France Trips

The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice - MAMAC - roof terraces worth the entrance fee on their own

Fabrice Pelletier


The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice (Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain), Address: Place Yves Klein, 06364 Nice.

Practical note: in case you stay in Nice at least 4 days - buy a 7-day pass giving access to most Nice museums for €20. Great value ! Price: 10 euro fee entrance. If you have a museum pass it is worth calling in.

Another note: the museum entrance is quite tricky to locate. You have to go up ABOVE the street level  before you can enter. NO disabled access to this modern building ! Give the museum a chance in a rainy day. No cafe' or restaurant.

Introduction: There are four floors each with plenty to see - but, the museum is recommended ONLY if you stay here and love art and architecture (Niki de Saint Phalle, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, Morris Louis and Frank Stella, Claude Viallat, Bernard Pagès, Nöel Dolla, Daniel Dezeuze, Marc Devade Simon Hantaï, Olivier Mosset and Martin Barré). DO NOT MISS THE ROOF TERRACES !!!

History: The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice was inaugurated on the 21 June, 1990. The first attempt to create a contemporary art museum in Nice was initiated in the second part of the 20th century:  proposing the restructuring of the Ponchettes' Gallery by Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard. That was the "first bird"  of  the Modern Art Museum of Nice. The second reincarnation was the construction of a modern wing in the Massena's Museum garden. The project was abandoned and a parking place was constructed instead. The vision was renewed in the middle of the 70's when Claude Fournet had been promoted as director of the Department of the Museums of Nice. Both of the establishments breath and kick in Nice. The Contemporary Art Gallery as well as the Ponchettes' Gallery are both popular showcases of modern art in Nice. In 1985, an accord was signed with the French state planning an exceptional five-year program of acquisitions of art works. The financial help of the state given at the beginning of these ambitious acquisitions will determine the future institution to be called "the museum controlled by the state". In 1987 was signed an agreement between the town of Nice and the state for switching to municipal financing of the architectural project of modern art museum buildup. It took only three years between the decision and the inauguration of the museum. The architects Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal proposed a very original arch with one part on a Paillon side and the other on the axe of the old National 7, between the harbor and the old city with districts developed during the 19th and 20th centuries. The architecture of the museum had to satisfy two components of Nice's characteristic ingredients : the unique urban planning and the exotic, romantic air of the "Belle Epoque".

Overview: The building that hosts the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC), one of Nice’s architectural treasures, was designed by Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal. There is a total area of 4000 m2 on three levels with nine halls for exhibitions. The exhibition spaces are distributed on three levels and an extra one with terraces for public access. The first floor houses the temporary exhibitions, the second and the third one are reserved for the collections. On exterior of the complex has no windows, but all the halls are connected with glass-made footbridges. The round towers connected by the transparent, in between walkways provide interesting spaces for display.

The upper floor is actually open terraces which are used as panorama open spaces from where people can have a wonderful views of the town. In one of these, is presented "Le Mur de Feu"  of Yves Klein.The front entrance and the shop of the museum are at the same level with the esplanade, the auditorium and the gallery of the museum. There are esplanades connecting the museum to the municipal theatre on one side and on the other - to the Palais des Congres. The two esplanades offer the possibility of exhibiting monumental sculptures by: Alexander Calder, Mark Di Suvero, Barry Flanagan, Bernar Venet, Keith Haring, Sandro Chia and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Our opinion: intriguing exhibition - but, nothing breathtaking. There was not one item we had admired. The building itself is a piece of art and the roof is fantastic. Worth a visit if you enjoy modern art. Go for the roof, architecture and the museum's surroundings. Anything else is a bonus...

Keith Sonnier - Elysian Plain Series. Keith Sonnier was part of a group of artists who challenged preconceived notions of sculpture in the late 1960s by experimenting with materials as varied as latex, satin, bamboo, found objects, satellite transmitters, and video. In 1968, the artist began working with neon:

Andy Warhol - Dollar Sign - 1981:

Niki de Saint Phalle - La Mariee sous L'arbre. She was a French sculptor, painter, and filmmaker (29 October 1930 – 21 May 2002):

Niki de Saint Phalle - Fontaine aux Quatre Nanas:

Yves Klein Hall:

School of Nice Hall: Dolla, Pages, Charvolen, Chacallis:

Yves Klein - Blue. Monochrome abstraction—the use of one color over an entire canvas—has been a strategy adopted by many painters wishing to challenge expectations of what an image can and should represent. Klein likened monochrome painting to an "open window to freedom." He worked with a chemist to develop his own particular brand of blue. Made from pure color pigment and a binding medium, it is called International Klein Blue. Klein adopted this hue as a means of evoking the immateriality and boundlessness of his own particular utopian vision of the world. Klein's pictures with the blue color are amazing and which photos don't do justice to and have to be seen to be believed:

Views from the MAMAC windows over Cimiez roofs:

View of Place Garibaldi and the surrounding hills from the rooftop terrace of MAMAC:

THE ROOF TERRACES ARE STUNNING !!! ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF NICE. The view from the museum roof  gives you a good sense of Nice's topography and size. Amazing on a sunny day, less so on a cloudy one. You arrive to the roof by climbing up the stairs designed by David Tremlett:

View of the Acropolis from the MAMAC roof:

View of the Jardin Maréchal Juin and the Cube. See Stelios Pamphilos' blog: Nice - From the Promenade du Paillon to the Castle Hill (Le Chateau):

View of the Jardin Maréchal Juin, the Cube and the Acropolis:

View of past Hotel Regina:

Eze - Medieval village, a short bus ride from Nice

Stephanie Marti


Eze - French Riviera (Cote d'Azur):

Introduction: It is one of the most beautiful villages in France and an unmissable highlight of a visit to south-east France. We urge you to get away from the French Riviera for an half day (better, sunny full day !)   and see it for a unforgettable experience. The medieval village of Eze is perched high on a hill above the French Riviera - from where it has lovely views along the coast and out across the Mediterranean. The ancient fortified village is still crowned with the ruins of its 12th-century fortified castle (torn down in 1706), sitting on a narrow rocky peak. The castle grounds actually host the well-known exotic garden (see below) (Jardin Exotique). Keep in mind that EZE IS VERY TOURISTIC. Many of its houses are now shops, restaurants or galleries. Eze is a pretty village, but it's not at all off the beaten path.

Weather: Choose a sunny - BUT NOT a HOT day. in the height of summer it can be exceptionally crowded and challenging to visit, helped by its easy access from so many of the popular riviera resorts including Nice and Monaco. If you can visit Eze in spring it will be a more pleasant experience.

Public transportation:Busses 82 or 112 from Nice. They depart from a parking lot near Vauban (6 stops from Place Massena on the Nice Tram line). Eze village sits beside the very busy Moyenne Corniche (RN7), the main road (along with the Basse Corniche and Grande Corniche) between Nice and Monaco-Menton. The Moyenne Corniche is usually very crowded, and in the summer extremely crowded, so plan an early start.

Dining: There are plenty of cafés and restaurants at Eze village. Most of the lower-priced ones are at the lower part of the village. In the upper part of the old village there are are some up-market hotels' restaurants.

Short history: The area surrounding Èze was first populated around 2000 BC. Eze was the site of an ancient Ligurian oppidum, probably established by the Phoenicians and later occupied by the Romans. The original oppidum was on Mont Bastide, 1 km northwest of the current perched village. A trail, marked by yellow, goes from Eze Village up to the Oppidum de Mont Bastide. The Gallo-Roman Heraklean Way (later replaced by the Via Domitia) passed by Eze; there's a pillar somewhere,  3 km to the west of the village. A Roman tomb can be seen at the Chapelle des Pénitents inside Eze. The area was subsequently occupied by not only the Romans but also the Moors who held the area for approximately 80 years until they were driven out by William of Provence in 973. By 1388 Èze fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Savoy, who built up the town as a fortified stronghold because of its proximity to Nice. The history of Èze became turbulent several times in the next few centuries as French and Turkish troops seized the village under orders from Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543, and Louis XIV destroyed the walls surrounding the city in 1706 in the war of the Spanish succession. Finally in April 1860, Eze was designated as part of France by unanimous decision by the people of Eze.

Eze Highlights: There are three main highlights in Eze that would deserve even a FULL DAY:

Exploring old Eze: The whole medieval village itself is entirely pedestrianised so you will need to park in the car park down near the main entrance to the village.  Next to the car park you can also find the Eze tourist office. The public toilets are near the parking lot.Spend a few minutes in the village entrance to catch stunning views of the Mediterranean and the hills around the village.

Note: Finding parking at the bottom of the hill can be difficult !!!

As you enter the village, with your back to the Corniche and the entrance, right to the public bus station, on the south-east side you ascend to the castle. The view from the entrance to the village is stunning. Your way up is adorned with sculptures of: knights, gorilla etc':

Eze is an incredible walking experience, especially in the Fall when most of the summer crowds have gone home. The views are incredible and the narrow cobbled streets are filled with wonderful galleries, stores and restaurants. This ancient village is a stone stairs hike. The more you ascend - the better views you gain on the village houses:

From the village heights - view to the sea:

We continued on up to the fortress-like structure at the top of the hill. There are small houses, tiny shops and cafes and most significantly brilliant views over the coast and out to sea.

View of the castle promontory:

Note: Eze has become a tourist magnet for good reason: the medieval jumble of houses and the views are just wonderful. Our only advice is to try to arrive either very early or very late in the day when the crowds are less.

The Eze village is fluent with artists, handicrafts and colorful artifacts. Wood carving sculptures:

Dolls artist:

Artistic pillows:

Flowers' paintings gallery:

A visit to the church cemetery and garden are also worth a visit. As you climb towards the village you can see the church on the hill ahead of you, and you soon enter the narrow paved streets of the historic centre. The rather orange church in the centre of Eze old village was built from 1764 - 1772 and has a neo-classical facade. Eze is so high that the light ochre church (Notre Dame de l’Assomption) can be seen from afar. The two-level square clock tower on the church is lovely. The relatively plain exterior conceals an impressive interior where you can see several interesting decorative features including paintings and frescoes. An Egyptian cross inside the church suggests the village's ancient roots, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honour the goddess Isis:

View of the village houses from the main church (Eglise):

Around the church there is a path which allows further views of the village houses:

Above the church there is a cemetery. From there you can gain spectacular views of the bottom bay and sea:

Adjacent to the church - there is a military cemetery with view of the cliff opposite the village and its aqueduct:

The village forms a circular pattern around the base of the castle (which is, actually, the Eze exotic garden). The old buildings and narrow streets are very well restored, with high stone walls and narrow roadways of red-brick centered stone. There are numerous streets and alleys to explore in Eze, with many beautiful courtyards, picturesque houses, pebbled roads. One of first views across the coast is also to be seen from here. So much to be seen and photographed around every corner.

The only fountain in the village:

Head sculpture on one of the houses:

Two Grasse parfumeries are represented in Eze village, Galimard (open daily, Tel: (33) 493 41 10 70) with a shop and Fragonard (open daily, 08.30 -18.30, Tel: (33) 493 41 05 05) with shop as well as a factory you can visit.

The lovely gardens of the Chèvre d'Or hotel: Situated beyond stone walls at the top of the village. This is one of the world's finest hotels. A series of terraces drop down towards the ocean, revealing quiet courtyards, swimming pools, sun decks and Moroccan-style gardens.

Allee Chèvre d'Or:

Horse sculpture on the hotel walls:

We entered the garden free of charge - with no sign hinting or avoiding our free strolling around:

Hotel Chèvre d'Or - the entrance:

They are magnificent !!! Unbelievable sculptures, flower-beds, sights of the mountains around and the coasts far down below. It is an heavenly spot. Striking premises of a very expensive and aristocratic hotel. When you arrive at the bottom of Eze village, where the public parking area is located, walk up the road leading to the village and, on your right, follow the signs leading to the Chèvre d'Or hotel front gate. Please note that cars are not allowed in the medieval village. You enter the gates into a corner of paradise where the scents of jasmine, bougainvillea and rose guide the visitor up the gently sloping, multi-colored, rich, fresh and cool lanes:

Inside the walled chateau there are high ceilings, marble decking and giant chandeliers. The spacious rooms have hosted Marlene Dietrich and Robert De Niro, and are decked out in Italian marble and Parisian antiques. They boast jacuzzis and large terraces with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. Very expensive (minimum 420-450 euros for a double room).

Le Jardin exotique d'Eze: A magical place. Allow nearly 4-5 hours strolling leisurely through the paths, admiring the wide selection of plants from many locales. when you get close to the top of the village you will see the entrance to the gardens which have been established in the ruins of a medieval castle. Almost nothing remains of the castle itself. But, the tropical gardens are superb and the views across the village rooftops and the coast are exceptional and more than worth the admission price (6 euros). Don't visit Eze and dare not paying to enter the gardens. It is a spectacular place and memorable visit for months. The gardens are meticulously maintained. The gardens include a wide range of cactuses and succulent plants and areas for rest and relaxation until you finally reach the belvedere at the top and the best viewpoint of all.

Note: despite being 550 metres above sea level - the uphill walk, inside the gardens, is relatively easy for an averagely fit person.

Opening hours: everyday. JAN-MAR, OCT-DEC: 09.00 - 16.30, APR-JUN: 09.00 - 18.30, JUL-SEP: 09.00 - 19.30. Prices: MAR-NOV: 6 €, students - 2.50 €, children - 12 yrs - FREE. You are buying the ticket for the exotic gardens, but the VIEWS are the highlight of this place. The breathtaking views and photo opportunities are well worth the visit and the entrance fee alone. You can leave and reenter with the same ticket on the day it was bought. Duration: 3-4 hours. You should save for it at least half a day - probably more...

Note: take some water up because it does get very warm and the historic ruins at the top of the gardens are very exposed.

Another note: every September, the French Riviera locales celebrate the Heritage Week Festival (Voyageur Heritage) for 2-3 days. During this period the entrance to the Eze gardens is free. During a couple of days in September - buildings, monuments and sites not normally accessible to the public will open their doors for the European Heritage Days. This is your one and only chance to visit extraordinary sites in France:

Spectacular views from more remote spots of the gardens. It's well worth the walk up to the top to get a spectacular view. The top of the hill gives way to 360 degree views:

View of the church:

A special upper section in the gardens - is actually a sculptures' garden with remains of the old castle. The unique garden adds the visual glamour of sculptural women to the succulent and cactus they surround:

A fountain near the bus station from Eze to Nice:

After the village and gardens visit there is a possibility to use Nietzsche Path to go down to the coast and Eze train station (directly to Eze-sur-Mer) where trains to Nice can be caught. The famous writer walked the trail every day. It helped him to think more clearly. Path is in some places very rocky and absolutely not suitable for the unfitted. This trail is really quite difficult to negotiate unless you are used to hill walking. It took us an 75 minutes to get to the bottom. You can catch the #83 bus from Eze Village to Eze Beach. This is spectacular route of hairpin bends that saves you an arduous 1 hour descent.

Tende - Train des Merveilles

Stephanie Marti


Tende - Train des Merveilles (the Wanders' Train from Nice to Tende and back):

Start & End: Chemins de Fer de Provence station. The modern new station is at 4 bis, Rue Alfred Binet - about 6 blocks north of the Nice main railway station (Gare de Nice-Ville, Avenue Thiers).

Duartion: 1 day. Weather: ONLY SUNNY DAY !!!

Lunch: there are 3-4 restaurants in the town of Tende. All of them are good with reasonable prices. Expect some of them to close off around 13.30...

Introduction: Merveilles means, in French, marvels or wonders. The name of the train line doesn't, actually, refer to the train itself but to the area of the Mercantour National Park in the Southern Alps where the "Vallée des Merveilles" (Valley of Marvels) is located. Tende falls within the eastern part of the Mercantour National Park. The wonders are the thousands of prehistoric rock engravings found there. This Nice-Breil-Tende-Cuneo railway line follows the Roya valley to cross the Alps into Italy. Tende, itself, is a small town, half-French, half-Italian and is one of the places from which you can access this Valley of Marvels and Mercantour National Park. There are a lot of lovely mountain villages along the line, along with great places for hiking.

The train itself is nothing special: modern, comfortable, its carriages are decorated with images of the 3000 year old glyphs and there are, only, 1-2 carriages... 

The track climbs from sea level to 1000m through more than 100 tunnels, few of them are spiral. A magnificent engineering achievement.

It was built between from year 1882 to year 1928.  Much of the line is separate from the surface of the earth. 30-40% of the travel time is under tunnels and another 10-20% over viaducts. The rest  - you see pretty riverside or hilltop villages, spectacular cliffs and canyons, pretty forests and green, prospering valleys. Along the ride - there are 8-9 stops.

The landscape beyond Fontane-Saorge:

During the main season, from June to September you catch the 09.15 train from Nice. The full trip between Nice and Cuneo takes about three hours; between Nice and Tende is 90-120 minutes. Normally, the timetable is: departure from Nice-Ville at 9.23, arriving in Tende at 11.24. You can take your bicycle with you on the train, at no extra cost. To get back to Nice you need to check the railway timetable at the Tende station as it varies from day to day ! You are left with 4-5 hours for exploring Tende itself and the castle above the town. it's not a big town and you can do it in the 4-5 hours allowed before the afternoon train. The area around Tende is excellent walking country. The sights from the castle, perched high above Tende, over the town and its surroundings - are SPECTACULAR. The town itself - is charming and picturesque. In Tende do not miss the ultra-modern Musée des Merveilles to find out more about the rock carvings. Do not forget just exploring the narrow, sloping alleyways of the medieval core of Tende.

Stops Along the Way, from Nice to Tende:
• Nice main railway station
• Nice St. Roche
• La Trinité
• Drap - Cantaron
• Peillon Ste Thecle
• Peille
• L'Escarène
(long tunnel)
• Sospel
(long tunnels)
• Breil-sur-Roya
• Fontan - Saorge (loops inside mountain)
• St Dalmas-de-Tende
• La Brigue
• Tende

During the train ride - you are  "flooded" by non-stop, informal commentary in English as well as French. Sometimes, you can avoid the commentated carriage and find shelter in a second, more quiet (and less crowded) carriage. The return journey has no commentary. Commentary on the entire journey:
- Weekends and public holidays in May (except May 1) and October
- Every day from June 1 to September 30,

Prices: Prix : 15 € for adults, 7,50 € for children (12 yrs old +), FREE for children until 12 yrs old. No need to book. Buy your ticket at the counter the day of departure,  or reserve your Zou Pass at: (15 €). For 15 euros, ZOU! Pass allows you to travel for 24 hours unlimited throughout the Alpes-Maritimes region. Valid from 1 June to 30 September. Tende has a railway station on the Nice/Ventimiglia-Breil-Cuneo line run by the SNCF, with connecting service from Ventimiglia/Nice in the southwest to Turin to the north. Train services are mostly operated by Trenitalia.

Tende, itself, is located in the French Alps within the French Mercantour National Park. The mountainous town is bordered by Italy to the north. The line of mountain tops between the two countries contains more than 20 summits exceeding 2,000 meters. The Col de Tende (Tende Pass), a strategic pass through the Alps to Piedmont, has been modernized to be a road and railway tunnel. Tende is split from north to south by the Roya river valley. The Réfréi river joins the Roya river within the limits of Tende.

Tende is a medieval village and belonged successively to the Count of Ventimiglia in the 10th century, then the Counts of Provence and the Counts of Lascaris of Ventimiglia before being swapped several times between Italy and France. First to the Duchy of Savoy, then the First French Republic (later the Napoleonic Empire), then restored to the Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (which became in 1861 the Kingdom of Italy). From 1861 to 1947 Tende was part of Italy, and was damaged during the Italian Nazi invasion of France in 1940. Tende was the last commune to join the French Republic in 1947, when Italy was forced to give up (after defeat in World War II) some alpine areas to France. Tende is located on what was once an important route of the salt trade between Italy and France. During their reign of Tende, the Lascaris would demand a toll of those transporting salt and others passing through the region. While the main language of Tende is French, most of Tende's residents also speak Tendasque - a mix of the Ligurian language with Provençal influences.

Note: the is a public restroom in the Bar de Sport in Tende's centre.

Tende is a very lovely little Italian-style medieval mountain town, with the houses grouped tightly together on the slope of the mountain. You certainly feel that you are in a mountain town - a total opposite to a riviera town. The most striking thing about Tende, given its relative isolation, is the size of the town and in particular the very extensive old center, with numerous paths, roads and alleys to explore (on foot, the roads not being adapted to vehicles). The medieval houses, typically three-five stories high, are built sturdily from the surrounding rock. Buildings are typically medieval houses and alpine architecture, with narrow streets, vaulted passages and sculpted door lintels. The houses are roofed in "Lauze" stone, a local varient of slate, and are often dark in the shadow of the mountains.

The renaissance period painted houses around Tende central square were built later than the smaller stone houses in the outskirts (see below):

The main square in  Tende in memorial to the heroes of WW1:

The Main Square:

Fountain in the centre of the town:

The view to the east from the town/village centre:

Many houses are still made of wood. There are many "trompe l'oeil" paintings on the town buildings, sometimes the whole wall but occasionally just a single painted window beside real windows:

Tende alleys in the ancient town are VERY picturesque. Allow half an hour for strolling along these narrow trails. Most of the residents, there, are far beyond their eighties:

Place de Chatelain:

Green "schist" doorways on village street. These doorways are carved from large pieces of the "schiste verte":

Modern painted sundial:

The most important religious building in Tende is the Collegiale Church of Notre-Dame that dominates the centre of the town with its tower and Baroque facade. The Collégiale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption is the large, dark-ocre building in the middle of the old town. The Count of Tende, Honoré Lascaris, ordered its construction in the 15th century. We quite liked the lintel statues of Christ and the 12 apostles. The decorative stone carvings of the 12 apostles above the doorway date from 1562, and the bright colours of the facade were only added in the 19th century:

The interior is full of fine and ancient items. Open in the summer 9.00 - 18.00 and during the winter 9.00 - 17.00:

The base of the Collégiale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption bell-tower is bright, but the sundial isn't very useful without its pointer:

The main highlights around Tende: 

The ruins of the 14th century castle that once stood above Tende - the Chateau Lascaris, largely destroyed in the 17th century - can be visited by following the steep path at the top of the town.  A walk of 40 min along sloping trail leads to the ruined castle or fort above the town. We do the climb with two parts. First, arriving to the highest viewpoint over the Tende town/village, and, later, continuing to Tende cemetery with further striking sights over Tende and the surrounding Alps:

The trail climbing up over Tende:

The views from the highest viewpoint are breath-taking:

Viaduct and view to the north from the castle hilltop. The railway viaduct crosses the valley towards the station at the left:

The view to the north-east from the castle hilltop:

Ten km north of town is the Col de Tende, one of hundreds of beautiful sites in the region. The Col de Tende is the source of the Tende river, at 45 km long. The view to the south-east from the castle hilltop towards the Roya Valley:

Roya Valley - south of Tende:

A small fountain near the highest viewpoint:

"Lauze" stones on Tende roofs - from the climb to Tende Cemetery:

From there we climbed further, with our face to the south, to the town/village cemetery. There, we'll find the very few reamins of the ruined castle. The castle ruins themselves consist largely of one single 'spire' of wall that still remains. Particularly notable here is the adjacent cemetery and the lovely views back across the town and surrounding mountains. Today the proud silhouette of the proud central fort recalls the darkest hours of the Nizza Savoia wars between Nice and the Italians. It belonged to the Kingdom of Italy and then moved to France as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1947. This central fort or castle extended both on the Italian side and the French side. The hillside Tende is overlooked by this spire-like remnants of the castle of the Lascaris. It  was built in the 14th century as protection from the attacking Count of Provence, Charles d'Anjou. The castle was destroyed in 1692 when King Louis XIV ordered his Marshal, Catinat, to destroy all fortified structures in France that might challenge his rule. The fort was completed in 1880 and was joined by a defensive barracks (today there are significant remains) that was able to accommodate about 300 men. The Central Fort was also served by a cable car that ensured the connections in case of snowfall. From this ruined fort - there are paths leading to other defensive positions of the Maritime Alps. As we said before, the only complete structure that remains is a circular tower, transformed into a clock during the 19th century. The voice of the clock's bells can be heard day and night throughout Tende.

On the way to the ruined fort and the cemetery:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the east:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the east:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the south-east:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the south - the Roya valley:

There are various scenic routes to follow into the valleys around Tende. The Col de Tende is one of the most attractive, and follows north from the town towards Italy:

View from the cemetery to the north - the viaduct leading to Tende station:

The remains of the castle of the Counts Lascaris: a view of the hilltop Tende and the Roya valley:

The castle ruins themselves consist largely of one single 'spire' of wall that still remains:

The tranquil area, near the river, almost flat:

One big attraction close to Tende is the Valley of Merveilles, with literally thousands of prehistoric carvings to be seen in the rocks. Further examples and replicas can be seen at the Musée des Merveilles in Tende, The museum's name comes from the nearby Vallée des Merveilles. Do not miss the museum with free admission.  The museum documents stone age and other historic artifacts from the Mercantour National Park. It opened in 1996. Great displays in different languages: 

There is notably a large collection of real and reproduced petroglyphs from the surroundings of the nearby Bégo Mountain:

Nice - From the Promenade du Paillon to the Castle Hill (Le Chateau)

Stelios Pamphilos


Nice - From the Promenade du Paillon to the Castle Hill (Le Chateau):

Main Attractions: Promenade du Paillon, Lycée Massena,  National Theatre of Nice, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jardin Maréchal Juin, Esplanade Francis Giordan, Acropolis, Place Garibaldi, Rue Arson, Place de l'Île de Beauté, Port of Nice, jardin Auguste Icart, Place Saint-François, Rue Droite.

Start: Le Méridien Hotel, Prom. des Anglais.

End: Rue Droite, Le Vieux Nice (Palais Lascaris).

or Place Massena:

Opposite Le Méridien Hotel in the Prom. des Anglais:

A genius man-made creation of landscaping - the Promenade du Paillon is a pedestrians-only avenue with gardens, fountains, sculptures and pathways. It is a VERY pleasant area to explore. This wonderful new (from 2013) park creates a green centre to the bustling city. The Promenade du Paillon is named after the river Paillon that used to flow underneath the new park.

You can start at Place Massena and walk eastward along the promenade.  Or, you can walk from the beach over the Jardin Albert 1er directly into it.

Jardin Albert 1er:

The walk from Place massena to Place Garibaldi, along Promenade du Paillon, is for 950-1200 m. It is a nice itinerary to fill a sunny morning or afternoon in Nice, especially if you have kids with you.

The promenade stretches as a border between the new and old town sections of Nice. The Promenade du Paillon is dotted with art galleries, restaurants and pleasant areas to picnic and relax. Off bothof the sides are several little paths meandering through different kinds of trees and vegetation. There are lovely playgrounds of wooden animals to climb over, pirate ships and other fun structures to play on - all arranged by age category. Watch the fountains and the more sophisticated water displays - and you can do it for hours. Inspect the sculptures and enjoy the people-watching and open spaces with the brilliant antique buildings spread here and there.

The promenade was inaugurated in October 2013 as the new “green axis” (coulée verte), officially known as the Promenade de Paillon, covering 1.2 km. It started with the demolition of the old bus station and car park which was a total eyesore and scarred the town centre architecturally. It took 20 years to construct this architectural miracle.

The lighting in the evening is colourful and merges well, in its western end, with the illumination of nearby Place Massena:

The huge, rusty sculpture of L'Arc 115°5 by Bernar Venet - in the stretch between the Promenade des Anglais and Place Massena:

Note: the Segway police is patrolling the promenade.  There is a couple of restrooms along the promenade with a small fee. The whole stretch is a free WI-FI area.

First you encounter the “water mirror” attraction which you can walk through. it is dotted with fountains that launch in random patterns, soaking everyone - probably great in the summer. Avoid it in cold days ! On your left - Boscolo Hôtel Plaza:

Heading up, you pass the wooden children’s playground games shaped like various animals (giant squids, turtles, dolphins and an enormous whale house):

You can see the rather original 19th century architecture of the Lycée Massena, the top high school of the city to the left. Originally, it was used as the convent of the Augustinian Friars, built in 1623 , opposite the Old Bridge. After the occupation of the County of Nice by revolutionary France in 1792 , the buildings were transformed into the central school of the department. In 1803 , year of the reform of the education system by Napoleon, work began to transform it into Imperial High School. Nowadays, Massena High School is a general local education school:

and the lovely colourful architecture and Baroque church spires of Old Nice to the right.

Opposite the Lycee Massena, in the last section of the Promenade des Arts (Allee Albert Camus), and facing the Allee the Italiens - stands a copy of King David sculpture. This bronze statue 6 meters high and weighing a ton, is a reproduction of the masterpiece of the Florentine sculptor Michelangelo. It was installed in Nice in March 2015 - the 540th anniversary of the birth of Michelangelo. Not quite sure that you'll see this statue. It was declared that it would be exposed for limited period of time...

Finally, around the bend of the river bed (350-400 m. north of Lycee Massena), you’ll reach the end of the garden and find the modern building complex housing the National Theatre of Nice and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Theatre National de Nice is located in a newly developing cultural area that includes museums, the Acropolis (see below) and this stunning complex of theatre, museum, gardens and sculptures. If you find yourself in Avenue Saint-Sébastien, take the stairs to your left (north-west) and climb to the National Theatre courtyard (there is a sign pointing to the exact location). If you coming from the street (Avenue Saint-Sébastien) - the Theatre is on your left and the Museum of Contemporary Art is on your right.

The National Theatre of Nice (Theatre National de Nice) (TNN) was built in 1989. It was founded within the Drama Centre of Nice - Cote d'Azur, which was established after the joint project of the French Ministry of Culture and the city of Nice in 1969. The project proved to be extremely successful in its numerous initiatives. Ever since, the theatre, enjoys a growing number of visitors and more and more premières. It can accommodate more than 1,000 spectators, Within its walls, there is an Italian hall, an amphitheater, and a repetition hall. The architecture of the The National Theatre of Nice was inspired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, located very close to it, and it repeats its octagonal shape. Opening hours: Pierre Brasseur Hall - TUE - SAT: 20.00, SUN 15.00, Michel Simon Hall - TUE - SAT 20.30, SUN 15.30. Tickets (for performances): 12 euros (balconies) to 40 euros (stalls):

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAMAC DE NICE) stands east to the theatre. The main entrance is from Place Yves Klein. Opening hours: everyday (EXCEPT Mondays): 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: 10 euros for a ticket valid for 48 hours. Free for children under 18 years and holders of student's cards. A questionable site. The exterior is not so inviting. The interior is nothing special. It is not the first place in Nice which demands high tariff for a questionable "experience" and for minimal provision of information and essential services for the non-speaking-French visitor. I advice you to enter ONLY if they have a temporary, FREE exhibition inside...

The western facade:

The Place Yves Kleine entrance:

From Place Yves Klein we descend back (heading south-east) to Avenue Saint-Sébastien. We turn LEFT (north-east) and continue along Boulevard Risso when the terra-cotta walls and buildings are on our left. On our left is the Jardin Maréchal Juin. DO NOT MISS this colorful garden. A tranquil oasis in the heart of Nice, located directly opposite the Acropolis. The many footpaths make the June Marshal Garden a great place to take a stroll and enjoy both the nature and the artwork. Beautiful flowerbeds line the paths in neat arrangements. Pack a picnic and enjoy the warm Southern French sunshine. The garden is adjacent to the Municipal Library. Garden Marshal June is not important for its size (its area has neither at least one hectare), but on the other hand, it is considered one of the finest Nice flower gardens. And, indeed, the garden is famous for its layered-colored flower beds that line the winding paths of the park. The cascade of flavors and the splendid array of colors justify classification of the garden as one of the most important attractions of Nice, at least from the perspective of public gardens and parks of the city:

View of the National Theatre from the Jardin Maréchal Juin:

The Rock Man sculpture, held in place by wire wrapped around his body.

View of the Acropolis from the Jardin Maréchal Juin:

One famous example of the latter is La Tête Carrée, or the Square Head, by Sacha Sosno, which is honestly hard to miss. It’s official title is ‘La Tete au Carre de Sosno’ which translates to ‘Thinking Inside the Box’. It was created by the French artist and sculptor Sacha Sosno. The sculpture is home to a library with three floors:

We continue heading north-east and cross Traverse Barla - facing Esplanade Francis Giordan. The Esplanade, which is located opposite the Acropolis, is about half way between Port de Nice and Vieux Nice. It is a splendid square (or roundabout) which is dotted with lines of greenery and decorative sculptural works. Its uniqueness is by the spectacular water fountains and shows. The esplanade bears the name of Francis Giordan, a public figure of Nice involved in the building of the Acropolis. Given his achievements for the city, Nice thought it proper to name a public venue after him. The esplanade and the Acropolis were inaugurated in May 1985:

The view of the esplanade with the garden (your back direction) is marvelous:

We face the Acropolis, Espace John Fitzgerald Kennedy 1, or the Palais des Expositions. To arrive by public transport to this building or complex - take the tramway towards “Pont Michel” and drop off at “Acropolis”.

Throughout the year, the Nice Acropolis Convention and Exhibition Centre welcomes professionals and the general public for conferences, industry fairs, trade shows, performing arts events, concerts, exhibitions, sporting and cultural events, and more. Its current events can be found at:

The Acropolis - the entrance to the Palais des Expositions:

From the Acropolis we head to Garibaldi Square. Head southwest on Avenue Gallieni, 190 m. Turn left toward Boulevard Risso, 80 m. Turn left onto Boulevard Risso, 140 m. Turn right onto Rue Smolett, 60 m and turn RIGHT (south) to the Avenue de la République. Walk along the avenue until its end in Place Garibaldi. Place Garibaldi is one of the oldest and the largest squares in Nice. It has a great ambiance nestled between the port and the city. It was designed by Antonio Spinelli in the second half of the 18th century. It is crossed by the Nice Tram line and the transport through this square is quite complicated (and dangerous). Garibaldi Square is the junction of several important thoroughfares of Nice (Boulevard Jean Jaures, Avenue de la Republique, Rue Cassini and Rue Catherine Segurane). Still, the square is undoubtedly a tourist sight in itself. The square is surrounded by beautiful Baroque, yellow-colored, arcaded buildings framing the square, and its center is earmarked by a statue of Garibaldi (Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nice). Again, the main feel here, in this huge bustling square, is Italian. There are, now,  massive construction works for newly planned underground line - but,  most of the square is open and free of construction noise. Lot's of restaurants/eateries and shopping nearby. The church in the southern end of the square is Eglise Saint Augustin. Every Saturday there is an Flea Market around this square. Be careful around the square during the dark hours (chaps and prostitutes):

Of particular note is a well known seafood restaurant on the south west corner, Cafe de Turin, favored by locals and tourists as well. Good food and service. Average prices. Avoid the rush hours.

We do not enter the Old Town. Head southeast on Place Garibaldi toward Rue Bonaparte, 80 m. Slight left onto Rue Bonaparte, 260 m and turn, a bit, to the left to the small Place aux Fleurs (or Place du Pin):

We return to Rue Bonaparte and continue walking, approx. 350 m., from west to east. We turn RIGHT (south) to Rue Arson (almost in the eastern end of Rue Bonaparte). This road is lined with BEAUTIFUL orange, red and yellow colored houses, 100-200 years old. The most beautiful section is the intersection of Rue Arson and Rue Fodéré:

From Rue Arson - turn right onto Rue Fodéré, 120 m. Turn left onto Rue, Pacho, 70 m. Turn right onto Place de l'Île de Beauté, 15 m. Another name of the square is Place du Port. The buildings and houses on the square form a symmetrical look and Neoclassical style. This square was constructed in the 1780's (several decades later than the old Lympia  - the former name of the port), along the north side of the port of Nice or Quai Cassini. The square is overlooked by the Church of Notre Dame du Port. Parts of the square enjoy the status of historical monument (the church, the facades of certain buildings and the portico stretching along the square, as well as the staircase leading from Place Ile de Beaute to Quai Cassini). When we visited, there (SEP 2015) was massive construction in Place de l'Île de Beauté that unfortunately spoiled the view from the north end of the Old Port. Place Ile-de-Beauté is one of the the busiest areas in Nice, with various lanes of traffic and bus routes all jostling for space. The best time, during a sunny day, to take photographs is early morning, or early evening (because the port is south to Place de l'Île de Beauté). The port (see below) is quite magical at sunset, and the lamp posts around the port change colours like Chinese lanterns:

The Old Port is opposite Place de l'Île de Beauté and well worth a visit. It is also known as the Port of Nice or Port Lympia. It is a place that looks like postcard, not as much as the port of Monaco, but in the same style. Impressive yachts alongside working boats. All very idyllic and glamorous. Cute for a walk, and of course for those who can embark. The port is surrounded on three sides by long roads lined with bars, restaurants and shops. Quai Cassini on the east, Quai des Docks on the west and Place Ile-de-Beauté joining the two at the head of the port.  The restaurants here are well-established and always seem quite busy but if you prefer somewhere a little quieter then head alongside the port on Quai des Docks (right, with your face to the port) for more chilled-out surroundings. Some of our favourite seafood restaurants are along this quiet stretch but if you just fancy a couple of drinks as the sun goes down then you can grab a table outside the ever-popular Ma Nolan’s Irish bar. The port holds an annual festival each September when food stalls line the harbour and stages are erected at various points. You can try all sorts of tasty foods from local producers. Sometimes, during the dark hours you can find some live bands and /or spectacular firework displays that light up the port's water. Again, parts of the port are under construction and there are many cranes and facades completely covered that spoil the whole sightseeing around the port. Many restaurants, antiques shops alongside with naval accessories and equipment shops. In case you face a very hot day - use Quai des Deux Emmanuels with its shady side:

After browsing the Old Port - we return northward (back) along Quai des Deux Emmanuels, we turn left (west) back to Place de l'Île de Beauté, crossing Rue Arson, Ruse Rusca, Rue Pacho and, finally, Rue Guisol on our right.  We continue direct, in the same direction (north-west) along Rue Cassini (take the left, shady side). It is, approx. 400 m. walk until the end of Rue Cassini - and we arrive, back, to Place Garibaldi. We cross Garibaldi Square with our face, still, in the same direction (north-west) until we hit Ave. Saint Sebastien. Turn left and walk along Boulevard Jean Jaurès with your face to the south-west.  On your right is the Esplanade de la Bourgada (part of the Promenade du Paillon). 50 metres further down (south-west),on your left, is Rue de la Tour and jardin Auguste Icart - a busy small square with many eateries and cafes. Auguste Icart , Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Nice, was born and died in Nice ( 1884-1942 ) . He was responsible for the modernization of the city:

The second turn on your left (east) is the Place Saint-François. with its bustling Fish Market (le Marche aux Poissons). A Franciscan convent was built in the thirteenth century in this square , abandoned and destroyed during the French Revolution and only its tower remained. Saint Francois d'Assise visited Nice in 1214 and was also troubadour and poet. His artistic talents are represented by birds sculptures surrounding the past  church building. The Municipal Old Town Hall) , built in Italian Baroque style, resides in this square and was abandoned in 1792:

WE cross the Place Saint-François with our back to Rue Pairolière and Boulevard Jean Jaurès. We turn RIGHT (south-west) to Rue Saint-François. Here, we hit a fork. If we take the left leg - we enter Rue Droite which is the backbone of the Old Town of Nice (le Vieux Ville). Here we end our route and join the "Nice Old Town (Vieille Ville)" TIPTER itinerary.

Menton - Sleepy town on the edge of the Côte d'Azur with marked Italian Flavor

Stephanie Marti


Main Attractions: Jardins Biovès, Palais de l'Europe, Prom. du Soleil, Musée Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman, Menton Old Market, Quai Napoléon III, the Bastion Museum, Quai Gordon Bennett, Quai Bonaparte, Basilique Saint-Michel, Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, Cimetière du vieux Château, Menton Hotel de Ville, Hotel L'Orient.

Introduction: Menton, the little-known last stop on France's famous coast before you cross into Italy. First of all, its extraordinary setting between mountains and sea. Second, the beaches – a mix of stony and sandy, public and private – are packed in high summer, but, almost deserted - out of season. Third, its micro-climate – said to be warmer than the rest of France. Fourth, its wealth of citrus trees  and exotic gardens. Menton is proud of its lemons everywhere. Shops are crammed with lemon products. Menton may not have Saint-Tropez's party people, Cannes' film stars or Monte Carlo's high rollers, but that's what makes the town so appealing. It has buckets of old-fashioned charm.

Short history: The first primitive habitation was grouped around a chateau on the hill of Pépin, west of the current town. In the 13th century the family of Puypin (Podium Pinum) bought the domain from the Genoise family of Vento and built a chateau – that gave birth to the town of Menton. Menton was acquired in 1346 by Grimaldi of Monaco, and remained in their possession until 1848, when it proclaimed itself a Ville Libre and was put under the protection of the King of Sardinia. In 1860, the town voted to become part of France.

Festivals and Events: FEB - MAR - FETE DU CITRON - Lemons Festival, parades, fireworks, fantastic experience in the middle of the winter. MAY (Each SAT) - May Musical Concerts - "Jeunes Artistes Musiciens". AUG - Festival International de Musique de Menton - Chambre Music. DEC - New Year Festival. Brocante - Flea Market: Every FRI, every second SUN - Mail du Bastion. Market days: Daily: Marché du Carei, Promenade du Maréchal Leclerc. SAT: Marché du Bastion, Quai Napoléon III.

Duration: There's enough to see and do in Menton, even for casual touring during non-festival time, that you should plan a couple of days or more. With easy access to several picturesque mountain villages, as well as the easy train connections along the coast, this would be an excellent base for a long stay. We spent, there, ONLY half a day. Our best bet - spend a SPLENDID full day in this charming town.

Orientation: in case you opt spending just half-a-day in Menton - try to choose the second half of the day. It is cooler and the sights (to the east) from the Basilica and Old Castle Cemetery to the sea are gorgeous - when the sun is on your back (west).

Start and End: Gare de Menton

Transportaion: Half-hourly trains connect the whole Riviera from Menton’s two stations; ideal for excursions to Monaco or Nice or for lunch in San-Remo, Italy. Buses run frequently between the Nice airport and Monaco and Menton. Separate bus routes connect Menton with these nearby interior towns and villages: Gorbio; Saint Agnes; Les Cabrolles; Castillon - Sospel; Castellar; Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Beausoleil - Monaco. The Tourist / Petit Train de Menton has a 30 minute, 7 km tour of the town. Price: 6 euros; kids 3 euros.

The trains from Nice and Monaco bring us to the Gare de Menton, Avenue de la Gare opposite  rue Albert 1 er. Head northeast along Avenue de la Gare, 65 m. Continue onto Avenue de la Gare
120 m, turn right onto Avenue de Verdun for 350 m and you face the Jardins Biovès, 7 Avenue de Verdun. It is a a pretty park in the middle of Avenue Boyer with a variety of flowers, shrubs, statues, and shaded benches. Located in the heart of the city opposite the Tourist Office of Menton. These gardens are named after Emile Biovès, mayor of Menton in the late nineteenth century. The night illuminations here is quite magnificent and definitely deserves a visit.

DO NOT MISS THE LEMONS FESTIVAL, every year in February. At Christmas and during the Lemon Festival , the gardens have a special decoration - wherein figurines and decorations are all constructed out of tonnes of lemons. Every year the festival is centered around another theme. In 2016 the main theme was China, Budhaa and the Far East cultures. No use coming to see these gardens between Christmas and mid February. They're all boarded up and full of workmen preparing for the Lemons Festival. The entrance, then, is under admission fee of several euros (around 10 euros !):

Palais de l'Europe, 8 Avenue Boyer  is in the opposite (northern bank of the Boyer Avenue. Here resides the Office de Tourisme de Menton. A magnificent building dating back to the beginning of the century, houses an art gallery on the ground floor which is home to the best of contemporary art in this town. Open all year: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00). Prices:
Free admission.

We continue walking south-east until the end of Avenue Boyer with our face to the Casino Barrière Menton. Cross the Prom. du Soleil and approach the seashore - turning LEFT (north-east) along the Promenade du Soleil. One can wander for hours without tiring, always along this wonderful avenue decorated with sumptuous flower beds.

Walking along the promenade - this building is on your left (north):

280 m. north-east from the Casino, still on your left, is Le Royal Westminster Hotel, 28-30 Avenue Félix Faure. It is an old-fashioned hotel, but, with moderate prices and fantastic views of the sea (and sunrises or sunsets):

Here and there - Moorish-style houses along the promenade:

We walk 350 m. further north-east along the promenade du Soleil (and it changes its name to Quai de Monleon) and we see on our left the Musée Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman, 2 Quai de Monleon. THERE ARE TWO MUSEUMS OF JEAN COCTEAU in Menton. This is the newer one (the second and the older is the Bastion Museum - see below). A terrific building. Beautiful building with extraordinary architecture. Writer (Les Enfants Terribles,1929), artist, poet, painter, designer,producer, actor, publicist and film director (drew inspiration from filmmaker René Clair) Jean Cocteau was one of the most influential creative figures in the Parisian avant-garde between the two World Wars. Jean Cocteau was born on July 5, 1889, in Maisons-Laffitte, France. He spent most of his life in Paris, where he became part of the artistic avant-garde and was known for his variety of accomplishments. Over a 50-year career, he wrote poetry, novels and plays; created illustrations, paintings and other art objects; and directed influential films, including: Le Sang d'un Poète (The Blood of a Poet),  The Beauty and the Beast, Les Parents Terribles and Orpheus. He died on October 11, 1963. THe museum collection illustrates the many varied, and often extraordinary, facets of Jean Cocteau and how he used his range of artistic talents to create and design over his lifetime. OPen everyday (except of Tuesdays) 10.00 - 18.00. The ticket price of 8 euros covers entry to both museums (also entrance to the nearby older museum/branch of Cocteau):

A few steps further east along Quai de Monleon (behind the Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman courtyard) - you find the
Menton Old Market (Marche'). A covered (disused) market. A stunning complex. A gloriously dilapidated Belle Epoque structure built in 1898 by famed local architect Adrien Rey.

We return to Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman and continue walking eastward along Quai de Monleon. Its continuation is the Quai Napoléon III. Here is, actually, the Old Port of Menton. From the Quai Napoléon III - you can see the harbour of Menton, with the Basilica of Saint-Michel beyond:

Quai de Monleon meets Quai Napoléon III in a square  and, here, stands the Bastion Museum - the second (and the older) branch of Cocteau Museum. Open everyday (except Tuesdays) 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. PRice: 3 euros. The Bastion, a small 17th-c for was converted by Jean Cocteau into an exhibition place for his work, including drawings, paintings and tapestries. The building of the museum is a part of Menton walls and faces the Old Port (Bastion du Vieux Port). The Bastion is illuminated at night. The Bastion was built in the 17th century by Honoré II, Prince of Monaco. Jean Cocteau restored the bastion himself, decorating the alcoves, reception hall and outer walls with mosaics made from pebbles. The Bastion Museum opened in 1966, three years after Cocteau's death. A new exhibition of Cocteau's work is installed in the Bastion every year.

We change our direction of walking and turn northward along Quai Gordon Bennett (which continues further north as Promenade de la Mer). Both of these routes start at the Bastion Square (south) and end at the Victoria Square (north) (between the beaches of Sablettes and the Bastion). Both of these ways are under construction (summer 2015) and it is a new traffic scheme. The views to your right (east and north-east) are stunning: marvelous port/marina and the Maritime-Alps mountains in the background:

We turn left to the Menton Old Town in Quai Bonaparte, pass a small park on our left and we head westward along the elongated Place du Cap. On our right and left small shops and splendid shopping (pedestrian only) centre. Try to taste the ice-cream in Le Cafe du Vieux Port:

Turn and climb RIGHT (north) to Rue de Logettes. On your left a beautiful pottery and flowers shop:

Follow the signs of "Basilique St. Michel". On our way we pass the Place des Logettes:

Turn right and walk under the ancient arch to Rampe St.Michel - very narrow and quaint street. Here, you start a scenic ascending staircase:

From here you get a nice view to the port (Menton Vieux Port) and the Garavan beach. You can see, even, far across to Italy:

Further up (now very close to the Cathedral) - a stunning view of the shore strip with the old, persimmon and orange-colored houses in this ancient part of the town:

The ascent through the series of flights of stairs to the “Basilique Saint-Michel” is a wonderful experience. A rare jewel of Baroque art. It's a landmark on the Menton skyline and it is illuminated every night. More than 100,000 tourists come to see the site every year. Even before you see and enter the magnificent Basilica - the extensive courtyard ("parvis") which is in front of it is a unique sight. The more you ascend and approach the church - the more grandiose are the sights. There is also (on your left) a welcome fountain with drinkable water just outside the church, which you will need before continuing the climb up to the old monastery and cemetery (see below):

The "Festival de Musique de Menton" existing since 66 years, is one of the major cultural events in South of France and it takes palce on the square in front of St. Michel's Basilica. During two weeks, every August,  the square becomes the main stage of the musical festival. The illumination of the church, which you can see all year, is fantastic. The view on the sea is stunning. In case of bad weather the concerts take place in the church interiors. Additionally, St Michel, Menton's own saint,  is celebrated on the last Sunday of September every year:

The construction of the Basilica begun in 1640 under the reign of Honoré II, but took several centuries to be completed. The first stone was, even,  laid on May 27, 1619. But because of financial difficulties it wasn't completed until year 1653. The façade was then renovated in the 19th Century adding typical decor of the period such as smooth columns with ionic and Corinthian capitals.

The church interior is beautiful in a rustic way. Inside the decoration is impressive with a vaulted painted ceiling. The numerous side chapels are also worth examination. Brochures in a variety of languages explain some about the Basilica's treasures. Absolutely amazing with special religious, serene spirit inside. Note: there is no signage giving days or times of when the church is open. You can be sure that on Sundays' mornings it is open...:

A little further on in the Place de la Conception, La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs (White Penitents Chapel), from the 17th century,  is even more extraordinary and offers a more ornate façade : pinnacles, friezes, garlands of flowers. It was built between 1680 and 1687 in the neighborhood of the "Capitol" on land outside the walls of the medieval city and offered by the Prince Louis the 1st and the local family Monléon. It was completely renovated and transformed in year 1987:

With our face to the two churches - we turn right (without stairs) in a steep climb to the Montee du Souvenir.  During our climb - turn your head backward to see the tops of our two churches (just visited):

After climbing 300 m. we see, on our right, the entrance to the Cimetière du vieux Château.  The Cemetery of the old castle is just above the Basilica Saint Michel and its impressive square. There are spectacular views of Menton, the Roqueburne range of mountains, the Italian seashore and the sea from this cemetery. Opening hours: 7.00 - 20.00 MAY-SEP, 7.00 - 18.00 OCT-APR. Until the 19th century - the deads were buried in the Saint Michel Basilica and its adjacent church (or in a special site west to the Basilica square). from 1807 the land around a neglected castle on top of the hill, overlooking Menton, was acquired for the burial place of the town citizens.


From the cemetery - we take the western path/road of Traverse Montee du Souvenir:

We connect with the Rue de la Conception and descend down through several flights of stairs (passing the La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs on our left):

We continue in the same direction (west) along Rue de la République and on our left we see the Menton Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) (Mairie):

In the end of Rue de la Republique - Hotel L'Orient (or Grand Hotel d'Orient). If you have the chance to enter these premises - you'll see unbelievable sights of a spectacular site and complex of the Belle Epoque:

Head west on Rue de la République toward Rue Max Barel, 200 m. Slight right onto Rue Partouneaux, 280 m. Turn right onto Avenue de Verdun,
150 m. Slight left to stay on Avenue de Verdun, 25 m. Turn left onto Avenue de la Gare, 120 m. Slight right, 70 m. and we end our short visit in Menton in the GARE DE MENTON.

Monaco - Part 3 - Jardin Exotique

Stephanie Marti


Monaco - part 3: Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique), 62, Bd du Jardin Exotique, 98000 Monaco.

Duaration: 1/2 day. Weather: Sunny day. If you visit here in summer, please drink plenty of water. It is scorching hot and gets really hotter than other places in Monaco. A word of caution: The gardens are extremely hilly, and once you walk down, you do need to walk back up, so not advised for people with limited mobility. Public transport: Bus No. 2 arrives to the Exotic Gardens (final stop). There are actually many public lifts for a free use in Monaco, you can always check at any bus stop station - the public transport network displays also where the lifts are. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to find them as they can be hidden between buildings but look for street signs to guide you.

Walking from the railway station: From the Monte-Carlo railway station choose the "Monaco Ville" exit. Take the elevator to floor 2. Turn LEFT Blvd. Renier III. Take the first turn to the RIGHT (stairs) (there is a sign pointing to the Exotic Garden) Chemin de Revoires. You arrive to a sign: right - walk on foot to the gardens, left - elevator. Take the left direction, and, immediately right there is another elevator with the "Blvd. de Belgique" indication. A long corridor leads to very clean and posh restroom. Take this elevator to its most upper floor (press 0) and, after exiting the elevator, cross the road (Avenue Crovetto Frères). Before crossing the road - you have a splendid view of the Prince's Palace and a nice building with round terraces:

You turn right and climb up the Avenue Crovetto Frères. On your left another nice park: Parc Antoinette. After climbing 200 m. up - you have a gorgeous sight of the Prince's Palace and olive groves:

We continue climbing and the road changes its name to Boulevard du Jardin Exotique. On our right - a high-rise building - Villa Paloma:

On our left is a branch of the Nouveau Musee National de Monaco, Boulevard du Jardin Exotique # 56. At last, the entrance to the gardens is on our left (you see many buses around).

Immediately near the cashier - there is a terrace with beautiful sights of the Prince Palace:

and Port de Fontvieille:

and Monaco Ville:

The entry ticket includes visits to the Exotic Garden, the Observatory Cave and the Prehistoric Anthropology Museum. Adults: €7. 20, Children (4-18 years’ old): €3.80, Students (with card, under 30 yrs old): €3.80, Senior (+ 65 yrs old): €5.50. Dogs (of any sizes) are not allowed in the Exotic Garden, a free kennel is provided. Opening hours: The Exotic Garden of Monaco is open all year except for the 19 November (Fête Nationale) and 25 December. January: 9.00 - 17.00, February to April: 9.00 - 18.00, May to September: 9.00 - 19.00, October: 9.00 - 18.00, November to December: 9.00 - 17.00.

Near the entrance:

We chose the Jardin Exotique for the morning hours, but, the BEST are the afternoon hours - for having magical views from the garden over the Monaco old town, the harbour and the bay - with the sun on your back. The views are really spectacular. Another reason is to avoid midday sun in the summer months when the light is too harsh and the sun too strong. Towards sunset the quality if the light improves considerably.

There are THREE main reasons to vistit the exostic garden of Monaco: 1) The exotic garden, which is a series of cactus plants based on a one-way system slope, you have to WALK down AND COME BACK up A LOT of steps. Visitors who have limited mobility maybe shy away from this. 2) The views from the garden are lovely. The gardens are perched right at the top of the hill behind Monaco, which makes the views over the Principality absolutely stunning. 3) The Observatory caves are quite interesting, especially if you like history/geology. The caves are humid and warm so it really takes it out of you coming back up. You must be in good condition enough to add over 300 steps to climb back when finishing your visit of the caves and the lower levels of the garden. You may remain at the very high levels - it is, still, a beautiful sight to see the Mediterranean and the Royal Palace.

Fontvieille Stadium from the Exotic Gardens:

Fontvieille Port from the Exotic Gardens:

Condamine from the Exotic Gardens:

Le Rocher (Rock) of Monaco Ville from the Exotic Gardens:

Monaco Ville from the Exotic Gardens:

The garden is set on a perfect place, with a great view of 180' degrees over Monaco. The garden itself is for Cacti lovers. It provides plenty of photos opportunities. The garden brings together a wide variety of plants known as ‘succulents’ in outstanding open-air surroundings. Succulent plants are ones that have adapted to dry climates in various ways, the most spectacular being the possession of a hypertrophied organ (leaf or stem) to stock water reserves. Cacti (or cactus) make up the most representative family of this group. Wonderful terraces of cactii clinging to the cliff face. They stand out by their absence of leaves, replaced by thorns. Succulent plants from all destinations worldwide, in a micro-climate that favors all the cacti and other fleshy plants. The plants acclimatized in this garden come from various far-away dry zones (hence the term ‘exotic’): the South-West of the United-States; Mexico; Central and South America for cacti and agaves; South Africa; Eastern Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula for the other succulents. In spite of their extravagant shapes, they are plants in their own right, regularly producing flowers in order to reproduce. The flowering period is spread over practically the whole year depending on the place of origin of each species: winter for Aloes and African Crassula, spring and summer for most cacti. This one is much larger than the Jardin Exotique in Eze Village.

Exhibition of CHARMING paintings in a small museum inside the gardens:

One of the attractions inside the garden is an underground grotto, but there are 300 underground steps on the way down, and 300 back up again. Every hour guided tour of the cave is included in the price of the entrance ticket. Might be a bit slippery for children and elders. 30 - 40 minutes' guided tour leaving every hour. Free entrance (included in the gardens' ticket price). You can enjoy the view of hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites. The caves themselves are breathtaking. Our only problem was that the tour guide did the tour completely in French. So we only really benefited from it visually. The guide also seemed to take the tour very speedily. The caves were discovered during the years 1916-1920:

Some of the plants are really lovely and the place was well tended and cared for. We had a lovely walk and the views are really spectacular. Definitely worth a visit !

Monaco - Part 2 - Monaco Ville

Stephanie Marti


Monaco - part 2:

Main Attractions: Place de la Mairie, Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation, Prince's Palace of Monaco, Ruelle Sainte-Barbe, Saint-Martin Promenade, Monaco Cathedral, Palais de Justice, Saint-Martin Gardens, Musée Océanographique de Monaco, Fort Antoine Theatre, Place d’Armes. From here - skip to part 3.

As mentioned in part 1 - we devote our second half of the day to Monaco Ville. You can walk on foot the whole way from the Casino in Monte Carlo to the Prince's Palace of Monaco in Monaco Ville - totally 1.7 km. If you choose to walk up to the Place du Palais from the town/harbour it is a long one and scenic but all up hill. We were/are in fairly good shape, and we were breathless from the climb up the stairs. However, once we got to the top, it was worth it. The palace is pretty, the views gorgeous plus there are shops and restaurants. Better, take bus No. 2 near Place de la Visitation and rue Emile de Loth. Another option: drop off the bus No. 2 at at the Place D'Armes in Monaco Ville and climb to the Palace via scenic moderate stairway - but with wonderful views to the sea:

In our case - bus No. 2 had a stop at the Place de la Visitation.

Head east on Rue Emile de Loth (pedestrian-only) toward Rue de Vedel, 200 m. Turn left (north) to Place de la Mairie (after passing Rue Saint Devotee on your right). Place de la Mairie (town-hall square) is a small, picturesque square. In its centre the town hall, a fountain and an ornate post office:

Opposite is the Chapelle de la Miséricorde. Its facade is pink-white. Built in 1639 during the reign of Prince Honoré II , Prior of the Brotherhood of Black Penitents. It houses a Christ carved in the woods by the Monegasque François -Joseph Bosio , official sculptor of Emperor Napoleon:

The Place de la Mairie is connected with the Royal Palace by three pedestrians- only alleys: Rue Basse, Rue Comte Félix Gastaldi and Rue Emile de Loth. But, we'll return to the Place de la Visitation. From the Place de la Visitation we started walking along rue Emile de Loth (Post Office on our right. The road is full with souvenirs shops and eateries) to the Prince's Palace of Monaco.

Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation: Open all year - MON - SUN 10.00 - 16.00. Prices: Adult - €6, free admission children under 12, reduced rate €1.5 students - children under 12 & seniors. Baroque style, from the 17th century, this museum houses some of the masterpieces of scared art by Rubens, Zurbaran, Ribera and the masters of Italian Baroque:

It is 350 m. walk to the palace. From Place de la Visitation head southwest, 30 m. Turn left to stay on Place de la Visitation, 10 m. Turn right onto Rue Emile de Loth, 300 m .... and you face the Prince's Palace of Monaco. The Place du Palais is a classic must see. It is not very exciting, under an heavy reconstruction but you can't leave without seeing it. The ramp culminates on Palace Square. The Palace Square in Monaco (Place du Palais) is the picturesque square located in front of the Royal Palace (Prince's Palace). You’ll be greeted by the bronze statue of a monk concealing a sword, representing François Grimaldi, also known as “Malizia”, who stormed the Palace in 1297 and founded the ruling dynasty. The Palace itself was built in 1191 (originally, as a Genoese fortress) and occupied by the Grimaldi family fro 1297. The Palace Square accommodates the infamous Changing of the Guard at 11.55 every day. Depending on what time of the year you go the guards will be wearing either white or blue & white. It might be very crowded and hot to get a glimpse of the Palace Guards walking in the sun. The changing of the guard does not compare to others. There is very little pomp. The Palace is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco, and was constructed in the late 12th century as a fortress. The Palace is defended by special guards known as the ‘Carabiniers’. The Palace is a breathtaking view itself, with several tourists often visiting the official residence of the Royal Family. In the XXI century, the palace is still the residence of the current Prince of Monaco, Albert II. The wide open stunning views of Monaco from this area are spectacular:

In the Palace Square stands a life-size statue of Francesco Grimaldi in a monk's cape with a sword hidden under his robe:

The palace itself is splendid but not so majestic. Today the splendors of this palace can indeed be admired, such as its Italian-style gallery and its 15th century frescoes; its Louis XVth lounge all in yellow and gold, its Blue Room, a harmonious blend of glorious blue and gold; its Mazarin room covered with multi-coloured wood panelling; the Throne Room, decorated with an impressive Renaissance fireplace; the Palatine Chapel built in the 17th century; St-Mary's Tower, built from the white stones of nearby La Turbie; the Main Courtyard and its 17th century Carrara marble double staircase… Open daily: From April 2 to October 31, except Saturday and Sunday of F1 Grand Prix. April, May, June, September and October from 10.00 to 18.00 (last admission 17.30). July and August: from 10.00 to 19.00 (last admission 18.30). Closed from November 1st to April 1st. Prices: Adults: 8 €, Children aged 8-14 and students: 4 €. Joint Tickets: Palace and the Oceanographic Museum - Adults: 19 €, Youth (13-18 years), Students: 11 €, Children (8-12 years): 8 €, Children (4-7 years): 7 €. Tickets valid only for the current year from April 2 to October 31. Joint Tickets: Palace and Collection cars HSH Prince - Adults: 11.50 €, Children (8-14 years) Students: 5 €. The whole tour takes just under an hour. It includes 10-15 rooms only (stairway, Hercules Gallery overlooking the inner court, Louis XV Salon, Throne Room and one of the towers). NO PHOTOS ALLOWED INSIDE !

The Napoleon Museum which existed in the lower floor of the Palace - DOES NOT EXIST ANY MORE. The whole museum's collection has been sold off in a public auction in year 2014:

The views from this hill plus the cannons, cannon balls, artistic benches and trees, make this a fun stroll. We preferred to arrive to the palace in the early afternoon hours. An afternoon / evening visit affords the opportunity to see and photograph the palace (and wonderful panoramic views around) in very flattering illumination:.

The palace has a great view of the marina and essentially most of Monaco, so even if you don't take a tour of the palace it's a great place to take good pictures. You get a wonderful marina view from the palace square. On the side just at the top of the ramp, picture postcard view of Monte Carlo and the casino, the Port Hercule harbour, the not-so-pretty mountainside skyscrapers with Cap Martin and the Italian Riviera in the distance – so three countries in the same photo ! There are a lot of shops surrounding the palace and a lot of eating places. The entire area is spotless. Everyone speaks very good English:

Opposite the Palace - the Palace Barracks building:

In case you didn't climb the whole way to the Palace from the Monte Carlo Casino or from Place d'Armes - try to poke PART of the climbing stairway (now, leading from the Palace down to the Place d'Armes). With your face to the palace - take the lane on the right side of the palace - leading downward (north-east).

The stairway between Place d'Armes and Prince's Palace of Monaco:

Not far from the beginning of this stairway - you'll see Statue of Prince Rainier III, Prince of Monaco:

We have 350 m. walk to the next site of Saint Martin Gardens. With your back to the palace we take the lane (starting with stairs downward) to your right. Here, you follow ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC  WALKING PATHS IN EUROPE. Just follow the signs of the Oceanographic Museum. It takes you to Saint Martin Gardens, the Cathedral, eventually through some more public gardens to the Oceanographic Museum. From the Prince's Palace of Monaco head south on Place du Palais, 30 m. Turn right toward Ruelle Sainte-Barbe and immediately left onto Ruelle Sainte-Barbe, 300 m. BREATHTAKING VIEWS OF Port Hercule, Port de Fontvieille and Port de Cap d'Ail along Ruelle Sainte-Barbe:

Actually, we stand in a small garden (overlooking the Fontvieille and Hercule ports) with several sculptures: Fille sur chaise and Grand Nudo di Adolscente:

Ruelle Sainte-Barbe continues eastward as Promenade Saint-Martin. Here is house in #3:

Turn your head back to get a glimpse of the Prince's Palace of Monaco rock:

Turn your head to the right (south) to get a glimpse Hercule Port:

On our left (north) is the Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The entrance is from 4 Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), also known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral (name of the old church which was demolished in 1874), or Monaco Cathedral (Cathédrale de Monaco), is the cathedral of Monaco-Ville, where many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently, Prince Rainier III (fathers of the present sovereign, Albert II). There are also the tombs of older generation Grimaldi Princes buried here as well. A beautiful church. Atmospheric, quiet and contemplative inside. The cathedral was built in 1875-1903 and consecrated in 1911, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. Of note are the Retable (circa 1500) to the right of the transept, the Great Altar and the Episcopal throne in white Carrara marble. On feast days and during religious music concerts, one can hear the magnificent four-keyboard organ, inaugurated in 1976. From September through June, “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco” (The Little Singers of Monaco) and the singers of the Cathedral Choir School sing during mass every Sunday at 10.00. Mass is also celebrated here each year on 6 December, when primary children gather for a joyful remembrance of St. Nicholas' life. It is free to enter:

Monaco cathedral Interior:

Retable de St. Nicholas:

Prince Albert 1st (1er) Tomb:

Princess Florestan Tomb:

Princess Grace Tomb:

Prince Rainier III Tomb:

Inside the Monaco-Ville Cathedral you can see pictures of other figures of the royal dynasty - on their tombs:

A bit WEST to the Cathedral resides the Palais de Justice. This Palace was built in 1924, on the initiative of Prince Louis II and inaugurated on May 1st 1930. It is built out of sea tuff, a grey and porous stone, which was also used for Monaco's ramparts. This stone contains many small pebbles, and sometimes mollusc shells. The bust of the Sovereign Honoré II, dated 1568, appears on one of the Palace façades:

View of Hercule Port from the Promenade Saint-Martin:

Saint-Martin Gardens are between Avenue Saint-Martin (north) and the Promenade Saint-Martin (south) and the ocean (east). The gardens extend from the cathedral to the Oceanographic Museum. Part botanical garden, part sculpture garden and all beautiful, the Jardins Saint Martin is a delight to explore. These gardens, with a rich display of exotic species and where small paths weave gently around the grassy ridges, bloom throughout the year on the south-west face of the "Rock". The sunny Mediterranean climate provides a thriving environment for the wild local flora and scattered here and there, classic works of art (mainly, sculptures) or a clear little pond may be discovered. The first sculpture, on the main path, on your right is of Prince Albert I from 1951. This is Francois Cogne's bronze statue of Prince Albert I as a sailor which stands at the centre of the gardens: the man with the wheel in his hands, as once on command, during one of his cruises, Prince Albert I, the ruler of Monaco to the mid-twentieth century, unusually devoted to navigation oceanography, standing here, in the garden of St. Martin. Most of the trees bear signage with their Latin and popular names. Flora include ancient olive trees, philodendrons, birds of paradise, aleppo pine trees and yellow agaves. Free entrance. Very clean restrooms:

The Oceanographic Museum viewed from Jardins Saint Martin with Cap Martin in the distance:

Leave the Saint-Martin Gardens from northeast exit on Avenue Saint-Martin. Turn right and continue 170 m. north-east along Avenue Saint-Martin to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. The Museum is open every day (Except for the week-end of the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the 25th December). JAN - MAR 10.00 - 18.00, APR - JUN 10.00- 19.00. JUL - AUG 9.30 - 20.00. SEP 10.00 - 19.00. OCT - DEC 10.00 - 18.00. Prices (Aquariums, permanent and temporary exhibitions): Adults € 14.00, Children (4 - 12 years) € 7.00, Teenagers / Students (13 - 18 years) € 10.00, People with reduced mobility (adults and children) € 7.00, Children under 4 Free. Combined Ticket : Oceanarium + Palace: Adults 19,00 €, Students 11,00€, Teenagers (13 - 18 years) 11,00€, Children (8 - 12 years) 9,00€, Children (4 - 7 years) 7,00€. The building itself is pretty amazing and beautiful. Multi colored fish, turtles, sharks. The Terrace cafe-restaurant at the top floor of the building nice snacks and light meals and drinks (NOT expensive) and 320 degrees breath-taking view of the sea. The museum is very busy in the first half of the days. Better, come during late afternoon hours. Try to avoid in weekends in the high season. Not all the halls and rooms are Air-conditioned:


A detour to Fort Antoine: with our back to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco we turn right (north-east) along Avenue saint-Martin and after approx. 30 m. we turn again right (south-east) and follow many zig-zaging stairs downward (follow the signs !) to the Fort Antoine Theatre. The Fort Antoine Theatre is a small amphitheatre located at the tip of the Rock. The fort hosts open air plays in the summer months. The theatre was originally constructed as a fortress in the early 18th-century before its destruction in 1944. Prince Rainier III had the fortress rebuilt as a theatre in 1953. Its military architecture, watchtower and the almost total solitude which can be found there, all combine to give it a particular charm. Its stage has been pleasantly arranged with a pyramid of cannon balls at its centre. Magnificent views of the bay, a wide variety of yachts in the port. An unforgettable experience in a clear day:

From Fort Antoine we walk west on Avenue de la Quarantaine
700 m down to the Place d'Armes. Head west on Avenue de la Quarantaine, 400 m. Slight left toward Avenue du Port, 50 m. Continue onto Avenue du Port, 180 m. Turn right onto Place d'Armes, 60 m. Place d’Armes is the central market square within easy downhill access from the train station (turn right when exiting the train from Nice towards the “Fontvieille” exit” and go through the tunnel with travellators then follow the signposts and the crowds of people). The typically “Provençal” (ie. slightly overpriced but with lots of good quality “Mediterranean” produce) market is open every morning until around 12.00, so could be worth a quick stopover to have a nice coffee or to grab a snack – there are several reasonable places inside, including one selling “socca”, a typical regional pancake made of chickpea flour. The Place d’Armes is also a great place for people-watching and to see real Monegasque locals going about their daily business (quite a feat especially in the summer), and where most gossip is exchanged about what is going on in town:

At the far end of Place d'Armes, you'll find this charming fountain:

Looking up from the Place d’Armes, you can already notice the fortifications protecting the Prince’s Palace on the side of the Rocher, notably the Bastion de Serravalle, which dominates the street, as well as the elegant Italianate porticoes of the Palace itself and the fake-medieval clock tower, which was in fact built in the 19th century to look old.

From the Place d'Armes you can easily take bus no. 100 back to Nice (last bus is around 20.00 !!). or continue walking to Quai Rainier III (1.1 km.) (there, catching a boat to Monte-Carlo and returning to Nice with a train. Head south on Place d'Armes toward Avenue du Port, 60 m. Turn left onto Avenue du Port, 190 m. Keep right to continue toward Quai Antoine 1er, 30 m. Turn right toward Quai Antoine 1er, 50 m. Turn left onto Quai Antoine 1er, 65 m. Turn right to stay on Quai Antoine 1er, 300 m. Turn left to stay on Quai Antoine 1er, 190 m. Turn left onto Quai Rainier III, 180 m.  Before taking the boat from Quai Rainier I - I advise you to take an hour and stroll around the port. Beautiful place to take some pictures and see the mega yachts going in and out. Maybe a good bet at the Casino will help you to buy one for yourself. It's easy to daydream about what life would be like...It's possible to walk very close to them and see the rich decoration inside. The boats are amazing to look at. Plenty of restaurants for food & drink if you need to relax for a while. Here, we use the Bateau Bus to cross the harbour towards Monte-Carlo and then take the public lift up to the Casino. The bus boat crosses the port from Quai Rainier III till Quai des Etats-Unis in Monte Carlo between 08.00 till 20.00. It takes 10 minutes to cross the bay. Price: 2 euros. Wonderful views of the harbour for the price of a bus ride. Frequency: 7 days 7, from 08.00 - 20.00 with departures every half hour on each bank (forward three starts per hour are planned) . Boat Length : 12 m. Capacity: 50 people. Free connection with the bus network in the half hour after boat ride:

Our last destination is the Jardin Exotique. It is 3.5 km. walk. Too much for the end of the day. We leave this fantastic garden for another half-a-day visit (see a separate blog).

Nice Castle Hill - Parc de la Colline du Château

Stelios Pamphilos


Nice Castle Park (Parc du Chateau) (Colline du Chateau):

Access: take the 213 steps (‘escalier Lesage’) or the FREE elevator (Ascenseur du Chateau) in the most eastern edge of Rue de Ponchettes near Quai des États-Unis (behind the Hotel Suisse). Access on foot also from Place Garibaldi in OId Nice.

If there is a long queue waiting for the elevator - you may wait 10-20 minutes in a quite stuffy, underground hall. Steps up not too hard (10-12 minutes hike along winding path of approx. 210-220 steps. A bit out of breath). Wear proper shoes. Do not opt for hiking on foot in very hot hours. The hiking is preferable due to unbelievable sights (during the morning hours !). You can ride the little tourist train up the hill and back down. You can pick up the train from the Promenade des Anglais. Our suggestion is to go up through the old town (shorter path and less steps) and go down on the beach side.

The Tourist Train: 10 minute stop at the castle. Duration: roughly 45 minutes. Commentary: (Individual commentary) French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese. Capacity: 55 passengers. Prices: 10 € adults, 5 € children 4 to 12 years. Times: Daily. one departure every 30 minutes (several tourist trains). 10.00 to 17.00 in January, February and March. 10.00 to 18.00 in April, May and September. 10.00 to 19.00 in June, July and August. 10.00 to 17.00 in October, November, and December.

The main reason to visit the Castle Hill is for the stunning views. Great views of Nice Port (afternoon hours - when the sun shines from the west), city and beach (Baie des Anges) (morning or midday hours). Sunset is especially terrific for lovely sights of Port Lympia, east and down to the Castle Hill. Don't just look at the view in one direction. We recommend visiting the Castle Hill twice and getting views from BOTH of its sides. Climb up the Castle Hill during the morning hours for getting wonderful views of Nice city and its l-o-n-g beaches (the red rooftops of Nice old town jointed by the glistening turquoise ocean) and sunrise overlooking the port. Looking west you can see beyond the airport towards Cannes and St Tropez. Visit, again, during the late (sunny !) afternoon hours to get admirable sights of the ports in the east and sunset over the city and its beaches.

Westerly viewpoints which have an absolutely superb picture postcard panorama overlooking the Promenade des Anglais, Old Nice and the Baie des Anges, with further in the distance the Cap d’Antibes, the Esterel mountains, the airport and the Southern Alps: this view is best enjoyed in the morning in order to avoid the sun directly facing you in the afternoon:

View from the Castle Hill east over Port Lympia and looking south-east towards the Cape of Nice (separating Nice from Cap Ferrat):

Opening hours: 01 OCT - 31 MAR: 08.30 - 18:00, 01 APR - 30 SEP: 08.30 - 20.00. Cost: Its a free of charge attraction.

Duration: Allow a few hours to see this area.

Practical hints:

  • Hardly one restroom on top of the hill (near the elevator station). Be prepared !
  • Plenty of good places to have a picnic under the trees on top of the hill. Many shady places for rest and play (for kids).

  • Little cafe and souvenir shop at the top.
  • This route is NOT  wheelchair friendly. No pushchairs through as well.

The history of the park goes all the way back to the beginning of the 19th century, when the city of Nice was facing the challenge to turn the site of the former castle into a pleasant leisure and tourist area. Thus, at present, the Castle Park is not just just a mere archeological site. in 1706, King Louis XIV asked it to be destroyed. The castle had until then defended the city of Nice against many attacks. Indeed, Nice, at the time, was not yet in France. This fortress was then an obstacle for the French attacks against the Savoie County. Fortunately for Nice, this destruction had a positive effect since the city was forced to open and expand outside its ancient walls. Then the tourist resort was born which allowed the city to develop. In 1828, King Charles-Felix of Savoy, at the time King of Sardinia, originally intialized the project of the Castle Hill Park. He wanted to create a walk for the rich tourists on holiday in Nice. Then the Royal Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and many famous botanists (Risso, Bottière, Milo) began to build a park for the city of Nice:

What is on top of the Castle Hill ?

There are also walkways paved with colourful modern day mosaics. These are, actually, references to ancient Greece, notably on the eastern side of the plateau on top of the hill, with a fountain dedicated to the god Pan and mosaics representing scenes from the Odyssey. Remember: the Greeks founded Nice in around 350 BC and named it Nikaia after the Greek goddess of victory:

Cascade Dijon (which is an artificial waterfall) also counts as one of the chief highlight of the park. The waterfall is worth seeing from above and below. The waterfall was built in 1885 in order to decorate the Castle Hill, but also in order to play the role of on-verses basins of the first modern water supply of Nice. Even today, the waterfall is fed by the waters of the Vésubie valley. The Cascade:

Despite different destructions, the castle park retains traces of its monuments of the past. Many ruins have been found and revealed (cathedral, citadel). Archaeological digs are still active today in an attempt to reveal traces of the fortress (from the medieval to the Baroque period). There are Roman relics well exposed at the archeological site. There are some ruins but not really a chateau to speak of:

In the one remaining tower, the 16th century Tour Bellanda (Bellanda Tower), is the Musée Naval. Bellanda Tower was built in 1844 in typical romantic style. It was built in place of the old tower of St. Elmo, which was part of the ancient castle:

In the north-west part of the hill - there is the Jewish cemetery (Cimetière Israélite, Allée François Aragon). As well as visiting the remains and gazing at the views, while on Castle Hill, visit the beautiful monumental cemetery. It has three sections Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. Many of the monuments are very elaborate and beautiful. Worth a look just to fill you in on Nice's recent history. Garibaldi is buried in this cemetery.