Cannes with no Festival, Nice with no Hassle
NICE is the heart of the French Riviera. The beach is the big deal here, but Monaco is nearby, and Italy not much farther. In fact much of Nice’s history lies with Italy, not France. Founded by Greeks before the Common Era it was in league with Genoa and/or Pisa after the Fall of Rome and in constant struggle against the Arabs and later Barbary pirates. It was finally ceded to France in 1860, though Italy reoccupied it in WWII.
Things are calmer now, and tourism is king. Blessed with coastal beaches, nearby mountains and mild winters, Nice attracts visitors and immigrants from all over the world. There is an old town with narrow winding streets and a harbor with regular boat service to the island of Corsica. The Musee’ des Beaux Arts and the Musee’ Massena specialize in paintings. Northeast of the center is the ancient Episcopal town of Cimiez, with Roman ruins. Hostel quality is uneven in the French style, but quite passable. There are a good handful of them here, with full specs and contact info in the book.