Finish Sainte-Hélène church
Time 2 1/2 hours
Good for Getting away from crowds; Belle Epoque and Art Deco architecture; parks
Points of Interest Villa Les Palmiers, Musée d’Art Naïf, Musée des Beaux Arts
Points to Note Musée d’Art Naïf is closed Tuesday; Musée des Beaux Arts is closed Monday.
I’ve known people who’ve spent years in Nice without venturing west of Magnan. Too bad for them! Fabron could be called “the land of disappeared palaces” for all the chateaux that were torn down. Fortunately there’s one left. The Palais du Marbre (above) has such a stunning garden and actually is open to the public (item number 10 in the West Nice walk). As it’s secreted in the middle of the Grands Cedres apartment complex no one knows about it anyway. People are stunned to discover this hidden gem.
Other palaces were either transformed entirely (Chateau Sainte Helene) or completely bulldozed. I would have loved to have found at least a photo of the old Chateau Fabron (item number 12) but the old royal palace seems to have been scrubbed from history. The only remnant was one of the property’s buildings (item number 12):
It was probably a barn or stables.
But by far the most astounding discovery in West Nice is Gloria Mansions (item number 1), an Art Deco masterpiece.
As with Palais Hongran in the Old Town walk, the interior is utterly spectacular but also private property. Everyone can make their own decision but I do as the French do: wait until someone enters or leaves and then slip in to look around. No one has ever questioned me. Generally, the people who live in a national monument understand that people want to appreciate it. Be discreet and enter as two or three people maximum. Mornings are best as there may be a mail delivery, service workers etc.