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Tourist Places To Visit In Nice
Nice is the second largest city in France situated along the Mediterranean coast that also serves as the gateway to the French Riviera. The pristine sparkling sea and the evergreen Mediterranean climate of Nice have driven tourists to this enticing city since the early 1700s. Even today, a balmy afternoon spent lounging on the pebbly beaches here or a leisurely stroll enjoyed along the seafront promenade remains the highlight of vacationing in Nice.
The credit of putting Nice on the map can essentially be given to the English who visited this gem of a city during the winters. The popularity of Nice as a winter resort continued to grow and it is now known to be one of the best summer destinations in the world as well. Travellers will witness a perfect amalgamation of Italian and French culture embedded into the roots of Nice, with artistic allure oozing out of its numerous museums and galleries that will prove to be an art lover’s haven. Here is a compilation of some of our most recommended places to visit when travelling to Nice.
Promenade des Anglais
Seaside walks along the Promenade, casually referred to as the ‘Prom’ by the locals, is one of the first things tourists head towards on their visit to Nice. This vast embankment has been around since the early 1800s and stretches for seven kilometres; it has been named after the wealthy English expatriates who were fond of strolling along the promenade during the time of its establishment.
Lined by lovely palm trees all along its stretch, visitors can choose to relax on benches under the shade of the trees or dine in one of the beachfront restaurants while soaking up the beautiful sights that surround the region. While simply walking along the paved lane on a good weather day is a rejuvenating activity in itself, cyclists and skaters can make use of the separate biker’s lane for a more thrilling pastime. Some of the key landmarks of the promenade are the Hotel Negresco, the Palais de la Méditarranée and the huge iron sculpture La Chaise de Sab, among numerous others.
This 17th-century monument is situated in Vielle Ville and looks rather ordinary from the outside. But once you step inside is when you will find the opportunity to appreciate the extravagant Baroque style architecture that is evident in so many parts of Nice. This Roman Catholic cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Nice and consists of ten ornately designed chapels dedicated to different deities.
Cours Saleya is a large market square in the old town of Vieux Nice. It is a fantastic space that sells fresh produce every day of the week, except Mondays when it is replaced by a flea market. Locals frequent here quite often to buy fresh food and produce from the shops that set up early in the morning and are open till around 5 in the evening. The flower market is a major highlight of Cours Saleya as well, and the fragrances and vibrant colours of the blossoms will hit you soon as you enter the marketplace, which is mostly sourced from Provence and the Alpes-Maritimes countryside. Apart from the fresh flowers, there are also other goods available here that tourists can take back home with them; dried herbs and spices, local teas and jars of jams and tapenade make great souvenirs as well as gifts.
The Massena Museum is a beautiful villa located on the Promenade des Anglais that was originally built by the Massena family – Marechal Massena was one of Napoléon’s favourite generals. This extravagant Bellé Époque mansion is one of Nice’s most iconic buildings and is surrounded by lovely gardens that create an ambience of tranquillity for the visitors as they arrive at the museum grounds.
Completed in the initial years of the 19th-century, there are numerous thematic elements in the museum that provide an insight into the history of Nice from around this time; most of these artefacts can be seen on the second floor. The first floor is dedicated to artworks, antiquities and personal items of the Massena family, including some peculiar objects like Napoléon’s death mask and his wife’s tiara and cape. The ground floor is often reserved for official events, and during such occasions, the museum remains closed to the general public.
Antibes is a splendid little resort town just around 15 minutes’ worth of a train ride away from Nice. It is a quaint charming location where you will find lovely beaches to relax and enjoy some quiet time in; during summers though, these beaches can get quite crowded as well. There is also an old 16th-century port here called Fort Carré that is an amazing spot to enjoy scenic panoramas around town.
Port Vauban here is the largest port in the Mediterranean where tourists will also find some of the largest yachts in the world. Antibes is also known to be one of the places where the great artist Picasso once lived; the old castle that was his abode has been turned into the Picasso Museum where visitors can observe numerous items from among his personal belongings.
Musée Marc Chagall
The famous French artist Marc Chagall designed this museum during his own lifetime, which was essentially meant to display his works based on religion and spirituality. A series of 17 paintings created by Chagall that illustrate biblical messages are the chief highlight of the museum and were the main exhibits that were showcased originally. With time, the number of exhibits has grown and there are more Chagall works on display here today. Chagall was highly involved in the building of the museum and gave detailed instructions about the layout of the gardens and the positioning of his works in the museum. It is safe to assume that in addition to all the illustrative works on display, the museum itself is a work of art by Chagall.
The district of Cimiez was once known as Cemenelum and was the capital of the Riviera for centuries during the rule of the Romans. Today, visitors can witness numerous fascinating ruins left behind from the ancient Roman settlement, along with historically significant monuments that are still relevant today. The Franciscan Monastery dates back to the 16th-century and has some beautiful gardens and historic art masterpieces that are part of the monastery’s interiors. The famous Matisse Museum is also located in Cimiez, with the famous artist’s burial site situated nearby in the Monasteré Notre Dame de Cimiez cemetery.
If you are looking to spend some time away from the beaches of Nice and enjoying a little more interaction with nature, Parc Phoenix is the place to be. This delightful park covers a massive seven hectares in area and is known to have the largest greenhouse in Europe. With 20 different themed zones and more than 2500 plant species that are part of the greenhouse, this park will prove to be a nature lover’s paradise. Moreover, there are also a number of animal species that call this place home; kids especially will enjoy the company of ducks, flamingos and iguanas that are allowed to roam freely in the greenhouse.
Other interesting animals like otters, turtles and tropical spiders can be observed in special animal enclosures. Needless to say, this is one spot in Nice that will be best enjoyed by setting aside some extra time to spend here.
Museé d’art modern et d’art contemporain (MAMAC)
As the name suggests, this museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art was established in 1990 and features exhibits that showcase avant-garde artistic creations, dating back to the 1950s up till today. Some of the most famous international artist’s works can be seen here, all of which belong to different movements. Ever since its establishment, more than 200 exhibitions have been presented here; if you are an avid art lover, this museum will probably be one of the first places you head to.
Named after its original owner Henri Negresco, the palatial and majestic Hotel Negresco was constructed in 1912 and still stands today as one of the most important landmarks of Nice. Situated at 37 Promenade des Anglais, the hotel is easily recognisable by its trademark pink dome that was designed by the famous Eduardo-Jean Niermans. Once you step inside, you will find an extensive range of artwork on display, along with a spectacular and grand crystal chandelier that was originally commissioned for a Russian Czar. Tourists often walk into the hotel just to catch a glimpse of the extravagant interiors; if you are feeling a little feistier, you can even enjoy a glass of champagne at the Le Negresco Bar.