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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Cote d’Azur Museum Passes

Posted on 8th May 2018 in Go & Do


Attention! See the Matisse Museum for free with the Nice Museum Pass

Here’s the good news. Nice boasts more museums than any other French city outside Paris.

Is there bad news? Only that there is a very bewildering array of museum passes granting free access to sights at a city, regional and provincial level.

Nice is blessed with enough cultural history to make any other European capital weep with envy. It helps that Matisse set up his easel on the Promenade des Anglais back in 1919, and was soon followed Marc Chagall, Raoul Dufy plus a dozen aspiring painters, all here to soak up the setting. Today’s Musée Matisse, Musée Marc Chagall and Musée des Beaux-Arts fine arts museum are world class attractions.

And there’s more. The modern art seeds sown by Matisse and co. grew into a massive cultural movement. The MAMAC contemporary art museum and the kaleidoscopic Musée d'Art Naif are extensions of their artistic legacy.

It also helped that in past times, dignities such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Nicholas II and Sir Winston Churchill arrived in Nice for seasons of masked balls and yacht sorties. Such prodi-gal exuberance is documented in the Musée Massena history museum. Moreover, this osten-tatious palace that neighbours the Negresco was built with foreign funds allured by royal ben-efaction. Then as now, nouvelles richesses and aristocratic patronage went hand-in-hand.

Whether you’re a penniless painter or a patron of the arts, these three museum passes offer a cultural sojourn for a song.

1: Nice Museum Pass

Cost: €10/24 hours, €20/7 days. Buy online ( or in person at any Nice museum.

Participating museums include: Musee Matisse, MAMAC, Palais Lascaris, Musee Masse-na, Musee des Beaux-Artes, Musee d’Arte Naif, Theatre de la Photographie et de l’Image, Musee d’Archeologie, Sites de Cimiez et de Terra Amata, Museum d’Histoire Naturell, Galerie de la Marine, Galerie des Ponchettes, Espace Ferrero, Prieure du vieux-Logis

Best for: City-based culture vultures

The deal: Completely free walk-in access to every museum detailed above. You'll need to sip several grand cafés for enough energy see them all. But a lazy museum tour of-fers a fine geographical swoop through Nice's most elegant quartiers.

Don’t miss: The Palais Lascaris - a former palatial home built by Nice's Geno-ese overlords in the middle of the Old Town.

What to pack: A copy of Chasing Matisse by James Morgan, an author who fol-lows the city’s adopted artist from Nice’s Old Town through Corsica and beyond.

Downsides: The art-centric fun stops at the city limits. Be sure to check opening times as many of the museums are closed on either Monday or Tuesday.

2: French Riviera Pass

Cost: €26/1 day, €38/2 days, €56/3 days. Buy online at or in person at any Nice Tourist Office, the Airport and at many of Nice’s hotels

Best for: Ardent sightseers who want shopping discounts and restaurant deals thrown in.

The deal: Awesome in its scope, but only if you’re planning a one, two or three day cultural blitz during your alleged ‘holiday’. Big ticket items like Monaco's Musée Océanographique (normally €11-16), Nice's Open Top Bus (normally €22) and Cannes' boat trip to Ile St-Honorat (normally €14.50) are all gratis. If you already plan to visit these attractions, adding on a few other sights equals big savings.

For an extra €4 per day you can add free travel on the Metropole Nice Cote d’Azur public transport network (buses and trams).

Don’t miss: Best value is Nice's Mobilboard Segway tour, where a 30-minute ride usually costs €17. More culturally alluring is St Jean Cap Ferrat's Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (usually €14). This pink rococo palace looks ready to welcome Lady Gaga, and offers an endearing history lesson on the Riviera’s decadent past.

What to pack: Families should pair the Pass with a €35 Carte Isabelle, a one-day unlimited family rail card, available from any local train station.

Downsides:The Pass’s highlights are scattered along the French Riviera. You’ll need lots of stamina but the rewards are well worth the effort!

3: Cote d'Azur Card

Cost: €45/3 days or €54/3 days + Marineland. Buy online only at

Best for: Cote d’Azur visitors who plan to combine action-packed trips with beach recovery days in between.

The deal: The brainchild of the Cote d’Azur Tourism Authority is the French Riviera Pass’s bitter rival. In order to trump its competitors, the Card was recently revamped to include over 100 completely free activities including a coach trip to St Tropez (normally €48). It also includes almost every sight offered by the French Riviera Pass. Cleverly, you can use your three-day Cote d’Azur Card over a six-day period thereby avoiding cultural overload. There are also a wide range of discounts and goodies such as free cocktails included! The Card covers diverse activities and is big on experiential adventure. Think perfume-making in Grasse attending a scent workshop (normally €25), Stand-up Paddleboarding off Cap Ferrat (normally €15) or snorkelling in Fréjus (normally €25) and wine tours with tastings!

Don’t miss:New for 2018 is the addition of Marineland to the scheme – you do need to buy a different card at a slightly higher price but it covers entry into Marineland as well as 40 other specially selected activities.

What to pack:An iPhone for an envious Instagram or Snapchat update.

Downsides: Unfortunately it would be hoping too much to fit everything into a single trip.
May 2018


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