Start Opéra-Vieille Ville tram stop
Finish Tour Saint-François
Time 3 hours
Good for Art, architecture, historic monuments, churches
Points of Interest Palais Lascaris, Cours Saleya, Cathedral, L’Eglise de l’Annonciation, Jewish Quarter, Eglise du Gesù
It seems unfair to single out a few points of interest as there are dozens of them in the Old Town! There’s a “point of interest” on nearly every street. One of the most intriguing features are the lintels that were a form of self-expression for medieval people.
There are 61 lintels in the Vieux Nice but I could only point out a few such as the oldest one in town and the lintel that signifies a brothel (no 31 in the Old Town chapter). The Centre de Patrimoine on rue Jules Gilly has a free booklet that lists many more if you’re interested.
There are so many wonderful little details throughout the Old Town. Here is one of my favorite discoveries:
Actually, it was my friend Penny who pointed it out to me on one of our walks. As the frieze (item number 40) was so near the White Penitents chapel, it was no stretch to link it to the chapel. Beautifully carved.
I talk a lot about the former walls that protected Nice. To help visualize what Nice looked like at the end of the 17th century I like this drawing
One of my very favorite stories involves rue Malonat and the Knights Templar treasure which you’ll read about (item number 28). Could it be true? I honestly can’t say but let me point out that the story appeared as far back as 1884 in Nice et Monaco a travers les ages: chroniques et légendes by Alexandre Lacoste from which we can assume that the legend has been circulating for a long time. It’s also curious that the legend assumes the existence of tunnels under Castle Hill long before the Germans carved them out as part of their WWII effort.
Speaking of Germans, I came across a photo of the infamous Nazi flag that was draped across the Palais de Prefecture as part of a movie (item number 14).
Yikes. You can see why people freaked out.
The biggest conundrum I faced in writing the chapter was what to do about the Palais Hongran (item number 12). The interior may be the most spectacular in Nice. Check it out:
The problem is that the building contains private short-term rental apartments and is locked! Short of booking a short stay through booking.com (which I would do in a heartbeat if I didn’t live here) how can you see it? What I did was lurk outside until someone entered or left and then slip in. Weekday mornings are usually best. Now, I can’t actually recommend this tactic to the general public as it is technically illegal, but I can say that French people have no compunctions about getting an inside look at a historic, landmark building. I’ve spoken to a number of locals on this matter and the consensus is that if it’s just a couple of well-behaved people who want to take a quiet look during the day, there’s no problem.
What do you think? Would you give it a try? Have you given it a try? Let me know what you think below.