Last Updated on 23rd September 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
After you’ve strolled along the Promenade des Anglais and made your way through the old town, there’s plenty of hidden gems left to discover in Nice. Here’s your guide to the best of secret spots in Nice, and the most unusual things to do!
On the very most Southern tip of France, in a place where the sea sparkles all year long and the sun sets late in the day, Nice is a dream destination that’s worthy of a stop off on any European adventure.
- Adam & Eve House
- Légion d’Honneur Garden
- Loge Communale
- St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Nice
- Canon balls on the façade of Chapelle du Saint-Sépulcre-des-Pénitents-Bleus
- Mini Replica of the Statue of Liberty
- Château de Bellet & the Bellet Wine Region
- l’Église Sainte Rita de Nice
- Cimiez Monastery Complex (Gardens and Church)
- Arènes de Cimiez (Roman Cimiez Amphitheatre)
- La Tete Carrée Library
- Sample some socca
- Nice Midday Cannon
- Things to know before visiting Nice for the first time
- French Riviera Tips
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Adam & Eve House
When strolling the streets of Old Town Nice, don’t forget to look up! After all, one of the most unusual things to do in Nice is to find secret street art. For, hidden amongst the rustic shutters and laundry lines, there are plenty of stunning architectural features to be spied.
One of the best examples of hidden Nice architecture is to be found in the form of the Adam and Eve House. Situated on the rue de la Poissonnerie, the house dates back to 1850 and features a bas-relief which is widely thought to depict Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
However, as you know how these things often go, local gossip at the time once suggested that the sgraffito (the 15th/16th-century type of plastering originating in Italy) actually depicted the couple who lived there during the 19th-century.
Légion d’Honneur Garden
For those looking for a little oasis of calm in the heart of the busy and bustling city, the little garden surrounding the Musée Masséna is free to visit and open during daylight hours.
Filled with park benches, shrubs, and plenty of the cacti and other succulents which are so synonymous with the South, this beautiful place to relax is a great location to hang out with friends, enjoy a picnic, or plan your Nice itinerary!
On the intersection of where rue de la Poissonnerie and Carriera Dou Gouvernou meet, close to where you’ll find some of the very best socca in Nice, a series of stone fragments, monuments, and epitaphs dating back to the Roman Era can be found behind a metallic grill.
This may well be the very spot where the Loge Communale (otherwise known as City Lodge or Loggia Communale) could be found. Much like the Greeks had the agora, the Roman Forum was where public debates would be held.
The Roma Forum was also where regular markets took place, and where public notices would be issued. Either way, what is known is that the last Loge Communale was built here during the 15th-century, at the base of the Château Hill, though it has since disappeared.
St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Nice
If you’re wondering what to do in Nice that’s a little off the beaten path, then you need to look no further than the Nice Orthodox Churhc. A surprising sight when you round a corner from an otherwise nondescript underpass and gas station, not far from many of the most popular tourist attractions in Nice, the Nice Russian Orthodox Church is easily one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the city.
Dating back to the early 20th-century, this ecclesiastical building was constructed, in part thanks to a sizeable donation from Tsar Nicholas II. The structure, constructed in the Old Russian Style, was to be built close to the very spot where the Tsar’s son had died of meningitis and close to a previous chapel on site that the ever-increasing Russian community of Nice had long since outgrown.
From the 19th-century onwards, there have been strong ties between Russia and the French Riviera, a link that carries on through to the present day. If you wish to visit the stunning church now, you should know that it’s free to enter, though no photography is allowed inside and shoulders/ knees must be covered.
Canon balls on the façade of Chapelle du Saint-Sépulcre-des-Pénitents-Bleus
Here’s something you don’t see every day: look up above the doorways on the façade of the Chapelle du Saint-Sépulcre-des-Pénitents-Bleus, an 18th-century chapel in the heart of the city, and you’ll soon spot several cannonballs. These three cannonballs were fired by the Turkish fleet during the siege of Nice in 1543.
Mini Replica of the Statue of Liberty
Along the Promenade des Anglais, a boulevard that is so-called thanks to Nice’s popularity with English aristocrats during the 17th and 18th-centuries, there’s one statue that you won’t want to miss off your list. The teeny tiny Statue of Liberty replica was unveiled along the boardwalk in 2014.
You may well not know this, but the original Statue of Liberty (that of NYC) was actually gifted to the people of America by the people of France all those decades ago. Nowadays, several replicas can be found across France, including in the French capital of Paris and the South West City of Bordeaux.
Château de Bellet & the Bellet Wine Region
Many people don’t realise this, but Nice actually has its own small wine-growing area. Located on the hills overlooking the city, the vineyards here grow grapes to produce red, white, and rosé wines.
With this being said, of course this area of France is most famous for its rosé wines! If you want to experience Bellet wine for yourself, then this Grasse, Valbonne & Gourdon: Day Tour with Wine Tasting will allow for some Bellet wine tastings at a local vineyard.
l’Église Sainte Rita de Nice
In the very heart of the Vieux Nice quarter of the city, the Baroque church of Saint Rita dates back to the 1600s. Featuring six side chapels, beautiful frescoed ceilings, and ornate carvings throughout the church, this small yet sumptuous ecclesiastical building is a welcome calm from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the tiny streets of Old Town Nice.
Cimiez Monastery Complex (Gardens and Church)
Of all the hidden gems in Nice, one of the very most unusual things to do is to head up to the Cimiez district. Populated by mansions and on a hill high up and overlooking the rest of the city, at the very top of the hill you’ll discover a monastery dating back to the 800s.
Within the complex, there’s a small museum documenting the history of the area, a breathtakingly beautiful church that’s free to enter, and sprawling monastery gardens that offer panoramic views onto the city of Nice below, and beyond towards the Mediterranean Sea. Also at Cimiez Monastery is the grave of Matisse and paintings by Brea.
Arènes de Cimiez (Roman Cimiez Amphitheatre)
Of course, Nice’s history dates back to a time when the city was likely founded as a colony by the nearby Greeks of Massalia (what is now Marseille) and would have been known as Nikaia (Νίκαια).
Today, a few crumbling remains of Roman times can still be found around the city, particularly in the Cimiez District, an area of Nice characterised by its handful of museums and grand villas which was once a city in its own right that of Cemenelum.
Now free to visit, Nice’s Roman Amphitheatre was likely constructed during the 2nd Century and once seated up to 5000 spectators. Classified as a National Historical Monument since 1965, nearby you’ll find the Musee D’Archeologie, a sprawling complex that comprises of statues, crumbling walls, and finds from Cemenelum such as coins and trinkets.
La Tete Carrée Library
One of the more tranquil places to visit in Nice is the La Tete Carée Library. Tucked away in a beautiful elevated garden behind the Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, you’ll find Nice’s main library.
The building was designed by French artist Sacha Sosno as a way of demonstrating ‘thinking inside the box’. A strange sight to see when strolling through the Southern French city, you’ll most definitely want to take a snap on any wander past!
Sample some socca
Wander around the streets of Old Town Nice for long enough, and you’ll soon enough discover that around almost every street corner, there’s yet another vendor selling socca. Socca is a kind of savoury crêpe that’s a Niçois speciality and this delicious dish pairs perfectly with Rosé wine, another regional delight.
Also known as Farinata, torta di Ceci, or cecina, this savoury dish is a must try while in the region, and not just because it’s one of the cheapest eats you can find in this Southern French city… If you’re looking to delve even deeper into the foodie scene in Nice, then you might consider booking a foodie tour like this one.
Nice Midday Cannon
Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning the rather peculiar story of the midday cannon in Nice, which is a tradition dating back to the 19th-century. Even on the clearest of blue sky days, you’ll likely spy a small puff of smoke above the skies of the city.
This is because, everyday at noon, a small cannon (which is actually a firework) is fired off Castle Hill. Making quite a sound which can be heard all across downtown Nice, while locals rarely bat an eyelid, it does certainly give visitors quite the jump!
Things to know before visiting Nice for the first time
If you’re in search of seeking out Nice hidden gems with the help of a local guide, then you may well consider booking a walking tour like this one. Taking place over the course of a couple of hours, en route you’ll get to learn all about the city’s history and see some incredible places along the way.
A stunning French destination with world-famous beaches, ease of access, and plenty of day trips that are easy to take via public transport, there are a few things you’ll want to know before visiting Nice.
The best time to visit Nice is undoubtedly during the late spring or early autumn months. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the weather without it being too hot or too crowded. A visit during the European shoulder season also ensures that you’ll likely get lower prices on accommodation.
French Riviera Tips
The French Riviera (including the principal of Monaco) is in the South of France. France and Monaco use the Euro (€)
The French Riviera is best explored over the course of several days, preferably longer. Check here for our suggested French Riviera itinerary.
The main language spoken in France is French. Though you can get by with English in the more popular places along the French Riviera, it’s always a good idea to learn some of the local language. Bring along a simple phrasebook like this one to help make your travels easier.
France uses plug types, types C and E. As such, if you’re travelling from the UK, USA, Canada, and many other destinations, you’ll need to buy an adapter. I recommend buying a universal travel adapter that you can use for multiple destinations (rather than buying a new adaptor for each place you visit).
As one of the most popular destinations in the world, you should always consider booking your accommodation well ahead of time. Check out this website for price comparison details and detailed reviews.
Be careful with your belongings. I also highly advise to avoid wearing a backpack and to instead opt for a crossbody bag like these ones. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility.