Things to do in Nice: Castle Hill and Nice Carnival

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Visit Parc de la Colline du Chateau

In English it’s known as Castle Hill and it’s the heart of ‘old’ Nice. If you only limited time in the city, be sure to explore the Old City rather than the modern elements.

Here the core of the city huddles at the foot of Castle Hill, possessing a lively Mediterranean character. But it is worth leaving time to stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, the south-facing thoroughfare that looks out across the Baie des Anges.

Castle Hill in Nice

The city’s original site, the Castle Hill, once boasted a reputedly impregnable citadel that was entirely dismantled by the soldiers of the Louis XIV in 1706.

Truly a maze of greenery that has become popular for its cool undergrowth and surprising waterfall, this wonderful place for strolling offers a wonderful viewpoint over Baie des Anges, Old Nice and the Port.

In Nice, history and beauty blend seamlessly on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Angels. Castle Hill, or Colline du Chateau, is the place to go in Nice for pristine, uninterrupted views of this beachside city in the south of France.

The waterfall on Castle Hill

Despite its name, there isn’t much of a castle left, as it was destroyed in the early 1700s. Still the castle ruins, the lush flora and a few hidden gems await visitors willing to make the short trek to the top.

Castle Hill is about walking and exploring, so wear some comfortable shoes, especially if you plan on walking up. A camera is a must to capture the breathtaking views and the various sights at the top. Allow time to spend at least an hour on Castle Hill, to really enjoy the view and explore its many nooks and crannies.

A view of Nice from Castle Hill

Nice Carnival

While Nice may seem like a rather unassuming location and not somewhere that’s as wild as places like Rio, it’s carnival certainly knows how to rival these more well-known events.

In fact, those that have attended the Nice carnival have often said that it is one of the best in the world and something that you have to experience when in this corner of Europe.

Taking place each February, the Nice carnival is the epitome of fun. You could attend every year and have a totally different experience thanks to the fact that the theme is constantly changing.

But one thing that remains consistent every year is the vibrancy and atmosphere that makes this one of the most important winter events in French culture.

The Nice carnival has been running since the 1200s and it shows no signs of relenting. There are hundreds of stalls selling flowers, food, drinks and a whole host of other things.

The traditional carnival began as a celebration of Lent and this idea is still alive today. It’s so popular that, over the two-week period the carnival runs each year, more than 12 million people pay a visit!

This is the party that never sleeps since the Nice carnival runs throughout the day and night. Huge, elaborately decorated floats can be seen travelling through the streets but one of the biggest attractions is the flower parade.

This began in the 1800s to celebrate Nice being the biggest producer of carnations in the country. It’s carried on until today and visitors almost always leave with some beautiful blooms in hand!

Once the flower parade is over, the carnival queen is announced. She is a representation of the spirit of the flower parade and everything it stands for. What an honour to be chosen!

Nice for tourists

Nice is one of the most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Nantes, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 350,000. Located on the south-east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille.

Read our: Guide to Lyon Old Town

The city is called Nice la Belle, which means ‘Nice the Beautiful’, and it is the capital of the Alpes Maritimes département and the second biggest city of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.The area of today’s Nice is believed to be among the oldest human settlements in Europe.

Nice benefits from both a maritime and a mountain pedigree, which brings an originality and distinct character and atmosphere. It is a place of abundant sunshine, and a fashionable place of resort among Victorians especially since its ‘discovery’ in the 19th century.

The coast is well developed, and the extended resort linked by corniche roads. The busy atmosphere of the coast is in marked contrast to the much quieter interior, famed for its olive groves, gorges and hill villages.

There is no defined boundary for the ‘riviera’, although it is generally accepted as extending from the border with Italy, west to St-Tropez.

To experience the best in local cuisine (salade niçoise, socca, pan bagnat, poutine, tourte aux blettes, beignets de fleurs de courgettes), look for restaurants displaying the “Cuisine Nissarde” label.

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