Síomha Connolly, a fashion writer from Dublin, Ireland, shares a snapshot of a recent trip to Nice, highlighting the best places to eat, drink and sleep in — and what you shouldn’t miss.
Spurred on by a dream to visit one of my bucket-list hotels, I planned a visit to the South of France as an end-of-summer trip. Arriving at our first destination in Nice on the last weekend in September, temperatures were a balmy 24°C (75°F). The late summer weather was perfect for wandering around the city without being too stiflingly hot but still warm enough to sit outside and enjoy an afternoon drink or a swim in the sea. Avoiding the main tourist season also visited some popular spots in the city without bookings and got better accommodation rates.
Nice buildings in sunlight and the straw basket shop
I usually start the day in Nice with…
A walk around the city, taking in the sun-soaked buildings and finding somewhere nice to stop for coffee. Unless it’s a luxury five-star resort, I never opt to include breakfast in my hotel booking, preferring instead to discover a local cafe or bakery.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to explore the local boutiques and craft shops. A favorite in Nice was a tiny shopfront on Boulevard Stalingrad selling every straw souvenir you could dream of, from small basket bags to larger chairs, wicker tables and handwoven textiles. We left with a hand-crocheted bag (to add to an ever-growing holiday collection).
LPlage des Bains Military swimming spot and Síomha enjoying a glass of wine at Le Plongeoir
In Nice, you must try…
A cocktail at Le Plongeoir. After winding our way around Port Lympia and eyeing up all of the super yachts, as we approached our first destination of the evening, we spotted a locals’ swimming area, Plage des Bains Military: a small, pebbled beach that was much quieter than the stretch along the main promenade. This calm cove would be a perfect spot to cool off after a day’s sightseeing. But with a cocktail in our sights, we skipped the dip and headed straight for Le Plongeoir.
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While the restaurant is reservation only, and the lower platform is used as a drinks area and offers small snacks from a wood-fired oven, visiting at the end of September meant we missed the main summer rush and were seated immediately. The lapping sounds of the waves, a view of the yachts sailing by, and the golden hour sun twinkling on the sea were the perfect setting to acquaint ourselves with Nice on our first evening.
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The top spot for a classic dinner in Nice is…
At La Merenda. This restaurant is a Nice institution run by chef Dominique Le Stanc, serving a small menu of regional dishes with produce picked up from the market at Cours Saleya each morning.
Inside the tiny 24-seat restaurant, colorful art lines the walls (many of the pieces created bespoke for La Merenda) while a linen hopsack covering drapes the ceiling, and the sound of chatter from your fellow diners fills the room, you’ll forget you are steps away from the busy crowds of the Old Town. Order the deep-fried courgette flowers and pesto pasta, and you won’t be disappointed — and make sure to bring cash; cards aren’t accepted.
Spending diary: what I spent on a four-day trip in and around Nice
La Part des Anges wine shop and Hotel Vendome
In Nice, I stayed at…
Hôtel Vendôme. A last-minute booking that paid off, Hôtel Vendôme is a well-located hotel on Rue Pastorelli. The street has a tram stop (a two-minute walk from the hotel) and leads up to the main shopping district Avenue Jean Médeci. It’s also a 15-minute walk from Nice Ville train station and 25 minutes on the tram from the airport, so it’s a convenient and central location if you want to use the city as a base for your stay while visiting other areas.
Don’t miss the art installation in the hotel lobby; the building is neoclassical with stained glass windows on the staircase, and while rooms are basic, ours was on the fifth floor and had a balcony overlooking the city. If you stay here, check out a little wine bar around the corner, La Part des Anges, where you can pick up a bottle to take away or sit in with a cheeseboard and some other small plates.
Hotel Les Roches Rouges
I got away from the crowds by…
Taking the train along the Côte d’Azur for a weekend trip from Nice. Tucked between Cannes and Saint-Tropez is a small port town called Saint Raphael, and there you will find an extraordinary boutique hotel called Les Roches Rouges. Perched right on the coast and sitting opposite the Île d’Or (the golden island) with a seawater swimming pool carved into the rocks, it’s hard to picture a more breathtaking sea view.
The best part about this hotel is waking up to the view from your private balcony and hearing the waves lap against the shore and splashing right into the seawater pool, refreshing it just in time for your morning swim.
Síomha perusing Cours Saleya market
From Nice, you should bring back a…
Souvenir from the Cours Saleya market. On Mondays, the weekly market at Cours Saleya is taken over by a brocante that spans the streets of Cours Saleya and the neighboring squares. Expect to find fashion (on a recent visit, I spotted everything from a vintage Dior trunk for €299 to a Goyard card holder for €320 and a Balmain silk scarf for €25) to books, ceramics, art, furniture, trinkets and more.
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Allow yourself plenty of time to browse and make your way through the squares. The stalls are set up from around 9am and begin closing up at around 4pm, so plan accordingly and make time to take a break for lunch when it gets too hot. We stopped off at Le Rossetti, a small family-run restaurant off Place Rossetti, serving wood-fired pizzas, socca (a Nice specialty) and (again) deep-fried courgette flowers. Enjoy an aperitif or a gelato by the fountain in Place Rossetti afterward to toast your successful shopping trip.
Síomha walking outside La Trattoria
The one item I recommend bringing to Nice is…
Easy to match linen separates, cool enough to wear by day, and easy to dress up for the night, my holiday wardrobe is made up of linen mix-and-match separates like these vintage Yves Saint Laurent trousers I’m wearing above.
Arket stocks this pair of 100% linen drawstring trousers in multiple colors (the beige and brown are most versatile for summer trips), and they would be perfect for wearing on your travel days for extra comfort but can just as easily be worn for a nice meal or drinks at night.