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Nice is France’s fifth largest city, but it is easy to explore. Photo: Shutterstock
Nice is France’s fifth largest city, but it is easy to explore. Photo: Shutterstock

Get some sun and culture in off-season Nice

Head to Nice in the low season. The crowds are much smaller and there are substantial hotel and flight discounts.

Visit Nice outside the summer months and you won’t be disappointed. In the off-season, the pace slows down and the locals are more relaxed and eager to chat. The sun still shines most days, raising daytime temperatures to comfortable outdoor café weather, while the cooler nights offer a perfect excuse to dine indoors on traditional French food.

Nice is France’s fifth largest city, but it’s easy to explore by bike (there are city ­rental bikes and lots of paths), or by bus, tram or on foot. Watch your step, but don’t forget to look up – otherwise you’ll miss some of the beautiful architecture. You can really do everything – or ­nothing – in the city of Nice. As ­Stockholm-Nice inhabitant Lars Skald says, “Nice is mainly about the sea and beautiful bay. Even in November it is lovely just reading a book on the beach and going for a walk along the promenade.”

Nice is, well, very nice… in the off-season too. 

Museums

MAMAC

In the center of Nice is MAMAC, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Its permanent collection includes Yves Klein’s signature blue paintings and Niki de Saint Phalle’s big, bold papier-maché sculptures of women. Dedicated to the history of the European and American avant-garde movement

MAMAC

Place Yves Klein, Nice

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Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice’s collection includes works by Monet, Van Dongen, Rodin and Degas. It’s housed in a former private mansion built by a Ukrainian princess in 1878.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice

33 Avenue des Baumettes, Nice

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Musée Marc Chagall

A short bus ride will take you to the Chagall Museum and the Matisse Museum, both in the hills of Cimiez, where you’ll also be rewarded with a closer look at the Belle Époque Excelsior Regina Palace. It was built in the late 1800s as a hotel for aristocracy, but is now a private apartment building. The Marc Chagall National Museum was inaugurated in 1973 in the presence of the artist himself, who, at 86 years old, was heavily involved in its design. Pick up a free audio guide to really get the most out of his symbolic paintings and other works on exile, religion, birth, death and love.

Musée Marc Chagall

36 Avenue Dr Ménard, Nice

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Closed on Tuesdays

Musée Matisse

A little farther up the hill is the Matisse Museum, set in a beautiful park beside the adjacent Cimiez Monastery and cemetery, the resting place of Matisse and fellow painter Raoul Dufy. One of the world’s largest collections of the legendary painter’s works.

Musée Matisse

164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, Nice

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Closed on Tuesdays

Books

If books are more your thing, Nice has something for everyone. Small bookstores are a dying breed these days, but they ­remain alive and well in literary France, and even if you don’t read French, it’s fun to wander around them simply for their atmosphere. 

Bouquinerie Le Magasin Pittoresque

Bouquinerie Le Magasin Pittoresque is a second-hand store on Rue Delille whose floor-to-ceiling avalanche of books actually makes it difficult to enter! I ask the assistant if she is able to find specific books among the piles and boxes. “We used to have a system, but not anymore,” she says with a hopeless smile.

Bouquinerie Le Magasin Pittoresque

La Sorbonne Librairie

If you’re looking for a more orderly bookstore, especially for hardcover and special editions, La Sorbonne Librairie, one of the larger stores, is a good bet for new books. It has a small selection of English books including translated Swedish detective novels. BD Fugue Café is the place to go for Manga and comic books.

La Sorbonne Librairie

37 Rue de l'Hôtel des Postes, Nice

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Librairie Nicoise

Founded in 1931, with a large selection of antique books as well as new ones.

Librairie Nicoise

2 rue Défly, Nice

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BD Fugue Café

Best for comics and manga titles.

BD Fugue Café

31 rue d’Angleterre

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Markets

Once you’ve had your fill of ­culture, why not head for the market? You’ll find one nearly every day of the week in Nice.

Marché Aux Puces

For antique and “brocante” (knick-knack) hunters there’s the Marché Aux Puces in the Port area.

Marché Aux Puces

Place Robilante, Nice

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Marché Aux Fleurs

Flower lovers should visit the Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya in Old Nice, which is home to a more general market as well.

Marché Aux Fleurs

Text: Cari Simmons

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