FranceVisiting.com

The Best of France and nearby!

Explore another facet of Nice, with its Cuisine Nissarde label, Le Negresco Hotel and its historical museums!

17 min read

©

Jacques Chirac posing in front of the market portal..

If you have the pleasure to visit Nice, you would notice that this sunny city holds distant roots from Greek and Roman times. Those populations were originally based on the famous Castle Hill, which used to stand along the lower town and was one of the main fortresses in Europe.

Nonetheless, Nice only became French in 1860, after previously belonging to the House of Savoy, whose capital was Chambéry and then Turin. By the way, before Italy went unified in 1861, the French border was originally situated by the Var river. Therefore, we are glad here to show you various elements of this surprising locality, from any point of view. By Alex Plato


..facing another giant 9 Obliques Lines, by Bernard Favet.
One high vision offered by Jaume Plensa..

Many contemporary artworks can be found in the center, including these sculptures by Bernard Venet. This pursues an artistic philosophy initiated on the largest and oldest square in Nice, called the Place Masséna, which was one of the oldest contemporary squares, since it was built in 1820. On this square, we find the Cubist-inspired statue of Apollo made by the same artist as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, namely Alfred Janniot (photos: Alex Plato).

Although, this longtime-neglected artwork finally returned to Nice in 2007, accompanied by the Conversations high luminous series imagined by Jaume Plensa, the same year. Beneath this square stands the Paillon river, which flows just below the eponym promenade established in 2012.

 

..the Justice Palace with evident neo-classical facets.
The beautiful facade of the Opera recalls in a way..

Not far from the Villa Nova district, which aimed to urbanize a swampy area called the Pré aux Oies in the 18th century, following the destruction of the Ramparts. In addition, on the surrounding recent buildings, we also invite you to admire an amazing trompe l’oeil, dubbed by The 9 Oblique Lines sculpture realized by Bernard Favet.

A little further on, the Nice Opera House was conceived by François Aune, a student of Gustave Eiffel who even supervised the plans, the representative marquise of the time well reflecting his mentor. Added to that, admire the unique pilasters and roof-mounted muses.

Another iconic building is located near the Palace of Justice, known for the incredible evasion of the famous bandit Albert Spaggiari, who was behind the Heist of the Century, occurred in 1976. , surrounded by a vintage book market happening on Saturdays. 

..behind the colorful rue de la Préfecture where died Paganini.
The charming L’Oulivié tree reviewed by Laurent Bosio..

In front of it stands a beautiful olive tree, baptized L’Oulivié by the sculptor Laurent Bosio and the York Hotel, where Alexandre Dumas stayed, he found that all foreigners were considered as British citizens, since it was the most present community during his journey. This is why the term “My Lord” was widely heard in the streets, even though the autochthons had evident difficulties to distinguish German speakers from authentic English ones, for example.

Indeed, many artists stayed in Nice, including the violinist artist Niccolo Paganini, of whom many people of Nice were afraid because of his alleged eccentricities and who moreover died in a yellow building in the Old Center. Not far from the Palace of the Dukes of Savoy where the attachment of the city of Nice to France by Napoleon 3rd was signed. For you information, this edifice currently serves as the prefect residence.

..in the opposite side of the presidential entrance.
This immaculate Palace of the Dukes of Savoy is so impressive..

Just nearby, don’t miss the famous and colorful Flower Market which offers a large selection of local products and of course floral varieties. Therefore, from Tuesday to Sunday, let’s reach the Cours Saleya and feel the roots of this outdoor spot, since 1861 and registered by the National Council of Culinary Arts among the exceptional markets in France.

Apart those colorful compositions, you may discuss with florists and horticulturists, you could get tempted by local gourmet specialties. This place adjoins a flat platform which was used to store fish and which also housed a promenade. At the backyard of those arcades, the statue of the former president Jacques Chirac, realized by the local artist Patrick Frega, waits for your venue. 

 

..don’t pass through this ravishing wash-house from 1876.
One other colorful old mansion entrance portico..

Not to mention that while crossing through the old center, you would easily notice a typical housing structure, mostly made up of lintels (the oldest of which may date back to the 14th century) and transoms. This particularity seems to be quite common to each other.

Therefore, you would naturally find out that through its narrow cobbled streets surrounded by pastel-toned buildings and various shops selling Nice soap, along Provencal textiles and other types of souvenirs… The so-called Vieux-Nice is the bustling old part of town, where you may have some rest on one of the typical open-air cafés, and eventually enjoying a remarkable view over the ancient times.

 

 

Nice Tourism Office, 5 Promenade des Anglais, 06000 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 92 14 46 14. More information on the official website or have a look at the guided tours organized by Nice Culti Tour.


..as you can admire those divine Baroque details.
What a magnificent immaculate sculpture..

These constructions, which managed to survive through ages, sometimes rub shoulders with charming religious edifices, just as old. Among them, don’t miss the Church of Jesus, which was one of the first Baroque churches, opposite a certain medieval quarter since you can see Genoese moldings there.

Another notable church is the Sainte-Réparate Cathedral, built in 1650, mainly with stones from La Turbie (a locality around Monaco). This material holds the reputation to somehow thin out over time. Adding to this, and regarding its Ligurian influence, we can also admire its magnificent Drum Dome, covered with multicolored tiles. Once inside, you will see that this important religious edifice in Nice incorporates several twisted columns and of course a bunch of magnificent side chapels. These veritable pieces of craftsmanship feature different styles since they were financed by an armada of several wealthy families.

Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice, 3 Place Rossetti, 06300 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 92 01 35


..and even the legendary Flower Market.
This Porte Fausse hides a breathtaking sea view..

As you keep on crossing the narrow streets of this charming city, discover different gourmet addresses able to delight your senses. Among them, why don’t you taste the authentic cuisine elaborated since ages, from Nice?

Patented by a “Cuisine Nissarde” label, which aims to promote this local know-how represented by those different restaurateurs, who stand anchored to respect the ancestral recipes. This commitment needs to reflect the inner quality of the raw materials employed in the cooking process, along a certain standing regarding the welcoming and information abilities regarding the customers.
 
 
 
 
..and the Centenary Monument helps you seeing more clearly. 
Le Goût de Nice proposes countless local products..

How we could define this so-called Nice cuisine? This could be firstly considered as a traditional and Mediterranean culinary art, displaying lots of sunny vegetables, flavors and scents to discover. In case, you wish to bring back home some other regional delights, why don’t you have a stop at Le Goût de Nice boutique? There is proposed a wide selection of food products coming straight from the producer! Otherwise, if you look for traditional confectionery and chocolate delights, have a stop at Auer, in front of the Opera.

Since 1820, 5 generations have been savoring you in this Florentine-style boutique , in order to propose you the flagship candied fruits, which has always been prepared here and a whole range of excellent products sold in elegant packagings. On top of that, groups of up to 20 people can as well be welcomed to learn all the secrets of this delicious manufacture.
 
Le Goût de Nice, 34 Boulevard Jean Jaurès, 06300 Nice (France) / Phone: 00 33 (0)4 97 13 55 80
 
Auer Nice, 7 Rue Saint-François de Paule, 06300 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 85 77 98
 
Find all the Cuisine Nissarde adresses on the official website.

..and the impressive extended menu.
In a red copper building, stands the Lu Fran-Calin..

For instance, Lu Fran-Calin offers some crossroads between Nice and Italian cuisines, while being ideally located in front of the Sainte-Réparate Cathedral. In this case, the Chef Daniel Silvetti wishes to offer some varied and colorful menus, in order to echo the local spirit. Indeed, select what you desire in this alloy between very hearty and succulent dishes, such as the famous daube with porcini mushrooms, zucchini tian, ​​Nice stuffed vegetables, potato gnocchi, genuine Nice ravioli and many other specialties. 

By the way, this passionate Chef decided to set up Nissard cooking classes at the Nice hotel school. Therefore, Daniel Silvetti has early understood that the survival of this precious culinary heritage would only depend on the transmission of this knowledge to the youngest ones. 
 
Lu Fran Calin, 5 Rue Francis Gallo, 06300 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 80 81 81

..in this intimate and charming interior.
Take the chance to enjoy a typical meal..

In another hand, you could get another overview of this gastronomic culture of Nice, by getting through Chez Davia Restaurant. This family affair established in this vintage framed place, is nowadays run by Pierre Altobelli. This globetrotter Chef pursues this original project initiated by his Italian ancestors, while completing it with his professional experience abroad where he got the opportunity to gain new culinary influences. 

That’s why you could appreciate a real fusion proposition between the different inspiration origins inside Chez Davia. Thus, as far as we know, this restaurant started to emerge within a traditional French style, thanks to the contribution of a former Chef trained at the Elysée presidential palace. Therefore, we invite you here to taste this full local and seasonal cuisine, whose selection changes nearly every week depending on the market arrivals. 
 
Chez Davia Restaurant, 11bis Rue Grimaldi, 06000 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 87 91 39

..portraits, tapestries and other artworks wait for your venue.
You couldn’t forget this bucolic entrance..

When you decide to clear your mind on the Promenade des Anglais, along the Mediterranean Sea, don’t miss your pleasure to admire the various Nice institutions that can bear witness to the rich past of this former Genoese enclave.

It should therefore be noted that the Hotel Le Negresco, inaugurated in 1913, is a must-see Palace, so fascinating is its history and its different facets. By the way, this Belle Époque styled edifice has cherished by generations of visitors. From countless meters away, you couldn’t miss its pink dome which seems to represent the breast of the founder’s lover!

As you would see later, this registered monument holds a respectable amount of nearly 6,000 artworks that fairly decorate the ensemble of this legendary Hotel and its 128 rooms. On top of that, you have to know that each of them are unique and offer you a real flashback in time, depending on their decoration.

..and maybe seat in this historical Versailles salon.
Imagine yourself getting down those unique decorated stairs..

As far as we know, the Le Negresco Hotel was originally desired by a former butler, of Romanian origin, named Mr Negrescu, which was erected with the financial support of the automobile manufacturer D’Arac. Before being transformed into a war hospital during the 2nd World War, then being bought in 1957 by the Augier family, who came from Brittany.

Passionate about arts and crafts, the last owner of one of the last French palaces under family control, died in 2019. Indeed, Madame Jeanne Augier was involved all her life in keeping the flame burning in this colorful place, by endeavors to collect as much as possible artworks, thus making Le Negresco as an authentic art hotel.

 

 

..with a marine universe recalled on the walls.
This royal interior from one of the Suites facing the Sea..

This lifetime involvement has notably enabled this establishment, whose pink dome would evoke the breast of a mistress of Mr Negrescu, to be endowed with the Living Heritage Company label, promoting French know-how and lifestyle. Indeed, the facade of the building and the glass roof of the Royal Salon are classified in the Historical Monuments list.

Therefore, the iron lady of Le Negresco always focused on finding and restoring pieces of furniture and old artworks since Louis XIII‘s period, which Jeanne Augier has ever willing to hunt for, according to her own inspiration, depending on the configuration of the different spaces of this prestigious establishment. So to say, even in the random rooms and suites, you should pay attention to any decorative detail, able to share many historical secrets. 
 
 
..although in the Medici Suite, just open the curtains.
In the Montserrat Caballé suite, each detail counts..

For instance, in the Exception category, you could sleep in the Suite once often occupied by the famous Spanish opera singer, Montserrat Caballé. As far as we know, she had her habits at Le Negresco Hotel and each of her stays was marked by a Spanish flag next to the French flag on the facade. Always honored by her presence, a Deluxe category suite, enriched with a sea view, was renamed on her memory.

Otherwise, if you’re more into large acanthus motifs conveying the Renaissance spirit, don’t miss the Medici Suite. There, you would be luckily  surrounded by crystal amphoras, a domed mirror, along gothic styled candelabras, and even purple velvet seats. On top of that, we could as well mention the Suite des Anges, offering a panoramic view over Nice and its famous Bay. Enhanced by shades of golden reflects, its large living room and its dining area benefit from a double exposure to the palms of the Massena Museum.
 
..so does this authentic sedan chair in the Royal Hall.
This incredible firehouse elevates any kind of closed mind..

Indeed, as long as you pass by the various Salons, you would easily notice their numerous styles. Indeed, have a look at the majestic glass roof of the Royal Reception Hall, where you may admire a 4 meter high chandelier, featuring 16,800 Baccarat crystals. This wonderful piece was initially ordered by Czar Nicolas IInd from Russia for his Kremlin Palace.

In another category, why don’t you spend some time in the Versailles Salon? In this magnificent area, there stand three portraits of Louis XIVth, by Hyacinthe Rigaud (the two others are at the Louvre and Versailles Palaces), covered by a rare coffered ceiling, brought back from the Mejoux Castle situated in Savoie and a fireplace coming from the Hautefort Castle in Dordogne, decorated with a Baroque Sun. Without forgetting the Louis XVIth or the Massena Halls, the latter recalling the adventures of Napoleon
 
..where you would enjoy the finest French lifestyle.
Dress your best shoes and let’s go to the restaurant..

In case you wish to stay for lunch or dinner, you have the choice between two culinary offers, both imagined by the Chef Virginie Basselot. Thus, La Rotonde may be regarded as a bistronomic address, adorned with gildings and a digitally animated rooftop showing a milky way. There, select one of the finest local dishes, displaying an alloy between products from the Mediterranean Sea and Provence soils. 

Otherwise, regarding Le Chantecler, you should book as early as possible your dinner, if you want to enjoy an unforgettable gastronomic moment in this Michelin-starred restaurant. Nested in a wooden framework, dating back from the 18th-century decor, a multi-course waits for you with the finest products selected by the inventive Chef
 
 
..and follow with this caviar topping on oyster preparation.
What a beautiful to enter your gastronomic diner!

In the menu of Le Chantecler, you could easily take your choice between different wonderful achievements of the skillful culinary team and following the rhythm of seasons, such as sea bass and oyster tartare, accompanied with some lemon cream and Sologne caviar, plus pearly cods, melting artichokes with a hint of poivrade as appetizers.

Before pursuing within a roasted pigeon breast, smoked celeriac and wild blackberry condiments and eventually ending with an astonishing wedding between olive oil and chocolate as a surprising pastry, covered by a light cream refreshed with orange blossom infused water. Without forgetting to let you guided by the sommelier, among the 800 wines available in the cellar, all the time updated and including both international but also local treasures, like the delicious juices from the Nice region.

Le Negresco Hotel, 37 Promenade des Anglais, 06000 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 16 64 00. More information on the official website.


..producing this tasty Bellet red wine.
What a wild environment for vineyards..

If you wanna learn more about Nice gastronomy, you couldn’t miss the local wine production. Indeed, among the oldest and smallest vineyards in France, you could count on the Domaine de la Source which was created in the 1980s by Jacques and Hélène Dalmasso.

Recently, their children Carine and Eric joined them to expand the family estate, which nowadays spreads over 7 hectares on sloped plots and bathed under the generous sun of the French Riviera. Thus, nestled on the heights of the hills of Nice, just 10 minutes away by car from the mythical Baie des Anges, this family domain has decided to adopt an organic agriculture, in order to preserve as much as possible its surrounding breathtaking environment (without pesticides nor chemical fertilizers but just biodynamic cultivation) and its magnificent terroir, known under the AOP Bellet

..and while being full of Folle Noire grapes.
This vine plant before blossoming..

Therefore, officially formalized in 1941, the Bellet wines are developed over a surface covering 650ha, of whom only 60ha are planted and exploited by 9 different domains, over the craggy territory around the large agglomeration of Nice, at an average altitude of 200m.

Those vineyards are regularly blown by the sea winds coming up through the Var valley along random dry alpine winds, offering enough iodine and mineral elements to complete its situation on silico-limestone soils and rolled pebbles dating from the Pliocene era. That’s why, those vines are settled on steep slopes which can only be planted on cramped terraces, offering much character to those juices, also very acclaimed by gastronomic addresses and celebrities, since the former US president Thomas Jefferson, passionate about French wines, appreciated those Grands Crus of Nice which he discovered during a visit to France.

 

..a surprising sparkling wine to discover with those bubbles!
What an elegant and fresh rosé wine that we recommend!

Furthermore, he may have been seduced by the unique taste of the various grape varieties cultivated for the elaboration of those special wines. Those are Rolle bringing floral aromas, while Clairette complete the elaboration of white wines with a fruity touch. In another hand, concerning red wines, we could count on the extremely dark Folle Noire, full of tannins, and Braquet grapes varieties, plus two Mediterranean species, which are Grenache and Cinsault. The Braquet is also called Brachet, and is also employed in rosé wines, thanks to its fragrant black grapes. Its delicate aromas ensure the finesse of any wine, nonetheless this variety used to be eventually the only one featuring in these vineyards and it’s still today employed as mono-varietal in some domains

In the case of the Domaine de la Source, their production proposes 3 colors of organic wines, starring endemic grape varieties, even for some of them dating back to Roman times. Those are Rolle, Braquet along Folle Noire and Grenache, all reflecting the originality and a certain exotism of these rare wines

Domaine de la Source, 303 Chemin de Saquier, 06200 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 29 81 60. More information on the official website. The domain remains open all year round, to visit and taste their fabulous wines.


..and large windows to admire Nice and its surroundings.
Such a graceful welcoming committee..

In terms of culture, Nice has much to propose with various museums and amazing exhibitions. Therefore, in the Beaux-Arts Museum is installed in 1928 in a magnificent residence built on the initiative of the Ukrainian princess Kotchoubey in 1878 and completed by the American Thompson. A century later, the charm of the building still operates thanks to fancy heights under the ceiling and a monumental marble staircase.

This initiative is the heir of a first museum constituted from the State deposits desired by Napoleon III after the attachment of Nice to France in 1860. Then, the collection was enriched by gifts and legacies from Mesdames Bashkirtseff, Ziem, Clément-Carpeaux, Dufy, Baron and Baroness Vitta, Maurice Fenaille and Gustav-Adolf Mossa, more recently bequests from Mesdames Odette Avigdor d’Acquaviva and that of Madame Ethel Messiah.

..or reach the Seventh Heaven, painted on the ceiling.
Clim this monumental staircase to access to the collections..

And, in 2002, a large donation consisting of 75 sculptures by Michel de Tarnowsky (born in Nice, 1870-1946), thanks to the association of his friends, created in 1992 by his daughter Françoise. collections highlight a real evolution in painting as in sculpture arts. The themes and subjects covered, the dynamism of colorful trends, the use of light are clearly a passage from classical painting to a modernity sought by the artists.

For your information, the painting and sculpture collections extend from the 14th to the 20th century with some masterpieces from Bronzino in the 16th, B. Zenale in the 16th, Jan Brueghel de Velours in the 17th, H. Fragonard and the Vanloos in the 18th, in the 19th JB Carpeaux and the Orientalist painters, then J. Chéret, GA Mossa for the Belle Epoque, and finally R. Dufy in the 20th century.

The most emblematic artworks of this museum are the Crucifixion by Agnolo Bronzino (1540), The yellow console with two windows by Raoul Dufy (1948), Lunch on the grass by Jules Chéret (1904), Window open on the Seine by Pierre Bonnard (1912), Allegory of the Earth and Allegory of Water by Jan I Brueghel & Hendrick Van Balen (17th century), The Neapolitan Fisherman by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1858).

Musée des Beaux-Arts, 33 Avenue des Baumettes, 06000 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 92 15 28 28. More information on the official website.


..with hundreds of surprises to admire.
Another Belle Époque jewel to explore from every corner.. 

Otherwise, if you pass by the endless Promenade des Anglais, don’t miss the Masséna Museum, an architectural gem on the Promenade des Anglais, evokes, through its collections, the art and history of the Riviera from Nice‘s attachment back to France until the end of the Belle Epoque.

All the artworks exhibited there evoke in a certain way this thematics, through a scenography that both combines graphic arts, furniture and objects from this period, with a focus into history.

Among other notable pieces presented are Napoleon‘s death mask made by Doctor Arnolt, along Joséphine‘s diadem made in mother-of-pearl and colored stones offered by Murat to the Empress and the book written by Prefect Liegeard.

 

 

..even historical objects and testimonies.
Any princess may become real again in a painting..

For instance, why don’t you take the opportunity to explore the landscape painters of the 19th century and more particularly Joseph Fricero, Antoine Trachel or Alexis Mossa?

It should be noted that the ground floor of the Villa is in itself a real artistic installation, thanks to its sumptuous interior decoration imagined by the architects Hans-Georg Tersling and Aaron Messiah, and the furniture and masterpieces from the 1st Empire that adorn the salons.

Furthermore, the Villa Masséna was built on the Promenade des Anglais between 1898 and 1901 by the same Danish architect Hans-Georg Tersling (1857-1920), one of the most famous architects on the Côte d’Azur during the Belle Epoque. The chosen style may be regarded neo-classical with a strong Italianate influence.

..another impressive portrait to be admired in the World.
One of the most impressive stairways in the French Riviera..

For your information, the Prince Victor d’Essling (1836-1910), grandson of André Masséna, made it his winter residence. His son, André, inherited of the estate at the death of his father and donated it to the city of Nice in 1919. From this statement, the Masséna Museum was inaugurated in 1921.

Then, a vast renovation campaign followed and was carried out by the city of Nice between 1999 and 2008, in order to restore this Belle-Epoque villa, its interior decorations, and to enhance its historical and artistic collections.

In another hand, this museum benefits from the presence of a historic botanic garden, overlooking the Promenade des Anglais and adjoining the famous Le Negresco Hotel. This natural space was designed by a revolutionary landscape architect, named Édouard André, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

By the way, discover, through those upon pictures, one of the last exhibitions offered for the year of Napoleon in 2021, and more precisely the relation of the Emperor and literature. You would learn more about how he inspired generations of authors and caught energy from his favorite manuscripts.

Musée Massena, 65 Rue de France, 06000 Nice (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)4 93 91 19 10. More information on the official website.