A honeycomb of narrow streets dotted with baroque churches, lively markets, bustling squares, and a thriving nightlife scene, Nice’s oldest quarter remains the buzzing heart the modern city. Known in French as Le Vieux Nice, this seafront historic center offers an atmospheric introduction to Nice.
Nice Old Town is best explored on foot. A small-group or private walking tour will take in all the main attractions, including the colorful Flower Market and the historic landmarks of Garibaldi Square (Place Garibaldi). Alternatively, opt for a Segway or bike tour and climb to the top of Castle Hill for a spectacular view of the city, glide along the famous Promenade des Anglais, or hop off to sample local foods at the Old Town market. Nice city tours are often combined with sightseeing tours of surrounding French Riviera towns such as Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cannes, Saint-Jeannet, or Monaco’s Monte Carlo.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Parking is scarce in Old Town and many streets are one-way or pedestrian-only, so it’s best to walk, use public transport, or travel by bike or Segway.
- Most of Old Town is wheelchair accessible, although there are some hills and cobblestone lanes.
How to Get There
Old Town is located in central Nice, with the seafront of Quay of the United States (Quai des États-Unis) to the south, Jean Jaurès Boulevard (Boulevard Jean Jaurès) to the north, and Castle Hill to the east. The easiest way to get there is by tram and the closest stops are Opera, Cathedrale, and Garibaldi.
When to Get There
Nice is at its busiest in July and August, when the Old Town can be crammed with tourists. Get there early to avoid large crowds and book ahead for restaurants in the evening. Outside of summer you’ll find fewer crowds and cheaper prices, but be aware that some attractions and restaurants have reduced hours in winter. The holiday season is a popular time to visit, when a huge Christmas market is held on Masséna Square (Place Masséna).
A Walking Tour of Nice Old Town
Walk between Masséna Square, the Palace of Justice Square (Place du Palais de Justice), and Garibaldi Square, stopping along the way to admire the baroque Cathedral of Sainte Reparate (Cathédrale Sainte Réparate), browse the morning flower market along Cours Saleya, and grab an ice cream from the famous Fenocchio ice cream parlor. Other notable landmarks include the Chapel of Mercy (Chapelle de la Miséricorde), the Chapel of the Annunciation (Chapelle de l'Annonciation), Saint-Jacques Church (Eglise Saint-Jacques), and Lascaris Palace (Palais Lascaris).