Visit Nice

Sun Sea, shoreline and sophistication coalesce in the south-eastern corner of France: Nice has a fascinating past and a glittering present
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The Independent Travel

SLEEP

The (1) Hi Hotel at 3 avenue des Fleurs (00 33 4 97 07 26 26; www.hi-hotel.net ) occupies a 1930s’ former one-star hotel. Each of the 38 rooms has a name, and plenty of imagination has been used to create the public spaces, the rooms and the “beach” and pool on the roof. Doubles cost €210 (£143), including organic breakfast, though special deals are often available.

EXPLORE

Aim high. Take bus 17 through the opulent villas lining avenue des Arènes to the last stop at the (2) Monastere de Cimiez. The monastery is a 16th-century gem with a beautiful cemetery, which has superb views across the terracotta roofs of the city to the shimmering Med and is where Henri Matisse is buried. Close by, in the 17th-century Genoese villa at 164 avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, you find the Musée Matisse (00 33 4 93 81 08 08; www.musee-matisse-nice.org ; open 10am - 6pm daily, closed Tuesdays; admission €4/£2.75). The city’s (3) tourist office is at 5 Promenade des Anglais (00 33 892 707 407; www.nicetourisme.com ).

EAT

The signature dish in Nice is socca, a pancake made from chickpea flour and olive oil. The most popular place to try it is (4) Chez Pipo, close to the old port on the corner of rue Bavastro and rue Lascaris. At the other end of the gastronomic spectrum, book a table for lunch or dinner at the (5) Restaurant Aphrodite at 10 Boulevard Dubouchage (00 33 4 93 85 63 53). Specialities include stuffed vegetables in vinaigrette with basil and truffles.

SHOP

The main shopping area is on Avenue Jean Medecin, the wide street that goes north from Place Massena, just above the old town, towards the main train station. But in old Nice, you can find some fascinating specialist shops. Sniff out (6) Molinard at 20 rue Saint François de Paule (00 33 4 93 62 90 50), which dispenses exquisite, expensive fragrances – and also contains a museum where you can learn why Provence is a centre for perfume. Close by is (7) La Cave Bianchi at 7 Raoul Bosio (00 33 4 93 85 65 79), where you can be tutored in the best Provençal wines.

PLAY

After dark, half the population seems to congregate at (8) Cours Saleya, which by day is a flower market. There are plenty of bars here – and Irish pubs, including Ma Nolans. In contrast, try (9) Le Temple Bar, which, despite its name, is a sophisticated and firmly French nightspot.

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