Delve into Local Strolls, a series where writers reveal their favorite walks in their hometowns. Each route offers a snapshot of urban life, guiding you to lesser-known attractions and cherished local spots. Here, Chloé Braithwaite takes us on a gentle stroll through the cafes, shops and sights of Nice’s Old Town.

Nice is the kind of city in which one should lose themselves. And I do mean that literally. One of the joys of spending any amount of time in Nice is heading down to Vieux Nice, or Old Town, to get lost within the narrow, winding streets. I’m convinced it’s the only way to really get to know the city.

Most locals would have you start your journey through Old Town at place Massena, but I always start at place Garibaldi. It’s a pretty spot, especially in spring when the trees are in bloom with their pink flower puffs.

L: A narrow street in Nice. R: A close-up of a restaurant terrace in Nice
The narrow streets of rue Pairoliere with its restaurants, cafes and food shops © Chloé Braithwaite

Facing the fountain, walk past Café de Turin and take the second left. You’ll notice street signs aren’t always apparent (or even there), so take my word for it: this is rue Pairolière. This street, referred to as "the belly of Old Nice" because of the authentic food shops that line it, is where I pick up hard-to-find spices at Girofle et Cannelle and local Niçois snacks from Specialités Niçoises. The shop doesn’t look particularly fancy, but the food is reliably tasty and it’s a good introduction to the Niçois palate.

Further down is Alexis Monod Chocolaterie, often helmed by Alexis himself. He’s inspired by local ingredients and uses many of them — lemons from Menton, roses from Nice’s hinterland, and lavender from Provence to create his chocolates.

L: The steeple of St Francois Tower in Nice. R: The interior of a coffee shop featuring magazines and artisan coffee beans
L: Saint Francis Tour which is open to the public most Fridays - Sundays. R: The interior of Brume Coffee, one of the writer's favorite cafes © Chloé Braithwaite

Continuing down the lane, one of my regular haunts is Brume Coffee, a charming little cafe that makes an excellent latte. On sunny days, the tables outside are perfect for people-watching. The menu changes seasonally, but the coffee and fresh baked goods are always very good.

Once you're caffeinated, continue to place de la Tour, a tiny square with a huge oak tree. Here, you’ll see the Saint-François Tower, which is open to the public over the weekend. I like to climb to the top to get the best sweeping views of Nice. 

Scenes from an outdoor market in Nice with stalls selling seafood
L: Saint-François morning fish market. R: Mediterranean sunset from the Promenade des Anglais © Chloé Braithwaite

A little further, the street will open up into a bigger square named place Saint-François. In the mornings, a small fish market is held here. Seagulls perch along the rooftops for a chance at any scraps, reminding you that the Mediterranean isn’t far away.

Continue straight until you reach a fork in the road. You’re looking for rue Droite, a street straight out of the Middle Ages. La Cordonnerie de Vieux Nice, the stunning atelier of a local leatherworker, is here. Not far is Maison Pampille, an antique shop with hand-selected vintage wares from all over the world.

Rue Droite continues. A trio of galleries take up the next block; use this as a marker because they’re more noticeable than the actual palace in the middle of the street, Musée Palais Lascaris, at number 15. A little further down is another iconic view, the hidden Saint-Jacques-le-Majeure de Nice church at place de Jésus.

Walking route of Nice's Old Town mapped out in Google Maps
Chloé's walking route mapped out © Google Maps

At the intersection of rue Droit and rue du Malonat, you’ll need to look for rue Jules Gilly; it’s roughly straight ahead. This street will lead you to place Charles Felix on the left. The landmark yellow apartment building was once the home of Henri Matisse; it’s not open to the public, but it faces our final destination, Cours Saleya. You’ll often find me shopping here for food, flowers or long-lost, out-of-print books; I’ve found many little treasures here.

From this square, you can easily get to the Promenade des Anglais, but for one last, less well-known glimpse of our most famous marketplace, look for the stairway leading up to the rooftop terraces of the bars facing the Mediterranean.

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