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Backdoor Nice

Hello all. I am going to be returning to Nice for the first time in 7 years and am looking for some backdoor places that you might recommend including restaurants or cool corners. I have done the Chagall and Matisse museums and will be seeing the Villa Rothschild for the first time. I already have my hotel picked out...the Hôtel Grimaldi by Happyculture.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
27362 posts

I don't claim these places are obscure enough to qualify as back doors, but I don't see them mentioned on the forum (except by me):

  • Nice has a Museum of Naïve Art and a Museum of Asian Arts, both of which I really enjoyed. Both are out on the western side of town (toward the airport), about two miles apart. There are rather frequent buses along the Promenade des Anglais, though they can be severely affected by traffic. I was told the large park (Parc Phoenix) just east of the Asian museum is very nice, but I didn't have a chance to go there.

  • Villefranche-sur-Mer is small and very touristy. The Citadelle doesn't seem to get a lot of visitors and has several small museums. I believe at least two were art-related. Please don't hold me to this, but I think entry may be free.

  • The Train des Pignes (operated by Chemin de Fer de Provence) takes you on an interesting trip north to the medieval village of Entrevaux and the spa town of Digne-les-Bains. The train departs from a separate station a bit north of Nice-Ville. It's a long trip and at least as of 2016 the schedule made it difficult to have enough time to see as much as I wanted of the two towns. It's also not a cheap ticket. One might reasonably choose just to go as far as Entrevaux. In addition, I believe there is a low-priced bus option to Entrevaux if it intrigues you. The day I was there I seemed to be the only tourist in town. However, it was raining cats and dogs and quite chilly; I had chosen to take the trip that day because I figured I'd at least be dry during the time on the train. In retrospect, it wasn't smart to spend that much money (currently 48 euros round-trip to Digne; 24 euros to Entrevaux) on such a miserable day.

  • On the day you go to the Villa Ephrussi de Rotschild you could also include the Villa Kerylos. The walking distance between the two is less than 1-1/2 miles.

  • The small (not undiscovered but by no means overrun) hill town of Biot is reachable by train to the coastal Biot stop and then a bus. Biot is know for its glass. Before the bus reaches the historic center it passes the Leger Museum, which I unfortunately didn't have time to visit.

  • You can walk around Cap Ferrat and other capes in the area. The Nice tourist office on the plaza outside the Nice Ville station was able to give me helpful brochures. Note, though, that you will primarily be seeing the Mediterranean rather than the no-doubt-fabulous houses in the area. Those folks value their privacy and favor very high walls. Also, there is often a section of unpaved surface to negotiate along the way. Not advised for those with sprained ankles or serious balance issues.

  • The town of Menton, practically on the Italian border, is extremely popular. The medieval district is thronged with tourists--or some combination of tourists and expats. There are two interesting gardens on the outskirts that get very, very few visitors: Val Rahmeh Botanical Garden and Serre de la Madone. They're on opposite sides of town; you can get to them by bus, but I don't know how frequently the buses run. Val Rahmeh is only about 1/2 mile from the Menton Garavan RR station and is a long-but-possible walk from the historic district. Serre de la Madone is about 2 miles from the historic area (somewhat closer to the main Menton RR station), but there's quite a lot of uphill walking involved. Both gardens are on hillsides and would be difficult or impossible for the mobility-impaired.

Posted by
698 posts

If you are doing the Villa Ephrussi you might consider the walk around Cap Ferrat (depending on the weather and time of year, of course). If you have a car, you can go to the towns of Touretttes-sur-Loup and Gourdon. You can try taking the Ferry to St. Honorat and seeing the Monastery and winery there. You can travel to Biot, for glass making and the Leger Musee. Go to Haut de Cagnes by train/bus and see the castle and Renoir museum. Go to Menton to visit the gardens and the Cocteau Museum. Travel up into the border mountain villages via the Train de Merveilles (Tende, Saorge) or drive to Peille and Peillon. Travel to Ventimiglia for the Friday market... or down to Borghidera for a taste of an Italian resort. Maybe Aquadolce for an Italian hill town. These are still pretty mainstream, but off the main tourist priority lists (such as Villefrance, Eze, St. Paul, Cannes, Monaco, etc)

Near your hotel is the Cafe Sejour. In the old town, try Bar des Oiseux. For a taste of the local scene, head to Place Garibaldi and along Rue Bonaparte (around Place du Pin - aka le Petit Marais) and into the Port for the new restaurants, bars and cafes.

ETA... just saw acraven's post... some duplication....

Posted by
1340 posts

You guys are awesome, thanks!

I will not have a car and I will be there during the last full week of March.