Moving to Nice has its benefits: Mediterranean weather, a coastal location and a history of welcoming expatriates. It is the quality of life that attracts many British expats to the French Riviera. While the city is very geared towards tourists, it does still retain its own culture and traditions.
The fifth largest city in France, Nice is known for its relaxed but elegant charm. The picturesque streets are lined with French cafés, which are perfect for relaxing with a coffee and watching the world go by.
Nice is famed for its museums and galleries, with more than 15 in the city. One of the best is the Musée Matisse, which has a good collection of paintings from every stage of Matisse’s life. It is based in a renovated Genoese villa within an olive grove.
For those who prefer avant-garde art, the Musée D’Art Moderne et D’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) is a popular choice too. The striking architecture of the gallery itself is worth a visit. The main collection has over 1,300 works, which focuses on the ground-breaking artists of the 1960s and 1970s, through to more recent pieces. It features artwork from Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, César and more.
You could get a French Riviera Pass, which covers the main attractions, activities, museums and galleries. This gives free access or reduced rates to key places, which is useful for families to experience everything in their new location.
The city itself is a blend of cultural styles. Old Nice is made up of weaving medieval streets, with local markets and traditional shops. The city centre is far more modern by contrast, and the prom is a bustling row of restaurants and bars.
Nice has a buzzing after-hours scene. There are eateries and bars all along the main promenade, Promenade des Anglais, a famed four-kilometre stretch. As well as outdoor dining, there are street performers and shows to entertain.
There are some standout places to visit for an evening. Le Chantecler is a two-star Michelin restaurant located in Hotel Negresco. It offers exquisite food from the region in a traditional 18th century dining room.
If you want to make the most of the views try La Terrasse, which is located 10 floors up on a terrace of Le Méridien Nice hotel. It’s the highest rooftop terrace on the Promenade des Anglais, serving creative and contemporary cuisine. It also has a comfortable lounge, with a selection of original cocktails.
The Théâtre National de Nice presents classical and original performances, though they are mainly in French. They do feature some English-language works though, so it is worth checking the schedule. At Opéra Nice, you can catch ballet and operatic shows, with its varied programme.
There are plenty of traditional festivals and customs upheld throughout Nice. For example, Nice Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in Europe. It is held for a long period from mid-February (in 2018, it ran from 17th February to 3rd March). Each year there is an overall theme, which in 2018 was ‘King of Space’, focusing on outer space, constellations and exploration. It attracts a million people over the course of the fortnight, and hosts a number of parades with thousands of floats.
Another popular event is the Nice Jazz Festival, which is held in July. It dates back to 1948 and is one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe. It is not just a celebration of jazz, but it also features a range of different musical acts over multiple stages.