The Nice Flower Market

While spending the day simply walking around Nice, sipping cafe or lounging at the beach is likely more than enough to sate any visitor, this Mediterranean city also offers a few must-see stops as well.

Among them are the Matisse Museum, the ancient Roman ruins, and most certainly the Cours Saleya Flower Market. Nice is famous for its Flower Market, which is open six days a week (on Mondays, the Flower Market is replaced by an almost equally delightful flea and antiques market).

This brief walking tour of the Cours Saleya area will help you make the most of your visit to one of Nice’s brightest, most colorful gems.

To get to the Cours Saleya, follow the Promenade des Anglais along the shoreline until it turns into the Quai des Etats Unis. At the Place Massena, turn left and then make your first right. A few meters before the entrance to the Flower Market, you will see a handful of tacky souvenir shops, hocking their overpriced t-shirts, postcards and knickknacks. You will also see a number of newer gourmet food shops and high-end gift stores that now line the road leading up to the Cours Saleya.

Once inside the tented Flower Market, you are likely to feel overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and even smells. Pace yourself. There are more than one hundred vendors, so check all (or most) of them out before you start buying, because you are sure to see something even more delectable or delightful at the very next stand. When you are ready to buy, the Nice procedure is to place your goods in the silver bowls atop the stand. If there are sufficient bowls, separate your goods by type. Put your oranges, for instance, in one bowl and your plums in another. While waiting for you change, be sure to hold your ground locals have been known to throw an elbow or two to get their pick of produce.

When you have had your fill of the Flower Market, there is still a world to explore right outside the tented walls of the Cours Saleya. There is an opera house on Rue Saint-Francois de Paule and the architecturally unique La Chapelle de la Misaracorde. Also less than two blocks away is the heart of Nice’s Old Town. (At the eastern exit of the Cours Saleya, turn left and then walk a few meters ahead.) This quaint, cobblestone lined area offers an eclectic blend of historic features, pastry and cafe shops, and boutique shopping.

Other Helpful Tips

To truly make the most of your visit to the Flower Market, plan to arrive early. Very early. The best time to get there is 6 a.m., when all the sellers are just setting up and the hordes of tourists have not even had their first cup of coffee. If that is impossibly early for you, then do plan to be there no later than 9 a.m.

Pack your billfold with change and small denomination bills. Vendors have been known to refuse to break large bills, and you will not want lose out on that perfect peonie or juicy red grapefruit.