Nice (pronounces Nees) stretches over a coastal plain opening southward onto the Mediterranean, bounded from East to West by a succession of wooded hills. In the background, rise the first magnificent peaks of the foothills of the Alps, some reaching over 9000 feet above sea level. This spectacular city is the capital of the French Riviera and the largest city between Genoa and Marseille.
Modern Nice stands on the same spot in the hills overlooking the sea that was originally selected by the Greeks and subsequently the Romans for settlement. In the intervening years, the city has spread down to the flat land along the water. Sheltered to the east and the west by outcroppings of rock, and with the Maritime Alps to the north, Nice has an ideal climate with mild winters and perfect summers.
Nice is also France’s fifth largest city, and the top cruise ship port in France. Almost 200,000 passengers use the Port of Nice-Villefranche annually. Located in Southern Europe at the southeastern extremity of France, Nice is a privileged crossroads between the Alps, Provence, Corsica and Italy.
The French Riviera is not only famous for its coastline, and its incomparable weather. The ski resorts in nearby mountain villages have steadily gained in popularity over the years. Guaranteed sunshine, pristine snow and mountain peaks are all within easy reach of Nice.
Easily accessible to Nice are the towns of Eze, Vence, Grasse and St. Paul. The route in their direction is one of olive groves and pine woods stretching for miles down to the shore. Foothills are carpeted with flowers in the light that inspired generations of painters from Renoir to Matisse to Picasso.
For many, the Riviera offers all the grandeur of bygone days: casinos, stately hotels, villas, and historic sites. Hotel Beau Rivage is where Henri Matisse lived and painted. Now a gentle, low-key resort, life thrives in Nice amid pure air and sun above the blue of the Mediterranean, and modern art museums flourish.
As long as anyone can remember, the French seaside Riviera was Europe’s foremost resort. Graced by palms, beaches and sub-tropical flowers, the Azure Coast (Côte d’Azur) ranked for over a hundred years as the preferred first class travel destination.
In the mid 20th century the Riviera additionally became known as the place where the bikini got its start, and a whole new leisure lifestyle evolved. Mid-July to early September now marks the high season, when stars of the entertainment world arrive for sun and sports from golf to horse racing.
It is easy to get around the Riviera with its excellent rail service, luxury buses, and car rentals. In Nice, just a few blocks from the Promenade des Anglais is the colorful “old town” with open-air market for shoppers, and restaurants with hearty Niçoise cuisine at moderate prices.
Centrally located, Nice is 77 miles south of Paris, and 20 miles northeast of Cannes.
From the Nice airport, (the second largest in France), trains and buses travel the entire coast. Because of its brilliant sunshine and relaxed living, artists and writers have been attracted to Nice for years. The city has, on average, 300 days of sunshine a year.
It also has 5 miles of marvelous beaches, many attractions of interest to families with children, and the relaxed lifestyle that makes it the perfect place for a family vacation. The French and Italian influenced cuisine can also be described as “sunny? The favorites range from seafood, salads, stews, grilled fish and meat, to delicious pancakes and fine wines.
Shopping in Nice is exciting as well. In addition to quality department stores there are hand crafted and embroidered items and many fascinating antique shops.
Nice has a selection of dynamic theaters, concert halls, and an opera, as well as nightclubs, a casino, a variety of cabaret restaurants and live music bars. Local festivals are always popular, especially Carnaval et Bataille de Fleurs and the annual Jazz Festival.
Acres of parks and gardens, filled with paths for walking and cascades of brightly colored flowers, add to the warm welcome, joyful spirit, and many reasons to visit and revisit this city without equal.
Thinks to do in Nice
Note: There is free admission offered to the museums of Nice on the first Sunday of each month.
Carte Musées Côte d’Azur is a pass which entitles the holder to visit 62 museums on the French Riviera for the price of the pass.
Or buy a Carte Passe-Musée from the local tourist office in Nice for a 3-day pass, or 140 F or a 4-day pass. There are no reductions for students or children. It will allow you admission into seven of the city’s largest museums.
Anatole Jakovsky International Museum Of Modern Art
Château Sainte-Hélčne, Avenue de Fabron
04 93 71 78 33
10 a.m. – noon and 2 – 6 p.m., closed Tuesday and some holidays
Opened on 5 March 1982 in the former residence of the perfumer François Coty, this Museum owed its existence to the large donation by Anatole and Renée Jakovsky: 600 paintings, drawings, engravings and sculptures retracing the history worldwide of Modern Art from the 18th century to the present. Works by Bauchant, Bombois, Rimbert, Séraphine… Croatian, Haitian, Brazilian artists… completed by a rich State collection from the National Museum of Modern Art Centre Georges Pompidou.
Archaeology Museum Of Nice–Cimiez
160, Avenue des Arčnes
04 93 81 59 57
10 -noon and 2 – 6. 1 April – 30 September; 10 – 1. and 2 – 5: 1 October – 31 March, closed Monday and some holidays
Founded by Augustus in 14 BC, Cemenelum was, from the 1st to the 4th century, the capital of the Alpes Maritimae province. You can visit the amphitheatre, the public baths (3rd century AD), see the paved streets and the Palćochristian Episcopal Group (5th century AD).
The Museum, inaugurated in January 1989, offers collections ranging from the Bronze and Iron Age (1100 BC) to the Dark Ages: ceramics, glass, coins, jewelry, sculptures, and tools.
Asian Arts Museum
405, Promenade des Anglais – Arénas,
04 92 29 37 00 – fax 04 92 29 37 01
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (6 p.m. in summer), except Tuesday
Designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, in the heart of Parc Phśnix, in a subtle architecture of glass and steel, this museum offers classical works and contemporary creations. The tea pavilion evokes the aestheticism of the Zen ceremony.
Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe St-Nicolas
Av. Nicolas-II From the central rail station, head west along av. Thiers to bd. Gambetta; then go north to av. Nicolas-II. Off boulevard du Tzaréwitch
May-Sept, daily 9-noon and 2:30-6; Oct-Apr, daily 9:30-noon and 2:30-5
Ordered built in 1903 by Tsar Nicholas II, in memory of his son, Nicholas, who is buried on the grounds.
This is the most beautiful Orthodox edifice outside Russia and is the perfect expression of Russian religious art abroad. It dates from the belle époque, when some of the Romanovs frequented the Riviera. The cathedral is richly ornamented and decorated with many icons. It is crowned by ornate onion-shaped domes. Church services are held on Sunday morning.
Centre Du Patrimoine (Prieur du Vieux-Logis)
59, Avenue St Barthélemy
04 93 84 44 74
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and 1 Sunday each month, 3 – 5 or by appointment for groups
A late medieval interior reconstructed in a 16th-century home with collections of 14th, 15th and 16th-century objects.
Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts)
33 av. des Baumettes
Tues-Sun 10am-noon and 2-6pm
Bus: 3, 9, 12, 22, 23, or 38
The collection is housed in the former residence of the Ukrainian Princess Kotchubey. There’s an important gallery devoted to the masters of the Second Empire and belle époque, with an extensive collection of the 19th-century French experts.
The gallery of sculptures includes works by J. B. Carpeaux, Rude, and Rodin. Note the important collection by a dynasty of painters, the Dutch Vanloo family. One of its best-known members, Carle Vanloo, born in Nice in 1705, was Louis XV’s premier peintre. A fine collection of 19th- and 20th-century art is displayed, including works by Ziem, Raffaelli, Boudin, Renoir, Monet, Guillaumin, and Sisley.
Franciscan Museum, Church And Monastery Of Cimiez
Place du Monastčre
04 93 81 00 04
daily 10 a.m. – noon and 3 – 6 p.m., except Sunday and holidays.
A re-creation of the life of Franciscan monks in Nice from the 13th to the 18th century intended as an illustration of the spiritual and social message of Saint Francis of Assisi through paintings, sculptures, engravings, illuminated manuscripts, frescoes, reconstructed chapel and monk’s cell, prayer-books on parchment.
164 Avenue des Arčnes de Cimiez
04 93 81 08 08
open 10 – 6 1 April – 30 September and 10 – 5 1 October to 31 March, closed Tuesday and some holidays. For annual closing: contact the Museum.
This completely renovated 17th-century Genoan-style villa in the heart of the olive grove in the Gardens of Cimiez houses the personal collection of the great Fauvist painter who lived in Nice from 1917 until his death in 1954.
Works from all periods of his life offer a comprehensive panorama: from the first paintings made in 1890 to the famous gouache cutouts, 236 drawings, 218 engravings and the complete presentation of the books illustrated by the artist.
Marc Chagall National Bibilical Message Museum
Avenue du Dr Ménard, corner of Boulevard de Cimiez
04 93 53 87 20
10 – 6 : 1 July to 30 September and 10 – 5 October to June (without interruption), closed Tuesdays
Biblical scenes illustrated in 17 large paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows, mosaics and tapestries, 205 preparatory sketches, 39 gouaches (1930), 105 engravings (1956) and 215 lithographs.
Museum Of Art And History (Palais Masséna)
65, Rue de France and 35, Promenade des Anglais
04 93 88 11 34,
Check first, as this museum has been closed for renovations
In a splendid Empire setting, the museum houses collections of late Gothic “Primitive?painters from Nice and Europe, from the 15th to the 18th centuries, regional porcelain and faďence and a department reserved for local painters: watercolors, Napoleonic Empire, Masséna, and Garibaldi among others.
Museum Of Contemporary And Modern Art
Promenade des Arts
04 93 62 61 62
10 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Tuesday and holidays
This original architecture (four grey marble towers linked by transparent walkways) and a major permanent collection trace the history of the European and American avant-garde since the early 1960s.
Tour Bellanda (Castle Hill)
04 93 80 47 61
10 – noon and 2 – 7. 1 June to 30 September and 10 a.m. – noon and 2 – 5 p.m. 1 October to 31 May, closed Monday, Tuesday and some holidays
Closed from mid-November to mid-December.
Located in Tour Bellanda, a listed historic monument, this museum has a large collection of weapons, models of boats, instruments of navigation, engravings and paintings on the theme of the sea.
15 rue Droite
Tues-Sun 10am-noon and 2-6pm
Bus: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 14, 16, or 17
The baroque Palais Lascaris in the city’s historic core is intimately linked to the Lascaris-Vintimille family, whose recorded history predates the year 1261. Built in the 17th century, it contains elaborately detailed ornamentation. An intensive restoration undertaken by the city of Nice in 1946 brought back its original beauty, and the palace is now classified as a historic monument.
The most elaborate floor is the étage noble, retaining many of its 18th-century panels and plaster embellishments. A circa-1738 pharmacy, complete with many of the original Delftware accessories, is on the premises. Every Wednesday between 2 and 4pm, the museum presents programs of appeal to children, inviting craftspeople to show the details of how they accomplish their art forms through live demonstrations.
Terra Amata Human Paleontology Museum
25, Boulevard Carnot
04 93 55 59 93
open daily 10 – noon and 2 – 6 , except Monday and some holidays.
Library by appointment 8:30 – 5
Reconstruction of a prehistoric (Acheulean) occupation site, plaster casts, documents on the site of an elephant hunters?camp in Nice 400,000 years ago.
Theatre De La Photographie Et De L’image
27, boulevard Dubouchage
04 93 80 11 00
free entrance from 10-12 and from 2-6
Closed Mondays and certain holidays.
The “Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image” in the heart of Nice in the building which formerly housed the “Théâtre de l’Artistique”, has maintained its charm and elegance of the Belle Epoque period. Its mission is to collect photographs of Nice and its region by researching ancient documents but also sending photographers to “report” on the city’s human, urban, historic and industrial heritage.
20, Avenue Stephen Liégeard,
04 92 07 73 73,or 04 92 07 73 80
daily 1 – 7 July – September and 1 – 6 October – June. Closed Mondays October – June
Splendid 18th-century villa, surrounded by contemporary architecture of concrete and pebbles. This site covers acres of terraces and gardens housing the National Art School and a Contemporary Art Center and residence for artists.