- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Nice, France
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes département. The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of about 1 million on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi).
The city is nicknamed Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Niçard), which means Nice the Beautiful, which is also the title of the unofficial anthem of Nice, written by Menica Rondelly in 1912.
Tourist Attractions in Nice
Vieille Ville (Old Town)
The picturesque Old Town of Nice, with its maze of narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets, has a lively ambience reminiscent of Italy. Popularly known as "Babazouk," the Vieille Ville begins at the western end of the Colline du Château and is bounded by spacious boulevards, including the Jardin Albert I, Place Masséna, and Promenade du Paillon. The southern end of the Old Town borders the Ponchettes where fishmongers and grocers bring their fresh products to market on the nearby Cours Saleya. The colorful flower market, a traditional Provençal event that reflects the richness of Nice's daily life, beautifies the street every morning (except Mondays). There are also stalls selling soaps, food products, and spices. The market offers all the ingredients necessary to cook the delicious Mediterranean cuisine of the Côte d'Azur, from Nice olives, sheep's cheese, and local mushrooms to fresh fish. A few steps away from the Cours Saleya on the Quai des Etats-Unis is the Galerie des Ponchettes (Musée Dufy), a museum dedicated to the art work of Raoul Dufy. This museum displays an outstanding collection of Dufy's charming, vibrant paintings. Another noteworthy museum on the Quai des Etats-Unis is the Musée Alexis et Gustav-Adolf Mossa.
Promenade des Anglais
The most emblematic street in Nice, the Promenade des Anglais is a gorgeous pedestrian area that follows the curve of the Baie des Anges beaches. This legendary seaside road is lined with planted palm trees and filled with elegant gardens. Originally just a small footpath, the Promenade des Anglais was developed by Englishman, Reverend Lewis Way in 1820 at his own expense. It was then called the "Chemin des Anglais." The road was further enhanced in 1931 when it was given two separate roadways. At the time, Queen Victoria's son, the Duke of Connaught, inaugurated the promenade in royal style. Today, the road traffic has been diverted with underground tunnels, making the promenade ideal for people to stroll. The Promenade des Anglais is also popular with cyclists and skaters.
Colline du Château (Castle Hill)
On a hill overlooking the Nice coastline, the site of Castle Hill was the first area of Nice to be inhabited by the Greeks two millennia ago. Once considered impregnable, the citadel was destroyed by soldiers of the French King Louis XIV in 1706. Now the property is set aside entirely as a park. This idyllic place is a pleasant oasis of greenery, shady trees, and rushing waterfalls. The park inspires visitors to enjoy a leisurely stroll and take in the spectacular views. From this point, the panorama includes the Baie des Anges, the Vieille Ville, and the Nice harbor. Inside the park, boutiques and restaurants as well as the ruins of two old churches are worth seeing. At night, the Colline du Château is illuminated with special lighting effects.
Visitors can arrive at the Colline du Château by foot from the OId Town of Nice or take an Art-Deco lift or escalator from Place Garibaldi.
Sitting on the hill of Cimiez, the Musée Matisse is must-see attraction for art lovers. This delightful museum lies in a historic Genoese villa surrounded by splendid Italianate gardens. The permanent collection represents an extensive and diverse ensemble of Matisse's works. There are 68 paintings, 236 designs, 218 drawings, and 56 sculptures (almost all the sculptures Matisse ever created), along with interesting sketches for the decorations of the Chapel in Vence. The entire ensemble of works provides an overview of the artist's creative method and genius. It was given by Matisse's family to the city of Nice, where the artist lived from 1918 until 1954. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits every year as well as screenings of art films and conferences.
Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain
This museum of modern and contemporary art was opened in 1990. Housed in a sleek building created by architects Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal, the building has four towers faced in Carrara marble. A whimsical modern art installation adorns the courtyard. The museum's collection represents a cross section of fine arts from the 1960s and 1970s, including new realists and pop art, American abstracts, minimalists, and the flux movement. Particularly noteworthy are works on display by Yves Klein, of the Nouveaux Réalistes movement, who was born in Nice in 1928. The museum showcases his work in one room and on the roof terrace, which has a breathtaking view across Nice. After visiting the museum, tourists may take a short walk to the nearby Place Garibaldi, with its statue of another famous Nice resident, the Italian freedom fighter Garibaldi.
Jardin Albert I
This verdant park-like area is located between the Avenue des Phocéens and the Avenue de Verdun. The expansive gardens extend north as far as the busy Place Masséna, which boasts the Fontaine du Soleil, a splendid fountain featuring a statue of Apollo, the Greek Sun God. The Jardin Albert I has a pleasant open-air theater, the Théâtre de Verdure surrounded by pine and palm trees. In the spring and summer, this outdoor venue offers music concerts, including rock festivals and performances by popular rock bands. A short walk away from the garden is the busy Avenue Jean Médecin, one of the principal shopping streets in Nice. The neo-Gothic Church of Notre-Dame is worth a look while visiting the neighborhood.
Admirers of Marc Chagall will be delighted by this museum. The Musée Chagall houses the most important exhibition of Chagall's works in the world. The collection includes Chagall's paintings, etchings, lithographs, sculptures, stained glass, and mosaics. There are also wall tapestries on Biblical themes. The museum's concert auditorium features a stained glass wall that is a magnificent example of Chagall's artistry. The museum also displays temporary exhibits of works by other artists.
Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas
Built in 1912 by Tsar Nicolas, the Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas is considered one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches outside of Russia. Inspired by the Muscovite style, the cathedral has a richly decorated interior with many ornamental icons, murals, and carved woodwork as well as an iconostasis of embossed metal. A virtual jewel box, the interior contains historical and religious objects that were brought here from Russia during its time of turmoil. The cathedral is still used as place of worship. Visitors are admitted, but must respect certain rules: Men will not be admitted bare-chested or in shorts. For women, mini skirts and shorts are not allowed, shoulders should be covered and a head covering is preferred.