The Serenity of Nice (Paris)

Holiday and nice are two words that seem to make a perfect match as its beautiful (yet slightly scattered with pebbles) beaches, spectacular landscapes and a number of popular sightseeing places make it the third most popular French city after Paris and Lyon. Whether one is looking for a swim in the wonderful beach water, engrossing themselves with the stunning French architecture of Colline de Chateau, Villa ile de France or explore the hike of La Turbie or Mount Boron, there is something in there for everybody. The visitor can also visit the small town Eze which includes a beautiful cactus garden and a perfume factory. France is popular for its art and a Nice holiday guarantees it as it boasts of a number of popular museums such as the Museum of Asian Art, Parc Phoenix, Musee Chagall, Musee Matisse and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Located on the southeast French coast, Nice is the second largest city on the French Mediterranean coast. Also named as Nice La Bella or Nice the Beautiful, the city is spread out on an area of ​​more than 270 square miles which holds a population of close to one million people. Nice is considered to be one of the oldest cities on the planet as the Marseille Greeks had called this city Nikaia around 350 BC. Moreover, the Terra Amata shows evidence of a very early use of fire and it is a popular archeological site. This city experiences more than four million tourists every year and houses some of the most prominent museums in France. For example the museum of Asian art, Musee Site Archelogiques de Climiez, Musee Matisse, Musee Chagall and Musee des Beaux Arts. Although this doesn't mean that this city just attracts the art lovers as it is a popular vacation spot for both the young and the old. The relaxing tourists can make ample use of the beaches and the adventurer can visit the Colline du Chateau or the Mount Boron whilst everybody visits the Promenade des Anglais. This waterfront makes this city a diverse port with a serenade view shown on the Promenade. There is also the cliff walk which is just a fifteen minute walk from the old port towards Monaco and one can find most of the local people using it. Being on the Mediterranean coast this city experiences a Mediterranean climate. The holiday or the summer season generally lasts from six to eight months starting from April and sometimes going up to November. The winters are mild with temperatures ranging from 6 degrees C to 14 C with the summer temperatures going above 20 C and the highest recorded temperature being 37 C. Most travelers choose the summer or the season time to visit the city as there is more sun and sand but a lot of backpackers prefer the off season for obvious reasons.

The city of Nice has a very different culture because of its distinct history. For example Nicard, the local language, is Occitan whereas several Italian scholars and prominent personalities argue that the dialect is Ligurian. A major minority group still speaks the language but most of the population sticks to popular French. There are also influences of Corsican and Italian making the local language quite understandable as compared to other dialects in surrounding provinces. As for the people Nice has welcomed a lot of immigrants from the Portugal, Spanish and Italian provinces. Moreover, the Italian immigrants make up a large percentage of the population. But the recent decades have seen open immigration for people from all around the world including Southeast Asia, western Africa and northern Africa. The old traditions are still quite popular in the form of dances and folk music. In fact, an old dance farandole is still quite popular in the region.

Nice has some local dishes which form a part of the cities cuisine including Pissalaiere – a local tart made from anchovies and onions, Socca – a special pancake made from the flour of chickpeas, Farcis Nicois – a dish made from breadcrumbs and stuffed vegetables, salade nicoise etc. As for the non vegetarian delicacies there is the local meat which comes from surrounding regions including the Sisteron Sheep. A popular proverb in the region says that "fish are born in sea and die in oil" as the local fish are used at a large extent including sea urchins, breams and mullets. As for special visits there is the Nice Jazz festival and the Carnaval de Nice which forms an integral part of the attraction. However, the tourists should be aware of pickpockets and vol a la portiere – a practice of opening the car door at traffic lights and snatching the goods. As for the places where one can eat, these are divided into budget, medium and high-end. The budget places include Lou Pilha Leva and Le Lodge. The medium priced include Brasserie Flo, Restaurant du Gesu, Le Shalimar, le Delhi Belhi and Casa Mia. The splurging places include L 'Univers, Oliviera and Le Safari.

As for the social life and amusement, there are a number of places that the tourists can go for a drink. For example the Ma Nolan's – an Irish pub which offers very friendly staff, very good food, popular sporting events on three to four different screens and live music which is played every night. There is also McMahon's that is an Irish pub with pool, Thor Club which plays thor music every night, the Blue Whales for tourists wishing to stay past their bedtime, Wayne's – a popular party place which sports an old school feature about it and Checkpoint. There is also the popular Master Home and Le Marches which is quite popular with the locals.

As for shopping, there is the AV Jean Medecin which houses two of the most popular entertainment stores in the city – FNAC and Virgin Megastore. The designer labels in the clothes shops are quite expensive but the local fashion items are very cheap compared to the other countries in Europe and even compared with Paris. There is a superstore near the St Laurent de Var and a food-store named as Gallaries Lafayette Gourmand. There is a large open street at Ventimiglia which offers the cheapest bargains on fashion goods. This place is just a few kilometers from the Italian border and a train can be used from Nice Gare Ville to Ventimiglia for accessing the goods. There is the Nice Etoiles available for people wishing to go to a shopping mall which includes three floors catering just to C&A. The locals caution against going to the duty-free shops at the airport because they are some of the worst value goods that one can ever hope to go for. Shopping over the Italian border should be avoided or done with extreme care because the French police wage a war against counterfeiting and that also holds true for the clothes or items bought from street sellers.

As for getting in, the tourists can come through the Nice Airport which is the second busiest airport in whole of France. There is also a train station nearby which offers the chance to go to the main cites and attractions directly from the airport. As for the French tourists, the city is also connected to all the other major cities via SNCF train network. There is also the direct TGV which comes from Paris to Nice in about six hours with a fare of just 100 franc per adult. If one wishes to drive their automobile then the A8 route is best for tourists coming from Italy or the western region of France. Some other travel-in options include bus and boat.

As for the money issue, most of the restaurants and stores accept all the popular credit cards and also debit cards from popular banks for example – MAESTRO and EC. If this doesn't seem to work then there are numerous ATM Machines which can be used to take out and then splurge the cash on the city. However, there are few precautions which every tourist should take even in this beautiful city. The pick pocketing is a constant and unavoidable threat at the Cote d'Azur. These look like harmless tourists but they operate in packs in tourist sites, train stations and bus stations. Moreover, the gangs roaming around on the beaches should also be avoided and the tourists should avoid taking valuables with them on the beach unless absolutely necessary. There is also the Vol a La Portiere which is the practice of opening car doors at light stops and then stealing or snatching the valuables. This can be avoided by keeping the doors locked and ensuring that the purses and any other valuables are not viewed from the car.

Most people just associate France with Paris or Lyon but the city of Nice can make them realize that there is much more to France than those two cities. Whether it is architecture, cuisine or refreshing stay, Nice has it all and it also boasts of some beautiful beaches which makes it a riveting place to visit. As for the art there are several museums including Musee Matisse, Musee Chagall, Musee des Beaux Arts, Museum of Asian art and several others which complement well the architecture of Colline du Chateau. There is also the visit to Mount Boron and Villa ile de France. The tourist can also take up a Nice Cycle Tour for three hours which sums up a wonderful visit of the city covering all of its major architectural, cultural and historical landmarks.

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