The laid-back lifestyle in Nice is one of the main attractions of this Mediterranean city. In the summer, locals take advantage of the beautiful weather and head to one of the beaches. Expats will find that they too will start to embrace this lifestyle, lounging on outdoor terraces, sipping espressos in the morning, or having a glass of rosé along the Promenade des Anglais in the afternoon.
The 35-hour French work week and five weeks of paid time off are two advantages of living in Nice, while the slow pace of life draws retirees looking for a place to relax. The lifestyle in Nice also provides professionals with plenty to do in their spare time. Many people take advantage of the promenade for running or cycling, and there are a variety of outdoor activities in the region, such as hiking or rock climbing.
While most activities in Nice focus on the outdoors, there are also plenty of museums and cultural sites to visit. The Matisse and Chagall museums are located in the Cimiez area, just a bus ride away from the centre of town. There is also a modern art museum in Place Garibaldi and an Asian arts museum along the promenade.
English speakers will find that there is a large English community in the area and a variety of pubs in town. Expats can often find free language exchanges at these pubs. These are a great way of mingling with the locals while learning French.
Shopping in Nice
Whether one is looking for the latest designer wear or vintage attire, a fully-equipped department store or a quaint boutique, Nice has something to satisfy everyone’s shopping needs. A majority of the stores line Jean-Médecin, a street that runs through the centre of the city alongside the tram line. Here shoppers will find large stores such as Galeries Lafayette and FNAC, along with other chains such as H&M, Zara and Sephora.
If one is in the mood to window-shop or check out the designer stores, be sure to walk down Avenue de Verdun and the Rue de Paradis with luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel. Other French stores such as The Kooples and Longchamp are also in this area.
Strolling through the Old Town, shoppers will find a variety of shops selling Italian leather, jewellery, and all types of spices and products typical of Provence. There are also plenty of vintage stores where one can score a Chanel bag for a great price on a good day. It is worth bearing in mind that many of the stores close during the two-hour break from 12pm to 2pm daily.
Sales take place twice a year in France, in January and July. If shoppers can hold out, prices continue to get lower throughout the length of the sale.
Eating out in Nice
Since Nice is on the Mediterranean and borders Italy, many of its restaurants are known for their seafood and Italian cuisine. The port has a variety of restaurants to choose from, with outdoor tables facing the harbour.
Expats can also take a walk into the Old Town and pick from one of the restaurants lining the Cours Saleya with fresh seafood on display outside. Although this may be one of the more touristy areas, it is great for people-watching or enjoying the flower market during the day and jewellery stands at night in the summer.
Moules frites and salade niçoise are two must-have dishes, but Nice also has other specialities that are particular to the region. Some dishes include pan bagnat, a salade niçoise served as a sandwich in a bun; tourte de blettes, a Swiss chard tart; pissaladière, an onion tart; farcis, stuffed vegetables; and socca, a crêpe-like pancake made with chickpea flour. Head into the heart of the Old Town and try a sampler platter of Niçoise specialities and sit down at a picnic table in the shopping area.
A service charge is usually included in the bill, but most people leave a few euros as a tip if they enjoyed the food.
Nightlife in Nice
When it comes to nightlife, Nice is like the laid-back little sister in between two places known for their extravagant parties – Cannes and Monaco. Most locals will go out for a drink in the Old Town at one of the bars, but there are also places to go if one is in the mood to dance. Most bars close promptly at 2am, but a few will stay open until around 4am. If bottle service is out of the budget, there are plenty of happy hour options and bars catering to students.
Those looking for a casual drink can stop by one of the busiest streets in the Old Town, the Rue de la Préfecture. There are some great venues for sitting at outdoor tables and taking in the atmosphere.
See and do in Nice
Expats thinking of a move to Nice will be pleased to know that there is an abundance of sights and activities to keep busy with in this French city. From sprawling gardens and bustling promenades to fantastic art galleries and imposing cathedrals, there is plenty to see and do in 'Nice la Belle'.
Parc de la Colline du Château (Castle Hill Park)
A site of significant history, Castle Hill was the first area of Nice to be settled by the Greeks two thousand years ago. In 1706, the citadel, which was considered impenetrable, was destroyed by King Louis XIV. Nowadays, visitors can stroll through the lush grounds, meander along winding paths and enjoy the waterfall, the two on-site cafés and the unrivalled panoramic views of the city and its harbour.
Art lovers, and especially fans of the genius that was Henri Matisse, simply have to visit the Musée Matisse during their time in Nice. The stunning collection of 31 paintings and 57 sculptures is housed in a lovely and historic Genoese villa, which is surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens and an olive grove.
Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas
Expats might be forgiven for thinking they’ve somehow landed on the Red Square when they see the Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas. This extraordinary structure was built by Tsar Nicholas in 1912 and designed in the Muscovite style – the typical onion domes, a peculiar sight in the centre of Nice. Visitors are permitted inside but should respect rules and traditions as it is still used as a place of worship.
Promenade des Anglais
Expats in Nice will come to love a stroll down the Promenade des Anglais. Built by Englishman Reverend Lewis Way in 1820, the promenade was originally just a footpath but has since grown into a grand palm-lined seaside boulevard complete with underground tunnels for traffic, which means the Promenade is always filled with strollers, skaters and cyclists. It is fringed by exquisite gardens and lined with opulent buildings such as the Villa Masséna Musée and the Palais de la Méditerranée theatre.
Jardin Albert 1er
Perfect for a family day out, the Jardin Albert 1er boasts sweeping lawns, leafy trees, fountains, a wonderful rose garden, playgrounds for the little ones and even a vintage carousel. The venue becomes an open-air theatre during spring and summer, hosting concerts and music festivals.
What's on in Nice
Nice is blessed with an utterly eventful calendar, and expats are encouraged to join in the fun. Festivals and events are a great way for newcomers to the city to meet people and make friends, and the city's wide variety of events cater to every taste so that everyone is sure to find their own idea of fun.
Below we list a few of our favourite Nice events.
Nice Carnival (February)
The biggest event on Nice’s calendar, the Nice Carnival is sure to delight expats, and it’s a good time for newcomers to meet people and make friends. The entire city is enveloped by an electric party atmosphere, and the highlight is when hundreds of extravagant floats parade along Nice’s streets.
Race to the Sun (March)
This gruelling cycle race starts in Paris and finishes on Nice’s iconic Promenade des Anglais, where thousands of spectators welcome the exhausted riders and a big party ensues.
Fête des Mai (May)
Another festival that expats should make a point of attending. Dating back hundreds of years, this festival celebrates the coming of summer and the recovery of nature after winter. Held on every Sunday in May, the city comes alive as it indulges in the area’s wonderful locally-produced wines and regional speciality dishes.
Nice Jazz Festival (July)
Nice has always had a mild obsession with the art of Jazz, and this annual festival attracts the best of the best. Hosted at the Place Messena and the Jardin Albert 1er, this celebration of Jazz, which dates back to 1948, should not be missed out on.
French Riviera Marathon (November)
One of the most scenic marathons in the world, the French Riviera Marathon, also known as the ‘Five-star Marathon’, starts on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, meanders along the spectacular coastline for 26 miles (42km) and finishes on the famous La Croisette Street in Cannes. Expats are encouraged to join spectators as they cheer on runners and enjoy the festivities.
Christmas Village (December)
Expats can get into the Christmas spirit properly at this annual holiday festival in Nice. Visitors can expect plenty of food stalls, an arts and crafts market, a Ferris wheel and even an ice rink.