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Interior of the Palais de Marbre, Nice
Interior of the Palais de Marbre, Nice. Courtesy of Nice Tourist Office

The Villa Les Palmiers (aka Palais de Marbre) is the jewel of West Nice. Ernest Gambart, an English art dealer, built a vast mansion on an 18th-century estate to house his extensive art collection. 27 boats sailed from Carrara, Italy laden with marble for the statues, columns, balustrades, walls and floors. It soon became the center of Nice’s social life when Gambart welcomed his famous friends. Argentinian meat-baron Edouard Soulas later renovated the interior in a neoclassical Louis XV style replete with chinoiserie, paneling, inlaid wood and gilt. He also laid out the English-style garden.

Readers of Nice Uncovered know that the vast garden is open to the public and well-worth a visit. The interior contains Nice’s Municipal Archives and is usually only open to researchers and on special occasions.

This spring however, the interior will be open for free guided visits (in French). It’s an unparalleled opportunity to experience the art and design prevalent in 19th-century Nice.

The visits are from 10-11.30am every other Friday morning through June. The next visit is Friday 25 March. You must reserve in advance:

     tel 04 93 86 77 44  
    email: archives@ville-nice.fr

 

The full program for the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) is finally available with ALL the special visits scheduled for September 17-19. (See here for the partial program in English). Everything is FREE but for many events a reservation is necessary. Don’t delay! Note that a “Pass Sanitaire” or negative Covid test will be required. Some sites may require ID and/or a passage through a metal detector to gain entry.

Don’t think that it’s all about visiting stuffy museums and listening to lectures in French! There are plenty of activities for kids of all ages as well as special dance, musical and theatrical presentations. If you’ve ever wondered what Nice’s traditional language, Nissart, sounds like you’ll want to listen in on some of the short tours conducted in that language. I believe it’s the first time the city has included this feature. 

Following are just a few of my favorites:

ATELIER CUISINE NIÇOISE
2, rue du Sénat
Saturday and Sunday 10h-12.30 and 14h to 18h
A great way to discover Nice cuisine right in Old Nice.

LA VILLA LES PALMIERS
Saturday and Sunday 10h-18h

The fabulous Palais du Marbre harbors the Municipal Archives. Entry to the gardens is always available (as I detail in Nice Uncovered) but the elaborate interior is normally closed. It’s definitely worth a trek to West Nice and makes a good starting point to look around the rest of the neighborhood.

FORUM D’URBANISME ET DARCHITECTURE
89, route de Turin
Saturday 9.30h-11h
The former slaughterhouse has been transformed into a contemporary art gallery, Le 109,  and will present a special “Visites chorégraphiques d’architecture” Saturday morning. I don’t know what it is either but it sounds original.

PALAIS DES ROIS SARDES
Place Pierre Gautier
Saturday 9h-12h and 14h-17h
The Palais de la Préfecture features prominently in my Old Town tour because it was the center of government when the Dukes of  Savoy ruled Nice. The interior is spectacular but line up well in advance as this is a popular visit.

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CAMPUS DE TROTABAS
Faculté de Droit et Science politique
Avenue du Doyen Louis Trotabas
04 89 15 25 00
The Chagall mosaic makes this a worthwhile stop especially as it’s normally closed to the public.

CAMPUS DE VALROSE
28, avenue Valrose
Saturday and Sunday 14h-17h
The Valrose estate dates from the heyday of Cimiez in the late 19th century when Queen Victoria wintered in the neighborhood. It’s normally closed to the public (only students and faculty members may enter) and is well worth the trip up to Cimiez. 

You can find the full program (in French) here.

Do you have questions? Just send me a message on Facebook Chat in the lower right and I’ll do my best to answer.

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Mid-September is the very best time to dig deeply into Nice culture during the Journées du Patrimoine which are part of the European Journées du Patrimoine.  For one weekend, the city schedules a series of tours and events that showcase its heritage. This year the Heritage Days fall on September 18 and 19. There’s a lot going on in Nice that weekend! I’m told that there may be a few more special historical sites open to the public which will be publicized on Monday September 13. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, check out these activities and do reserve in advance  when indicated. (Note that the guided visits are in French.)

Archives Nice Côte d´Azur, Palais de Marbre
Walking tour: “In the footsteps of the Gastaud domain”
Walking tour from the Marble Palace to the Naïve Art Museum
Departure in front of the entrance to the Palais de Marbre – municipal archives of Nice. In the company of a tour guide from the City of Art and History service, history unfolds.
After 1860, the city developed towards the west. The Fabron hill is home to sumptuous residences surrounded by gardens with exotic vegetation. Among these properties, come and discover two converted into cultural establishments.
Sunday, September 19 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
7 avenue de Fabron, Nice

Notre-Dame Basilica
Concert “Heritage and transmission”
Concert Elizabeth Vidal, coloratura soprano, André Cognet, bass baritone, and young prodigies
Works by Verdi, Mozart, Donizetti, Saint-Saëns, Grieg, Chopin, Ravel …
Accompanied by several young virtuosos from the region including those of the program Prodiges broadcast on France 2, Elizabeth Vidal and André Cognet who lead a career on the big international stages while devoting themselves to the transmission of their art, offer you the greatest gems of opera. This concert combines, at the highest level, the talent emerging from childhood with the deep experience of established artists.
Free entry
Sunday September 19 – 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
37bis av Jean Médecin

Literature, Arts and Human Sciences Library
Guided tour of the literary heritage collections
Since 1973, the library has housed exceptional literary archives, from Henri Bosco, a Provençal and Moroccan writer, to Michel Butor and Henri Maccheroni, creators of the Villa Arson.
Due to the unforeseeable evolution of the health situation, the conditions can be consulted at https://bu.univ-cotedazur.fr/fr
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
100 boulevard Edouard Herriot 06200 Nice

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Heritage Center – The Senate
“Reflection of inventory” exhibition
Conference in connection with Nice’s candidacy for inscription on the Unesco World Heritage List
The exhibition presents the mission of the inventory at the national level by illustrating it through the work in the Nice field. Mirroring the discovery of remarkable built and landscaped elements linked to the theme of the resort, this exhibition also offers a few views of contemporary artists on the forms of the city.
Free entry
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
14 rue Jules Gilly, 06000 Nice

Mediterranean University Center (CUM)
Conference “Architectures of the Promenade des Anglais”
Free entry
Saturday September 18 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
65 promenade des Anglais 06000 Nice

Guided bus tour: the Promenade des Anglais
Bus ride: the Promenade des Anglais
A bus ride, with a tour guide from the City of Art and History service, to broaden your horizons and understand how the resort has shaped the urban development of Nice.
Departure: Albert 1er / Phocéens bus stop, corner of the Promenade des Anglais and avenue des Phocéens.
Mandatory reservation
Saturday September 18 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Saturday September 18 – 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 19 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Sunday September 19 – 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
04 92 00 41 90
avenue des Phocéens, 06000 Nice

Church of Saint-François-de-Paule
Young Talents Concert
On the program: harps and string quartet, solo piano, solo sax, guitar duo
The City of Art and History department, in collaboration with the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Nice, is pleased to present young high-level musicians to you. Come and witness the beginnings of their future great artistic career and share their enthusiasm and their love of music!
Free entry
Saturday September 18 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
9 rue Saint-François-de-Paule 06000 Nice

Faculty of Law and Political Science – Côte d´Azur University
Discover the site of the Faculty of Law and Political Science and its rich heritage.
Come and see the monumental mosaic by Marc Chagall and the Villa Passiflore, the cradle of higher education on the French Riviera.
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
avenue du Doyen Louis Trotabas, 06000 Nice

Fort of Mont Alban
Guided tour
Fort of Mont-Alban. Guided tours every 30 minutes. Not accessible to people with reduced mobility; child under adult responsibility.
The drawbridge is lowered, the brilliance of armor, the flame of a wick, the silhouette of a soldier in the shadow of a watchtower, the scale of a fortification which rises. Do you hear the eddies of history?
Guided tours every 30 minutes
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Saturday September 18 – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 19 – 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Mount Alban

Heritage Center – The Senate
“Reflection of inventory” exhibition
Conference in connection with Nice’s candidacy for inscription on the Unesco World Heritage List
The exhibition presents the mission of the inventory at the national level by illustrating it through the work in the Nice field. Mirroring the discovery of remarkable built and landscaped elements linked to the theme of the resort, this exhibition also offers a few views of contemporary artists on the forms of the city.
Free entry
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
14 rue Jules Gilly, 06000 Nice

Mediterranean University Center (CUM)
Conference “Architectures of the Promenade des Anglais”
Free entry
Saturday September 18 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
65 promenade des Anglais 06000 Nice

 

Town Planning and Architecture Forum
Choreographic tour of architecture presented by the Compagnie Antipodes
The Urbanism and Architecture Forum has joined forces with the Compagnie Antipodes, both located at 109, to offer an original tour of the former municipal slaughterhouses, at the crossroads of the history of strong architecture and the experimental reading of it through bodies.
When it opened in 1962, this group of buildings on a two-hectare site was testimony to a unique industrial architecture mobilizing the most avant-garde technologies, in both their design and their operation. With the 109, the old slaughterhouses as a place of social memory are now projected into a new existence and a new frequentation as a multidisciplinary cultural place. Accompanied by an architect-mediator, come and dive into the history of the site through the story of the trades formerly exercised, along a stroll of architectural discovery of this remarkable place, both in terms of its size and its formal qualities. Throughout the discovery, four dancers and a musician will offer a series of choreographic performances in the interstices of the place, using their bodies to shed poetic light on these buildings which keep track of their past activities. In addition to the direct correspondence between body and architecture on the principle of an “inhabited architecture”, this new initiative crossed with contemporary dance reflects the wish of the Forum to be ever more open to interdisciplinary collaborations.
Mandatory reservation
Saturday September 18 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Saturday September 18 – 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
forum@ville-nice.fr, 04 97 13 31 51
89, Route de Turin, 06300 Nice

Galeries Lafayette Nice Massena
Discovering Galeries Lafayette Nice Masséna
Come (Re) discover the history of the iconic department store at Place Masséna on the occasion of European Heritage Days.
For the 38th edition of the EHD, Galeries Lafayette Nice Masséna invites you to browse the store with a different perspective and discover new places! This year you will also be able to participate in the creation of a collaborative work by sharing your memories and experiences in this large store for all.
Meet under the arcades of the store
Free visit, registration required. Groups limited to 8 people Duration: 1 hour
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Saturday September 18 – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Saturday September 18 – 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Saturday September 18 – 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
ebouquet@galerieslafayette.com
Place Massena 06000 Nice

Nice-Ville train station
Guided tour aboard the Train des Merveilles
From Nice to Tende, discover the villages perched or nestled in the hollow of the valleys of Paillon, Bévéra and Roya, and  discover the jewels of the Piedmontese baroque art.
Purchase of a transport ticket
Saturday September 18 – 9:15 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 9:15 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.
Avenue Thiers 06000 Nice

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Nice-ville train station
Exhibition of historic locomotives at the Nice-Ville SNCF station
Since the 90s, TGVs have become kings, ousting the “classic trains” (a locomotive and passenger cars) from our stations. The exhibition of these two historic locomotives recalls that before the generalization of modern TGVs and TERs, trains from the 1960s to 2000s in the Southern Region and throughout France were towed by powerful and efficient locomotives. They have, in their time, brought the modernism of the railway between the end of the steam locomotives and the era of the TGV.
Hence the interest in keeping the memory and rediscovering them during this exhibition.
Free visit, outdoors only due to sanitary conditions.
Saturday September 18 – 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Saturday September 18 – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Avenue Thiers 06000 Nice

Lazaret cave
Free visit of the prehistoric cave of Lazaretto throughout the day.
With its sedimentary filling more than 7 m thick with an age of between 190,000 and 120,000 years and covering almost the entire glacial cycle (Late Middle Pleistocene, MIS 6), the Lazaret cave – property of the Alpes-Maritimes department and classified as a historic monument in 1963 – is a prehistoric site of international scientific and cultural interest.
How to book introductory archaeological excavation workshops:
04 89 04 36 00, lazaret@departement06.fr
Free entry, subject to availability
Friday September 17 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Friday September 17 – 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
33 bis, boulevard Franck Pilatte 06300 Nice

Nice Mairie
Guided tours of the Town Hall of Nice
From a seminary to a prison to a hospital that became Town Hall in 1868, this 18th century building has never stopped changing. What scenery does it show today? Guided tours every 30 minutes.
Saturday September 18 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Saturday September 18 – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Sunday September 19 – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. “
5 rue de l’Hotel de Ville 06300 Nice

Nice Archaeological Museum / Cimiez
Historical reenactment: Emperor Hadrian and his court arriveing at Cemenelum
The Augustus Caesar Praetoria historical re-enactment group immerses us in the splendor of the imperial court of the 2nd century AD.
Saturday September 18 – 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
160 avenue des arènes. 06000 Nice

Museum of Fine Arts
Conference “Anne and James Thomson, or the art of living on the hill of Baumettes”
American couple Anne and James Thomson rocked the palace housing the museum with lavish parties. Discover these Belle Epoque personalities with Véronique Thuin-Chaudron.
Free admission, limited seating available
Saturday September 18 – 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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