Nice (pronounced like the English word "niece") is a large city in France on the French Riviera. It's a popular destination for vacationers both young and old, with something to offer everyone. It is well known for the beautiful view on the Promenade des Anglais, its famous waterfront, and is an ethnically diverse port city.
The A8 autoroute is the easiest way to access Nice either from the west (Cannes, Aix-en-Provence) or from Italy. From the West take exit 50 and follow the signs for the Promenade des Anglais which takes you into Nice and is a lovely drive along the coast. Coming from the east take exit 55 and follow the signs for 'Nice centre'.
Approaching the city from the East, the three 'Corniches' ('Basse', 'Moyenne' and 'Grande') offer a wonderful panoramic route from Menton to Nice. The 'Grande Corniche' is the highest one; it goes up to more than 500 metres on the sea level in La Turbie.
Monaco and Monte Carlo casino are only a short drive from Nice, otherwise Cannes, Antibes and St Tropez can be found in the other direction. These areas are known to be popular with the rich and famous so you will be able to see the glitz and glamorous sailing past in yachts or stop off for some dinner and drinks along the waterfront. The coastal drive itself is incredible and well worth your time.
Made famous by Van Gogh, during the summer you could take a drive north through the gorgeous region of Provence and be mesmorised by the fields of lavender and sunflowers, giving the feel of being in one of Vincent’s pictures. All seasons of the year however have something different to offer with the almond and cherry trees beginning to blossom in spring around March, and the wine harvest season starting in September or olive and truffle harvesting in November bringing a new lease of life to the area. If taking a rental car, try to get off the toll roads which don’t offer as much scenery and drive down country lanes and between little towns such as Aix en Provence or Avignon.
Within Nice it-self you could spend hours wandering up and down the promenade watching the world go by. Nice also offers a variety of museums, eateries and bars to keep you amused. The promenade will lead you on to Place Massena, the main square of the city. Place Garibaldi featuring a large statue of Garibaldi is mainly a pedestrian area but will impress with its architecture. Nice hosts a number of festivals during the year so it is always worthwhile checking out anything due to go on whilst visiting. Some of the best ice-cream makers in France also reside in Nice being found mostly around the old town in Place Rossetti.
Having your own vehicle gives you the ability to explore and the freedom to stop off in these different places, giving you the chance to meet locals or enjoy a coffee or snack. You never know what or who you might find in these pretty little towns.
Tips for driving in and around Nice:
- As mentioned, try to get off the toll roads. Not only will you save money in tolls but be taken into more scenic and off-the-beaten-track areas.
- Most rental vehicles will be manual transmission. If you must have an automatic it is always better to book ahead of collection.
- Smaller vehicles are easier to maneuver down the narrow French lanes and to park
- Gazole means diesel
- The free Essence Pas Chere app shows you where the closest petrol stations are and allows you to compare prices. Most gas stations are on the way out of the city towards to airport.