The laidback lifestyle in Nice is one of the main attractions of this Mediterranean city. In the summertime, 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 vacation 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 the Asian art 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 quaint boutique, Nice has something to satisfy everyone’s shopping needs. A majority of the stores line Jean-Medecin, 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 like 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 like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel. Other French stores such as The Kooples and Longchamp are also in this area.
Strolling through the Old Town, there are 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 vintage 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 that takes place 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 bordering 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 choose 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 summertime.
Moules frites and salade niçoise are two must-have dishes, but Nice also has other specialities that are particular to the region. Some of the dishes include pan bagnat, a niçoise salad 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 eat on picnic tables in the midst of the shops.
A service charge is usually included in the bill, but most people usually leave a few euros as a tip if they enjoyed the food and plan on returning.
Nightlife in Nice
When it comes to nightlife, Nice is like the laidback 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.
For those looking for a casual drink, 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.
Lane Nieset is a freelance writer and stylist whose work has appeared in Women's Health, Town & Country, INsite magazine, and on MyRecipes.com. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Florida with degrees in magazine journalism and French. Learn more on her website.
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