public transport serve well. Also, from Nice it's a €1.50 bus ride to Cannes, Antibes, Grasse or Monaco, all easy day trips; Nice Gare du Ville also offers trains to these towns. The active can do the spectacular walk around the port and on to Villefranche with its sandy beaches and return by train (two stops) or bus. The more adventurous can take the train de pigne up into the hills to the medieval cities of Entrevaux or Tende.
A Friday morning train to Ventigmilia in Italy, which takes about 50 minutes, allows you to arrive in time for Italian coffee and croissants followed by a browse in the markets selling delicious and great value Parmesan and Grano Padano cheeses and Italian leather goods at knock-down prices.
Recent development in Nice has been extraordinary, enriching the beauty of the city while improving the infrastructure. The spectacular Promenade du Paillon, with its Olympic size fountains provides a green corridor to match the original Promenade and is another place to walk and relax.
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