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Things to Do In and Around Nice

David Ronis

Note about Nice written for a friend traveling there.

Museums

Peillon, village in southern France. Marta from WA, 2001

Chagall's Biblical Message - Don't miss it. I recall that it might have weird hours. Make sure you check before going. It's up in Cimiez.

Musee Matisse - This wasn't open when I was there, but I've heard it's great.

Parc des Miniatures - I'd avoid it. We went and were disappointed. Although that was seven years ago.

The Park on the hill - Chateau Park - is nice - good views but not a must-see.

You might be interested just to walk into the lobby of the Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais. It's pretty cool, although when I was there the guards were kind of icky.

Oh, here's something off the beaten track. There's a Russian Orthodox Cathedral off of Blvd. Tsarewitch at the end of Ave. Nicolas II. I thought that it was pretty cool but majorly overdecorated.

Food

Here's a food recommendation. Two casual food items native to Nice are Socca (chick pea batter cooked into a thin pancake on a griddle thing) and Pissaladiere (the pizza dough + onions + anchovies thing). THE place to get them is Chez Rene in Vieux Nice, although I'm sure that there are many other places. It's on Rue Miralhtti. It's not a restaurant - rather just like a big open-air take-out counter. The Socca was a little greasy and heavy but very still delicious and authentic.

West of Nice

I've never been to Antibes, but I've heard it's nice.

Avoid Cagnes-sur-Mer and Cros de Cagnes. Suburban ugly sprawl. Although there's a house where Renoir lived for a while that has some interest. And Hauts de Cagnes is better than the other two.

Cannes might be interesting but I've never been. It's a bigger town than most of these. The film festival is in May.

In Biot, there's a curiosity - an entire museum devoted to Fernand Leger. Interesting and weird but not necessarily on the "don't miss it" list.

In St. Paul de Vence is the Fondation Maeght. Important collection of 20th Cent art. Maybe worth going to. Well worth it. But forget the rest of the village.

Better is Vence. This is where Matisse's Chapelle du Rosaire is and it's fantastic - worth waiting in line to see. The center of town, Vieux Vence, is a beautiful medieval village and nice to hang out in.

East of Nice

The next small town over is Villefranche-sur-Mer. I like this little town. Not that there's much to do there, but it's beautiful. You can take the train right there - it takes something like four minutes.

Cap Ferrat is relatively close as well. I believe that there's a coastal hiking trail there that people like.

Eze is beautiful. Buses go there frequently. It's a medieval town built on top of a tiny, precipitous hill overlooking the ocean. It has a wonderful expensive restaurant, the Chateau Eza, and a curious cactus garden at the very top of the town.

Monaco is worth going to in my opinion. It's beautiful. There's a very nice aquarium, lots of rich people and, of course, casinos. You can't go into THE Casino unless you're really dressed. Alternately, there were a couple of other informal casinos - sort of American style - I went in and played the slot machines for a little while and then left. You don't have to be dressed to go in here. I think I probably went in shorts. You can see the guard at the Palace change, etc. I just liked walking around Monaco. Although it's not tiny. You can take the train there easily from Nice, or a bus. Once there, you can walk around or maybe take a local bus if you need to. It's on two different hills. The palace and church where Grace and Ranier etc. are buried is on one hill and the Casino and Opera etc are in a newer section.

There's more, of course. There's always more. This is just my short list for things to do in the area that I liked - my personal taste. Have fun!


David Ronis is a classical singer, actor and translator living in New York City. www.davidronis.com

© David Ronis, 2001

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