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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 27 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Nice can rightly claim France’s best hoard of modern art after Paris’s – and much of it was created here, in the early 20th century, when the Riviera’s light, colour and warmth attracted artists such as Renoir, Matisse and Chagall.

Wealthy collectors later founded museums, often in charming and historic buildings, and many artists donated works to their adopted towns. Just outside of Nice’s borders you’ll find museums dedicated to other world-renowned artists such as Picasso, Bonnard and Cocteau.

Being far less busy than Paris’s art museums, they’re a pleasure to wander – often set in pretty sculpture gardens, with lovely cafes or wine bars attached so you can sit and ruminate on your art fix.

Recommendations

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Bonnard Museum

Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

The front entrance of the museum

Colourful interiors, nudes and landscapes by world-renowned French artist Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), a leading figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. He lived in Le Cannet between 1922 and 1947.

Adult price: £4

Best for ages 18+

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Jean Cocteau Museum

Menton, Cote d'Azur, France

External view of the striking museum, with large white irregular pillars

John Cocteau (1889-1963) was a famous French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker and visual artist. He’s arguably best known for his novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929). Seek out his whimsical, graphic work in this quirky museum, with a waterfront facade that resembles a row of teeth.

Adult price: £5

Best for ages 18+

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Maeght Foundation

Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

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Bucket List Experience
Modernist building with a courtyard in front flanked by trees

An architectural jewel, this museum between Nice and Antibes is filled with world-class modern and contemporary art, inside and out.

Adult price: £14

Best for ages 18+

Marc Chagall National Museum

Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

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Bucket List Experience
Exterior of modern museum with bushes and grass lawn in front

This modern museum showcases Chagall’s joyful series of artworks inspired by the Bible – an explosion of colour and light. It’s the biggest public collection of works by one of the greatest 20th-century artists.

Adult price: £8

Best for ages 18+

Massena Museum of Art & History

Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

Close up of the exterior of museum with French flag flying

One of France’s most splendid Belle Epoque villas, donated to the city of Nice by the aristocratic Massena family, is now home to a compelling collection of art, furniture and artifacts that track Nice’s rich history.

Adult price: £12

Best for ages 18+

Matisse Museum

Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

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Bucket List Experience
Exterior of grand, red-brick museum on a sunny day

A beautiful 17th-century Genoese mansion that now houses a museum dedicated to the art of Nice’s longtime resident, Henri Matisse.

Adult price: £8

Best for ages 18+

Picasso Museum Antibes

Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France

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Bucket List Experience
Exterior of museum in a yellow stone castle on a sunny day with visitors approaching entrance

A delightful collection of Picasso’s works, brimming with joie de vivre – housed in the castle once used by the artist as a studio.

Adult price: £7

Best for ages 18+

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cote d'Azur, France

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Bucket List Experience
Stunning pink villa with lavish gardens including an ornamental pond in front

A remarkable fantasy villa, complete with exquisite exotic gardens, built in 1912 by the flamboyant art collector Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild to house her fabulous collection of 18th-century art and furniture.

Adult price: £13

Best for ages 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The tourist office website is a great resource, with a full listing of Nice’s 20 or so museums, and details on getting there by public transport, with up-to-date opening hours.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Nice

Cote d'Azur, France

Long strip of beach and blue sea with city behind

The buzzing, art-filled, foodie capital of the French Riviera, with a charming, Italian-influenced historic centre. The ideal base for a first-time visit to the Cote d’Azur, and home to the world-renowned Nice Carnival.

Monaco

Cote d'Azur, France

Monaco

The Riviera’s Never Never Land for the rich, offering bling, glamour, sights, high-roller casinos and entertainment galore.

Cannes

Cote d'Azur, France

View of the beach and seafront in Cannes

Sister city of Hollywood and host of the famous film festival, Cannes, with its palm-lined La Croisette, golden beach and five star hotels oozes cinematic and pure Riviera glamour.

French Riviera

Cote d'Azur, France

View of boating marina and the town on hills behind

Money, glamour and bombshell looks: this beach-trimmed stretch of French coast offers decadent hotels, lounging in beach clubs, fine restaurants and world-class art.

Round-ups

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Round-ups that include this experience