No neighbourhood seduces like Nice's opulent, palm-lined beachfront promenade, which has been luring tourists since the 1800s. The New Town and Promenade des Anglais are not only the heart of Nice's beach scene but also the city's commercial core, packed with hotels, restaurants and big-name shops. If a classy, carefree seaside vacation is what you're after, you've found the right spot.
The New Town and Promenade des Anglais offer the full-on beach-holiday experience. If you've just flown in, this waterfront strip is the perfect place to ease into the city's rhythm while shaking off your jet lag. Drop off your bags, slip on those beach shoes and take an exploratory stroll. Your decisions here are not difficult ones: Which route should I take to the waterfront today? Shall I rent the kayak or the Segway? Save money on a public beach or embrace my inner hedonist with sun lounger, umbrella and froofy drink? Take the 20-minute train to Monaco or the 15-minute train to Antibes?
Most think of Nice's beaches as warm-weather-only attractions, but even under grey skies in the dead of winter this is a beautiful, atmospheric place to be, and somebody's always sitting in the blue chairs along the waterfront, taking in the big sky and sea and the airplanes banking along the shoreline towards Nice Côte d'Azur airport.
When you're ready for a break from the beach, other worlds await just inland. The Carré d'Or pedestrian zone along rue Masséna heaves with fashionable shops, restaurants and cafes, while the wide open public spaces of place Masséna, Promenade du Paillon and Jardin Albert 1er invite relaxed, low-key mingling. Meanwhile, up around the train station, a big transformation is taking place as the city wraps up construction of its sleek diamond-shaped Iconic complex: when completed in 2019, it will combine cutting-edge new residential space with a streamlined new pedestrian link between Nice-Ville train station and the tram line.
- Promenade des Anglais Joining the parade of sun-worshippers and holiday-makers on Europe's most extravagant seaside boulevard – or lounging in a blue chair to take in the whole scene.
- Glisse Evasion Grabbing a paddle and hitting the waves, or zipping through turquoise waters on water skis.
- Musée Masséna Reliving the magic of belle-époque Nice or seeing eye-to-eye with Napoleon's death mask at this evocative history museum in a late-19th-century villa.
- Promenade du Paillon Brightening a child's day at the gigantic whale climbing structure in Nice's favourite new park.
- Flaveur Sharing an evening of gastronomic bliss at Nice's latest addition to the two-Michelin-star club.
Pebbles! That's what Nice's beaches are made of, not sand. So be prepared. Walking barefoot down the beach or lounging on nothing more than a towel are not as comfortable here as they would be in sandier circumstances. A folding beach mattress will be your best friend, unless you're springing for a lounge chair at one of the private beaches. And a good pair of beach shoes is also indispensable, to protect your feet from bruises and burns.