Museums Walking Tour I (Self Guided), Nice

Throughout time life has been reflected in art, preserving the past and human history till today in the works that remain. These preserved works continue to be admired by thousands of people and will continue to do so long into the future. Museums keep the history of our ancestors alive. Take the following tour to discover the history of Nice.
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Museums Walking Tour I Map

Guide Name: Museums Walking Tour I
Guide Location: France » Nice (See other walking tours in Nice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles
Author: jenny
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Centre du Patrimoine (Heritage Center)
  • Musée Terra Amata
  • The Museum of Natural History of Nice
  • Musée Marc Chagall
  • Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez
  • Musée Matisse
  • Monastère de Cimiez & Musée Franciscain
Centre du Patrimoine (Heritage Center)

1) Centre du Patrimoine (Heritage Center)

The Centre du Patrimoine or the Heritage center is a great place to learn about the history of Nice and the Provence region. The exhibits include information on the culture and the architecture of the city as well as the historical aspects.

The center also offers walking tours of Nice. Tours in English need to be arraigned at least 48 hours in advance. The tours are very informative and unrushed. The price is amazingly reasonable and with 11 tours available, there will be something to please everyone.

While most people think of the French Riviera when pondering Nice, this city has a long history as it was pulled between France and Italy for so long. It is interesting to understand the cultural influences that have made Nice unique. The language, the food, the Baroque architecture, and ancient ruins are all explained and a new appreciation for this city is gained. Comfortable shoes and a camera are a must for the tour, plus a bottle of water.
Musée Terra Amata

2) Musée Terra Amata

The Terra Amata Museum is located on top of an old archeological dig. So, it is no wonder that they specialize in Human Paleontology. The homonym site dates back around four hundred thousand years. The location also has displays that talk about the first humans that inhabited the area around Nice.

Inside, you can see displays of what an elephant hunter’s camp might have looked like, and what cave dwellings look like. You can also see the actual artifacts of the period, which were taken from the excavation site here. You can also see a footprint here that is some of the only evidence around for proof of Terra Amata’s homo erectus species. The museum also has some wonderful research faculties available for people wishing to do some scholarly research. The library is open by appointment from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. each day. The museum is also open to the public for free, so that is a great vacation budget stretcher. It is definitely worth the visit.

Operation hours: (1 November - 30 April) Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm; (2 May - 31 October) Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Museum of Natural History of Nice

3) The Museum of Natural History of Nice

When you visit the Museum of Natural History, you will get a chance to see one of the oldest museums in Nice. It is also one of the best institutions of its kind to be found in France. So, if you have any interest in natural history at all, you need to plan on paying a visit.

The museum was made possible through the generosity of Jean Baptiste Barla and Jean Baptiste Verany. It was organized and opened to the public in 1846. It has been in continuous operation throughout that time period.

The biggest attractions here are the vegetable displays, as well as the geological collection. Both are quite impressive. There is also a wonderful photo gallery inside also. The major theme of the institution centers on showing life in all its frailest elements. There are some great dry habitat displays here, as a result of the main theme. One other nice tidbit is that the museum is free of charge.
Musée Marc Chagall

4) Musée Marc Chagall (must see)

The Musée Marc Chagall is another of the wonderful museums of modern art to be found in Nice. It houses the biggest collection of his paintings of Old Testament scenes to be found anywhere. There is also a beautiful Cathedral built on the premises, though Chagall is not actually buried there. His final resting place is in a nearby town, called St. Paul de Vence.

The main hall is dedicated to the pictures he did from Genesis to Exodus. Nearby, you can see his mosaic of Elijah in the famous chariot of fire. The little off room also contains his fabulous mosaic of the zodiac and creation. You will additionally be able to see the paintings he dedicated to his wife, which are among the most dramatic and colorful of his works.

The museum is located on the Boulevard de Cimiez and is very close to the Matisse Museum.

Why You Should Visit:
To be transported from realism to the atmosphere, with spiritual inspirations of vivid color.
Marc Chagall himself helped install this museum which makes it more intriguing.
You can learn more about the life of this artist from the films in the auditorium.
You definitely don't have to be an aficionado to enjoy the visit.

Take advantage of the self-guided audio tour available at the entrance. You swap your ID for a unit and plug in the number of the painting you're observing to learn its story. Very worthwhile, particularly for the neophyte!

Opening Hours:
(May-Oct) Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm; (Nov-Apr) Wed-Mon: 10am-5pm
Closed on Tuesdays, plus May 1, Christmas and New Year's Day
Sight description based on wikipedia
Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez

5) Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez (must see)

The Museum of Archeology at Cimiez was opened in 1960. It used to be located in the building that now houses the Musee Matisse. The current location has been in existence since 1989. The place is most known for the collection of artifacts from the Metal and Middle Ages. There is also a fine collection of items from the 2nd and 3rd Century A.D. Inside the building is also some of the best-preserved Roman-style baths that you can find anywhere. They date from this same time period.

The whole area sits atop the ancient city of Cemenelum, which was the capital of Alpes Maritimae Province of the old Roman Empire. There have been many successful archeological digs in the area, which have helped to provide quality items for the exhibits.

Why You Should Visit:
Not the Paris or London museums of Natural History but great for what it is.
There is an English handout guide, very detailed, that you can walk around with. Worth the wander through for both adults and children (there is an interactive/tactile area).

No café nearby so have a snack beforehand and if you have any walking issues be warned that the entrance slants steeply downhill.

Operation Hours:
(May-Oct) Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm; (Nov-Apr) Wed-Mon: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Musée Matisse

6) Musée Matisse (must see)

This is a wonderfully eclectic little museum that sits atop the hill of Cimiez. It is devoted to the life and work of Henri Matisse. The building is a grand old 17th-century villa that sports a beautiful red paint job, as is adorned with trompe-l’oeil. It used to be the home of the old museum of archeology. It is surrounded by a lovely park that is a wonderful place to take a walk. The olive and pine trees are quite beautiful.

The ground floor of this building is completely dedicated to the early works of the grand painter. This covers his creative period from 1890 to 1905. Among the works on the first floor is his first painting, the 'Nature Mortem aux Livers'.

As you move through the building, you will find more and more of the later works of the master. Besides the permanent collection of Matisse, the new modern wing that was added on houses many wonderful temporary collections that change periodically.

Why You Should Visit:
As long as you don't expect too many Matisse paintings, you will appreciate this museum that focuses on the artist's career development through many aspects of his work.
The ticket allows entry to other Nice museums within 24hrs of the visit, but for the Matisse fan, this alone is worth the entrance fee.

Make sure you bring ID for under 18s, as they get in for free.

Operation Hours:
(Nov-Apr) Wed-Mon: 10am-5pm; (May-Oct) Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm
Closed on January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st and December 25th
Sight description based on wikipedia
Monastère de Cimiez & Musée Franciscain

7) Monastère de Cimiez & Musée Franciscain (must see)

Cimiez Monastery is located in the hills that surround the city of Nice. It was built by the Franciscan Order and includes several parts. The Notre Dame Church is attached to this, as well as the museum owned by the brotherhood. The exhibitions inside show a history of the Order from the 1200s until the present day.

There are some wonderful sacred works of art on display here, some of which are paintings by none other than Louis Brea. Additionally, you can find some important historical documents about the Franciscans on display. You may also want to check out the flower garden that surrounds the complex, as it presents a beautiful view of the surrounding area. The ancient cemetery of Cimiez is also attached to the gardens. There are many famous people buried there, such as Matisse and Dufy.

This old monastery and museum is a great place to visit, especially to get away from the classic beaches and beach life of the French Riviera. The Order has been here for hundreds of years and provides a unique perspective to the history of Nice.

Why You Should Visit:
A good point at which to begin a tour of the Cimiez Hill area, which also offers a couple of art museums, Roman ruins, and lovely gardens.
The Cimiez area and Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) probably are the two places that afford the most panoramic views of Nice and its environs.

If you visit the Monastery & Museum, make sure to also visit the gardens and to take a picnic if the weather is nice.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm; Free entry

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