When you board a flight to Nice, one of Europe's most photogenic destinations, you immediately feel more glamorous. The city is a gateway to Cannes, St Tropez and Monte Carlo, and it has a port to make even the wealthiest boat-owners blush. It conjures up images of beautiful coastlines, with beautiful people sunning themselves at sea.
Nice is rightly known for its stunning Promenade des Anglais, gently curving around the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels). While you sip a coffee on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the sparkling blue Mediterranean, it’s tempting to think life can’t get much better than a stay in this French city.
And yet there’s so much more to Nice than the historical flamboyance of the Hôtel Le Negresco or the multimillion-dollar yachts moored in the port. Vieux Nice (the old town) is crammed with history and character – the architecture dates back to the 17th century – and a wander among its markets, shops and churches feels like stepping back in time. Meanwhile, the bright Mediterranean weather has inspired artists such as Matisse and Picasso.
The beautiful climate means this is an outdoor city for everyone – the promenade is home to skaters as much as well-dressed couples on their way to one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
Encouragingly, for all its genteel history, Nice isn’t resting on its laurels. The new Promenade du Paillon is an urban park in the centre of the city and shopping has become a major attraction, with everything from small boutiques in Vieux Nice to high-end couturiers on Rue Paradis and major brands on Avenue Jean Médecin.
No wonder, then, that after Paris it’s the most visited city in France.