The first time I went to Menton this place was closed. The second time (2009) it was opened and what a great experience.
Although small this collection is wonderful to see. As I entered the building after lunch (2pm) the wonderful air-con was such a joy. Obviously with so many original paintings it had to be kept cool in the searing heat and it was.
Be careful when you go up the steps not to miss the paintings on the walls. The upstairs gallery gives an interesting incite into Mr Cocteau.
They all left me feeling quite inspired as I left. A lovely way to spend an afternoon in Menton IMO.
Blue is the colour. But, relax, this is nothing to do with unlovable football millionaires, Chelsea. Although, it would not be a surprise to see Roman Abramovich’s yacht bobbing around smugly in nearby Monte Carlo marina.
No, blue is the colour of the sea at Nice. The Côte d’Azur could not be more fittingly named. Park yourself on one of the many benches along the Promenade des Anglais and just gaze out at the ocean. It is seriously blue and in a stunning variety of shades: azure, lapis lazuli, turquoise, indigo…(pause while writer surreptitiously consults Dulux colour chart)…Deep Ultramarine, Paradise Blue, Sea Blue [Sea Blue? Nah!].
Anyway – you get the picture. As, indeed, did Matisse. It is little wonder that the great painter – born in damp, grey, Picardy in the north – responded to his move to the Riviera by unleashing on the world his wild, splashy yellows, reds, lavenders and, yes, above all, blues. (Visit the Matisse Museum which stands in the Cimiez park a little way out of the city centre).
And, surveying the vista from your woody vantage point, you may be moved to something in the poetic line yourself. “It’s bluer than Paul Newman’s eyes!”, the star-struck may sigh. “It’s bluer than a Bernard Manning gag”, the vulgar may retort. “It’s bluer than Billie Holliday singing a, um, sad song about something, er, sad”, the game but analogically-challenged might utter.
A possible drawback of the Promenade des Anglais for some may be the number of roller-skaters/bladers. In scenes oddly reminiscent of an English suburban street on Christmas morning an (un)steady stream of knee- and elbow-padded kids trundle by – often accompanied, wobbling alarmingly, by those old enough to know better.
But, if you can bear your bench’s status as a miniature traffic island, there is the potential pleasure of seeing some middle-aged bloke, all wealth and wraparound shades, tan and teeth, come a Bambi-esque cropper.
What’s the French for schadenfreude?
The Mamac offers the holiday maker a view of avant garde movements since the 1960s. The second and third floors contain permanent collections. The first floor is reserved for temporary exhibitions. The building itself is an open exhibition, with a mural by the artist Sol LeWitt. The facade of the museum entrance is decorated with a monumental painting by Claude Viallat. The Esplanade features a series of sculptures by artists such as Alexander Calder and Niki de Saint-Phalle.
Mamac is closed on Mondays and certain bank holidays. Entrance prices are €4, discount prices €2.50.
There are guided tours: Wednesdays at 4pm in French, and English tours by appointment. Price €3 and €1.50.
Tip: museums are free on the first Sunday in every month.
Shop available, selling catalogues for all exhibitions and a selection of products.
Musee-promenade des arts, buses 1,2,5,6,7,9,10,14,16,17,15. Phone 04 93 62 61, www.mamac-nice.org
Villefranche is a 15-minute ride on the No 100 bus from the Gare Routier.
The views as you leave Nice and curve around the Cap de Nice into the Rade de Villefranche are spectacular.
Loads to do when you get there whatever your tastes. Sightseeing: the Citadel, Rue Obscure, the old Port; culture: four museums/galleries, all free entry; relaxing: two beaches, one coarse sand, the other stony; and loads of bars and restaurants.
There's a food market with local produce on Saturdays, antiques (well bric-a-brac) on Sundays, and above all it's a nice, relaxing, cosy place after the brashness of Nice.
PS don't take a car!
A plush residential neighbourhood located around a hill in the north-east of Nice. This is where the Brits and Russians came to stay and built villas during the Belle Epoque, hence the exotic architecture, notably the Regina Palace, previously a hotel and the location of Matisse's workshop.
The park at the top of the hill (just after the statue of Queen Victoria) houses a nice olive grove, Roman ruins (with the associated archaeological museum), the Matisse Museum and the monastery with its phenomenal gardens (and nice views).
All in all, a great place to chill out for an afternoon, mingle with the locals on a weekend and wander around.
The park is also where the jazz festival takes place every summer - www.nicejazzfest.com - which is why the alleys are named after the jazz musicians who have performed there (Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie among others).
A pleasant walk of about 20 minutes slightly uphill from the train station, follow Boulevard de Cimiez.
Otherwise Bus No 15 from Place Massena, direction Rimiez. Timetables at www.lignedazur.com.
The park is open until around 8pm in the summer; closes earlier in the winter.
An exceptionally beautiful small museum hovering above a lake in the Parc Floral Phoenix (bus 23 westbound stops almost directly outside).
There are sections covering Japan, China, India and Cambodia.
Exceptionally restful, light and airy.
Every day except Tuesday; €4.5.
405 Promenade des Anglais
Not only does this museum have a great collection of modern art, but the icing on the cake if the amazing 360° panoramic view that you get from the roof terrace.
It's an amazing place to just sit and watch the sun go down as you can see almost the whole city.
Like most museums in Nice, it's free on the first and third Sunday of every month.
Promenade des Arts, in the old town;
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