One of Nice’s best known landmarks is Place Massena, the city’s distinctive Italianesque main square, which lies at the northern edge of the Old Town.
The chequered tiles make for a striking contrast with the pink and yellow facade of the buildings.
I’d spotted the pavement water jets when passing Place Massena on the tram. I went back to the square in the evening to have a closer look.
There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the frequency and height of the water jets, so I had to keep my finger on the camera shutter button to capture the jets. In warm weather, it must be tempting to cool off by walking through the fountain.
Once the jets stop, the remaining sheet of water acts like a mirror.
The other eye catching fountain in Place Massena is the classical style Fontaine du Soleil (Sun Fountain).
The Greek god Apollo is the towering centrepiece of the fountain. According to mythology, every day Apollo would drive his four horse chariot across the sky to move the sun. Homage is paid to this by the four horses sitting on his head.
Bronze sculptures encirle Apollo.
I’d recommend that you spend some time chilling out in Place Massena when you visit Nice.
One of the best places in Marseille to relax and enjoy the sunshine is Fort Saint-Jean, which lies at the northern mouth of Vieux Port (the Old Port).
The fort was built in 1660. I appreciated that you get a much better sense of it being a defensive building from the sea on the ferry from Vieux Port out to Chateau d’If.
After being used as the HQ for German troops during WW2, the fort was disused, until it was taken over by the French Ministry of Culture in 1960.
Since 2013, Fort Saint-Jean has officially been part of the adjacent Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM). The buildings are joined by a pedestrian foot bridge.
However, you don’t need to pay an admission fee if you just want to explore the grounds of Fort Saint-Jean. There are free, clean pubic toilets in the grounds.
There are some great views of Vieux Port from Fort Stain-Jean. You can make out Notre Dame de la Garde on the peak to the right of the photo below.
The gardens at Fort Saint-Jean are large and beautiful.
There’s a selection of seats, picnic benches and sun loungers dotted around.
If you go to the top of the gardens near the footbridge to MuCEM, you can see Marseille Cathedral.
I loved the three heads sculpture at Fort Saint-Jean.
I’d highly recommend that you take some time out to enjoy the gardens at Fort Saint-Jean when you’re visiting Marseille. You should also go across the footbridge to the rooftop terrace of MuCEM. where there’s a cafe.
The Rhone runs 813km from Switzerland, right through the rolling hills of the French countryside. Cruises along this stretch of water allow you to travel along the same routes as many ancient Greek and Roman traders once did, but it can be difficult to know where to go and what there is to see.
I’ve listed the top three spots you’ll want to stop off and enjoy, but your river cruise provider will be able to inform you of the many excursions – making sure you book with an expert such as Cruise Deals, means you’re always pointed in the right direction for a relaxing cruise away.
You cannot go on a relaxing river cruise without stopping off to bathe in the culture of this historic city. It has something for everyone, with it’s ancient winding streets taking you from stunning gardens to ancient ruins. Why not stop for a crepe in the gardens of the Parc de la Tete d’Or, before heading to their central zoo? Or if history and the arts is more your style, you can admire the gothic architecture of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.
While on your cruise, you’ll be itching to try out some excursions. Seen as you’re travelling through some of the most famous wine country in the world, it would be rude not to stop by and sample what they have on offer. There are many different tours available depending on your own knowledge, so whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a complete novice, you’ll be able to find the perfect expert guide to walk you through.
This picture-perfect town may be small, but it’s postcard views make this a must-see sleepy town. Just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean you’ll be short of sightseeing opportunities though. The decorative gardens are home to the famous Kiosque de Peynet – a romantic bandstand built in 1890 – while Jean Perdrix Park is home to quirky examples of 1970s architecture, including a grass amphitheatre and two giant, shard-shaped wanter tanks. Hidden away from the world, this is a lesser-visited wonder along the Rhone.
End your trip in Avignon as the Greeks and Romans would have done, and if you travel in July, you can sample the vibrant annual spectacle of the Festival d’Avignon – it’s the oldest extant festival in France, and world-renowned for it’s ground-breaking contemporary art.
I thought that the price of £22 per adult for a standard class rail ticket was very reasonable. I was also happy to be able to print the SCNF tickets at home. With the Hugarian rail tickets, I had to pick them up from a ticket machine at the station.
As we approached Marseille St Charles railway station on the day of travel, I was impressed by the grandeur of the exterior of the building. I stopped to admire some large paintings on display outside the station.
Once in the station, we discovered that our TGV Duplex train to Nice was running 15 minutes late. The journey from Marseille to Nice was scheduled to take around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Our reserved seats were in a standard class compartment on the lower level of the two tier train. The seats were quite comfortable. The train wasn’t that busy, so were able to have a double seat each for the journey. The toilet was absolutely awful. To make matters worse, someone had dumped two large suitcases in front of the toilet door, so you had to virtually climb over the suitcases to get in and out. We had taken our own food and drink, so we didn’t visit the buffet car.
I expected the rail journey to be along the coastline, but a lot of it was through countryside, some with vineyards.
There were some glimpses of the Mediterranean enroute.
Close to Cannes, I spotted a marina.
Our destination, Nice’s main station Nice Ville, was another beautiful old building.
It’s a pity that the otherwise very pleasant train journey from Marseille to Nice was marred by the dreadful state of the toilet. The French rail company, SNCF, really need to ensure that the onboard toilet facilities are clean.
I’d seen a couple of photos of the enormous head sculpture in Nice on Pinterest prior to my visit to the city. I intended to seek out the sculpture to take some photos. But I chanced upon it when I got slightly lost walking from our hotel to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC).
The head sculpture is located in Jardin Marechal Juin, which lies between the Acropoplis conference centre and MAMAC. It’s official title is ‘La Tete au Carre de Sosno’ which translates to ‘Thinking Inside the Box’. It was created by the French artist and sculptor Sacha Sosno. The sculpture is home to a library with three floors. I’m not sure if it’s ever open to the public, I couldn’t find any information about this.
There are a few other sculptures in Nice’s Jardin Marechal Juin. I liked the rock man, held in place by wire wrapped around his body.
The man below looked pensive as he stared up into the sky.
I liked the simplicity of the predominately white sculpture in contrast to the intricate balconies and green shutters of the pink building behind it.
I decided to take a short cut through the Old Town in Marseille to our hotel, the Adagio Marseille Vieux Port, after a visit to Fort Saint-Jean. It turned out to be a good decision, as there was lots of colourful street art enroute.
I entered the Old Town up some steps, a block up from Marseille Cathedral.
I wondered if the Douce France referred to the 1990s movie of the same name, which portrayed the life of Muslims in France.
One of my favourite pieces was the fisherman in a multi coloured striped boat holding his haul.
The sea was a beautiful shade of blue in the piece below, with the seagull perched on the roof.
The four fanged green headed creature looked rather downcast.
The wide mouthed green man appeared to be breaking through the door.
The head of the animal below looked like a cross between a fox and a crocodile, with an extremely long rat’s tail.
The character on the right of the piece below looked a bit like an explorer ready to stake his claim to the discovered territory by erecting his country’s flag, the pole of which was clasped in hands.
The purple nosed mouse was getting stuck into devouring his plateful of cheese.
In the Old Town of Marseille, you can also visit Vieille Charite, a former almshouse for the poor, which is now a cultural centre and museum. The museum was closed, as I was there in a Monday, but you could still enter the courtyards and the free public toilets.
When I searched for free things to do in Nice, one of the attractions which appeared was the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC). However, when I went to the museum’s website to check the opening hours, it stated that there was a 10 Euro charge for an individual ticket valid for 48 hours, which appears to also include entry to Matisse Museum, Palais Lascaris and some other galleries.
As it said that journalists could get in free, I practised my French to attempt complementary entry to MAMAC. I was successful.
MAMAC is a striking building, designed by the French architects Yves Bayvard and Henri Vidal. It opened in 1990.
Once you’re in the building, you realise the size of the arches in the central part.
Below are photos of some of the pieces in MAMAC which caught my attention.
I loved the blue dress with the long train which was constructed with plastic bottles.
The female characters had barbed wire grids attached, presumably to keep their movements restricted.
The bride in the painting looked rather wistful.
I rather fancied having the gold coffee table in our living room.
One of the exhibitions by a single creator which I most enjoyed was that of the French sculptor and artist Niki de Saint Phalle. I found her work to be colourful and humourous.
The women in their swimming costumes looked extremely laid back.
Perhaps the reading man might have been more usefully employed milking the cow with the bulging pink udder.
I’m not sure if the corseted angel’s holey wings would permit flight.
On closer inspection, the life size sculpture of a woman had all sorts of plastic models attached which included horses, cows and humans.
There’s a sculpture of the Loch Ness Monster by Niki de Saint Phalle a few hundred metres from the MAMAC building, in front of the National Theatre of Nice.
If possible, visit MAMAC on a dry day, so that you can spend time up on the roof terrace.
In one direction, you’ll see the giant head sculpture in Jardin Marechal Juin and hills behind Nice on the horizon.
In another direction, you look towards Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill).
There’s a small garden. mainly planted with trees and shrubs.
I would have happily paid the 10 Euro entry fee to MAMAC. I spent more than three hours at the museum. I was impressed by the architecture and the contents.
If you plan to visit several museums in Nice, you can buy a 20 Euro Museum Pass, which is valid for seven days. I was only in Nice for two full days, so I didn’t want to spend too much time in museums.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille is located around 4 miles south of the city centre. It’s quite close to the Museum of Decorative Arts, so it makes sense to visit both museums on the same day. The 5 Euro entry fee to each museum is waived if you buy a Marseille City Pass.
We didn’t see signs for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille. We only knew that we were close when we spotted a giant thumb sculpture in the roundabout close to the museum.
There’s a smaller gold thumb sculpture inside the museum, to which our son Gary gave the thumbs up.
Initially, I wondered why on earth there was a jacked up sofa. It was only on closer inspection that I noticed the hologram of a face beneath the elevated end of the sofa.
I think that the woman in a swimming costume sculpture should be relocated to the beach in Marseille.
The vulture perched on a post was reflected onto the adjacent wall.
I wasn’t quite sure about the wood installation, which looked a bit like some kind of BMX or skateboard ramp, but I almost tripped over it as a I reversesd to take a photo of the black and white portrait photos.
There was another potential trip hazard for reversing photographers in the form of a metal sculpture lying on the floor.
The silver car was very narrow; it looked as though there was no room for a passenger next to the driver, except if both the driver and passenger were as slim as the skittle person sculpture.
Maybe if you leave a pair of old boots sitting outside for long enough, a tree will take root.
I liked the colours in the penguin picture.
I thought that the metal work on the branch looked some type of torture equipment.
Never mind ten green bottles hanging from the wall, there were tens of orange bottles hanging from the ceiling.
The silver, red and black piece looked as though it would fit perfectly in the foyer on a 1930s cinema.
The Malcolm X portrait was different colours on each side.
Although I enjoyed my visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, I wouldn’t rate it that highly. I thought that the Museum of Decorative Arts was far superior, so it you’re short of time, or not that interested in visiting many museums, stick to the Museum of Decorative Arts.
I wasn’t expecting the beaches in the French city of Marseille to be so beautiful. In fact the main reason that we went there was that our son Gary wanted to see the Bowl skate park, located at Plage Vieille Chapelle, which was featured in some skateboarding games he’d played when he was younger. As often happens, real life didn’t quite match fantasy, as the skate park looked much better and bigger in the game.
Heavy rain was forecast for the afternoon. The darkening skies made for some dramatic photos of Plage Vielle Chapelle in Marseille.
If you’re visiting Marseille, I recommend a visit to the beaches.