Nice is known as a gorgeous beach location on the French Riviera, but is it a good destination for families traveling with children?
Absolutely! Our girls had a blast during our time there, thanks to these top 5 things for kids to do in Nice:
1) The Beach
There are over 2 miles of beautiful beaches in Nice, where your children can swim and play. Granted, the beaches are covered in pebbles, so there’s not a lot of sand castles to be built. But at night the volleyball courts are open for sand play. During the heat of midday, the luscious blue water is heavenly for swimming! There’s rarely any large breakers near the shore, so you can feel safe with your children playing in the water. Those pesky pebbles do make it tricky for anyone to get out of the water easily though, so your kids might need a hand when they’re ready to come back on the beach.
Centenaire Beach has a handicap-accessible ramp that will help you get a stroller to the beach (most beaches just have large staircases), and it’s also a smoke-free beach, which is really nice with children. There are also private beaches where you can rent a chair and umbrella for about 20 Euros for the day, and you’ll get food and drink service directly to your chair. Hi Beach is a private beach with an area dedicated to families. There you can rent a crib, there are sand slides for kids to play on, and there’s wi-fi on the beach.
2) Place Massena / Promenade du Paillon
Place Massena itself is gorgeous, but then there’s a long park (Promenade du Paillon) that stretches down from the plaza to Place Garibaldi at one end and all the way to Promenade des Anglais at the other end. You simply have to take your children to this park!
Right next to Place Massena are about 100 dancing fountains, and they are magical. It’s one of the happiest places I’ve ever seen in my life. The fountains are filled with squealing, delighted children, running around in their bathing suits, cooling off from the warm summer days. The fountains run on timers, running for 5-10 minutes and then taking a break for 5-10 minutes. Once they start after a break, there is a collective shout of joy, and the children scramble to find their own personal fountain to dance and splash in. Our girls spent hours here every day that we were in Nice, and it’s one of the places they miss most now that we’ve traveled onward.
Walking from the fountains toward Place Garibaldi, you’ll pass through a large stretch of park filled with adults napping, reading, and picnicking, and then you’ll reach a fantastic playground - one of the best I’ve seen in Europe. There are wooden structures for all ages with plenty of ropes, swings, slides, and climbing equipment to keep your children happy for hours. This playground is very recent, so the equipment is brand-new and in fantastic shape.
If you head the other way on the Promenade (toward the beach), you’ll go through another park area and end up near a carousel by Promenade des Anglais. Of course that is always a hit with children! There’s also an area next to the carousel that they use to show outdoor movies during the summer, although they’re not necessarily children’s movies. So you can see, between the carousel, fountains, and playgrounds, the Promenade du Paillon is an amazing area for kids to play in Nice. I can guarantee that it will cement their love for the city while you’re on vacation there!
3) Promenade des Anglais
One of Nice’s main walkways, the large stretch of sidewalk known as the Promenade des Anglais is bustling with life all day and night. During the day, you can rent bikes along the Promenade and cruise around all the gorgeous beaches. You can ride the carousel mentioned above, eat at Hard Rock Cafe, and wander into side streets for souvenir shopping.
In the evening, the street vendors come out on Promenade des Anglais. They will entertain your children with large bubbles, spray paint artwork, and dazzling displays of candy (heads up on these stalls though… you pay by the weight, and no matter how little you get, you will always be shocked at how much the candy costs). If you’re looking for further street entertainment in the evening, Place Massena has soccer players doing tricks, as well as break dancers and even a fire dancer. There are also Brazilian gymnasts performing street shows near popular restaurants in Old Town Nice.
4) Castle Hill
A large, beautiful park sits atop the huge hill at the far end of Nice’s beaches, and it’s definitely worth a visit with your family. To reach the top, you can either climb several hundred steps, or simply look for the slightly-hidden signs for “Ascenseur” and follow them to a much-appreciated elevator.
Once you’re at the top, explore the park (it’s bigger than you’d expect) and soak up the incredible panoramic views of the coast. There’s several playgrounds for your children to play on, as well as a food cart selling sandwiches and drinks. It’s a beautiful place to relax, read, or have a picnic, and there’s even a man-made waterfall cascading down the side of the hill.
5) Parc Phoenix
We didn’t personally go to Parc Phoenix, but we heard recommendations for it. If you find yourself with extra time in Nice and you’re looking for a break from the beaches, it’s probably worth checking out. It’s located at the far end of the Promenade des Anglais, and it only costs 3 Euros for adult admission. Children are free!
Parc Phoenix seems to be a small zoo with extensive gardens. It features twenty themed gardens and the Green Diamond greenhouse, with rare plant species, tree ferns, and orchids. The zoo has hundreds of birds living together on a lake, as well as exhibits with caimans, iguanas, and lemurs.
Nice has been one of our family’s favorite places in our current travels, and our girls truly loved being there. The city and its beaches are quite family-friendly. I’d definitely recommend it as a great vacation spot to bring your kids!
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