Vieille Ville (Old Town of Nice)- A French Historic Time Capsule

Raquel Romans 6/29/2023
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Raquel Romans in Nice's Old Town

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

If you're traveling from the United States, your exploration of France may initially focus on Paris and Lyon- and for French wine - the Loire Valley. But to really appreciate the full beauty of this awe-inspiring country, you must travel down south to the coastline. Here, you'll find the city of Nice and the Old Town, Vieille Ville.

Raquel Romans driving by Fontaine du Soleil

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

From historic narrow winding streets, beachfront restaurants, luxury designer stores, endless French boutiques, and an invigorating ocean view, I could not help falling in love with Nice's lively playground. Within this coastal landscape of French elegance and Mediterranean charm, I found an old-world gem - Vieux Nice (Old Nice)- Nice's historic district, also known as Vieille Ville (Old Town of Nice).

Vieille Ville lies just below Le Parc de la Colline du Château (Castle Hill), a public park that includes a citadel ruin, an amazing waterfall, and what is likely to be the best view of Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

To the south, it borders the Promenade des Anglais, while to the north, it touches the Promenade du Paillon, a verdant park built over the Paillon River. The park has a trail with thousands of trees and perennial plants.

Fontaine du Soleil

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

Close to the southern end of Promenade du Paillon, you'll find Fontaine du Soleil, a fountain with bronze sculptures that should be the highlight of a visit to Vieille Ville. It serves as an entry point into Nice's Old Town, and you're likely to find large groups of tourists enjoying the soothing sound of the water as well as the trams moving through the park.

Exploring the Old Town

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I find myself traversing down narrow winding cobblestone streets that climb and wind like a labyrinth. Old-world baroque buildings surround me on either side, and charming French cafes and artisan boutiques call my name at every turn.

Raquel Romans in Nice's Old Town

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

However, as much as I enjoy embodying Dora the Explorer or, better yet, Ofelia from Pan's Labyrinth, I'm here on assignment. The goal? To film the best of Nice's Old Town.

Now when I say film, I'm not the one doing the filming; I mean star in. So basically, I get to explore with a crew in front of me and behind me.

The process involves crew touch-ups, clothing adjustments, and the frequent stern order in thick French accent to turn around or quickly follow the director to the next location. The whole time, I'm rehearsing French pronunciations for the scripted segments and making sure lipstick isn't on my teeth. Photos are forgiving, but video is not!

Sainte-Reparate Cathedral

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

Together, we strolled down Cours Saleya, a vibrant pedestrian street lined with flower and food markets. The flowers glimmered in the sunlight, and I was surprisingly ordered to drop the strawberry I attempted to pose with for the camera - insert French words for drop my strawberry, or I kill you! - I may have gotten a little carried away. Those French strawberries are the most delicious in the world!

Next, we stopped for ice cream at Fenocchio in the Sainte Reparate plaza and then found one of the famous foods of traditional Nicoise cuisine, Socca ( a chickpea pancake) and Pissaladiere (a type of onion tart).

There are many historic churches and buildings in the area, such as the Baroque-style Sainte-Reparate Cathedral and the Palais Lascaris, a 17th-century aristocratic mansion turned into a museum.

Le Parc de la Colline du Château

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

Exploring the traditional French culture and history in the Old Town is like stepping into a time capsule and being instantly transported back two centuries. It truly cannot be explained. It must be experienced.

A Moment's Reflections

I find Nice to be a place of required travel for any child or adult for the cultural enrichment and historical perspective it lends. Finding this little historic gem, Old Town of Nice in the city center, was one of the special gifts.

Tram passing through Place Massena

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari

In summary, Nice's historical richness and coastal beauty put it at the top of my recommended travel list. Possibly top 10- Europe. It is nothing short of inspiring.

At the end, I felt quite satisfied with the footage we had taken. I high-fived the crew and stepped into the car. Next Stop, Milan.

Raquel Romans in Nice's Old Town

Image: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari