101 Côte d'Azur France Sun of a Beach

Weekend in Nice, Côte d’Azur

Nice, Cote d'Azur, France seen from Castle Hill
This trip is the very essence of Travel After 5: a short break in the work schedule to enjoy the sun and sea. Ever considered going to the Nice, French Riviera for the weekend? Even if you are deep into mainland Europe, this is incredibly convenient!

Kick off on Friday. If you can take the day off or leave the office early, even better, but you don't have to. Nice has flights arriving from all over Europe on a Friday night: Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Geneve, Oslo, Copenhagen, Dublin, Moscow, Brussels, Edinburgh, Rome, etc. Wherever your starting point, chances are high that you have a direct flight to Nice in the summer.

Nice Airport (NCE) is super close to the city, less than 8km from Vieille Ville (Old Town). My pick of Uber is easily justified: while there are buses, they are proportionally expensive and it's a normal city bus, without proper space for suitcases. After a work-day and a flight, you deserve this little bit of comfort.

Now, depending on the time you arrive and your stamina, go for a walk and dinner in the Old Town or just relax and recharge to begin your Saturday with the right foot.

If you are interested in exploring other beaches nearby – like Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat or sandy Cannes – I suggest you do that on Saturday. That way, you can have a more laid-back Sunday in Nice itself before heading back to take on the upcoming week.


Cheat Sheet

Don't miss!

  • Go up Castle Hill
  • Vieille Ville (Old Town)
  • Place Massena (main square)
  • Cours Saleya Market
  • Promenade des Anglais
  • Le Negresco

Your first decision will be whether you will pay for a place on one of the private beaches or just stay on the public ones, since it is not for everyone to spend the day stepping and lying on rocks. In Nice, you'll find public areas next to every private ones, so it's easy to try it before committing. Wherever you stay, the blue waters of Côte d'Azur will mesmerize you.

The one I stayed on was the Castel Plage, right by Castle Hill. Being used to the private beaches in Italy, I was shocked to notice that we pay around 20€ to stay so crumpled together with other people. Perhaps other establishments are less crowded, I didn't have a chance to check. But it's still worth it when you are being served drinks while enjoying the incredible scenery.

I highly recommend you to have some beach shoes as well. You can see how rocky it really is and it can be painful to go into the water without them. You can also find them in various shops and kiosks close to the beach, if you forget to pack one.

Although the sea is definitely the main attraction, make sure you also take some moments to:

  • Explore Vieille Ville, with its squares, restaurantsm bars and the Marché du Cours Seleya, a picturesque flower, vegs and fruits street market;
  • Stroll along Promenade des Anglais: the most distinctive building and a postcard of the city is Le Negresco, a luxury hotel opened in 1913;
  • Go up Castle Hill: You can hike but there's also a lift, which you'll have an easier time finding if you approach it from the seaside instead of the Old Town. From up there you'll have the best views onto the sea and the Port.

Fancy exploring around too?

Going east, interesting places to explore are Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Èze and Monaco. Heading west, you have Antibes and Cannes (both with sandy beaches).