SWIMMING IN NICE
Take your swimming costume, your sun cream and a pareo, Les Niçois will take you to the water!
Who said that the Prom was the only place to go for a dip? Nice, it is indeed on a huge pebble beach known all over the world. But the city with the blue heart conceals, just a few minutes away, aquatic proposals that are otherwise confidential.
Of course, there is the Promenade des Anglais. A myth loved by Queen Victoria herself, not exactly the bikini type, but it sets the tone.
Moreover, people did not necessarily bathe in Nice in the 19th century: tourism was above all a winter industry, although this did not prevent people from enjoying the view, unchanged, of the Bay of Angels. Things changed in the 20th century, with the birth of body culture, tanning, and, an important detail, learning to swim. A date? The creation, at Christmas 1912, of the Cercle des nageurs de Nice, founded by twenty-seven times French champion Paul Vasseur and still active under the name of Olympic Nice Natation. An upheaval which will impose the sea as a new space of amusement, exploration, and even training for the most athletic – think: Camille Muffat and Yannick Angel.
But there’s no need to look for an Olympic medal to enjoy the beach in Nice. Nor to take advantage of the last salesmen of chouchous and pralines by letting themselves be lulled by their sweet melody: “Âllo âllo, everybody in the water…”. The gang at the Hôtel Amour has understood this well, deploying its blue and white striped parasols on a background of oleander (47, Promenade des Anglais). You can stroll around, pick your food, and let the sun tease your skin.
On the old town side, Castel (8, quai des États-Unis) is at the top of the list, or rather the pebble, with its private beach at the foot of the castle. Ali reigns as master of the place, benevolent and attentive, and his table and deckchairs are in season among the most popular in the city. Just like Beau Rivage (107, quai des États-Unis) and its Nissart-Hollywood portico, where Alexandre Oliveira’s cuisine is as acclaimed as the comfort of the mattresses and the late-night drinks facing the Grande Bleue: remember to book…
And, for the more adventurous, go to the International Diving Centre (2, ruelle des Moulins) on the port side: on the programme, themed dives and snorkelling trips to discover the secrets of the Grande Bleue. It generally takes place on the side of the bay of Villefranche and Cap Ferrat, with drops of up to 150 metres, where you can meet some passionate freedivers, including Guillaume Nery.
You can leave the little ones in the care of the Li Rateta club, open in summer at 71, Promenade des Anglais, before going to tease the shallows with your oxygen tanks. Finally, a chic dip outside the city in the Baie des Milliardaires (don’t miss the splendid coastal path), early in the morning on the beach of La Garoupe to avoid the crowds, and, back in Nice, on the beach of La Réserve, the same one where Brice de Nice is waiting for the magic wave he dreams of surfing.