Established by the Greeks and traditionally a hub of maritime strength due to its seaside proximity, Nice now possesses a distinctly contemporary vibe, its chic plazas and sunny promenades coexisting with the old-world opulence of its historical quarters. Nice retains the rich and sophisticated culture endemic to France – did you know that world-renowned Expressionists such as Matisse and Chagall hailed the soft Niçois light as their source of artistic inspiration?
Art and Culture: To see the products of the Expressionists’ inspiration, visit the Musée Marc Chagall and Musée Matisse. The former is one of the largest collections of the strange, dreamlike and often unsettling work of the French-Russian artist, while the latter is a similarly impressive collection of oil paintings, drawings and sculptures of French master Henri Matisse, housed in a striking red ochre villa among the olive trees.
Historical sites: The Cimiez Monastry is a 9th century Benedictine church featuring a cluster of Roman ruins and exquisite gardens with stunning panoramas of the city. The city’s Old Town, Vieux Nice, is an intricate maze of streets lined with Italianate facades in various warm shades. When in the Old Town, make sure to pay a visit to Cours Saleya – a market square fringed by stunning neoclassical buildings from which the fragrance of flowers and fresh produce continually emanates.
Outdoors: A stroll along the Promenade des Anglais is a quintessential Riviera experience. The sunny, palm-lined promenade is so called because of the influx of monied English expats to Nice in the 19th century. Dip in and out of beach cabanas, chic cafes and luxury restaurants, or simply recline on one of the iconic blue and white deckchairs as you admire the Bay of Angels.