On balmy summer nights, the warren of medieval streets of Vieux Nice and its long pedestrian thoroughfare, the Cours Saleya, are abuzz with a mix of young and old, locals and tourists. Although this is the largest city on
the Riviera (see p. 128), Vieux Nice (Old Nice) has a small-town ambience. The main food and flower market evokes the colors and scents of the Provençal countryside just outside town. Nibble on socca, the grilled chickpea snack unique to Nice, at Chez René Socca, or choose from 50 flavors of gelato at Fenocchio.
Two of the Old Town’s most charming restaurants are tiny, casual Merenda and homey Acchiardo, whose hearty dishes featuring fish, tomatoes, garlic, and olives exemplify Niçoise cuisine. The only hotel in the heart of Old Town, the rustic Villa La Tour, is a modest but pleasant choice with city views from its rooftop garden. Food aficionados seeking upscale dining head to the acclaimed Le Chantecler in the Hôtel Negresco, an elegant Italianate building west of Vieux Nice that dominates the 4-mile-long seafront Promenade des Anglais. Built in 1912 when Nice was Europe’s most fashionable winter retreat, the Negresco is one of the Riviera’s landmark hotels. Also standing proud on the fabled boulevard,
the Palais de la Mediterranée underwent a major interior reno-vation by the Taittinger Champagne family in 2004 while keeping the Art Deco exterior intact.For a special escape from Nice, make the 7-mile drive north to the dramatic medieval village of Èze,
the highest of Provence’s villages perchés (perched villages). Lunch and dinner at the formal Château de la Chèvre d’Or is served in the hotel’s glass-encased restaurant, with sensational views of the Mediterranean 1,400 feet below. Another con-tender for an overnight stay is the more inti-mate and relaxed Château Eza, former residence of Sweden’s Prince William, with dining on the open-air terrace.