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Locations in Nice

Nice is often called the Queen of the Riviera, referring to the French Riviera as it sits beautifully central along one of the most exclusive coastlines in Europe.  Home to over 350,000 people it’s the capital of the region and has played an influential role on the Southern coast of France for many centuries through even Greek and Roman rule.  It boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year, with its 3 mile long Promenade des Anglais as the focal point for sun-worshippers.

Nice could be said to be more Spanish than French, with its more laid-back approach to life, centred around the beach all hours of the day.  Other focal points of the city are spotted within Italianate architecture in the old part of town, bustling markets and shopping areas, pavement cafes and outdoor gatherings of all kinds.

Bordered by the Mediterranean to the South, the Promenade des Anglais runs alongside the beach for several miles.  Commercial planes, private jets and helicopters glide overhead, landing at nearby Nice Airport, while sailing boats, yachts and ferries to Corsica traverse the seas to the East of Nice at Nice Port.  But Nice’s main centre of activity is the Old Town (Vielle Ville) which is a warren of pastel walls and lavender shutters, a reminder of Nice’s close vicinity and influence from Italy.

The Colline du Chateau, a vast public park, peers down onto the old town and the port, the views from here also take in Cimiez to the North of Nice where the Chagall and Matisse museums sit alongside the Roman archaeological ruins of Nikaia.

Place Massena is at the heart of the city with several parks surrounding it, and served by the city’s modern tram system.  The main shopping street Avenue Jean Medecin heads North from here to Basilique Notre-Dame and the main train station Gare de Nice-Ville from which you can go to the airport and other major towns along the coast.

The Old Town – Vielle Ville
The old town’s crowning glory is the Italian-styled baroque Cathedrale Sainte-Reparte.  Around it are bustling streets selling tourist items as well as serving the locals with the necessities of life.  Rue Droite is the home of art galleries, and is also the home of Palais Lascaris a noble’s palace open to the public.

Set back from the beach is Cours Saleya, the old town’s most prestigious address with beautiful mansions fronted by rows of plane trees, cafes and market stalls.  Markets include a fruit and vegetable market on Tuesdays to Sundays 7am to 12.30pm, a flower market Tuesdays to Sundays 8am to 6pm, and an antiques market Monday 9am to 6pm.  In the afternoons the market stalls are packed away and the local restaurants bring out their tables to cater for lunch, drinks and later dinner.

Musee Massena
Open Wednesday to Monday 10am to 6pm.  Free admission.
This former Neoclassical palace is now a museum of the city of Nice.  It was built in 1898 for Victor Massena, and was designed by Hans-Georg Tersling who also designed the Hotel Metropole in Monaco and Palais Carnoles in Menton.  It overlooks the sea and Promenade and the large windows let the sunlight flood in, so its worthy of a visit even on sunny days.  The history is centred around the 1920s when Nice was at its peak, palaces owned by Russian counts and American millionaires, and visits by Europe’s aristocracies was a regular occurrence.  Newspaper articles reporting on these socialite parties, and menus from exquisite dinner dances set the scene of this bygone age.  Paintings of Nice through the decades are also here, several of the famous Nice Carnival through its history.  The Massena family themselves were regional aristocrats and their history is charted here too.

Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC)
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm.  Free admission.
MAMAC is Nice’s modern and contemporary art museum as the name would suggest.  It is housed in a modern steel and glass building which lets in the sunlight but also coordinates somehow with its neighbouring 300-year-old buildings in Place Garibaldi.  Its permanent collection chronicles the history of Pop Art and French Modern Art.  Artists like Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana and Roy Lichtenstein are featured.  There is also a Nice School of Art which has rooms dedicated to local artists such as Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle.  The museum also has a temporary exhibition on the first floor which exhibits some very good international and French modern artists.

Catedrale St Nicholas
The legacy of many rich Russian visitors and property owners in Nice gave birth to a Russian-styled cathedral in Nice.  No expense was spared in its design building and decoration, with its walls covered in fine frescoes and tiles from Florence.  It is still owned by Russia and is a central meeting point for the current Russian community in Nice.

Musee Matisse
Open Wednesday to Monday 10am to 6pm.  Free admission.
Henri Matisse the famous French artist lived in Nice for many years, and in his later years lived very close to this museum dedicated to his work.

Musee National Message Biblique – Marc Chagall
Open Wednesday to Monday 10am to 6pm.  Free admission.
This unique museum was designed by Chagall himself to house his collection of bible-themed paintings.  Like Matisse he is famed for his use of vibrant colours, likely motivated by his surroundings on the French Riviera.

Colline du Chateau and Park
Open daily 8am to 8pm.  Free admission.
This park separates the old town from the port, is accessible by three main stairways, and it houses the chateau which is a former maritime defensive building.  There is also an elevator to the park from next to Hotel Suisse at the Eastern end of Promenade des Anglais.  At midday every day the Chateau fires a cannon, rather deafening if you’re too close.  The Colline park is where locals come to read and picnic while children play.  Several cafes at the top of the park have spectacular views.

Nice Port
Below the Colline du Chateau to the East is Nice’s elegant port, which is home to fishing vessels as well as several large yachts, some of which are open as bars.  The port itself is surrounded by some of Nice’s best restaurants, many of which serve freshly-caught seafood.

Quarteir des Antiquaires
The antiques quarter is to the West of the port and is a humming hive of over 100 antique shops often open Tuesday to Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.  You can find anything and everything here including French and Italian antiques, as well as medieval items and modern art.

Hover over the markers on the map above to see the locations of the main visitor attractions in Nice.

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