Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Nice, France

Nice is Nice
Gem of the French Riviera


Musée Matisse

Although a car greatly facilitates visiting the calm, residential hill of Cimiez, the outing can be done by foot if you have the time and the energy. Starting at the top and working your way down is probably the most efficient and enjoyable plan of action. Bus numbers 15 or 17 will take you effortlessly from the center of Nice toward the summit of Cimiez to the "Matisse" stop. If you choose to walk, take Boulevard de Cimiez all the way to the Musée Matisse, housed in the splendid vermilion Villa des Arènes, which was named in honor of the impressive Roman ruins that neighbor the property. Acquired in 1950 by the city of Nice, the Villa des Arènes—originally a private villa in the Genoese architectural style—was transformed into the Musée Matisse and the Archeological Museum. Once the latter was moved in 1986 to the actual Roman site, the Musée Matisse was entirely dedicated to the life and work of the illustrious artist who settled in Nice from 1917 until his death in 1954. Also in Cimiez is the Musée Chagall, which was inaugurated in 1973 and includes the artist's creations inspired by the Bible. Bus number 15 will take you free of charge between the two museums.

Monastery of Cimiez

When you leave the Musée Matisse, look for the exit that leads you to the Avenue and then Place du Monastère. The Monastery of Cimiez is an exceptional site where a church, cloister and garden are impeccably maintained by the Franciscan monks who have lived here since 1546. The elegant, Niçois exterior gives way to a spacious, gothic interior adorned with Renaissance paintings by Louis Brea and an ornate Baroque altar-piece in gilded wood. The magnificent garden, bursting with fragrant roses in May and June, is beautifully manicured and affords a mesmerizing view over Nice, the mountains of the back country and the dazzling Mediterranean Sea.

Musée des Beaux-Arts

You may have thought to stop at the kiosk Chez Tintin, a tiny, take-away stand at 33, Avenue Malausséna, for a picnic lunch of pan-bagnat, a succulent salad Niçoise sandwich, and a rich slice of tourte aux blettes (sweet swiss chard tart). If not, then you may want to try the convivial Auberge de Theo, a family-owned restaurant serving copious portions of Niçois and Italian cooking. After lunch, take bus number 15 down the hill and back into town where you can choose from a late afternoon nap on the beach or a jaunt to either the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain or the Musée des Beaux-Arts. If you have a car, this would also be the perfect time to explore the magnificent coast from Nice to Monaco, or in the other direction towards Antibes and Cannes. If you prefer a trip inland, the hills just behind Nice offer a chance to explore the numerous picturesque villages nestled in the curves of an exceptionally windy road. Just ten kilometers from the city center, the old town of Falicon, with its charming, multicoloured houses and paved stone streets, is home to Parcours Live Restaurant, an innovative and panoramic restaurant featuring fine cooking showcasing the region’s best products. For a trip back in time, opt for the 30-minute drive to the artistic village of St. Paul de Vence, where dinner at the legendary Colombe d'Or will add a touch of magic to your sunny séjour in Nice.


Ready to book a trip now?
Get exclusive savings on hotel rooms.

(Updated: 04/13/06)

Plan a voyage to a tropical paradise aboard one of GAYOT's Best Caribbean Cruises.
Get the 411 on the City of Angels. Find the city's top hotels, restaurants, attractions and more with GAYOT's guide.