Short break guide to Nice

Fly direct to the cosmopolitan capital of the Côte d’Azur and enjoy a break in the sun, says Zoë McIntyre

The resort of Nice was popularised by British aristocrats in the 18th century, and France’s fifth largest city retains its glittering reputation. As a place where Baroque and Belle Époque buildings stand side by side against a backdrop of clear skies and the azure Mediterranean, Nice will delight sun worshippers and culture seekers alike. Vieux-Nice is the most picturesque part of town, with its historic churches tucked away among alleyways and ochre-stoned squares. Street performers and artists create a festive ambience in narrow streets that throng with traders. Near the seafront at the southern end of Vieux-Nice is the café-rimmed Cours Saleya, which is filled with the colour and aromas of the flower, fruit and vegetable markets that take over the square.

Vieux-Nice also has stunning religious buildings. Behind Cours Saleya is the 18th-century Chapelle de la Miséricorde, one of France’s most exuberant Baroque masterpieces, while the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate dominates Place Rossetti with its ceramic-tiled dome and elegant bell tower.

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Vieux-Nice’s tightly packed streets, visitors can enjoy an invigorating walk along the Promenade des Anglais that curves for seven kilometres around the Baie des Anges. The palm-lined boulevard contains reminders of the resort’s Belle Époque heyday, including the pink-domed Le Negresco hotel, as well as the art deco splendours of the Palais de la Méditerranée hotel.

Nice has always held an attraction for artists, including Henri Matisse, whose work can be seen in a museum housed in the 17th-century Genoese mansion where the artist lived for nearly 40 years. From June, the museum, in the Cimiez neighbourhood, is holding special events to mark its 50th anniversary.

GETTING THERE

Various airlines fly to Nice from UK airports, and Flybe has now added services from Exeter and Southampton, running from May to October (tel: 0871 700 2000, www.flybe.com)

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MORE INFORMATION

www.nicetourisme.com