Nice’s Old Town, “Vieux Nice”, is a sea of pastel-colored buildings, old churches and narrow alleyways. Its streets are filled with shops and restaurants, tiny squares and crowded cafés. Spend a day getting lost in the charming back streets or settle at an outdoor table in one of the squares to people-watch. Plenty of locals still live in the area. Look up to see washing lines strung between balconies and neighbors chatting through open shutters.
The Old Town lies between Castle Hill and the town center, a block in from the beach and the Quai des Étas Unis (the beachfront promenade which extends from the Promenade des Anglais). Walk under a set of old archways and into the Cours Salaya, an outdoor market place surrounded by cafés and restaurants. Pick up fresh local produce and flowers every morning, except Mondays, when it becomes a flea market. Come early to avoid the crowds and shop with the locals.
Restaurants serve up local specialties such as Salade Niçoise, or “Pissaladière”, an anchovy and onion tart. Head into the alleyways for smaller, less crowded restaurants. Join the lines at Fenocchio in Place Rosetti, the most popular ice cream parlor in town. The Cathédral Sainte Reparate, or Nice Cathedral, is just across the square. It was built in 1699 and is characterized by a striking baroque façade. Wander inside to admire relics from the Glory Saint of Reparata.
Le Palais Lascaris on the busy Rue Droite is one of the grandest examples of Baroque architecture in the city. The palace was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and has been restored as a museum. It’s open every day except Tuesdays, and admission is free.
The best way to explore the Old Town is on foot. Don’t even attempt to drive; many of the streets are narrow, one-way or pedestrian-only. Public transport, including trams and buses, runs to the Old Town but not inside. It is small enough to walk from one side to the other in a matter of minutes. Spend at least half a day to take it all in.