We’ve been craving traveling to a foreign country ever since the pandemic hit. At that time I was very pregnant and all our plans about a tropical babymoon went south.
Despite domestic travel and a few trips to my homeland Bulgaria, this was going to be our first vacation abroad as a family. Baby girl is already 2 and very independent for her age, so it felt as the right time to jump into such adventure.
I was trying to have extremely low expectations on how it would go, which in my opinion is key when traveling with kids. Also, I didn’t want a high-pace city trip. It didn’t make sense for me. An all-inclusive resort vacation was out of the question as well - we had such a trip aligned for the end of the year, when we'd be tired of rain and high humidity in the Azores.
What I’ve envisioned was a little bit of everything - a new city to explore, good food to eat and chill walks around. Warm weather and beach would be a plus. And thus we decided to explore the French Riviera. At first we thought Nice would be our base and explore the smaller towns from here, but once we arrived, quickly changed our mind and stayed all 3 days just in the city (after that we went to Monaco for another 2 days).
One of the best travel experiences for me is to be able to feel like a local. To create my own routine, go back to the same restaurants and feel the place as it’s my own. 3 days were enough for me to feel this way in Nice.
We stayed very close to the Promenade des Anglais and even though the location was great, we were still half an hour walk to the Old town. This half an hour though became part of our daily routine. We went to the beach after breakfast, then had lunch and explored the tiny streets of Nice Old Town while our daughter napped in the stroller. We were super lucky with the weather - temperature was above 25*C even at night, but in the afternoon it was impossible to walk around in the sun. So, the Old Town with its narrow streets was the perfect escape.
When to go to Nice?
We went in the beginning of September and the weather was perfect. It was a bit crowded but I imagine in high summer months would be way worse.
Where to stay in Nice?
This is the most iconic hotel at Promenade des Anglais, but if you’re not willing to pay the extraordinary amount it costs, there are plenty of options in the surroundings. We stayed here and were very happy with our choice - room was spacious, staff was friendly and the breakfast was rich and yummy.
Where to eat in Nice?
Local food here is a mix of French and Italian cuisine. Socca is a traditional local crepe, but we didn’t get to try it as from what we’ve understood it’s more of an afternoon snack.
We enjoyed having lunch (more than once) at "Lou Kalu", but be careful - portions are bigger than expected for the price.
The pizza restaurant at Place Rossetti was also a favorite of ours. Definitely try the local suggestion “Farandole de Mai” as it brings several dishes typical for the region, all of them super yummy. Onion pizza was my favorite.
"Le Sunset" was another great place we had a pleasant dinner at.
If you’re looking for a nice spot by the beach, “La Vela” restaurant is a very nice place, with great atmosphere and delicious food. Sushi was also fresh and really good.
Most restaurants offer take away and what many people do is order food, buy drinks and have dinner while watching the sunset by the sea. We couldn't experience it though, as our daughter was a bit jet-lagged and by the time the sun was setting down, she had just finished her afternoon snack.
What to see in Nice?
Promenade des Anglais is the most famous image of the city. It's a great place for a relaxed walk, but also for a mornign run, ending with a dive in the sea.
The #ILoveNice sign - located at the easternmost end of Promenade des Anglais, it's a famous spot for watching the sunset.
Nice Old Town - simply ramble around the tiny streets, visit the flower market (go before 2 pm), check out the churches, try some gelato, go shopping.
Colline du Chateau - as we were with a toddler, and walking around mostly when she was napping in the stroller we were unable to go up the thousands stairs and visit. But looked like a really beautiful place to see the city from above.
Garibaldi Square - a bit more further inland, but definitely worth going to. By the time we went there was a cool outdoor exposition with photos celebrating special events in Nice and the surrounding area.
Which beach to choose in Nice?
If you'd like to enjoy the vibe of the private beach club, don't expect it to be cheap. Our hotel had a discount protocol with “Le Voilier Plage” beach club, but we decided to do as locals do and went to the public beach next to it. Have in mind that beach in Nice is pebbles and not sand, however it is not as uncomfortable as I remember it from previous pebble beach experiences. The tricky part is to get into the water. All public beaches are equipped with sweet water showers.
What to buy/bring as a gift from Nice?
Lavender products (soap, essential oil) - Provence with all those scenic lavender fields is relatively close by. So even if you don't get to visit the area itself, you can still take a bit of it with you. You'll find all kind of lavender (and rose) products basically in any gift shops around town.
Spices and herbal infusion - I found this amazing store in Nice Old Town called "L'apothecaire" (Rue Pairolère n2; they also have an online store shipping internationally). I couldn't resist to the scent of the "SOLEIL À NICE" fruit infusion, as well some marine salt and spices mixtures.
Linen clothes and bedding - some people say that French linen is the best quality possible to buy, due to the temperature surrounding the flax seed while growing. Believe me, it won't be difficult to find shops selling linen around Nice.
Art from local graphic designers - to be honest I'm already over magnets and this kind of travel souvenirs that mostly just take space and joint dust at home. As we've recently moved to a smaller house, I am becoming more cautious of how I fill the space. And as I'd like to do something more creative, I bought a few original post cards I found in this cool local graphic design studio. I've always loved post cards. They seem like the perfect way to travel in time. Specially if you write something. I remember writing and sending one to my grandparents the first time I went on vacation by myself. Also, I've seen this cool idea of mailing yourself a postcard while on vacation.
Bonus: Traveling to Nice with kids. Where to go?
The most obvious recommendation is of course taking your little ones to the beach, which if weather allows, I highly recommend. The sea was calm and warm throughout the day, and even a swim at sunset felt great. If anything else, you can teach them how to throw rocks to the water.
Let them ride a carrousel - there's one at Jardin Albert 1er and another one at Place Garibaldi. Have in mind that they close quite early - at 19h by the time we were in town.
Take them to a playground - La Coulée Verte De Nice (the green corridor of Nice) is the continuation of Jardin Albert 1er. It's a city park just outside Nice Old Town with quite big playground area, mostly for children 3+ yo though. In fact, it's a great place for a walk as well, even without children.
This is basically what we've experienced for 3 days in Nice with a 2 years old toddler. To be honest, we went with very low expectations and just went with the flow. And we had a blast. I called ourselves "lazy travelers" in the title of this blog post only because we enjoyed the city so much, we gave up on the idea to explore further more. We were constantly on the move, walking around and taking in the beauty and the unique vibe of this charming coastal town. I mean, I know it's a big city, but it feels like a chill, little town and I really loved it. Hope you enjoy it, too.
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