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Nice - Off the beaten track


The undercover Cours Saleya market

Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe St-Nicolas

With its six onion domes and mix of grey marble, brightly coloured ceramic and red brick, the effect is definitely exotic. The cathedral is in a park setting, north of the train station, and is open to visitors as long as they dress appropriately: no shorts, sleeveless shirts or mini skirts, please.

Commissioned by Nicolas II and his mother, and completed in 1912, this church was designed to resemble Saint-Basile in Moscow. With its six onion domes and the mix of grey marble, brightly coloured ceramic and red brick, the effect is definitely exotic. Inside, the frescoes, icons and panelling smack of Imperial Russia. The cathedral is in a park setting, north of the train station, and is open to visitors as long as they dress appropriately: no shorts, sleeveless shirts or mini skirts, please.

Musée des Beaux-Arts

This former residence of a Ukrainian princess is today home to Nice's Museum of Fine Art. The works on display date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and include canvases by Van Loo, Fragonard, Monet, Renoir and Bonnard. The building itself is a suitably grand showcase for the fabulous artworks.

This former residence of a Ukrainian princess is today home to Nice's Museum of Fine Art. The works on display date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and include canvases by Van Loo and Fragonard. If you prefer Impressionists there are paintings by Boudin, Sisley, Monet, Renoir and Bonnard. The building itself, with its high ceilings, columned facade and sweeping marble staircase, is a suitably grand showcase for the fabulous artworks. The museum is on the west side of town, at the top of winding Ave des Baumettes.

Musée International d'Art Naif Anatole-Jakovsky

This museum displays an international collection of naif art dating from the 18th century to the present day. Donated by Romanian art critic Anatole Jakovsky, the collection is housed in the Château Ste-Hélène built by Monte Carlo casino founder, François Blanc. The building is very pink - you can't miss it.

This museum displays an international collection of naive art dating from the 18th century to the present day. Donated by Romanian art critic Anatole Jakovsky, the collection is housed in the Château Ste-Hélène, which was built in the 19th century by François Blanc (founder of the Monte Carlo casino). The building is very pink - you can't miss it. To get there catch a bus to the suburb of Fabron, 1.5km (1mi) from the city centre.

Nice Villages

Nice's hinterland is a maze of remote hill-top villages connected by hairpin mountain passes: fasten your seatbelts! The Paillon River cuts through these rural communities, where the land provides the villagers' livelihoods. You may well see olives, olive oil, goats' cheese or vegetables from this area sold in Nice's markets. The views are spectacular, and there are some particularly attractive sights to take in: the chapel with 15th-century frescoes in the medieval village of Peillon; the Romanesque church and main square in Peille; and the views from L'Escarène and its beautiful place de l'Église.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is more than just a fashionable address. Since the art collector Aimé Maeght set up her eponymous Foundation in the 1950s, the town has become a centre for modern art. The Foundation displays works by Chagall, Miró, Bonnard, Kandinsky, Léger and Matisse (among others) in a building designed by Spanish architect José Luis Sert. The project was conceived to meld museum and exhibits into a free-flowing artistic space, and the multi-levelled result is light and airy. The garden is also an exhibition space, filled with contemporary mosaics, sculptures and other works of art.

In the town itself there are numerous arts & crafts galleries. If you've overdosed on art, the Renaissance fortifications are fascinating and there's a medieval church (12th/13th century) to visit. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a one-hour inland bus ride west of Nice.



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