The largest city on the famed Cote d'Azur along the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is a legendary vacation spot, as well as famed for the many artists who lived, drank, and painted here and on other spots in the area. Nice today retains its elegant, storied past, most notably in such establishments as the Hotel Negresco. The fifth-largest city in France, Nice is close to Monaco and Italy and has a decidedly unique feel to it. Its central boulevard that runs between the Place Massena square and the Nice Acropolis Convention & Exhibition Center is has been extensively redesigned away from being a transport route to being a green oasis perfect for strolling.
The city has one of France's busiest airports, Nice Cote d'Azur Airport (NCE), which is four miles southeast of the city center and can be reached just as easily by public bus as it can by taxi. It has service from all over Europe, but its only North American service is on seasonal routes from Montreal and New York City.
Chief among convention venues, Nice Acropolis Convention & Exhibition Center, at the northern end of the new green stretch starting at the Place Massena, is the main meeting place, with five auditoriums for up to 2,500 persons, 50 meeting rooms, and a 260,000-square-foot exhibition hall.
Among the hotel venues in Nice, the Hotel Negresco is the most famous roost in town. The 141-room hotel, especially striking at night, had a renovation in 2010 and opened a new events space, Baie des Anges, for up to 300 persons when it celebrated a centenary in 2012. Other meeting hotels include the 318-room Le Meridien Nice, which is by the sea and has 18 meeting spaces, the largest able to host 800 persons; the 118-room Hotel Beau Rivage, which is also on the beach, was renovated recently and has four meeting rooms; the 143-room AC Hotel Nice, which is a Marriott property and has three meeting rooms; and the 99-room Hotel Westminster, which is on the Promenade des Anglais and has eight meeting rooms, the largest able to accommodate 200 persons.
Unique event venues in Nice include the Palais Nikaia, an oval, futuristic space for culture and concerts that has space for conventions of 2,300 persons, receptions of 1,500, and dinners of 770; Theatre de Verdure Nice, an outdoor amphitheater in the Jardin Albert I (next to the Promenade des Anglais) that can seat 3,200 persons and has been the site of many concerts; Centre Universitaire Mediterraneen, which also is on the Promenade des Anglais and often puts on literary lectures but also is ideal for conferences; Salon Venitien in the 187-room Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee, with space for 1,040 persons; and Musee Matisse, which celebrates the artist and is perched on a hill called Cimiez.
Wonderful restaurants for groups here include the Restaurant Safari, which has traditional French fare, is more than 40 years old, and is right by the flower market of the Cours Saleya, steps from the Promenade des Anglais; Boccaccio, which specializes in seafood and has an upstairs dining room that should be booked by groups wishing to dine al fresco; Luc Salsedo, which has a Nicoise and Mediterranean menu, a private dining room, and offers cooking lessons; L'Ane Rouge, which sits beside the harbor, serves beautifully presented dishes, and also has cooking lessons; and La Taverne Massena, which is by the Place Massena and has the feel of a Parisian brasserie.
Photo by Flickr user: nebulux76