Bucket List France: Southern France Nice vs Narbonne

Travelers dream of sunny climates, breathtaking Mediterranean paradise, and the elegance of French seaside living before jetting off to southern France. La Côte Française practically invented the intersection between luxury and relaxation but while some prefer the glam of the French Riviera others seek to explore quaint coastal villages.

Are you dreaming of coastal luxury or quaint?

History and Culture

Vieux Nice (Old City) will take you back to simpler times with its terracotta-colored residences that tower over serene Italian plazas and local artisan markets like the Cours Saleya. Stop in the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate to admire its gilded gold and blue altars. The palm-tree-lined Promenade des Anglais will bring you to the La Belle Époque museums and casinos. Meanwhile, the checkered walkways of the city square Massena lead to grand Renaissance-inspired fountains and vibrant architecture.

Two-thousand-year-old Roman structures stand alongside the Canal de la Robine and historic buildings in this hidden, southwestern city. Visitors can walk on the cobblestoned Via Domitia, the first Roman road built in Ghaul, by descending the town square’s stairs. Underground Narbonne is home to multiple Horreums, subterranean Roman warehouses that were used to store grain. Besides its Roman roots, Narbonne attracts travelers with its charming village feel
and the host of several archaeological museums at the Palais des Archevêques.


Luxury travelers gravitate toward Nice’s resort-style, silky sand beaches. Book a day’s stay at one of Nice’s fourteen private beaches. Upon arriving at L’Opera Plage or your private beach of choice, plop under a blue-and-white striped parasol and look out to the azure waters of the French Riviera. Order a refreshing cocktail without leaving your sunbed or dine at a waterfront restaurant, not fearing that someone will steal your spot. 

Narbonne beaches are a relaxing getaway from the summer crowds. The Narbonne plage offers long shorelines to spread out in the sand, calm seas for swimming, and volleyball courts for active beachgoers. Though the heart of Narbonne’s beaches is by the lagoons and lakebeds scattered around Narbonnaise Regional Natural Park. Hike La Clape Massif to get a stunning view of the Mediterranean and cool off in the park’s many wetlands and streams.


Blending the flavors of Provence and Italy, Nice is the clear winner for the food traveler. This multi Michelin star city serves a mouth-watering Daube Niçoise, a red wine braised beef stewed with carrots, onions, and mushrooms laid on a bed of ravioli. Old Town plates up the beloved Nice-speciality, Ratatouille, a chunky veggie-packed stew that explodes with flavor. Meanwhile, Socca, a soft, savory pancake made out of chickpea flour and topped with cured meats and
cheeses is sold on nearly every street corner.

Gastronomy here centers around the Belle-Époque era market and food hall, Les Halles de Narbonne. Locals gather around barrel-shaped tables enjoying delicatessen, patisserie, or seafood delicacies from local vendors. According to former Rugby player and local Gérard Bertrand, you can’t go wrong with a tender, grilled steak from the local restaurant Chez Bebelle.


This eastern city takes pride in being in the Provence wine region but falls short compared to its western neighbors. Escape seaside paradise for a half-day wine tour into the countryside Château du Bellet and discover more about Provence wines. Cool down with a glass of a full-bodied, fruit-forward white Rolle or enjoy a fragrant Clairette with dinner.

Narbonne wineries produce a variety of well-balanced world-class wines due to the cool climate and Mediterranean breezes. The reds, like Syrah, tickle tastebuds with notes of redcurrant and blackberries while white wines suggest citrus and fern flavors. Tasting wine from the Languedoc
Roussillon region is a sip into Ancient Greek and Roman winemaking practices. Uncork a Grenache or Chardonnay from France’s oldest vineyards at one of Narbonne’s many châteaux.

In essence, both Nice and Narbonne beckon with their individual charms. Nice, a vibrant coastal gem, teems with cosmopolitan energy and a wealth of tourist delights. Narbonne, on the other hand, invites you to uncover its serene, history-laden tapestry, where the echoes of ancient Rome harmonize with a tranquil ambiance. The choice between them is a canvas on which you paint the masterpiece of your preferred experience, for both cities offer unique strokes of inspiration.

Leave the planning to the experienced team of BucketList Travel Advisors, and fulfill your travel dreams with an unforgettable vacation to la côte française

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