Top 10 Sights for Adults Near Your Nice Apartment
With 300 days of sun per year, you'd be forgiven for spending most of your Nice apartment stay lying on the beach or kicking back with a glass of rosé in a pavement café. But if you do want to explore the French Riviera further, Nice will delight. The city is home to more museums than any other destination outside Paris. And the legacy of artists who came to Nice for the atmospheric light (among them Matisse, Chagall, Renoir and Picasso) is a volley of world-class art galleries–some in Nice, some just down the coast. We hope this list of our favourite attractions will have you scurrying south right away!
Nice Old Town
Thousands of visitors have lost their heart in the Old Town. A century ago artist Henri Matisse moved his entire life here. More recently, scores of guests who have rented our Nice Old Town holiday apartments have fallen head over heels. The tall Italianate buildings, street markets, winding lanes, atmospheric buzz and tempting local bars make it the most visited neighbourhood in the city. Its magnetism stems from the chance to get up close and personal with authentic Niçois society: shopping with locals on the majestic Cours Saleya's daily market, watching street musicians busk at twilight or listening to the faithful sing at any of the 20 ornate churches which stud this medieval district. An aimless wander around this atmospheric quartier will leave you smiling and breathless.
You guessed it. This is the most popular attraction for guests renting holiday apartments in Nice. Visitors staying in the Old Town, Masséna and Promenade are a few minutes stroll from le plage, while those in the Port and Carré d'Or are no more than a ten-minute walk away. Almost entirely public, the beach runs in a sun-blessed curve from the airport to the Colline du Chateau. The sea is extremely clear and has been awarded a Blue Flag for cleanliness: many residents swim until November, and some hardy locals swim all year round! A handful of cool beach clubs line the water, charging between €15 and €20 for a day's access to a comfy sun mattress, hot showers and waiter service for drinks. Castel Plage at the eastern end is popular with visiting celebrities, like Emma Watson and P.Diddy. Hi Beach in the middle, with its organic menu and giant swings, is understatedly chic. Blue Beach near the Palais de la Mediterranée is popular with families and has giant beach toys to play with.
164 Avenue des Arenes de Cimiez
Matisse adored Nice so much that he stayed in almost as many apartments as Nice Pebbles have on their books! He painted the Old Town and its lascivious young ladies in his younger years, living in three different properties around the Cours Saleya. Later in life he moved up to the classy suburb of Cimiez, where his vivid collection of artworks is now exhibited in a handsome old Italian villa. The museum is filled with light and is perfect for displaying parts of his Blue Nudes series, Jazz cutouts and the colourful models for his final masterpiece, the Chapelle du Rosaire in the nearby town of Vence.
MAMAC Museum of Modern Art
Promenade des Arts
The funniest exhibit in this world-class museum? The rejection letters from the New York Museum of Modern Art to Andy Warhol, asking the modern artist just when was he was going to pick up his shocking submissions. Warhol is represented here in all his glory, as is Robert Indiana and Arman. The most interesting pieces from a local point of view are from the so-called Nice School of Artists, including Niki de Saint Phalle, Yves Klein and Ben, who have rooms dedicated to them. The panoramic views over Nice from the circular gallery on the top floor are immense.
Nice was the most fabulous belle époque coastal resort of its generation. A rococo opera house to please the wealthy visitors was a natural addition to the city's attractions, which included casinos, bathing cabins and some of the world's finest hotels. This white stuccoed building sits on the seaside at the end of the Cours Saleya, and was declared a monument historique in 1993. In season (from October to June), a full program of opera, recital, ballet and classical performances are represented. Tickets can be as high as €100 for the best seats, and start from €8 for benches up in the Gods. To avoid disappointment, it's best to book tickets way in advance, especially for the traditional favourites such as Bizet's Carmen. The box office is open from 10am to 6pm daily except Sundays.
15 Rue Droite. Free
Almost hidden in the winding streets of Nice Old Town is the beautiful façade of the Palais Lascaris. This fancy former residence dates back to the 18th century, but has now been flipped from a palatial home into a public museum. It houses a large collection of antiquities, including a recreation of a 19th century French pharmacy. It was the residency of the Lascaris-Vintimille family and remained their home until the French Revolution. The vaulted ceilings of the rooms are decorated with frescoes depicting mythological themes. The furniture, Flemish tapestries and coats of armour are reminiscent of an era that was dashed away from the fun- and sun-seeking tourists in the early 20th century.
65 rue de France (garden entrance on Promenade des Anglais)
This wonderful local history museum is housed in a palace so beautiful that you'll wish it were a Nice Pebbles property! Sadly, even we don't rent properties this sumptuous. The building has been so carefully renovated that today it reflects exactly what it would have looked like on completion in 1900, complete with ceiling frescoes and landscaped gardens. The portraits on the ground floor are of the Masséna family, former owners of the palace. This local posse of nobles gave nearby Place Masséna its name, and the surname still opens doors today. Riviera history is surmised in galleries of paintings of long-gone days (Cannes without the villas, Nice's beach covered with fishing boats). Additional exhibits hint at the city's golden age, with fancy party menus from the belle époque period and town plans showing who lived where on the Promenade (like today, it’s a mix of rich Russians, moneyed Americans and a sprinkling of British aristocracy).
Local Bellet Wine
Nice’s local vineyards are home to a unique array of wines that are difficult to find outside the region. Known as Bellet, this area lies just north of the airport and can easily be reached by car. Bellet is one of the smallest AOC regions (government-protected foodie hotspots) in France. High up on Chemin de Sanquier, Ghislain de Charnace at Chateau de Bellet (www.vinsdebellet.com) has been producing Bellet wines for over 30 years. He offers wine tastings by appointment. Dutch vintner Cornelis Kamerbeek also produces Bellet at Chateau de Cremat. You can telephone them to book a wine tour reservation (tel. 04.92.15.12.15): you'll discover how the various vintages are produced, followed by wine-tasting accompanied with small canapés spread with regional specialties such as olive oil, anchoiade and tapenade. Finally, off the Chemin de Saquier, a series of narrow rocky lanes leads to Clos St Vincent (www.leclossaintvincent.com). Roland Sicardi and Joseph Sergi run this vineyard. Wines are exemplary, particularly the dry floral rosé, ideal for quaffing in the summer sun and a fantastic compliment to the local food.
A full day trip, half-day or night dive in an underwater world of wrecks, caverns and reefs is the perfect addition to a week in one of our holiday apartments in Nice. We recommend Nice Diving (www.nicediving.com) on Quai des Docks in the Port. There is a fully qualified English-speaking instructor available to cater for the needs of beginners, intermediates and fully qualified PADI experienced divers. For the biggest selection of diving schools across the Riviera visit Dive Azur (www.divazur.com). Here you can enrol on any number of diving lessons or group dives at most resorts along the coast including Antibes, Cassis and Marseille. In Antibes and Juan les Pins, Diamond Diving (www.diamonddiving.net) is an English speaking scuba diving school with a full range of PADI courses plus try dives and day diving for qualified divers. Instructors Alex and his team can pick up visitors from the train station and take them straight onto the water.
The mountains literally fall into the sea between Nice the Italian border, but heading west past Antibes the terrain becomes a dreamland for golfing enthusiasts. Near Cannes, there are two prestigious courses. The closest is the Cannes-Mougins Golf Club (www.golfcannesmougins.com). This 18-hole, par 72 course opened in 1923, was rebuilt in 1977, and has an international reputation derived from its lengthy greens, open fairways and water hazards. Just west of Cannes is the stunning Cannes-Mandelieu Old Course (www.golfoldcourse.com), the oldest set of links on the Riviera, first built in 1891. There’s an 18-hole, par 71 course, plus an additional 9-hole course: there's even a fast-flowing river, which must be crossed to reach the third hole.