Fun things to do in Nice

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    Russian itinerary - churches and more

    by Muscovite Updated Jul 10, 2014

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    Indeed, not many tourists will take up Russian itinerary in Nice, even those who actually come from Russia.
    Anyway, this is what a curious explorer can do without dropping dead tired in the end of the day.

    Starting from Place Masséna or avenue Jean Médecin:
    A few steps along the pedestrian rue Masséna, turn right (this lane is so small that I don’t remember its name), cross Rue Liberté, go straight ahead – another pedestrian street with trees in tubs is:

    • Rue docteur Michel Rosanoff. A good doctor he must have been, having lived nearly 100 years! He has a lot of merits of his own, but we remember him mostly as he is the son of the other doctor Rosanov, who published and sponsored 'The Russo-French Journal' and treated Anton Chekhov when the latter lived here in Nice, converting him into a staunch supporter of Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

    Further at the corner – the ‘old’ Russian church, don’t mix with the Russian Cathedral:
    • St. Nicholas & Alexandra church, 6 rue de Longchamp, is operated by the Russian Orthodox church ‘in exile’. It is now under renovation, and I am afraid so it will be quite a while, which is good as I’ll have time to write a good tip. So far pay attention to the bulletin board, if you want to visit the Russian cemetery in Caucade, its hours are very tricky.

    About 10 minutes along rue Marechal Joffre will bring you to rue Gounod with its former Russian guesthouse, now Scottish hotel Oasis:
    • Hotel Oasis, 23 rue Gounod is a very lovely place with own garden, Anton Chekhov stayed there more than once. The prominent Chekhov scholar professor Rayfield says the playwright had his windows on the sea side closer to the street. Vladimir Lenin liked this hotel, too. There are memorial plaques to both of them.

    Strolling along rue Gounod is very pleasant until you are close to the railway station, fortunately you turn abruptly to the left to reach bd Gambetta. Leave behind the railway with its industrial landscape, and bd. Tzaréwitch with the Imperial park will be on your left. What you need here is:
    • St Nicholas Cathedral, 17 boulevard Tzaréwitch, or the ‘new’ Russian church. To give you an idea with the times, the ‘old’ and European-looking St. Nicholas & Alexandra church (see above) was open even before Anton Chekhov was born, while this ‘new’ church with its characteristically medieval domes was put in pledge some ten years after his death. See my other tips on the cathedral, hope to write more.
    Quite remarkable: all three Russian Orthodox churches in Nice are consecrated to St. Nicholas - I guess because he is the travellers' patron!

    That will be our last stop – don’t take it literally, the Russian cemetery is not here and will need Russian itinerary, day 2.

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    Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Caucade

    by Muscovite Updated Jul 10, 2014

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    I really don’t get it!
    The Russian churchyard could have been a top point in Nice sightseeing, what with the crowds of Russian tourists here in hot season; the proprietor (it’s private, not municipal) could have arranged guided tours and use the profit to keep the place in better shape, or to some other good cause. Instead they keep it open for just a few hours a week and are planning to shut the door for the general public altogether.

    St. Nicholas church – one of the three Orthodox churches of the same name in Nice – is the only one the émigré community in Nice has at its disposal now, the other in rue Longchamps is under renovation (unless they are already through). You can see them here at church services, though getting is rather problematic, the church is very, very small.

    The famous (for some) names you will see here range from Ekaterina Dolgorukova (Jurievskaya), the second wife of the emperor Alexander II to Elizaveta Kotchubei , the owner of the villa now housing the Museum of Fine Arts, from Alexander Raevsky , fighting against Napoleon at 17 and colonel at 22 to generals Mikhail Grulev , the author of ‘Jewish General in Russian Army’ and Nikolai Judenich , a prominent First World War army commander.

    One grave I could not find belongs to the famous scholar Vladimir Golenishchev, the founder of the chair of Egyptology no less than in Cairo University as well as Centre Wladimir Golenischeff - Religion de l'Egypte ancienne. The Egyptian collection at the Moscow Pushkin museum – the third world’s best, after Cairo and the British Museum – that’s his. The photo here was courteously supplied by Mr. Vladimir Beliakov, himself a renown orientalist. Today we are busy trying to put up a monument to Golenishchev in Nice.
    For more photos see my Travelogue

    Open (latest info from Père Jean Gueit)
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday 14 – 17
    (Check the latest timetable at rue Longchamps church)
    Entrance free - so far...

    Egyptologist Golenishchev Bus stops right here St. Nicholas church Office hours
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    Sightseeing by category

    by Muscovite Updated Jul 2, 2014

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    You’ll definitely need quite some time to process all the information the friendly VT members supply; I’ll try to give it a structure:

    Medieval citadels:
    Eze, Cagne-sur-Mer, Villfranche, Roquebrune, Entrevaux, Annot

    Famous artists:
    Matisse - Nice, home + museum and Vence, the chapel
    Renoir - Cagne-sur-Mer, home + museum
    Cocteau – Menton, the whole place, including one wedding facility (may be interesting for you youngsters)
    Dufy – Nice, Fine Arts mueum
    Fragonard – Grasse, home + museum
    Picasso – Antibes, museum only (I hope he did not rent that castle, although you can expect anything)

    Famous writers – I can throw in a bunch of Russian names, but they will hardly get a kick (in Russia either these days)
    ...And Romain Gary has just turned 100 years

    Fancy gardens, charge:
    Nice - Park Phoenix
    Eze – Jardin Exotique
    Monaco – Jardin Exotique
    Cap Ferrat – Villa Rothschild

    Nice public parks, no charge:
    Monaco - Princess Grace rosary
    Monaco – Japanese garden
    Nice – University park (Valrose) - you will need to look like a student/professor
    Nice - Mont Boron
    There are more, of course, just don't remember off-hand

    Perfumes to buy – Grasse, Eze

    Something different from Nice:
    Italy – different language, same air
    Monaco – same language, different air, IMHO

    Easily accessible places – anything along bus route # 100 (Nice – Menton)
    Not easily accessible places – Grasse, Cannes, Antibes, Entrevaux, Roquebrune, Tande

    Budget sightseeing (no entrance fee):
    Nice - Palais Lascaris
    Nice - châteaux de Valrose (University park)
    Nice – Chateau Hill & Cemetery
    San Remo – Villa Nobel
    Bellet wine tour - if you don't actuall buy or taste wine
    All churches, except the Russian church in blvrd Tsarevich, Nice (unless the Almighty brings them to their senses)
    PS: It did! - Partially...
    In 2012 the church changed hands - goodbye 3 euro fee, welcome long skirts (ladies)/ trousers (gents)

    You may want to contact
    Nice Tourisme Office for advice and maps, they usually have a booth at Place Massena in high season

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    Russian itinerary in Nice and around

    by Muscovite Written Jun 5, 2014

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    While I am writing one tip at a time, the industrious Tourist Office in Nice is doing my job for me.
    Good for them, especially as they get paid for it.

    The text comes in French, use clever translation machines

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    Russian itinerary - Ivan Bounine - Grasse outing

    by Muscovite Updated May 28, 2014

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    Grasse is known as the capital of scents, total art freaks would recall Les Fragonard the painter family apart from Fragonard the perfume company. For us linguists Grasse is mainly the home of Ivan Bounine, the writer and Nobel Prize winner. (Isn’t it funny that the Russian literature, though world-acclaimed, has less laureates than Sweden?)

    This is briefly what is awaiting you there; for detailed directions see my Grasse tip – as soon as I have time to write it.

    • Memorial roadside stone on the way to Villa Belvedere
    Not in its best shape, the words are hardly readable

    • Villa Belvedere
    As a fellow Russian tourist said: ‘Villa – what villa? It’ a barn at best!’
    The dwelling is quite modest indeed, and even that the broken Bounines could hardly afford to rent, let alone buy; luckily the writer had generous sponsors when he lived here in the 1930s.
    Some time ago I heard this place was going to be open for general public; allegedly a Bordeaux doctor, descentant of a well-to-do Russian émigré family had bought it to start a Bounine museum. These rumours vanished with the 2008 credit crunch.

    • Monument to Bounine in Princess Pauline public garden
    Pretty worn-out, too. Nice of the Grasse citizens to have mounted it, anyway.

    • Villa Jeannette
    Now that’s what you call a villa with a good reason - hidden behind the high stone wall, beyond the reach of curious tourists.
    Bounine moved here in the 1940s, there is a tiny memorial plaque literally imprinted into the rock; you can take a photo and prove you have actually been there - access is not easy, to put it mildly.

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    Russian itinerary - Anton Chekhov trail

    by Muscovite Written May 27, 2014

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    Anton Chekhov loved Nice and the French (no matter that Nice is to a greater extent Italian – he loved Italians, too, said so when he was in Venice). For my part I am sure that, even with his TB and all, he could have lived well into his 80s had he stuck to the Riviera. (Maybe not such luck, the way history went in the 20th century.)

    In any case, we have two addresses here:
    • Hotel Beau Rivage, 24 rue Saint Francois de Paule
    (The entrance was under renovation, I’ll supply the big picture when they take off all scaffolding)

    What we need is not the Hotel, but the Residence Beau Rivage – the same building, but the entrance is on the other side (not that I have ever seen anyone actually enter). It was the first of the pompous Promenade des Anglais hotels and already very fashionable in early 1890s when Chekhov first visited Nice accompanied by his publisher, Alexei Souvorin. To be exact, it was the other way round - Souvorin being twice as old and at least ten times as prosperous, he virtually sponsored the young writer. It’s quite remarkable how these two had always been good friends, Souvorin a tough entrepreneur and sort of a gloomy right-winger, and Chekhov always a free spirit.

    The next location is:
    • Hotel Oasis, 23 rue Gounod

    A celebrated author in late 1890s, Chekhov still had to be content with a middle class Russian guest-house. The upper class, like Mlle Bashkirtseva and her mother, rented villas – these things never change... Most of the neighbours had no idea who Chekhov was, but there were some sensible people, like Alexandra Khotiaintseva, the artist – her black-and-white caricature shows Chekhov staring in dismay at his own picture. This formal portrait was commissioned for the Moscow Tretyakov gallery and painted here in Nice; the caustic writer once said his necktie was at its best, but his own self looked as if he had sniffed horseradish.
    Keep your camera charged, there are several memorial plaques on the outer wall and a few posters in the lobby.

    Before you go, look up at the street right opposite the hotel:
    • Rue Anton Tchekhov

    The address plate is new, apparently it is here since year 2010 when he had his 150th birthday; I am 99.99% sure I had not seen it before. In fact it’s not a street, but a deadlock – no good symbolism as he died at 44…

    Hotel Oasis Residence Beau Rivage Chekhov and his portrait Chekhov and his wife Olga
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    Two homes of Princess Kate

    by Muscovite Written May 22, 2014

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    Our Kate (Ekaterina Yurievskaya, née Dolgorukova) was a princess in her own right.
    Her father was so poor, though, that the state (read - the Tzar) paid for her boarding-school. In return she had born him four kids. You can follow the whole story with the ancient Romy Schneider film where Curd Jürgens the charmer surely flatters our heavily whiskered emperor (see link below) - it’s a love story, not a historic story.

    When Alexander II the Liberator was bombed in 1881 by those same folks he had meant to liberate, his morganatic widow moved out of the country and settled down in Nice. Very wise of her, as she died in her own bed in 1922, unlike many of her royal relatives who stayed in Russia.
    • ‘Villa Georges’ is still written at the door of # 10 Boulevard Dubouchage. George was the first name of her elder son and at the same time it became the family name of the princess and her descendants after her marriage (Yuri and George are variants of the same name in Russian).
    Today the first floor is taken by a doctor’s consulting room.
    You will easily find the building – bd. Dubouchage starts right behind Nice Etoile, ‘THE’ shopping center of the city, princess Katia’s house is on your left.

    The other home is much more modest. Take bus 8 (last year the stop was at rue de la Poste opposite Galleries Lafayette) to Caucade.
    • The Russian Orthodox Cemetery, 78 avenue de Sainte-Marguerite.
    Finding the grave is no easy matter, even if you speak Russian, better ask the gate-keeper, if you find him.
    Last year the cemetery was only open on Saturdays 2 p.m. – 5 p.m., and the rumours were it would be shut altogether for want of finances.

    Romy Schneider & Curd J��rgens in 'Katia'
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    Romain Gary Trail

    by Muscovite Updated May 21, 2014

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    I was reading ‘La Promesse de l'aube’ at one of my first Nice visits.
    Here is sort of a Romain Gary Nice itinerary - with an important Roquebrune-Cap-Martin loop on the way; I won’t be surprised if the city of Nice where he got fledged splashes out a huge celebration on Romain Gary centenary in 2014.

    • Lycée Masséna, avenue Félix Faure 2 – opposite old bus station, now modern park. They say this prestigious school was founded as long ago as 1623, and it boasts a long list of famous former students. I can only imagine how much financial effort it took Romain’s mother to put him up here.

    The first street to the left will take you to bd Dubouchage, a quiet area of high standing (the second wife of Alexander II lived at #10 on the other side of the street)
    • Bibliothèque Patrimoniale Romain Gary, bd Dubouchage 21, will be on your left. The library got the writer’s name in 2005 when it turned 80 – this means the writer could well have used its ancient volumes, when he arrived with his mother Mina in 1928, being a humble Roman Katsev at that time.

    Moving from the eastern quarters to the West along bd Dubouchage, further bd Victor Hugo and then diving under the railroad bridge you may want to visit St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, commonly known as the Russian Church.
    • St Nicholas Cathedral, boulevard Tzaréwitch 17. This place is very well described, you will find lots of info everywhere in VT. Roman and his mother were neither Russian, nor Orthodox, but it is here where they went before he joined the pilot school in Salon-de-Provence, now home to Patrouille de France.

    From there back under the railway and head to the sea:
    • Bd François Grosso 7 – this must be the place where Roman’s mother Mina had met her luck and settled down as a hotel ‘gérante’. This part of Nice had – and still does – a strong Russian presence, with ‘St. Petersburg grocery’ and such. There is no exact address in the book – no wonder, the great mystifier as he was. Local blog points to it, anyway.

    Now we skip a mighty long period of his life and arrive in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
    • The three-storey house at impasse Scarouget 4 in the mountainous Roquebrune Village, some 20 km east of Nice, is where Romain Gary lived 1950 – 57 with his English wife Lesley Blanch and wrote, among other pieces, Les Racines du ciel that brought him his first Prix Goncourt in 1956. (Did you know that he is the only writer to have got two of these prizes, and under two different names?)
    He must have been really happy here as he willed his ashes to be scattered in the sea from the castle cliff.
    You can climb the stairs from bus #100 stop, but, as you can see from this photo, it’s no fun. I hope to find some sort of public transportation there.

    Former Mina Owczynska's hotel at Bd Grosso Lyc��e Mass��na Romain Gary Library St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral Roquebrune memorial plaque
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    Nice wine tour

    by Muscovite Written Mar 31, 2014

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    If I had a car, I would definitely take a wine tour.
    There is one at my neighbouring tip that lies on bus 62 route:
    But most of Bellet vineyards one can only be seen in the hills with a pair of binoculars, and you need to have a car or a lot of time for wandering about on foot backpacking.
    I caught this map on my camera standing next to St.Roman-de-Bellet mayor’s office, that’s where Domaine Augier is located – not with the mayor, that is. And in case you want to ask them for directions, keep in mind that the local mayor has four days off and only three in the office; Tuesday – Thursday. Must be engaged in wineries, too…
    Chateau de Cremat is one of the most prominent – judging from how much it cost in generous Monoprix wine cellar:

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    Monument des Morts, Nice France

    by Agraichen Written Mar 18, 2014

    The War Memorial monument is located at the base of Castle Hill just to the left of the port area. It's a short walk down the promenade and across the busy thoroughfare to get to the base but it's beautiful tribute.

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    Nice Greeters

    by Muscovite Written Jan 8, 2014

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    Found a nice way to discover Nice - and free!
    Nice tourist office has taken up free tours - you meet a volunteer, and they take you around for about 2 hours or so.
    You can choose between a walk or a bicycle ride, nature or culture, or you may take a preference for a specific neighbourhood.
    And then, if you get to know Nice properly, you may become a Nice Greeter yourself :)

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    Niki de Saint Phalle's works

    by piosku67 Updated Aug 16, 2012

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    You can see Niki de Saint Phalle's works in many places in Nice. Niki de Saint Phalle, called in fact Catherine-Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle. She lived between 29 October 1930 and 21 May 2002. She was a French sculptor, painter, and film maker. Of course, Museum of Modern Art is the best place to see her sculptors and artworks. I guess that the handwriting some public signs are written comes from her.

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    If you like musical instruments (specially piano)

    by Elainehead Written Jun 11, 2012

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    you might like this place. Of course, if you are also interested in architecture and history...

    A friend of mine has been talking about this place for ages. She's interested in history so go figure!
    Too bad I didn't go with her when I visited this place the other day... I'm not a fan of museums, so I just went inside this one because I was in the area and the entrance was free... If you have a backpack, you are advised to leave them at the reception (there are lockers if you need them).

    Well, I can't deny it, the architecture is impressive (but hey, what do I know about architecture after all? LOL!).

    Besides the building itself, there is an exhibition of musical instruments from pianos to guitars. I don't play any musical instruments, but it was interesting after all.

    It seems that there's a piano concert (check the place's website for the complete listing) but I didn't stay for the show.

    If you need to go to the loo, they can be found near the reception. They are dirty, so be warned.

    Ceiling painting
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    Villages Perchés - day trips from Nice

    by Flying.Scotsman Written Apr 16, 2012

    If you are visiting the area to lie on the beach and drink rose wine (sounds good as I am writing this while the winter snow is lying thick outside), then you may not know about the villages perchés(pear-shay). These are villages perched on hilltops, some quite precipitously. It is worth a visit to at least a few of these as a trip into the mountains is quite amazing, and the villages very pretty. Eze, Biot, Vence, St Paul de Vence, and Luceram are some of the the easy ones to get to from Nice, but there are others further into the mountains. There are 2 train lines that go into the mountains, the the Train des pignes and the Train Merveilles. Tende, St Dalmas de Tende, and La Brigue on the latter route all have separate entries on my travel pages.

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    Nice Tourisme Office

    by Muscovite Written Jun 10, 2011

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    You may want to contact Nice Tourisme Office for advice and maps. They cover Nice and the whole of the French Riviera.

    There is another office at the railway station, and in high season they And there is a booth at Place Massena.

    They cannot know everything by heart, of course, but they are quite willing to call another town to find out.

    Now open on Sundays, too!
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Nice Things to Do

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The city of Nice has enough to occupy a day, a week, or longer, and is the travel hub that opens up the rest of the French Riviera.

The must-do list includes  exploring the narrow...

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