I went to Nice a couple of days ago! 😀 Warning: EXTREMELY Pic heavy post!
Hey guys, so I just came back from my 4-day, 3-night trip to Nice in France. I’m already missing the warm weather, sandy beaches and majestic views. The trip started as a slog as usual, because me and my sister decided to fly to Manchester first at 6am Friday morning. So after I finished work on Thursday, I packed as quickly as possible and went straight to sleep at 10-ish with the alarm set to 4am in the morning! We got a lift to the airport from our dad and checked in at 5. Surprisingly enough, the airport was bustling with people despite the early hours. Of course, with only 6 hours of sleep, I felt like death when we boarded our Flybe flight.
I’ve never flown by Flybe before but the seats were leathery compared to the usual soft, cushion seats we are accustomed to and it was terribly cold onboard. They do not have a transfer walkabout so we had to leave the airport and walk to the plane and climb on the stairs. That I do not mind. Beats queueing an day! Yes, so with a quiet albeit freezing flight, we got off at Manchester airport. Dang, Manchester airport is pretty messy. It’s tiny, cramped, tacky and there is a terrible lack of seats. You’re maybe wondering ‘Hey, it’s just an airport’. Hmm, yes, but I’ve been to plenty of other airports and by far, Manchester is unfortunately the most shabbiest. The lack of facilities is appalling. The layout is pretty morbid, with Terminal 1, 2 and 3 as a separate building. We had to wait about 4 hours for our next flight that would take us directly to Nice as it was at 2pm. We arrived Manchester at 8am and sat, reading a book or eating some grub.
Now, I’d moan and complain about how grubby and tiny Manchester airport was but that’s not the main ordeals I’d like to blog about here so I’ll skip that. Getting to Nice took around 2 and a half hours. I managed to tolerate a 17 hour flight to Hong Kong on the other side of the bloody world but duuuuuuude, those were the longest 2 and a half hours of my life! I think I sat there drifting in and out of sleep and COMPLETELY BORED OUT OF MY MIND!!!!
As soon as we stepped out of Nice airport, we felt that humid-blast of hot weather that was almost identical to Hong Kong. Truth to be told, it was about 27-30 degree celsius there so we felt silly in our jeans and big anoraks (cos UK weather is so bad, wet and windy and cold TT_TT”) and quickly hopped onto the airport bus, which was number 98 at 4 euros per person. We took the bus along the huge strip of pebbly shores, half-naked people, palm trees, skateboarders, in-lin skaters and bicyclists that was the Promenade des Anglais.
Our hotel was the Best Western Roosevelt. We booked 3 nights via Booking.com which kept telling us before we arrived in Nice that it was completely booked in the morning, and then in the afternoon, the site would say there were 3 rooms available. Conflicting messages aside, we decided to wing it as we were contemplating to stay at the Mercure Promenade but it cost us 500 quid more whereas we’d really saved tonnes with the Best Western so yeah, I said, let’s wing it. Good thing we did as we managed to get our room. We got off the airport bus at the bus stop Albert 1er.
Now, the Best Western Roosevelt website will tell you to cross the garden to get to the hotel. I didn’t find that particularly helpful so I would suggest walking towards the Promenade and get to Place Massena until you find the Haagen Daz cafe at the corner. From there, look around or walk forwards slightly until you see a Barclays across the road. Cross that road and then continue walking up on that street and you will see the Best Western. The hotel is particularly hard to spot, especially with its tiny sign on the wall so keep your eyes peeled.
The hotel room was pleasant with the best aspect being the bath. It was so lavish except they positioned the shampoo and body soap/shower gel on this wall fixing that was at the door far, far away from the bath so I guess it meant you would have to get out of the bath while bathing just to get a dab of shower gel and climb back into the tub. Also, the shower is positioned at an awkward angle so be sure to place 2 towels down on the floor as you will get water everywhere. The beds were comfy but I wished they didn’t give us plastic spoons when it came to brewing coffee and tea with the amenities provided.
FIRST DAY IN NICE.
Whoohoo, this is the part I enjoyed writing 🙂 We got up quite late, at 9.44am (remember, we had to wake up 4am for our flights) so we wondered if we would not get enough done for today since we had so much planned ahead. Oh yes, a good tip is to always plan what you are going to do to avoid wasting time. So yesterday after we showered and were just chilling, I drew up a plan on what to do for the following day, and what we were planning to do was: Promenade -> Place Massena/Cours Saleya -> Le Chataeu (or Castle Hill) -> Hop On/Off bus. We actually walked through Place Massena and Cour Saleya first because it was close to our hotel. We walked past all the souevenir shops for now and past all the outdoor cafes and stores and towards the great expanse of sitting statues on top of huge columns and the fountain with the massive, white naked man.
The tram passed occasionally but we did not need to go on. So after taking some pictures and marvelling the extremely impressive architecture and decor of Nice and the Place Massena and hilariously watching a tourist stand behind the statue of the naked man at a distance with her hands in a pinching angle so it looked like she was grabbing at an ass cheek, we moved on to the Promenade where we were blasted with the hot sun and weather.
I would advise to bring an empty bottle with you which you can refill yourself because drinks are costly here. It’s about 2.50 euros at least per person, even for a bottle of water so it is handy to have at least some water with you.
The Promenade was marvellous. You can rent bicycles here and go on jet skis and go paragliding. The shores are really pebbly/rocky though, so I find this beach painful if you decide to lie down or walk around here. We strolled around, passing the Negresco hotel, the Meditteranen hotel and the McDonalds (and only McDonalds nearby which is also very expensive). There are plenty of chairs to sit on so you can just stare at the beach or the holiday goers and topless sunbathers but I think the best place to sit is to walk up the Promenade to Le Port, and stop at the curved/rounded peak which is near the entrance of Le Chataeu – you can’t miss it, it has a sundial on the ground. This spot grants an excellent view of the Promenade and it is also very comfy and not as busy compared to the Promenade. We sat there to watch the sunet :33
Anyway, we wound up in Cours Saleya where they sell tonnes of flowers, soap, perfumed baggies and seafood. It is basically a long strip consisting of rows and rows of various market stalls and restaurants so sometimes you’ll have the occasional, odd couple or small group of people dining in between these flower stalls when you walk past.
We left the mass throng of shoppers and headed to Le Chataeu next and decided to get the elevator to see what it would be like. When we walked up first, we missed the entrance and arrived at the memorial ornament of Le Port, so we turned back and eventually spotted the huge winding staircase and the tourists on the peak above pointing and taking pictures. Basically, you walk up to the Promenade towards the direction of Le Port but if you look close enough you will see the entrance to the elevator and the steps to Le Chataeu. The tunnel smelled like pee btw and it is for people with prams/old people but we wanted to at least see what it would be like and then we’d walk down. Anyway, expect queue jumping cos some people just don’t have manners! This doesn’t just apply for this elevator, there’s tonnes of queue jumping everywhere.
The elevator only took a couple of seconds and we were at the top of Castle Hill. It gives a breathtaking view of the Promenade but sadly the sun is so strong we did not stay for long. We were quickly swamped by other eagerly enthusiastic, queue-jumping tourists (mainly French people) and we walked down to the other areas which also gave us good spots for picture taking.
Surprisingly enough, Le Chataeu did not take very long and we returned to the Promenade to get on the Tourist bus. By this time, it was about 3-4pm. The hop on/off bus is the Le Grand Tour bus and you can get it outside the Promenade. On board, it is 20 euros for an adult for a 1 day pass or 23 euros for 2 days and it will take you everywhere and the tour will take about an hour.
Ummm, I would advise you to get the 2 day pass as it is only 3 euros more so instead of going on the bus on one day for 20 euros, then thinking the next day ‘Damn wish I could go again’ or even ‘I need to go the Nice Train Station’ if you are planning a trip to Cannes the day after, you can get the tour bus to get there instead as it will take you directly outside the station.
1. Do not get the bus at 5-6ish in the evening. Not only is it a complete and utter waste of money as the tour ends at 6, but the drivers will be wanting to go home after a long day of work and will drive really quickly to get it over with so you can’t get the most out of your tour.
2. The tour will depend on the driver and bus. Some drive too fast. Look out for the bus, too. If you look at the open seats upstairs and there are 2 horizontal yellow hand railings, this bus is NOT GOOD for taking pictures because the bars are in your way! You can get on another bus with lower railings and it will give you the best view. PS. Not that you can tell who is a good driver or not, but just thought I should point that out!
We sat upstairs at the open-roof seats to get the most of it. The driver will give you the pass which grants you all day entry on the bus and cheap little green earphones to plug in so you can hear some random voice-recorded guy called Nick who will be your in-ear travel guide, talking to you about history and where to get the best pastries in Nice as you pass Massena, the Promenade etc. We looked at Tripadvisor reviews, some of them are MISLEADING BECAUSE THE HOP ON/OFF BUS DOES NOT GO TO THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL. Or maybe it does but we went in August and I thought I’d bold that and put it in capitals because the russian cathedral was something I was looking forward to so much but it didn’t even pass. Even on the bus’ route on the map provided it said it did go past the cathedral but we went on the bus twice because it was so awesome and fun and it did not go to the cathedral at all.
However, I did think the scenery, architecture, weather and the overall experience made up for the lack of visit to the cathedral so we got on the bus twice (as mentioned before) after we had a quick lunch at McDonalds (which was packed btw). BUUUT we sat on the right of the bus and I was sitting in the inside seat and I got smacked in the face and head by the various exotic plantation of the bus path, namely dangly, low branched palm trees so beware of palm trees! And also be aware of the occasional bug landing on you or a pigeon/seagull flying too low, so remember to duck!
After the bus, we got on the train tour of Nice which is exactly like the bus only you get to sit in a car that is creatively and cutely designed and built to look like a train and charge you 8 euros per adult, so 16 euros in total for me and my sister and it basically went through the same route as the bus, but it was not so good as the bus and a bit of a rip off as it does not grant you unlimited travel.
SECOND DAY IN NICE.
For the second day, we did not have much of a plan but we did know that we really wanted to visit Monte Carlo. We googled some stuff online to find out about the bus times and timetables and routes so here’s an extra tip: Make sure you have access to the internet at all times. To get to Monte Carlo, we got the 100 Bus that said Nice – Menton, which cost 1 euro per person. You can get the bus outside the stop called Nice J C Bermond which is at Place Massena near the fountain and white statue of the naked man (Apollo). Follow the direction of the tram where you will see 2 stops opposite each other – Las Planas and Pont Michel – and continue walking that pavement until you look to the left and see bus stops. You might see the 200 bus to Cannes and others so you are in the right place. We went early, about 9 o’clock in the morning but already a queue was forming outside the bus which was parked and driver-less. We queued but again, an elderly couple decided to jump the queue and shoved their way in front of us. At 9.50 the driver returned and already the bus was full, even though J C Bermond was the terminal.
TIP: Sit on the right to get the best view.
The bus will then drive to Monte Carlo, past at least 2-3 sea villages where you can see marvellous countryisde, mountains, more lavish architecture and the sea. It took about 50 minutes, I think, to get to Monte Carlo. The bus is not very helpful in telling you were to stop so it is best to have a list of all the stops so you know where to get on/off. The bus will often miss some stops if no-one is getting off or there is no-one at the stop so always keep a look out for bus stops and the name of the stop.
We got off at Place d’Arms where it is a short walk up to the Palais Princier de Monaco and the Oceanographic museum (Musée Océanographique). It was very hot and when we got to the top where the Palais was, it was rather…..disappointing. Aside from the architecture, it was generally a large expanse of things we’d seen before, ie, the houses were identical to the ones in Nice. There are some souevenir stalls and places to get drink. It is generally a large square where to the north, you can find a shady area to sit which is lined with decorative statues of canons and canon balls. To the south you can find another place to sit with those binoculars where you pay money just to see nothing. To the left are stalls and to the right is the Palais and the place where the ‘changing of the guard’ takes place.
The changing of the guard only takes seconds at 11.55 daily. When we went, a huge crowd formed to see a guy in white stand still for a few moments until his substitute would arrive. When he did arrive, they marched in an orderly fashion, then swapped places. There was some applause, and the guard smiled and nodded at us in response as we filmed and snapped him marching. Then he might occasionally march around with a gun over his shoulder (which I filmed too lol).
The Palais costs 8 euros per person, but if you go on the Hop On/Off bus of Monace/Monte Carlo, you can get the bus AND Museum tickets for 25 euros. If you walk further down the direction of the sign that points you to the direction of the Oceanographic museum, you can get tickets for the Palais and the Museum for 19 euros.
Get the bus tickets instead that come with the Oceanographic Museum tickets, because the Palais is 8 euros each. It is 14 euros for the Museum, and it is 18 euros for the bus, so:
For one person without the discount: 18 euros (bus) + 14 euros (Museum) + 8 (Palais) = 40 euros
BUS DEAL: 25 euros for the Bus AND Museum + 8 (for the Palais) = 33 euros
MUSEUM DEAL: 19 euros (for Museum + Palais) + 16 euros (Bus fare) = 35 euros
Obviously the bus deal is better, yah?
We went to the museum first, but we passed the Cathdral. Outside the museum, is a huge, white statue of a newborn baby curled up. Yes, that’s right, a baby. I didn’t take a picture of it, but once you see the baby, you’re in the right place.
The museum itself is a spectacle; even the exterior has you going O__O You enter after showing your ticket and there is a room opposite where all the displays will be, of stuffed birds, dried up and preserved, rare species of fish and huge sculptures of a baby’s progress from an embryo, foetus, then to a…well, baby. The gift shop is also there but so is the final exit so save that for later. If you remain in the entrance hall, there are two flight of stairs leading left and right. Stairs going down lead to the aquarium. I enjoyed the Aquarium the most because there was so much to see. There were so many species of fish, sinister moray eels, baby clown fish, a turtle, some sharks, manta rays, 3 nautilus’ and other rare species but the tortoise habitat on the very top of the musuem is a bit of a letdown because the tortoises are too busy in the shade dealing with the heat and can’t be bothered with you. Check out this seagull. It was huge, at least the size of a small dog.
We returned to the main area to get to the Palais Princier de Monaco since we had tickets. The security guard was really friendly and his customer service was exceptional compared to other places we’ve been to in Nice where the people just scowl at you or roll their eyes. You’re not allowed to take photos using your phone/camera/iphone/ipad/anything inside the Palais so after we got our 2 euros for a special Monaco medallion coin machines that were outside and went through the queue, we were given these remote control-like devices with a strap to loop around your neck and then press on the button for your language and put it to your ear where a tiny recorded voice (probably Nick again) will tell you about the Palais, then you walk around with that remote control to your ear and listen and look at the exhibits. There were a total of 14 exhibits in the Palais.
After the Palais, we decided to get on the Monaco Hop On/Off bus which was surprisingly poor compared to the Nice bus. We waited in queue for 15 minutes at least and once the bus arrived, it was tiny, the driver was rather unhelpful and people jumped the queue as usual, which meant when it came to us, there was no space. The driver was actually occupied with the people on the bus and did not even bother to tell us there was no space on the bus. We got off ourselves and waited for another bus with a much better, nicer driver. If you get on the bus you will get good views of Monaco.
We got off at Monte Carlo Casino, which is Stop No. 5. Although we were tempted to get off at the Port, the frequency of buses are quite rare there so we decided to go to a stop where everybody got off and the bus was definetely going to stop. The Casino was promising and it did not disappoint!!!!! We did not go into the actual casino but we did sit at the Cafe de Paris and bought the MOST EXPENSIVE ICE CREAM EVER for 17 euros. But man, that’s quality. It melted really quickly, however, but it was 34 degrees so meh. But aaaaah the ice cream was to die for. We got a mango ice cream to share but it is not featured on the menu online, which is a little strange. We sat outside and the waiter was really friendly (and cute). My sister said he looked a bit like Taylor Lautner but without the big nose.
Outside the casino, and uwaaah!!! There was so many nice cars @_@ We saw tonnes of Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Bentleys…
I SAW A LAMBORGHINI.
MY GOD THESE CARS ARE SO…SO…
Umm, either it was a Lamborghini Reventon or a Diablo, I dunno, although I am straying towards Reventon, but GAAAAAAAAH ITS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAR I HAVE EVER SEEN…..
I also saw a Ferrari, too (there is a Ferrari which you can drive for 59 euros back in Nice btw). I’m not much of a Ferrari fan so we only took a couple of photos and moved on…
Tourists were swarming over these expensive, flashy cars and taking tonnes of pictures, posing with it as if it was theirs, touching it, staring through the windows…. (I did not do that) but if I was the owner I would be a bit worried in parking right in front of tourists who could easily dent your car and then run off…
I LOVE LAMBORGHINIS!!!!!
(PS. It was sooooo hard to get these pictures!!!! In fact, these are the only decent photos we took. Other tourists kept crowding round and I couldn’t get a shot where the car was actually by itself!!! I lurked around the casino for a-g-e-s! T_T …But it was worth it in the end :D)
After we strolled around the casino, we went back to the bus for yet again another hop on/off bus to finish off the tour and then went to get the bus 100 back to Nice, where it was jampacked and took around 50 minutes to return. Note: French buses are so small and waste so much space, because there are literally so few seats that everyone had to stand. About 70% of the passengers were standing (including us) and 30% were seated.
THIRD DAY IN NICE.
This was our third and final day in Nice. Our flight was at 8pm, so we had a full day and thankfully, Best Western does a Left Luggage service, so we dropped off our suitcase and bags and headed out. This time, we did not go south to the Promenade, but north, towards the Nice Gare SNCF to get the train to Cannes. Originally, we had planned to get the bus to Cannes, the number 200, but it took an hour and a half or so we heard so we thought the train would be quicker. Damn, the Nice Gare SNCF is so tiny and there’s so much overcrowding. We got our tickets at 4.90 euros each but we boguht a return, so the grand total was 19.80 for the two of us.
We arrived at the train station at 9.06am, and the train to Cannes had just passed. The next was 9.37am. There are also two trains to Cannes – Cannes Grasse and Cannes la Bocca. We missed the la Bocca one so we ahd to make do with Cannes Grasse. The train arrived at Platform A. You need to validate your ticket so find a little yellow machine, stuff your ticket in whichever way it will permit it then go through. The train is a double decker (usually) so there was a lot of seats. It took about 20 mins to get to Cannes. Once we arrived, again, it was a tiny station with little seats and a heatwave outside, although it was not as hot as it was in Cannes compared to Nice. My sister said there was a tourism office outside the train station but with out luck – what a surprise! It was closed for refurbishment -__-“”
We found the Palais du Festival et des Congres building by walking around and took a few pictures on the red carpet but did not have much time to go sightseeing because we had to return to Nice in mid-afternoon. The Cannes tourism centre which is beside the Palais du Festival smelled like wee surprisingly enough so we just took a map and made our way to the Port and the beach ourselves. The beach was the best. With some minor reluctance from my sister, I decided to go headstraight and took off my sandals and stepped into the sand. the sand was very wet and squishy under my feet but comfortable. I walked to the shore front and let the sea lap at my feet. Ahhhh bliss…
Right, so here is the overall ups and downs of the trip:
– I LOVED NICE. I was really stressed and and depressed and tired and exhausted and angry before I went to Nice, but now I feel much better. I loved watching the sea and walking up and down the Promenade. Whilst there aren’t many attractions that will be suitable for all, it is interesting and beautiful and you should come at least once. I think Nice is good for you. Good for the soul 😀
– Great weather. It was hot and sunny everyday, well, except from one night where it suddenly began pouring rain and lightning was flashing nonstop. It eventually subsided after half an hour. We were watching The Vampire Diaries in French when that happened and the hotel room lgihts flickered on and off often.
– The tour bus of Nice. The tour bus was AMAZING. It goes everywhere and it is extremely pleasant. Fine, I got hit by palm trees, but who cares???? I also saw a sign that said Fanny. It’s a funny word in UK but Fanny is a popular name in France.
– Cannes beach. The highlight of Cannes was the beach where we just took off our sandals and waded in the sand, with the seawaves sloshing around our feet. BEST FEELING EVER!
– Monte Carlo and Cafe de Paris. Most expensive ice cream ever, but I felt like a movie star there.
– Seeing a lamborghini with my very own eyes. I LOVE LAMBORGHINIS!!!!!!
– Oceanographic museum and the Palais. I am more of a culture-person than my sister so I guess I appreciated the stuffed eels and sharks, dried up fish and crabs and whale skeletons more than my sister. The museum was lovely although I didn’t get the big baby statue and I really enjoyed the Palais and its beautiful interior, the Salle des Arms, L’Galerie Hercule and the bedroom of Louis the….well, I forgot what number he was, but his bedroom and other furniture was on display anyway.
– A lot of places, like alleyways and the Cannes Tourism Info centre, smelled of pee
– People have a lot of dogs in Nice, so expect tonnes of dog poo on the street. Oh, and the fountain of Apollo in Place Massena? We saw tonnes of dogs jumping in that for a quick bath despite the tugging and pulling of the leash by their owners, then we saw a lady on the other side of the fountain dip her hands in and wash her hands and face. Whoops!
– It can be hard to get around. Unlike UK or USA where everywhere is linked like a grid, or at least one street can go off a tangent and then lead to the place you want to be? It’s not like that in Nice. Streets are messy, the pavements are tiny, and it is difficult to navigate if you don’t know where you’re going! Have a map at all times, which leads me to this point next…
– Lack of tourist information. I was quite surprised by the lack of tourist information available in Nice. There are no maps, no english translations, nothing really…
– Other tourists. Because they can’t queue, have no manners, can’t stop staring at you for no reason, fight and push and shove, walk in front of you when you are clearly taking photos, block your view and are in general, just plain rude!!!
– Sunburn. I have really sunburnt legs………… TT_TT
– The scamming souevenir lady in one of the shops in Massena. My sister and I wanted to get keyrings and ended up picking 2 keyrings of the same, but then we decided to put the other back because my sister didn’t want it anymore and wanted something else. At the counter, we saw the lady put in 2 of those keyrings but we caught it and said we never bought 2 even though she was eager to make us buy 2 but we didn’t have any of it so she huffed and took it back out. If it really was a mistake, then there’s no reason to get angry…the only thing I could think was is that she tried to scam us but we caught her!!!
– When we were walking back to our hotel one evening in the Massena, we saw a lady asking for money who was bent on the ground in the most gruesome and disturbing way ever. Okay fine, I like Silent Hill but the monsters were completely identical to that lady! …Seeing something like that in real life was scary.
– Don’t wear jeans. It’s too hot for jeans or any kind of thick trousers. Just wear a t-shirt/top and short/skirts or pants made out of thin material will do.
– Invest in a good pair of shoes, because a lot of walking is expected
– Bring suntan lotion or you will get burned. Mark my words! You will get burned.
– Nice is very expensive, particularly Monaco. Bring lots of euro but also remember to keep an eye out for thieves although I thought Nice was relatively safe compared to other places I have been to.
Overall, Nice was a very fun and beautiful place to visit. You can also go to Monaco and Cannes so 3 places in 1 is definitely a bonus!!!!!! My favourite places of all were Cannes beach and the Monte Carlo casino. To wrap this post up, here are more pics of our holiday and the Lamborghini!!!