Last Updated on 5th September 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’ve ever seen a photo of Nice then no doubt you’ll know what the world-famous Promenade des Anglais looks like, even if you didn’t know what it was called up until this point! Founded by Reverend Lewis Way during the 19th-century as a way of offering unparalleled views onto the Bay of Angels, here’s a walking tour to the highlights of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice…
Why is the boardwalk called Promenade des Anglais?
Spanning an impressive 7 km stretch from Nice Airport (you can even see planes taking off throughout the day right above the beach!) to the headland of the Colline de la Château in the East, the most famous promenade in France is known locally as ‘le prom’ and is named for the English who paid for its construction.
To put things into further context, the roadside alongside the Prom forms part of route Nationale 98, which links the pretty fishing port of Mention to La Ville Rose, AKA Toulouse, in the West of France. Nowadays, La Prom is an essential part of daily Nice life. And while the attraction is obviously popular among tourists, it’s also used by rollerbladers, runners, and skateboarders on a daily basis.
A brief history of the Promenade des Anglais
Back in the 18th-century, many wealthy English men and women chose to make the English Riviera their second homes for the winter months when the climate in the Bay of Angels was oh-so-much-better than back in rainy England. The two most popular cities for wealthy Europeans were Nice and nearby Cannes.
The Promenade des Anglais (known in Niçard as Camin dei Anglés- the local Occitan dialect) was built in the 1820s at the behest and funding of Revered, together with the Holy Trinity Anglican Church. It’s worth noting that, at this time, the Promenade wasn’t even part of France!
Up until 1860, the city of Nice was a part of the House of Savoy, which in turn became a part of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, which eventually went on to become a part of what is now modern-day Italy. The promenade then rose to true prominence with the decision taken by Queen Victoria to holiday in Nice during the late 19th-century.
By the beginning of the 20th-century, the Grand Hotel had been constructed and what are now Musée Masséna and Musée des Beaux-Arts were grand private homes. So iconic is the boulevard, that in 2015, the City of Nice applied for UNESCO world heritage status. However, as applications can take up to ten years to complete, we won’t know the outcome for a little while yet!
A Nice walking tour of the Promenade des Anglais (and a map!)
You should know before you go that the French Riviera is well-known around the world for its fantastic weather and many days of sunshine. As such, suncream, sunglasses, and hats are an absolute must, even in the early spring and late autumn!
Otherwise, for one of the best cheap eats in Nice, be sure to head to one of the many socca vendors for a true taste of a local speciality. While this self-guided tour can easily be done on foot (be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!), for an alternative way of exploring Nice and its surrounds, you can book a segway tour like this one.
Distance covered: 2.6 km
Walking time: 35 minutes
Colline du Château
This Nice walking tour begins in the birthplace of Nice, the high up hilltop where some of the oldest archaeological finds of the area have been discovered. Climbing up the towering steps to the very top of Castle Hill also allows for some of the very best views of Nice, it’s from here where you can enjoy sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea, the Promenade des Anglais, and the metropolitan city of Nice.
From the Colline du Château, make your way back down the steps and back onto the Promenade des Anglais. If you so desire, then you can turn left at the base of the steps and make your way to the headland point on the far side of the road, where you’ll soon spy the #ILoveNice sign.
And as one of the top Instagram photo spots in Nice, then no doubt you’ll want to snap a photo of yourself with the sign before departing. Head to the veranda just behind the hashtag sign and you’ll soon discover one of the best views that the French Riviera city has to offer!
Replica of the Statue of Liberty
After snapping a photo alongside (or indeed atop of!) the I Love Nice installation, retrace your steps onto the main stretch of the Promenade des Anglais. Keep your eyes peeled when wandering along the Prom. After all, a few hundred metres down the boardwalk, on the right-hand side, you’ll soon spy one of the lesser-known hidden gems of Nice. This little Replica of the Statue of Liberty was installed in 2014 and is easy to miss if you don’t know where to look!
La Chaise Bleue de SAB
From the replica of the Statue of Liberty, it’s just a 300-metre stroll along to the Blue Chair Installation. As a way of paying homage to the rich heritage of the iconic blue and white beach chairs that litter the pebbled beaches below the Promenade des Anglais, a grand chair installation was created in 2014.
Jardin Albert Ier
Located close to the tourism office, this 19th-century Public Park is free to visit and dates back to around the same time as La Prom. Aside from many palm trees, this green space also features pools, tropical plants, and even an open-air-theatre which hosts regular performances during the summer.
Legion d’Honneur Garden
One of the best-kept secrets of Nice is the pretty palm-tree filled garden that can be found surrounding Musée Massena, a house museum dedicated to Riviera Art and artefacts from the Belle Époque. The garden itself is filled with park benches, shrubs, and plenty of the cacti and other succulents which are so synonymous with the South.
This beautiful place is a great location to hang out with friends, enjoy a picnic, or plan your Nice itinerary that bit further! The Musée Massena is a must-visit while in the area, and not just because its dedicated to artefacts and items from the Belle Époque. Instead, this museum even houses the Death Mask of Napoleon!
Located along the Promenade des Anglais, the last stop on this self-guided walk of the Promenade des Anglais is the ever-so-impressive Hôtel Negresco (where you can even book a stay if you’re looking for a luxurious Nice experience). Otherwise, this early 20th-century Palatial accommodation can still be admired from its exterior and is best-known for its iconic pink dome.