Where you dive in here depends on what you're after – but for art and museum buffs, a trip up Cimiez hill is the perfect way to start. A 20-minute bus ride winds up through streets lined with grand old villas to the ancient Roman site of Cemenelum (hence the modern name Cimiez), where you can easily spend an entire morning visiting museums devoted to Matisse and Nice's archaeological heritage. To make a whole day of it, bring a picnic lunch to eat in the beautiful olive grove adjoining the museum (restaurants up here are essentially non-existent), then stroll across the park to visit Matisse's grave and catch some pretty city views, before bopping 15 minutes back downhill by bus or foot for an afternoon tour of the Musée National Marc Chagall.
For a completely different, more local take on the neighbourhood, there's no better introduction than Libération's morning market. Reached by a quick tram ride from anywhere in the city, it's broken into a historic covered market and a boisterous sea of outdoor vendors that overflow from the tram tracks onto various side streets. Come in late morning and you'll be perfectly poised afterwards to join the local exodus to the cafes and restaurants surrounding central place du Général de Gaulle. When early evening rolls around, this same neighbourhood is the place to be, with northern Nice's most cosmopolitan buzz.