Nice – 12 tips for Sustainable Tourism and Luxury Travel in 2024
Nice is special to me. Since I came into this world, I’ve more or less visited the city and the wider French Riviera, Côte d’Azur, every year of my life. Yes, I’m a huge fan. And what’s not to like? 300 days of sunshine, an intense azure sea, incredible food, jaw-dropping vistas, and of course the glamour which has made it a draw for luxury travel. The coast is an endless string of ritzy destinations. Cannes, St Tropez, Èze, Antibes, Monaco are hard to beat, but Nice is not just about opulence and elegance. The city’s natural beauty is as captivating. The mesmerising colour of the sea provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation. Mountains, fragrant blossoms and lush greenery create a serene oasis amidst the vibrant urban landscape. The good news doesn’t stop there. Nice oozes culture, and has pledged itself to sustainable tourism.
Nice – advancing sustainable travel and tourism
The city carries the Qualité Tourisme™ brand, a state-backed quality assurance afforded to tourist related services. In addition, there is a special Côte D’Azur Tourism Fund geared towards responsible tourism, instigated by banks, the municipality, and the chamber of commerce. It supports boating, wineries, hotels, culture, nature experiences, perfumery and a host of other businesses.
After Lisbon and Malaga, Maral and I came to Nice and stayed a full month in January/February 2023, exploring the town with a focus on sustainability; environmental, social and cultural. The future is green and smart with an upcoming Eco-valley, high-speed trains, new parks, and low emission zones. We’ve collected our findings in these travel tips so you can delve straight into it on your next trip to the city of riviera sophistication.
Cuisine Niçoise has a place on France’s national inventory of intangible cultural heritage and in town you find several Michelin Star establishments, making it easy to eat well and in style. There is even the Cuisine Nissarde label, a prestigious recognition given to restaurants and chefs who promote the culinary tradition of the region, relying on nearby suppliers. It means preservation and celebration of authentic flavours, techniques, and ingredients of Nissarde cuisine. The great thing with Italy being 30 minutes away is that Nice offers you local, seasonal, and high-quality produce, in a dreamlike fusion of French and Italian gastronomy.
Try the fresh seafood, socca, a savoury chickpea pancake, the pissaladière, a delicious onion and anchovy tart, and of course the Salade Niçoise, a refreshing salad bursting with vibrant colors and flavours. However, if you want to come to heaven without a premature end, go to my favourite, and likely the most celebrated, pizza restaurant in the whole Riviera. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to…
The temple of taste saw the light of day in 1956, on Rue Masséna, where it still occupies pole position today. There is also a branch in Cannes. Cresci is a piece of Nice culture and history not to be missed.
As you enter, you are captivated by the soft, warm lighting which casts a golden glow upon the rustic brick walls, the soothing melody of crackling wood in the oven accompanying you as you take your seat.
Here, the pizzaiolos elevates the art of pizza-making to insane heights. Every element of the craft is carefully orchestrated, from the locally sourced ingredients to the skilful hands that shape the dough. Prices are budget friendly and the service is fast, but attentive. Oh, and order their own Cresci label rosé wine, it’s a perfect match with the Margherita.
The thin and crispy bread, perfectly half-moon shaped, provides the foundation for a symphony of flavours that dance upon your palate. No matter the topping, you’re in for a treat. My recommendation with pizza is always to keep it simple and at La Cresci the cheese is addictive to the point where I could eat there 5 times a week without blinking. We did buy their home made chili oil, a few drops is enough to lift the roof. This has been my favourite pizza for over 30 years. Don’t miss upcoming articles to learn if I changed my mind after a longer stay in Campania, Italy.
The Michelin star Restaurant Jan, located in the port area, is a luxurious culinary gem operating with sustainability as a core principle. Chef Jan Hendrik’s approach to fine dining combines local ingredients, organic produce, and sustainable seafood to create an exquisite menu for both palate and conscience. The chef’s home country of South Africa makes for an innovative mix of tastes and unique eating in Nice.
Renowned for its fusion of French and Japanese flavours, Keisuke Matsushima is a high-end restaurant where Chef Keisuke’s culinary creations reflect a dedication to using fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients. From farm-to-table vegetables to responsibly sourced seafood, dining here provides an opportunity to revel in Keisuke’s concept called “JapaNice” – a skilful amalgamation between regional produce and delicacies from Japan.
Promenade des Anglais – A Riviera Icon
Stretching along the stunning azure coastline of Nice, Promenade des Anglais is an iconic boulevard synonymous with the charm and allure of the Côte d’Azur. The palm-lined walkway has become a beloved symbol of the city.
Built in the 19th century by the English aristocracy seeking respite from the colder climates of their homeland, Promenade des Anglais has evolved into a cherished gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Local authorities have broadened it to make way for separate cycle and rollerblade lanes, leaving joggers and flaneurs in peace. Taking a seat on the benches or blue chairs overlooking the enchanting sea, is a favourite activity of ours. They don’t call it the Bay of Angels for nothing.
The Alziari Olive Oil Mill – A Taste of Tradition and Excellence
As huge fans of premium olive oil, and the Nicolas Alziari brand in particular, the excitement level was high when we first discovered the elegant boutique, and then the old mill. Located in the Madelaine area of Nice, it’s possible to arrange a free guided tour, complete with video screening and a few taste samples. I fell in love with the saffron flavoured oil. Divine!
Step into the world of Alziari, a family-owned mill with a legacy dating back to 1868, sourcing only the finest product across the Mediterranean, employing time-honoured techniques to extract the purest, most flavourful oils. The olives are carefully hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, ensuring optimal taste and aroma.
Inside the press, the gentle crushing of olives releases an elixir – green gold, if you will. The cold-pressing technique preserves the natural flavours and nutrients, resulting in a rich, smooth oil with a peppery finish which delights the palate. We usually find the brand in upscale deli boutiques in Sweden, but of course we ended up buying an obscene quantity.
Cours Saleya – The Heart of Old Town
Do you dream about French food markets? Stop dreaming and come to the buzzing square of Cours Saleya with its kaleidoscope of colours, scents, and flavours. For centuries, the bustling centre has served as a gathering place for locals and tourists alike to savour culinary delights.
It’s a feast for the senses. Stalls burst with an array of tantalising, fresh produce, flowers, and local specialties. From plump, juicy fruits to fragrant herbs and aromatic spices, the market is a sensory overload through the region’s rich heritage. You can, of course, eat your way through the many food options, find the best socca in Nice here for example. We did our veggies and fruit shopping here. You can’t beat the taste.
The charm extends beyond pleasures for the stomach. Picturesque pastel-coloured buildings, elegant cafes and restaurants jostle for space. The surrounding narrow streets are filled with boutiques, artisan shops, and art galleries, a maze of exploration awaiting your custom. Evening time, Cours Saleya embraces the conviviality and joie de vivre that defines the spirit of Nice, turning into a hub for clubs and social activity.
Picture-perfect streets lined with grand Belle Époque buildings invite you to admire their ornate facades. The renowned Promenade des Anglais sea front walk beckons with its sun-drenched charm, tempting you to bask in the Mediterranean sunshine and enjoy the beachside scene. In Nice, you’ll discover prestigious hotels and exclusive clubs, where the art of luxury living reaches new heights.
Hôtel Le Méridien
Another showstopper on the Promenade des Anglais, sitting on top of Casino Ruhl. This beachfront deluxe hotel has earned the Green Key eco label for energy-efficient lighting, water conservation measures, and waste management initiatives. The signature restaurant, located on the rooftop terrace, offers panoramic views of Nice. For those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, the hotel’s spa facilities provide a tranquil oasis.
Le Negresco Hotel
With its prominent position on the Promenade des Anglais, exquisite Belle Époque architecture, and unrivalled views of the Mediterranean Sea, Negresco is as an emblem of timeless luxury and sustainable elegance. The 5 star bastion of history, a national monument, is a surefire draw for celebrities and the wealthy. At the same time, it’s secured the EU Eco label for its commitment to sustainability. Renewable energy, reduced plastic use, and employment of local artisanal suppliers is common fare.
The menu at the Michelin star restaurant, Le Chantecle, dazzles with organic choices, and while a few years ago, I recall seasonal, high-quality, regional produce and authentic French dishes. When you wander through the halls, you understand why Negresco earned the Living Heritage Company certification. The hotel is basically a gallery with thousands of pieces of art, from Renaissance to the contemporary. The venue exudes a sense of grandeur, with its ornate chandeliers, sumptuous furnishings, and meticulous attention to detail.
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais De La Méditerranée
Luxury in abundance at Nice’s first hotel to secure the coveted Green Globe certification. Like Le Negresco and Meridien, you can find the Regency on the Promenade des Anglais, offering sea views and proximity to the city centre. Enjoy seasonal, organic dishes, local and international, from the rooftop and relax at the wellness facilities. Energy reduction, recycling, and eco-friendly transport are some of the 300 sustainability practices in operation.
Mont Alban – A Hilltop Adventure
Perched high above Nice, Mont Alban, crowned by the ruins of a majestic fortress, offering panoramic views of the Riviera in the direction of Italy, with Villefranche harbour and beach below.
The fort origins trace back to the 16th century, when the Duke of Savoy commissioned its construction as a military stronghold to protect the region from invaders. Beyond the historical significance, Mont Alban is a haven for nature lovers. The hill is surrounded by lush greenery, dotted with olive trees and fragrant Mediterranean shrubs, creating a serene ambiance. Maral and I went off-piste for a very steep climb in January this year, ignoring the well-preserved paths and trails. The things you do for incline training. Despite a sunny day, the height meant icy patches at the top.
Cimiez Ruins and Gardens – Unveiling the Ancient Nice
Cimiez, a good walk uphill from the centre of town, offers a journey back in time to the Roman era. Yes, they were here, too. Next to the Matisse museum, you find a sprawling archaeological site within a tranquil and verdant setting where the foundations of palatial buildings and the echoes of daily life still resonate.
Baths, expansive villas, and remnants of a grand amphitheatre with its weathered stone walls and tiered seating steal the limelight. A Franciscan monastery and cemetery round the sights in Cimiez where you can take in the natural splendour of the sea and mountains.
The Chagall Museum – A Window into Creativity
Marc Chagall, easy to recognise through the dream-like figurative and narrative art that explored his Jewish identity and early life in Russia, found home in the French Riviera, as did several other prominent artists, Picasso included. Known for a distinct abstract style, a merge between Cubism, Fauvism, and Surrealism, Chagall became both an artistic and commercial success in his lifetime. We recommend the movie screening in the auditorium before venturing into the exhibits. It gives you an insight and understanding, elevating your interpretation of the paintings.
Step into the museum, and find yourself immersed in a realm where dreams and reality intertwine. The collection showcases the artist’s works in various periods of his career, allowing visitors a journey through his artistic style and the profound emotions behind his creations.
Marvel at the vibrant hues, whimsical figures, and landscapes which grace the canvases. Chagall’s distinctive blend of symbolism, folklore, and religious themes invites you to delve into an imaginative universe. The museum itself is a work of art, designed to complement and enhance the masterpieces inside. Natural light floods the galleries, illuminating the works and breathing life into the colours, while tranquil areas invite moments of reflection and introspection.
The Green Glamour of Nice
Nice is a city racing towards the future. I’ve seen the sustainability transformation for every visit and the pace is accelerating. Trams, parks, redevelopments, low emission zones, walking and cycling infrastructure, the list is long. My love for the sea, the light, the vibe, and natural beauty is amplified by the city’s dedication to preserving its breathtaking environment and minimising the ecological impact. From sustainable accommodations to local cuisine, you can experience the best of both worlds – indulging in luxury while treading lightly on the planet.
What’s your favourite spot on the French Riviera? How do you rank it in comparison to other luxury hot spots in Europe? Let us know in the comment section! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter and benefit from travel tips, interviews and inspirational examples of sustainable travel.