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10 Museums to Visit in Nice on the French Riviera

The French Riviera coast is lined with sandy and pebbled beaches, grand villas and designer gardens. Whether you arrive by car, plane, train or yacht, it is an attractive destination. While there is no lack of things to do along the Côte d’Azur, you want a dose of culture some days. Here is a list of ten (10) museums in Nice that are all well worth visiting.

Musée Masséna

Located along Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, the Villa Masséna is a French historical monument from the 19th century. Danish architect Hans-Georg Tersling designed the grand Belle Époque building that was constructed between 1898 and 1901. The son of Victor Masséna sold the villa to the City of Nice in 1919 for a price that equalled the inheritance tax due. However, he had two stipulations: the Villa Masséna should become the Musée Masséna (opened in 1921), and the gardens remain open to the public.

Restored building by the city between 1999 and 2008, the Musée Masséna is a beautiful example of Italian neo-classical design. Take a guided tour through the museum’s collection of art, furnishings, and jewellery from the Belle Époque.

Musée Masséna website
65 rue de France
35 Promenade des Anglais
06000 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Tuesdays)

Palais Lascaris

Right in the heart of Vieux Nice is the Musée du Palais Lascaris the one-time residence of the Lascaris Vintimille family. The Baroque-style mansion constructed in 1648 remained the family’s home until the French Revolution. Acquired by the French state in 1946, Palais Lascaris is now a Musée de France and a registered historical monument. From the outside, the façade of the Palais Lascaris looks like the neighbouring buildings. However, inside, you find a rare collection of over 500 musical instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries, the most extensive collection outside the Musée de la Musique in Paris.

10 Museums in Nice, France

Palais Lascaris ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France, Anais Brochiero

Palais Lascaris website
15 rue Droite (Vieux Nice)
06300 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Tuesdays)

Museum d’Histoire Naturelle de Nice (MHNN)

It’s perhaps fitting that the oldest museum in Nice, established in 1846, is the one that houses a collection of over a million specimens of natural history. The facility is also known as the Musée Barla, named after one of the scientific visionaries of the time – Jean-Baptiste Barla (1817-1896). This museum showcases the Côte d’Azur’s overall biodiversity with samples of flora and fauna from the area. Walking through the displays, you will gain an appreciation for the diverse and fragile environment.

Museum d’Histoire Naturelle de Nice website
60 Boulevard Risso
06300 Nice
Open daily 13h30 – 18h (closed on Mondays)

Musée National Marc Chagall

At the foot of Cimiez Hill is the Musée National Marc Chagall, opening its doors to honor this great Franco-Russian artist’s talents and philanthropic generosity. It is an extraordinary art museum that was the benefactor of an extensive collection of Chagall’s works, including seventeen masterpieces entitled, The Biblical Message. In 1966, Marc Chagall originally donated the Biblical Message series to the French State, first exhibited at the Louvre in Paris, eventually making its permanent home in the chic neighbourhood on Cimiez Hill in Nice.

Nice, Musée Chagall

Musée Chagall ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France

Before his death in 1985, Marc Chagall was instrumental in creating a public location in Nice for the paintings that form The Biblical Message. Built explicitly for these pieces, Musée National Marc Chagall (Marc Chagall National Museum) has the most significant public assembly of the artist’s work. The Old Testament heavily influenced the permanent collection’s theme, from large-scale works to drawings. In addition, Chagall was involved in the museum’s space planning and completed stained glass windows in the auditorium.

Nice, Musée Chagall

Musée Chagall ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France

Musée National Marc Chagall website
36 avenue Docteur Ménard (angle bd de Cimiez)
06000 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h from May through October and until 17h the rest of the year.
Closed on Tuesdays

Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC)

Located in the centre of Nice near Place Garibaldi, MAMAC is a must for contemporary art lovers. The building is home to a diverse collection of more than 1,400 pieces by 350 artists. Works by Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle form part of the permanent collection with rooms dedicated to these two artists. MAMAC has a dynamic exhibition schedule with new shows and over 100 events annually.

10 Museums in Nice, France MAMAC

MAMAC ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France, Anais Brochiero

Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain M.A.M.A.C. website
Place Yves Klein
06364 Nice cedex 4
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Mondays)

10 Museums in Nice, France MAMAC

MAMAC ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France, Anais Brochiero

Musée Matisse

Celebrated for his unique style of colour and line, Henri Matisse spent his later years on the French Riviera. After an intestinal operation, he recuperated in Nice at the Old Hotel Regina in Cimiez. The artist’s love for the City of Nice influenced the vision of the Matisse Museum. Nice was where he produced a large volume of his work. Matisse also donated some of his pieces to the Ville de Nice. In 1950 the City of Nice acquired the Villa Garin de Cocconato, a Genoese-style designed mansion dating from 1695. However, it was not until January 1963 that Musée Matisse opened its doors to the public.

Musée Matisse Nice, France

Musée Matisse ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France, Anais Brochiero

Musée Matisse website
164 avenue des Arènes de Cimiez
06000 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Tuesdays)

Musée d’Archéologie Nice-Cimiez

This museum, located on the Cimiez hillside, is a must for history lovers, and there is much to see on the two (2) hectare property. Walk through the remains of this ancient settlement and discover the city of Cemenelum, complete with thermal baths (dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries). You will appreciate the pre-Roman era, daily life in Cemenelum and maritime trade.

Musée d’Archéologie Nice-Cimiez website
160, avenue des Arènes de Cimiez
06000 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Tuesdays)

Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre

Dedicated to photography, this museum in the heart of Vieux Nice blends in with the colourful facades and retail streetscape. However, the modern interior space is ideal for displaying rotating photo exhibitions.

Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre website
1, Place Pierre Gautier
06300 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Mondays)

Musée International d’Art Naïf Anatole Jakovsky

Château Sainte Hélène once the home of perfume creator François Coty became the Museum of Naïve Art in Nice after generous donations by Anatole and Renée Jakovsky. Book a guided tour for an overview of the collection of works by various French and international artists.

Musée International d’Art Naïf Anatole Jakovsky website
23 avenue de Fabron
Château Sainte-Hélène
06200 Nice

Musée des Beaux Arts de Nice

Once the mansion of a Russian-Ukrainian Princess, the exterior of this Belle Époque building is elegant, as is the interior with its high ceilings that are perfect for display space. The museum first opened in 1928 as the Palais des Arts Jules Chéret and featured much of his work. Today, you can explore paintings and sculptures from the 14th to the 20th centuries.

Musée des Beaux Arts de Nice website
33, avenue des Baumettes
06000 Nice
Open daily 10h – 18h (closed on Mondays)

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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