November 10th, 2007 – by: sissanoel
Outside of Musee Matisse, Nice. Located on Cimiez Hill, the museun is in a 17th century genoese villa.
LIfe got a bit more exciting on 10 November when we caught a flight from Heathrow to Nice for a week in the south of France. Noel used to go there quite a bit in his single days (something Melissa caught about an ex-girlfriend, perhaps?!) but Melissa had never been, so with our free side-trip from Qantas/BA in hand, off we went. After some fairly bleak days in London, it was glorious to fly into the airport through glorious blue skies and over a sparkling ocean - the weather was lovely, perfect for walking around and seeing the sights. We spent the first day just wandering around the city, stopping at little bars for a pastis and then having dinner at a little restaurant across from our hotel - the fixed price "daily menus" are great value, we could generally pick up 3 courses plus a glass of wine for around 13-15 euros, so much cheaper than the UK for a decent meal.
Olive trees outside the Musee Matisse, beautiful and gnarly.
Our hotel (Hotel Pastoral) was right near the central train station, so perfectly placed for getting around - you could walk to the main bus station, into the old town and back to the train station, so everything within easy reach. The hotel was pretty basic, more of a hostel that you could get private rooms in, but the owners were lovely and the price was good (for Europe!).
Our real sight-seeing started the next day with lots of walking. First stop was the Musee Matisse (164 avenue des Arenes de Cimiez), a decent walk from town but it was nice to be out and about after being fairly sedentary for a while. The museum is on the top of a hill looking back over Nice and is in a lovely park right next to the Monastere de Cimiez, fronted by a big olive grove and with Roman ruins on one side.
Cimiez church, monastery and gardens Nice.
The museum is quite small, so does not take long to get around the whole collection, and consists mostly of sketches and bronzes, plus a large number of photographs of Matisse working. One curious thing is that you have to put your bags in a locker at the entrance to the Museum before you look around. However, as the exit is at the other side of the building, you then have to go back to the entrance, collect your bag, walk back through the collection you've just visited, before exiting through the exit, thereby taking through the gallery the bag that you just had to leave in a locker previously! They might want to look at that! We then walked back to the Musee Chagall (via a lovely interlude in the gardens of the Cimiez Monastery, which have been in situ for centuries) - a smaller (and more expensive) gallery than the Matisse one.
Promenade des Anglais, Nice, looking back towards the Old Town.
It's also set in a lovely garden, so had a very peaceful cup of coffee before going in. There was an exhibition on of the bible paintings - interesting to see originals of what we've previously only seen in books - plus a huge stained glass wall in the auditorium. We then walked right down to the Old Town and wandered through the winding, cobbled streets, before having a late lunch in the Place de Rosetti - another fixed price bargain. Walked along the Promenade des Anglais for a while, and then (after dodging our way around the constantly deposited piles of dog poo) made our way back home to rest our weary legs.