Nice audio tour: The Best of Nice’s Old Town: Highlights, Legends and Secret Spots

The Best of Nice’s Old Town: Highlights, Legends and Secret Spots

Walking Tour

|
60 mins
|
1.3mi

About the Tour

Nice’s old town, Vieux Nice, is the liveliest and most historic part of the city. As you wind your way from sunny Cours Saleya through its maze of narrow streets, Nice’s true culture emerges – but it’s also easy to get lost! On this walking tour I’ll guide you through the historical labyrinth, pointing out each of the most important sites, and some of the city’s lesser-known spots too.

Nice was governed by the Dukes of Savoy, for better or worse, until 1860 when the city eventually became a part of France. On this tour, you’ll see their administrative seat, the Senate, and the ducal residence, now the Palais de la Prefecture. During five centuries of turbulent rule, the old town was rocked by a Turkish attack, a siege by French forces and, later, the French Revolution of 1789. The old town again suffered under enemy occupation in the 1900s and, as we walk, I’ll show you how these seminal events changed the face of Vieux Nice.

Beset by adversity, Nice managed to thrive and even prosper. The noble families that flocked to the old town in the 1700s built lavish residences and poured money into embellishing churches in baroque style, behind which are plenty of stories that I’ll share. Later on, artists arrived ready to paint the old town’s extraordinary beauty. You’ll see the tavern that inspired painter Raoul Dufy, the buildings where Thomas Jefferson, Matisse and Napoleon stayed, the old Jewish quarter, and the place where executioners washed their hatchets. I’ll tell you about the scandalous washerwoman who repelled a Turkish attack, the saints at the center of Nice’s spiritual life, and how Cours Saleya got its name. I’ll also point out the best places to grab a snack, a beverage or a meal.

Whether you’re a first time visitor or a long-term resident looking to delve deeper into Nice’s fascinating history, this fun and informative tour is for you. Let’s discover the story of this beautiful city together!

Tour Producer

avatar

Jeanne Oliver

Bonjour! I'm Jeanne Oliver, author of the book Nice Uncovered: Walks Through the Secret Heart of a Historic City. I’ve been living in Nice for several decades and nothing gives me more pleasure than introducing visitors to my region. I’ve created a practical guide to the region (frenchrivieratraveller.com) and a guide to my beloved beaches (riviera-beaches.com). But I’m most passionate about digging up quirky facts and absorbing stories that illuminate my adopted home town, Nice. Its tangled history and unique blend of Italian and French culture never ceases to delight me. I hope it will delight you as well when I lead you through the old town, my favorite part of the city.

Major Landmarks

  • Cours Saleya

  • Palais Lascaris

  • Matisse House

  • Nice Opera

  • Eglise de Gesu

  • Cathedral

  • Jewish Quarter

Directions to Starting Point

The tour begins at the Opera-Vieille Ville tram stop on the number 2 tram line.

Show Directions
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Tips

Places to stop along the way

People-watch at the Cafe du Palais; pick up an ice cream at Fenocchio; enjoy traditional Nice cuisine at Acchiardo.

Best time of day

Tuesday through Sunday mornings is the best time to do the tour as the Cours Saleya market is in full swing. The tour is comfortable all year even in summer when the shady streets protect against the heat.

Precautions

Keep an eye on your belongings, always be street smart, and take care when crossing roads.

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The Best of Nice’s Old Town: Highlights, Legends and Secret Spots