Watering Holes: The 10 Best Bars in Nice and Around

While French Riviera towns like Antibes and Cannes are highly seasonal, Nice is a proper major city (the only one in the French Riviera actually) that is home to a vibrant nightlife scene with dozens of bars, lounges and pubs to quench your thirst year-round. Whether you're looking for a rowdy pub to quaff back pints with other English speaking visitors and ex-pats or a chic and very French lounge to order bottle service and chill before hitting the small dance floor, Nice has options for all styles of watering hole. Try long-time scale favorites like Akathor Pub and Bar des Oiseaux, which have plenty of seats at the bar and tables, but also offer an opportunity to dance, should you wish to groove. Or head to one of Nice's cozy pubs like Big Ben or Wayne's for a more conversationally social atmosphere plus weekly trivia or karaoke nights or watching the big game on the flatscreen. While for a tres chic local experience check out Le Ghost, which has a speakeasy vibe, great cocktails and DJs that spin each night – it's a bar/club hybrid, but a very intimate space. Beyond Nice, Cannes is just a 10 minute ride by train, and offers more bar and nightlife options, including a swank favorite spot that's listed here. 


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Comfortable seating and ghostly interior creates the ideal backdrop for the skilled DJ's, who play nightly at this small club with a speakeasy vibe – you'll have to ring a bell the get in. A different style of electronica is is spun each night, ranging from trip-hop to drum 'n bass to progressive house. The dance floor is small, but the energy is usually so pumped up it doesn't matter. When you tire of dancing, hang out in the plush red-and-black sitting room. It's a favorite with locals, and unlike many of Nice's doesn't feel touristy. On weekends it fills quickly.

Recommended for Bars because: One of the most swank lounge bars in Nice, has a retro speakeasy vibe and DJs spin most nights at this intimate place.

Becca's expert tip: Head to the plush red-and-black sitting room to just chill out with a cocktail and skip the hustle on the small dance floor.

Read more about Le Ghost →

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Le Pub Opéra

In the heart of Old Nice, this bar has been serving the artsy crowd in an elegant setting for decades now. Located across from the Opera House and other cultural venues, it has a swanky upscale vibe and offers excellent service as long as you don't show up pre-showtime when the bistro is packed. Better to come after the evening performances have started or for a night-cap after a night experiencing the cultural side of Nice. It's also a good choice for wine aficionados as the list is long and varied. Food is available throughout the day in late into the night.

Recommended for Bars because: An elegant place to grab a cocktail in the heart of Old Nice across from the Opera House, it offers a cultural drinking experience.

Becca's expert tip: It's best to not arrive before opera showtimes as the bar will be a madhouse at this hour. Instead come when the performance is in session for a quiet cocktail in an elegant setting.

Read more about Le Pub Opéra →

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Big Ben

Another authentic feeling British pubs in Nice, Big Ben offers a much more relaxed atmosphere than most of the others in town. If you want to avoid blaring lights, booming music, and gyrating bodies and instead want to relax with a cold pint in a traditional, friendly atmosphere, then this is the place to do it. That said, there is also live music and dancing some nights, so it also makes for a good compromise bar when traveling in a group with mixed ideas for nightlife. There is long beer list as well as a range of whiskeys and traditional cocktail options. Good food is available, as well, including English-style favorites such as steak tartare and a variety of pastries, teas and coffees. Come between 5:30pm and 7:30pm to partake in happy hour.

Recommended for Bars because: An authentic British pub that's perfect for relaxing with a cold pint.

Becca's expert tip: Visit between 5:40pm and 7:30pm for happy hour prices. This is also a great spot to watch the day's hottest sports matches.

Read more about Big Ben →

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Located in the heart of Vieux Nice, on cours Saleya, this club has been popular for years now thanks to a rotating line up of nightly events – during the week there's karaoke and pub quiz nights and even an evening dedicated to students, while weekends are devoted to DJs and plenty of dancing. The name means "The Three Devils," and you can get devilish on two levels or outside on the patio, which is packed with people watchers most nights. There is also a nightly happy hour from its 5pm opening until 9pm. Check the website to see what's going on that night, or just show up.

Recommended for Bars because: A jack-of-all trades bar, it is a favorite with university students and features everything from pub quiz nights to wild weekend dance parties.

Becca's expert tip: For a more low-key scene show up during the week when there are karaoke and pub quiz nights. Check the Facebook page for more on this.

Read more about Les Trois Diables →

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On the main tourist strip in Old Town, this international pub is known for its party atmosphere and live music scene and has been a player in the Nice nightlife scene for nearly 20 years. It attracts huge crowds during the season, both tourists and locals of varying generations, who come for decent bands and other acts like comedy performances in English. Check their website or Facebook for what is going on when you visit. The pub sprawls over two floors - bands play upstairs nightly starting around 10pm - and has a cool ambiance inside. There is also a daily happy hour from and a hot and cold tapas menu is served throughout the night. If a band is playing and you aren't seated in their line of site, you can check the video screens to watch the concert from other parts of the pub.

Recommended for Bars because: It's a longtime favorite bar in Nice that brings in live bands and makes for a fun night out.

Becca's expert tip: There is also a daily happy hour from and a hot and cold tapas menu is served throughout the night.

Read more about Akathor Pub →

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Photo courtesy of Chez Wayne's

Walking inside Wayne's you'll forget you are in France – it feels exactly like a raucous pub in London with an inviting dark wood interior. As such, it is the most famous English pub in Nice and has a reputation with English-speaking tourists and students as the perfect place to come for a pint and a good time. It's also popular with sports fans, showing every type of sports match popular in former British colonies (from cricket to rugby to Aussie Rules) on giant TVs. But if you'd rather dance than watch a game, it also features live music nightly. Finally should you need to eat, there is a good pub grub menu.

Recommended for Bars because: The most famous English pub in Nice, Wayne's is especially popular with sports fans.

Becca's expert tip: They have multiple TVs playing all the biggest international sport matches including Aussie rules, cricket and soccer.

Read more about Wayne's →


Located in the nearby town of Cannes – just 10 minutes by train from Nice – Zoa is a hip fusion sushi restaurant serving some of the best cuts of raw, fresh fish in town by day and early evening. But long after the sun has set and the final dinner plates have been cleared away it turns into an intimate late-night lounge where the beautiful people come to party well into the early morning hours, dancing to the DJ spun beats or chilling with a bottle of bubbly on the terrace. Look for Zoa just opposite the Palais des Festivals.

Recommended for Bars because: It's a hip and intimate late-night watering hole that attracts an A-list crowd.

Becca's expert tip: Take a train from Nice to Cannes, where you'll find this upscale club. It is just a 10-minute ride and trains run frequently.

Read more about Zoa →

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Bar des Oiseaux

Tucked away in a far corner of popular Old Nice, this bar may be difficult to find, but it is worth searching for. Comedians and entertainers frequently take the stage to amuse uproarious crowds at the bohemian favorite. There is live music most night from jazz to cabaret to other musical acts like "chanson francaise" (French songs). The unique decor complements the off-the-beaten-path feel of the bar, named for the birds that inhabit the surrounding area. There is a cover of around 5 euros when there is entertainment. Should you drink to much and need to soak up the alcohol, there is a full menu for lunch and dinner.

Recommended for Bars because: Fantastic boho vibe and nightly entertainment from comedians to live jazz, it is a great old town bar.

Becca's expert tip: Try to visit on a night when "Chanson Francaise" (French Songs) are being performed. Also if you're hungry, ask for the menu.

Read more about Bar des Oiseaux →

Les Distilleries Idéales

The exterior and the interior are quite basic, and you may not even realize you are passing a bar unless you happen by during a raucous show. However, this small bar is popular among locals for its unique list of drinks and its low-key atmosphere. Its "hole in the wall" style lends appeal to the classic beer joint/pool hall, which also has some of the best martinis in town. When the weather is nice, sit outside on the sidewalk terrace and watch the world go by as you sip your cocktail. It also has a happy hour from 6pm to 8pm and is a good place to start your evening out.

Recommended for Bars because: Has an awesome nightly happy hour and is a low-key bar with al fresco seating.

Becca's expert tip: Locals love this spot for its unique drink list. Grab a seat outside for awesome people watching.

Read more about Les Distilleries Idéales →

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Café de Turin
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

This cafe and bar has been around for years and has collected a large, local following, who come not only for a cocktail, but also for its excellent fresh seafood. Tucked onto one side of the place Garibaldi, the location is prime and the atmosphere is quintessentially French. The terrace is one of the best places to be in Nice on a summer afternoon, and the cafe fills up quickly in the evenings with dining patrons. Arrive in late afternoon, before the crowds, if you want to score a seat outside and order a carafe of wine or a Pastis and water.

Recommended for Bars because: It has a large local following and is pretty much a Nice watering hole institution.

Becca's expert tip: The terrace is one of the best places to be in Nice on a summer afternoon,

Read more about Café de Turin →


Meet Becca Blond

Becca Blond is an award-winning Denver based freelance travel writer. She has authored more than 30 Lonely Planet guides on five continents. She also writes about Colorado and the world for...  More About Becca