While Nice might sit in Paris’s shadow as the number two city from a statistics perspective, Nice clearly stands out in the light in it’s own right. There is a reason that all of the artists and poets came to Nice to practice their craft. They say it’s because of the special light that graces the slopes and the beaches, "where the light meets the sea." I think it’s a blend of the fresh Mediterranean air and the landscape that hangs like a warm and inviting tapestry over the coast. If you like museums then you’ve come to the right city. There is almost every museum you can imagine, some including works of the greatest artists of all time such as Picasso, Chagall, Renoir, Matisse, and many more.
You can pick up a 1, 3 or 7 day museum pass at any of the museums which is a great economical way to see any of the museums not only in Nice, but in the whole ‘Côte d’
Azur’ region. While we visited the Matisse museum, I was even more impressed by the surrounding Roman ruins and ancient Olive tree park that surround the museum. If you are a budding artist or appreciate modern art, you will want to stop at the world renowned Villa Arson art school and artist residence which also houses a Contemporary Art Center. Only a talented and select 200 students attend the school. The students come from all over the world and their tuition is picked up by the French Ministry of Culture. All are welcomed to visit the 50,000 plus square feet of studios and workshops including the 8,500 sq. ft. Digital Arts Studio. We were most impressed that government supported these students and the pure pursuit of art for art’s sake.
My favorite part of Nice was the old town, which has an open-air market and meandering tiny streets full of galleries, shops, brasseries and cafes. One of the region’s agricultural staples is flowers which are used in its famous perfumeries and spices. The markets were abloom in flowers and every imaginable spice. Their appreciation for spices were evident in what I’ve never seen before - spiced flavored gelato / ice cream. They even had tomato basil and thyme flavored gelato. While we passed on these frozen delicacies, we did partake in some local specialties - socca and pissaladiére. Socca is like a large pancake made from chickpeas and pissaladiére is a type of onion pizza, both of which were good. You can try them where we did at the Chez Rene Socca off of Rue Miralheti in old town.