There's a healthy mix of old and new in Nice when it comes to fine art. On the contemporary side, the unrivalled champion of the scene is the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain. Its large permanent collection features a good showing from the Nice School, New Realism and Pop Art. Galerie Jean Renoir is a champion of up-and-coming, young local talent, and it's free. The Musée Matisse houses a huge number of the artist's paintings, drawings, engravings and personal effects in the serene surroundings of a 17th-century villa. By contrast, the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall is anything but serene, with its collection of biblically themed paintings, whose delirious assault of colour and imagery are juxtaposed with the stark, bunker-like aesthetic of the museum itself.
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The beaches in Nice might be pebbly, but select hotels certainly make up for it with the comfort and luxury they offer, including lockers, hessian carpets leading to the sea to protect swimmer's bare feet from the scorching stones, waiter service, dining at the water's edge, and watersports.
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As in Paris, 'vins naturel' – wines produced with a minimum of chemicals and sulphites, many of them organic or biodynamic – are becoming increasingly popular. Be part of the trend at La Part des Anges, which stocks bottles from many of the country's best wine producers. At the knowledgeably staffed bistro à vins Vin/Vin, you can visit the temperature-controlled cellar with the sommelier to select your bottle. Perhaps the most stylish new wine bar, though, is La Cave de l'Origine, which fills up at mealtimes with a cheerful French and foreign crowd that appreciates the uncommon selection of wines. Wine lovers should also check out Le Bistrot d'Antoine, Resto Wine Notes, and the long established Cave de la Tour.
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There are plenty of spas and wellbeing centres ensuring that the citizens of Nice are able relax and rejuvenate, but only one offers the practice of 'choco-cooning' – rolling around in creamy ganache and melted chocolate. This is, however, only one of the 80-strong treatments available at La Bulle d'Isis. As well as having some of the coolest rooms on the Riv, the boutique Hi Hôtel has a state-of-the-art hammam, offering 'techniques de massages et de relaxations'.
Glamorous grooves, with a show-boating crowd to match, can be sought out at two main addresses in town. First, Ôdace emanates louche orientalism, with its slickly appointed bar, restaurant and dance floor. On a similar tip is Guest, where Prada-clad punters strut their stuff to an upbeat housey soundtrack.
The atmosphere couldn't be more different in Blue Moon. This sweaty little stew of a club whips its post-bar punters into a carefree frenzy with a pumping mix of house and handbag anthems. At Ghost, another pint-sized boîte, the eclectic playlist keeps the tiny dance floor in a state of happy mayhem almost every weekend.
For something a little more sophisticated, Le Liqwid and Le Before are both good places to get on board with the DJ's jazzy warm-up set. Nice's premier DJ bar has to be Le Smarties. Billing itself as an 'electro lounge', this retro-hip bar is populated by the kind of clientele who don't look out of place among the decor of funky divans and 1970s television sets.
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Nice has a whole host of charming churches to visit: Cathédrale Saint Nicolas is one of the most striking examples of Russian Orthodox architecture outside Russia; Chapelle de la Miséricorde is considered on of the finest example of Boroque religious architecture in France; L'Eglise de l'Annonciation is a gem of gilded Boroque miniaturism; the atmospheric villa Prieuré du Vieux Logis is home to a collection of artworks spanning the 14th to 17th centuries; while the 18th century Cathédrale de Sainte Réparate provides a treat for musicologists in the shape of its three organs.
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Socca, a sort of chickpea crepe – the preparation and consistency of the batter is similar – is a specialty of southeastern French cuisine, particularly in and around Nice. Try this local treat are at socca specialist Chez Pipo, where addictively delicious food is churned out day in, day out; at Chez René Socca, where tasty grub is served at rustic wooden tables with street-side views; at Lou Pilha Leva, where, although no more than a glorified kiosk, there's a bit of everything going on; or at the lively corner restaurant Nissa Socca, where you'll also find cheap pictchers of wine and plenty of bonhomie.
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Constructed on the site of a prehistoric settlement, the Musée de Paléontologie Humaine de Terra Amata investigates life on the Riviera 400,000 years ago via a variety of prehistoric artefacts. At the Musée International d'Art Naïf Anatole Jakovsky, some 600 artworks trace the history of the artistic movement from the 18th century to the resent day. The building which houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the former residence of a Ukrainian princess, is itself is a work of art, but the real treasures are to be found within, from 15th century altar pieces to Rodin's imposing sculpture 'The Kiss'.
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Enjoy a quality cuppa (Kusumi leaf teas to be precise) in the shade of the imposing Opéra at Auer Gourmet; join the slow-sippers and sarnie-snackers under the yellow awning at Bar de la Dégustation; take a seat in the sun at the infectiously fun bar Civette du Cours; or fill up at the justifiably popular brasserie, Safari in the heart of Vieux Nice.
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Nice is also a popular stop-off on the modern music scene, with the larger venues like Acropolis and Théâtre Lino Ventura pulling in all the usual big names, along with some more underground hip hop and electronic music outfits. The mega gigs tend to take place at Palais Nikaïa or at open-air venues out of town.
But it's not all international in flavour: a brace of Niçois theatres, Théâtre du Pois Chiche and Théâtre Francis Gag, have some of the most well-trodden stages in town. Which is quite an achievement considering almost all of their performances (from reinterpretations of Molière through to urban rap) are given in the local Niçois dialect.
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