As the weather gets chillier and I go longer and longer without a proper pain au chocolat, I really start to miss Nice. Even though I realize I’d never want to live there full-time–which has more to do with the endless red tape of French bureaucracy and vast cultural difference–I still miss the vibrant colors of Old Nice, the pebbly and sandy beaches, the endless flavors of ice cream.
Most of all, I miss the views. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild was my favorite spot for a classy lunch with a killer view of the Villefranche port, but there are plenty of places where you don’t have to pay the price of a chilled white wine to enjoy a panorama of the Mediterranean and the seaside architecture. Here are a few of my favorites:
Museum of Contemporary Art Rooftop
The art in the MAMAC was thought-provoking, but the real gem of the museum is the rooftop walkway. Curving around the perimeter of the building, it offers stunning views of the hills to the north and east, the sea to the south, the coastline to the west. I particularly enjoyed the birds-eye view of the museum gardens, Acropolis courtyard and La tête au carré (the Square Head sculpture). My apartment was right next door to the MAMAC when I lived in Nice, and I loved being able to pick out the buildings that I knew from their rooftops. Not many Nice hotels can compete with the view from this museum–and the best part is the museum is often free entry!
The Cemetery on Castle Hill
As morbid as it sounds, I really like cemeteries. They’re quiet. They’re well-maintained to walk through. There are so much collective history, so many individual stories. I’ve wandered through cemeteries all over the world, and it’s always one of the most fulfilling experiences. And the cemetery in Nice offers all of that, plus sprawling views of the city. Most people climb up Castle Hill and head straight for the panoramic overlook of the Promenade des Anglais, but I prefer a wander through the cemetery before heading to the other side of the hill.
Fort du Mont Alban
I spent a good amount of time eyeing the fort on the hill, and wondering what exactly it was and–more importantly–how to get up there. I finally got my chance on a Vespa tour, and the view certainly disappoint. It’s one of the few places that overlooks the port and Castle Hill, while also offering a glimpse of the Promenade des Anglais. From this vantage point, it’s no wonder that the French Riviera is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world: who wouldn’t want to be here?
La Cascade de Gairaut
One of the best parts of staying in a place for an extended period of time–six months is usually my sweet spot–is the chance to go further afield. Nice sprawls along the Mediterranean, extending a fair bit back into the hills. We headed up to the Gairaut Waterfall as part of the Vespa tour once my guide realized I was already familiar enough with Vieux Nice and the winding road to Monaco. The waterfall itself was quite pretty, but I most enjoyed the chance to see the lush greenery in contrast with the sparkling turquoise of the Mediterranean.
Saint-Paul-de-Vence is known for its chic galleries and gourmet restaurants, but I most enjoyed the casual-but-classy Maeght Foundation gardens. I love outdoor art, whether it’s a graffiti mural or a publicly-funded sculpture. Open skies and fresh air add an extra element that no white wall can duplicate.
What’s your favorite view of Nice?