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Art & Architecture

For art lovers there is a treasure trove of sights to take in on the French Riviera – the studio of Picasso, the mosaics of Chagall, the chapel of Cocteau, the gardens of Renoir. . .and so much more. Renoir was one of the first of what became a steady stream of notable artists who chose to live and work in the South of France. Some came for their health, some for the famous light, and others for the wonderful lifestyle. There are museums dedicated to each of them (most of which charge no entry fee); not to mention the Fondation Maeght - one of the world’s finest private collections of modern art, all the more enjoyable because of the serene beauty of its setting; or how about dining at the famous Colombe d’Or restaurant where the walls are graced with a priceless array of art from Léger, Braque, Calder, Chagall, Miró . . .

Based in your holiday rental apartment or villa in the French Riviera you too can enjoy the same delights that attracted these artists, as well getting your culture fix. As far as architecture is concerned there is such a variety of styles featured in the city of Nice alone - from Medieval to Modern; Belle Époque to Genoan; and Art Nouveau to Brutalism. You can enjoy this architecture in a very intimate fashion, since more than likely your holiday letting apartment or villa will represent one of these architectural genres. Click here to view our villas and apartments available to rent for your next holiday click here

Musee Matisse

Henri Matisse first came to Nice in 1916, living at several locations in the city centre before settling in the Cimiez area for the rest of his life. He loved the city of Nice, especially its light. Shortly before his death he bequeathed a large number of his works to the city. It was these works that formed the basis of the collection at the Matisse Museum. Easily reached by bus from your holiday apartment in Nice. 164 ave des Arenes de Cimiez, Nice (Cimiez). Open Wed-Mon: 10am-5pm/6pm. Free Entry.

Musée Chagall

Built in 1972 this museum houses the world’s largest collection of work by the Russian born Marc Chagall, thanks to the artist himself and his wife who gifted the collection to the state. On display are 17 large format pieces inspired by stories from the bible, including five versions of ‘The Song of Songs’. Three stained glass windows depict the ‘Creation of the World’ and a large mosaic reflected in the pool is of the prophet Elijah. 36 ave Dr. Menard, Nice (Cimiez). Open Wed-Mon: 10am-5pm/6pm. Entry €7.50.

Musee des Beaux Arts.

Built in 1878 as the private home of a Ukrainian princess, this villa now contains an eclectic collection going back three centuries, and includes: Impressionists and Post Impressionists such as Bonnard, Sisley, Monet and Vuillard; an excellent series of paintings from the French fauvist painter Raoul Dufy, who spent much time in Nice and is in fact buried in Nice near Matisse; as well as the lesser known but no less interesting French symbolist painter and Nice native Gustav Aldolf Mossa whose finely detailed graphical works are exquisite. A short stroll from your holiday rental apartment in the Fleurs district. 33 ave des Baumettes, Nice. Open Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm. Free Entry.


The Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain is situated in an interesting contemporary building with 4000 Mô of space comprised of four towers connected by glass footbridges. The collection focuses heavily on the avant-garde movement with German Fauvists, New Realism, Minimalism, Pop Art and work by the ‘École de Nice’ artists (School of Nice) who’s most famous protégé was Yves Klein. Being so centrally located means you can walk to this museum from many of our Sunlight Properties holiday rental properties in Nice. Promenade des Arts, Nice. Open Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm. Free Entry.

Théâtre de la Photographie et de l'Image

In a restored theatre house with six graceful rooms, is this interesting museum dedicated to modern and historical exhibitions of photography and imagery. 27 blvd Dubouchage, Nice. Free Entry. Open Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm.

Museum of Asian Art

Set in an elegant, bright white contemporary building, that appears to hover over a small lake at the Western end of Parc Phoenix, this small museum has all sorts of beautiful objects, old and new from Japan, China, India, and Cambodia. This is one of the Sunlight Properties team’s favourite museums due to the lovely setting and the way the light plays throughout the building. 405 Promenade des Anglais, Nice. Open Wed-Mon: 10am-5pm/6pm. Free Entry.

Musée Picasso

The seaside Château Grimaldi became the Musée Picasso in 1966 with an excellent collection of paintings, drawings, and objects mainly from the 1940s when Picasso lived and worked in a studio in the castle. The collection includes famous pieces and those more obscure but all display something of his wit, insight, and imagination, as one would expect from this iconic 20th century artist. You will also find works by de Stael, Ernst and Miró, as well as a pleasant terraced garden. Walking distance from many of our holiday rentals in Antibes or Cap d’Antibes. Château Grimaldi, Place Mariejol, Antibes. Open Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm Jun to Sept; 10am-12pm & 2pm-6pm Sep to Jun. Entry €6.

Musée Renoir

Fans of Renoir may wish to visit the home where he spent the last 12 years of his life in Haut de Cagnes. The Domaine des Collettes is a beautiful house surrounded by orange and olive groves. It was designed by Renoir to his own specifications with carefully framed views from every window. It contains an excellent collection of his paintings, sculptures, sketches, lithographs, and photographs. Because the house has been preserved just as it was when Renoir lived there, you can also see his personal possessions and gain an insight into his day to day life. This delightful spot is easily reached from one of our holiday rental villas in Cagnes. Chemin des Collettes, Haut-de-Cagnes. Open Wed-Mon: 10am-12pm & 2-6pm Jul to Sep; and 10-12pm & 2-5pm Oct-Jun.

Fondation Maeght

Inaugurated in 1964 by then French Minister of Culture, André Malraux, the collection as well as the building was conceived and entirely funded by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght to present modern and contemporary art in all its forms. Painters and sculptors collaborated with its creation so that art, building and garden are entirely integrated: the Giacometti courtyard, Miró labyrinth, Chagall mosaics. . . The collection and setting make it a must see for art lovers from around the world. The permanent exhibition includes works by Matisse, Miró, Léger, Calder, Bonnard and Chagall. This is another favourite of the Sunlight Properties team, situated just outside St. Paul de Vence, and simple to access from one of our beautiful holiday villas to let in this area. Colline des Gardettes, St Paul de Vence. Open daily 10am-6pm/7pm. Entry 14€.

La Colombe d'Or

Whilst not a museum, but in fact a restaurant and boutique hotel, however should you choose to enjoy lunch or dinner at this lovely spot you will be privileged to view a wonderful collection of modern art from the patron artists – Léger, Miró, Braque, Chagall, Calder who stayed at the inn and paid with their artwork when this placed started modestly in 1920 as a roadside café with attached lodging. Should you rent a Sunlight Properties holiday villa in this part of the French Riviera St. Paul de Vence, it’s an absolute must that you reserve here one day for lunch. 1 place General de Gaulle, St Paul de Vence. Tel: 04 93 32 80 02

Russian Orthodox Church

Built with funding from Tsar Nicholas II to serve the large expat community of Russian nobility who settled in Nice at the end of the 19th century; a trend started by Tsar Alexander II, who visited Nice via the newly created rail connection in 1864, and naturally fell in love with the area. It is the largest Russian orthodox church outside of Russia and is striking with its gorgeous colours and onion shaped domes; completely incongruous with its surroundings, but truly beautiful nonetheless. This lovely sight is a short walk from our holiday rental apartments in the Fleurs Quarter. Ave Nicholas II, Nice (Fleurs). Open 9am/9.30am-12.30pm & 2.30pm-5pm/6pm.

Musée Ephrussi de Rothschild

Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild was an extraordinary woman with a passion for art and travel and the financial means to achieve her desires, one of which was the creation of her ‘dream villa’ on the Riviera. Combining Moorish and Italian architectural elements, the villa boasts Savonnerie carpets, Beauvais tapestries, Meissen porcelain, and Fragonard sketches. The French garden is designed to resemble the prow of a ship and at parties the staff wore sailor suits to enhance the illusion. There are various themed gardens as well: Florentine, Japanese, English, etc. Completed in 1912, Beatrice spent only 4 years there. Following the death in 1916 of her beloved husband she never lived there again. There is a little tea salon where you can sit in the garden and take in the sumptuous views. This is a firm favourite with the Sunlight Properties team. You can stay nearby and also enjoy this beautiful spot, at one of our exquisite holiday rental villas in St. Jean Cap Ferrat . 1 ave Ephrussi de Rothschild, St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Open daily 10am-6pm/7pm; and Nov-Feb: 2pm-6pm Mon-Fri & 10am-6pm Sat-Sun. Entry €12.

Villa Kérylos

Built by archaeologist Theodore Reinach, the building was designed to resemble an ancient Greek villa. Authentic techniques and precious materials were used throughout to create lavish inlaid furniture, mosaics, and frescoes. The villa which sits beautifully beside the sea contains original ancient Greek ornaments and a sculpture gallery. Apparently Theodore was such a stickler for authenticity that he would even hold ‘symposiums’ where the women were banished and the men would recline on low loungers, attended to by servants whilst they held their discourse. The architecture, and also the furniture surprisingly appear timeless. Some of the Sunlight Properties holiday villas to let in Beaulieu Su Mer (18) are not far from the exquisite Kerylos Villa. Impasse Gustave Eiffel. Open daily 10am-6pm/7pm; and Nov-Feb: 2pm-6pm Mon-Fri & 10am-6pm Sat-Sun. Entry €10.

Le Trophee d'Auguste,

The most spectacular feature of La Turbie is the Trophée d’Auguste, a huge Roman monument built from local white stone. It marked the boundary between Italy and Gaul. Its construction was ordered by the Roman Senate in the 6th century to honour the conquering of 44 Ligurian tribes by Augustus in the year 13 B.C. In the 4th century St. Honorat chipped away at it because it had become the object of pagan worship. It was then partly destroyed in 1707 on the orders of Louis XIV through fear of it falling into enemy hands during the invasion of Provence. Restoration began in 1905 by an American, Edward Tuck. There is a small museum on site and spectacular views of St. Jean Cap Ferrat , Eze and Monaco . We have villas in Eze and La Turbie available to rent for your next vacation. The Trophée d’Auguste is located at ave Albert 1er, La Turbie. Open Tue-Sun: 9.30am/10am-1pm/1.30pm & 2.30pm-5pm/6.30pm. Entry €5.50.

Château Musée Grimaldi

This fortress was built by the Grimaldi family in 1309 and withstood centuries of sieges before becoming a palace for Baron Grimaldi in 1620. It now houses an eclectic mix of museums, from modern art to olive trees. The standout features are the Renaissance courtyard, the ‘illusionist’ painted ceilings, and a wonderful 200 year old pepper tree. View our holiday villas to rent in Cagnes here: Vence, St. Paul de Vence & Cagnes . Place Grimaldi, Haute de Cagnes. Open Wed-Sun: 10am-12pm & 2-5pm/6pm. Entry €4.

Perched villages – St. Paul de Vence, Eze, Roquebrune

Some of the most attractive features of Provence are the ‘villages perchés’ or perched villages, which organically rise from rocky headlands and hilltops. Created for defensive purposes during the political turmoil of the Middle Ages, they are characterised by: medieval ramparts surrounding the entire village; fountains as water sources; overhead arcades to support buildings and provide shelter; narrow winding streets; small entry gates; and abrupt turning streets to confuse invaders. St. Paul de Vence , Eze , and Roquebrune are all fine examples close to Nice. We have holiday villas to let in each of these beautiful locations, click here to view.

Belle Époque – Negresco Hotel, Carlton Hotel, Monte Carlo Casino

From the start of the 19th century the wonderful climate of the French Riviera attracted foreigners – artists and nobility alike. And architecture was needed of suitable stature to house these visitors – ‘et voila’ belle époque was born. Unfortunately many fine examples were destroyed but there still exists illustrations in the form of the Negresco Hotel in Nice, the Carlton Hotel in Cannes and the Monte Carlo Casino. The architecture is typified by a cupola above a rounded corner tower, rounded pavilions, and elegant decorative facades. Some of our holiday apartments to let in Nice are in belle époque buildings, click here to see for yourself.

Nicois trompe l'oeil – Place Garibaldi, Nice

Trompe l’oeil literally means to ‘trick the eye’. In Nice this technique has been incorporated to great effect in the facades of many buildings, transforming plain facades into elaborate visual symphonies. The recently refurbished Place Garibaldi at the Northern end of the Old Town is an excellent example. Take a close look and you will discover that those seeming elaborate masonry facades are all an optical illusion. There are many more examples of this throughout the city of Nice – so be sure to keep an ‘eye’ out! Place Garibaldi is a short walk from our holiday rental apartments in both the Port and the Old Town , click here to view our charming holiday apartments to let in these quarters.


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