Nowhere on the French Riviera is the blue more intense than in the city of Nice. This lively city stretches seven kilometres along the Promenade des Anglais on the Mediterranean Sea. It offers colourful photo motifs even on rainy days, the colour is always astonishingly lively.
Nice’s stony beach on a rainy day and in summer
Nice has so much more to offer than just a good background for tourist selfies. The city is lively at all times of the day, with a busy pedestrian zone, rich in culture and museums, and bustling people of diverse origins. Culture seekers get their money’s worth, as do celebrating students, young families or the many retired people who enjoy the warm winters. For photographers, it offers infinite possibilities to play with creativity.
The mixture of people in Nice has its roots in history. Nice was Italian until 1860. The old town still shows the flair of Italian coastal towns, many surnames are Italian, the lifestyle is Mediterranean. But it was also shaped by Russians and Englishmen. In fact, the wonderful coastline is called the “Promenade of the English”.
Hustle and bustle on the Promenade des Anglais on the weekend
Nice is the fifth largest city in France and the capital of the “Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis”. It is easy to get lost in the turmoil of the old town, but you can let yourself go as sooner or later you come across the sea or the tram tracks that separate the old from the modern part of Nice.
The “Vieux Nice” with its many restaurants and shops is particularly suitable for playing with light and colours. The sun shines between the houses like a spotlight and illuminates people with their often colourful hats and clothes.
The glamorousness of the nearby cities of Monaco and Cannes is difficult to be found here. Nevertheless, as a photographer you meet interesting and mostly open people. Many times, long conversations have emerged from my approaches when trying to photograph someone. Being able to speak the French language is beneficial.
Happy colours are omnipresent. The Cours Saleya market, which is open every morning, offers every photographer a colourful game of vegetables and fruits, flowers and antiquarian booksellers, sellers and buyers, artists and tourists.
You can study people and interactions here, and also craftsmen at work in their small shops. Most are quite open to photographic intrusions if you chat nicely with them and talk openly about your enthusiasm for photography.
Anyone who loves to photograph street, architecture or landscape, will love the city and the entire region. The green belt “Coulée Verte” was recently set up along the Paillon river, which goes right through Nice and allows endless walks in the green in the middle of the city. In fact, the city is going to be much greener and less car-dominated. Pedestrians get more space and clearly enjoy it.
Not far from the old town you can climb the Castel Hill, where you will no longer find a castle, but you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and the harbour. There is a park with a waterfall, a playground and snack bars. A visit to the Israelian cemetery with its spectacular monuments is also interesting.
The port of Nice dates back to the 17th century. It is now an important transport link for international cruise ships, and for the ferries to Corsica. The traditional fishing boats called “pointus” stand out. They are colourfully painted and are treated like a treasure. However, they are hardly used for fishing anymore: the number of professional fishermen is now less than ten. Rather, the boats are used by the people of Nice in their free time to bob along on the smooth sea.
Particularly striking is the office area of the city library, which is housed in an oversized square head made by the sculptor Sacha Sosno.
The Museum of Modern Art (MAMAC) is housed in the same complex. It is the meeting point for young people who are studying the latest rap movements and enjoying their freedom here with loud music.
The city gets even more modern when you take the tram to the western outskirts. Many modern high-gloss buildings and the Allianz Arena for large sporting events have been built there. Everything shines and brings Nice out of the image of being a small old tourist town.
The hilly landscapes with old olive groves were already settled in Roman times. An old arena and ruins testify the presence of the Romans to this day. The arena is freely accessible and, due to its age, emanates a very special atmosphere. Walkers and joggers meet here while playing petanque with heavy metal balls in the shadow of the centuries-old olive trees.
Cimiez was the residence of the cultivated Russians and English. They built their large noble palaces here as early as the 19th century. Back then noble hotels, most are now converted into apartment buildings. The flair is still preserved in this noble district of Nice.
Art Deco from the Belle Epoque are also found in the Golden Quarter “Carré d’Or”. This bourgeois neighbourhood is home to magnificent palaces and small art deco houses that were built around 1900. It is a lively district behind the majestic Hotel Negresco, the icon of the Promenade des Anglais. Great scenes for beautiful photos can be found everywhere around here.
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral stands on the edge of the Carré d’Or. It is the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. It stands in a pretty park, both of which can be entered freely.
The great architectural and cultural diversity merges into a harmonious, colourful hustle and bustle when you turn back to the sea. The main attraction is the Promenade des Anglais. A place for walking and strolling, stopping and pausing, sitting and looking at the sea, swimming and making sports.
On the beach below the promenade there are fine restaurants and sun loungers directly on the pebble beach. A new spacious bike path allows you to cycle along the city looking out to the sea. Benches and the famous blue chairs allow you to indulge in leisure.
The blue chairs are lined up and are honoured by the monument of the artist SAB, which is officially not allowed to be photographed.
Under no circumstances should you miss the annual carnival. In the evening, the carriages and dancers stroll past in a light corso, while during the day the flower battle is celebrated in incredible colours, with nicely disguised people throwing flowers.
This is a quick overview of photographic highlights of the city in which I have been living for 20 years. Nice has so much more to offer. In any case, it is a treasure for photographers. The city can be reached by train, car, or airplanes which head to France’s second largest airport including spectacular views of the Alps and the sea in one of the most beautiful landing approaches in Europe.