Along the Promenade des Anglais Nice France comes alive. France’s fifth largest city, a cosmopolitan town in the French Riviera near the border with Italy, Nice is best experienced with a leisurely seaside stroll down the Promenade des Anglais, the historic “walkway of the English.”
This wide, palm-lined pathway runs along the Mediterranean for several miles between inviting Nice beaches on one side and a busy boulevard on the other. Turn one way and you see a hypnotic expanse of blue sea, turn the other and you are dazzled by the bright lights of a large city—with a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais Nice France seems perfectly sandwiched between natural and man made wonderment.
Beginning in the late eighteenth century, many members of the British upper classes began to spend their winters in Nice, drawn by the pleasant climate and beautiful beaches. The original Promenade des Anglais was financed by Lewis Way, an English minister. Completed in the 1820s, the palm-fringed Promenade des Anglais provided the perfect path for a leisurely stroll along the Mediterranean. Before long this quiet walkway was dotted with hotels and apartments. By the beginning of the 20th century, a stay in a Promenade des Anglais hotel was de rigueur for visitors to Nice.
Many of the best Nice hotels are located on this famous boulevard. The most celebrated Promenade des Anglais hotel is the palatial Hôtel Negresco, which opened in 1913 and epitomizes the opulence of La Belle Epoque. This luxurious Promenade des Anglais hotel will be beyond the budget of most visitors, but is well worth a visit. The glass ceiling above the main hall was designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). The hotel contains an impressive collection of royal portraits collected from various French châteaux and features a chandelier commissioned by Russian Tsar Nicolas II, who was deposed before he was able to take possession of this glass masterpiece. Don’t expect to enter this Promenade des Anglais hotel dressed in beach clothes though, formal or business wear is required, especially in the evenings.
Just before the Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais is the Palais Masséna, the city’s art and history museum. The museum reopened in 2007 after being closed for several years for major restoration. The palace gardens are free and open to the public and a great place to take your repose after a stroll along the busy promenade. The Jardin Albert I is another luxurious garden along the Promenade des Anglais. At night, lights illuminate the many varieties of palm trees and flowers in the park.
Another must-see site along the Promenade des Anglais is the Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret (Jules Chéret Museum of Fine Arts). Housed in an Italianate mansion originally built for a member of the Russian royal family, the museum contains an impressive collection of artwork by Raoul Dufy, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and, of course Jules Chéret. The flamboyant Opéra, an Italian-style theater that houses Nice’s opera company, is also worth a look.
After a walk along the Promenade des Anglais Nice France will hold a special place in the heart of any visitor to Côte d’Azur.