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Nice - Attractions


Not much has changed since the 1700s in the Vieux Nice area

Cimiez

Just north of the city centre is the wealthy residential suburb of Cimiez, crammed with reminders of its Roman past. The ruined remains of the ancient city of Cemenelum (Roman capital of the Alpes-Maritime province) are explored in the archaeological museum and site, which includes an amphitheatre and public baths. The olive grove behind the archaeological site is an evocative venue for July's jazz festival. Nearby there's a 16th-century monastery which affords superb views of the bay and displays some fabulous works of art. Painters Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy are buried in the graveyard. A neighbouring museum unravels the history of the Franciscan monks.

Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain

Nice's pride and joy in the architectural stakes specialises in French and American avant-garde works from the 1960s to the present. Glass walkways connect the four marble-coated towers, on top of which is a must-see rooftop garden. There's also an auditorium that regularly screens art-house films.

New realists figure highly, with many pieces by Romanian Caniel Spoerri and Arman. There's a gallery reserved for works by Nice-born Yves Klein (1928-62), and the ground and first floors are taken up with temporary exhibitions. For a breath of fresh air, the adjoining Jardin Maréchal Juin is worth a stroll.

Musée Matisse

Attracted by the weather, the scenery and the proximity of his friends (Picasso, Renoir and Bonnard lived in neighbouring towns), Henri Matisse wintered in Nice until his death in Cimiez in 1954. Well-known pieces in the permanent collection include Matisse's blue paper cutouts of Blue Nude IV and Woman with Amphora.

The Matisse Museum is Cimiez' biggest draw card. Attracted by the weather, the scenery and the proximity of his friends (Picasso, Renoir and Bonnard lived in neighbouring towns), Henri Matisse (1869-1954) wintered in Nice from 1916 until his death in Cimiez in 1954. The museum's collection spans the artist's long productive life, capturing all of his creative phases and including drawings, bronze sculptures, oil paintings and cut-out canvases. The permanent collection is housed in a red-ochre, 17th-century Genoese villa overlooking an ancient olive grove and the Parc des Arènes. Temporary exhibitions are held in the futuristic basement building.

Musée National Message Biblique Marc-Chagall

Housing the largest public collection of works by the Russian painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985), the museum was built in 1972 to hold the Biblical Message Cycle, a collection of 17 enormous canvases inspired by the Old Testament. Chagall's style is nothing short of magical; brightly coloured goats, violins and floating humans.

The Marc Chagall Biblical Message Museum houses the largest public collection of works by the Russian painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985), who lived in neighbouring Saint-Paul-de-Vence from 1950 until his death. The museum was built in 1972 to hold the Biblical Message Cycle, a collection of 17 enormous canvases inspired by the Old Testament. The building's severe lines set off the brightly coloured goats, violins and floating humans that are typical of Chagall's magical style. Preparatory sketches are also on display.

Promenade des Anglais

The pristine facades, palm trees and blue skies that feature on postcards of this famous promenade are not made of plastic - the seaside walkway really IS that sparkling-clean and exotic. The promenade des Anglais - or 'promenade of the English' - was built in 1820 by an Englishman, Lewis Way, for afternoon constitutionals. Today the pace has changed somewhat, and the promenade is popular with joggers, rollerbladers and walkers. Ignore the sporty types and take a leisurely stroll via the 19th-century Jardin Albert 1er, stopping to look at the crumbling beauty of the Art Deco Palais de la Méditerranée casino, derelict since it closed amid accusations of corruption in the 1970s. The grand Hôtel Negresco (built in 1906) is the most famous building on the promenade. Pop inside and check out the elegant Salon Louis XIV and Salon Royale, but make sure you're wearing your glad rags or you won't get far.

Vieux Nice

Nice's old town is a delightful mish-mash of winding streets, lively squares and Genoese, Provençal, medieval and baroque architecture. It has plenty of cafés and restaurants and comes alive in the evenings, with places to booze and boogie. Parc du Château, a 92m (300ft) hill, overlooks the old town.

If you want to see baroque churches, Saint-Martin-Saint-Augustin (the oldest church in Nice), Saint-François-de-Paule (baroque and classical), Saint-Giuame (also known as Saint-Jacques, l'Annonciation and Sainte-Rita) and the elegant Chapelle de la Miséricorde should keep you busy. The cathédrale Sainte Réparate (1650-80) in the area's central square, place Rossetti, was built in honour of the city's patron saint; the steeple dates from the 18th century.

Palais Lascaris is a beautiful example of Genoese baroque architecture, and it's also home to an 18th-century apothecary and a museum of local history. If you head past the palace towards the sea you hit the bustling cours Saleya, with its flower and vegetable market, and the Paillon gardens which separate the old and new towns. The belle époque Opéra is just off the cours Saleya.



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