Home of the Nice Jazz Festival, Nice is a town that knows how to swing, from the most established jazz club to the tiniest hole-in-the-wall…
Shapko, just off Place Rossetti in Old Nice, has live jazz/blues/funk every night of the week. Founded by Russian sax-man Dimitri Shapko, this fun and quirky nightclub was entirely reworked by new owner Michel Palagonia, who has infused the nightspot with new energy and welcome innovations (like no cover charge!)
Every night starts with a jazz happy hour from 7-9pm, followed by the featured group at 9:30, and by the end of the night local musicians are streaming in for the late-night jam sessions that have make Shapko a magnet for the local music scene. 5 rue Rossetti, Tram stop Cathedrale.
Ooh Poo Pah Doo. No live music here, but this super cool retro bar is just 2 doors down from Shapko, and plays really great jazz/blues/soul and 60’s rock. Even better, it has a dance floor! 27 rue Benoit Bunico
Chez Manu at Cave Romagnan is an acquired taste: a hole-in-the-wall bar near the train station with a grizzled clientele by day… that turns into an eclectic jazz hub from 7-10pm on Saturday nights, (and now doing Blues from 7-10pm on Thursdays). The bar’s long time owner, Manu, loves jazz and doesn’t hesitate to book bands in that take up half his tiny floor space, but the fiercely loyal regulars don’t mind, they just crowd in and spill out to the sidewalk. To say the decor is unpretentious is an understatement, but the drinks are cheap, the music amazing, and the locals colorful… so who cares? 22 rue d’Angleterre, tram stop Gare Thiers or Jean Medecin. Join their Facebook group to get the most up-to-date schedule
Espace MU Live is tucked into a beautiful arched stone cellar on a small sidestreet in Old Nice, and is developing a following for serious musicians in an intimate venue. Friday nights are always dedicated to jazz, but the rest of the week you will find blues/soul, world music, and up and coming local talent. Usually no cover, but if there is a cover charge, it will be worth it. 4 rue Pont Vieux in Old Nice, tram stop Cathedrale. As it is small, it is a good idea to call to reserve your table +33 9 81 47 77 70.
Open-Air Apero Jazz on Cours Saleya in Old Nice In the summer, you can find a super sympa jazz happy hour from 6-9pm with The Boogiemen cranking out jazz standards on the sunny terraces of Cours Saleya. Find them at Cafe Le Flore, a popular open-air cafe located near the middle of Cours Saleya, Tram stop Opera.
Le Ketje is a fun little hole-in-the-wall type hangout deep behind the Port with a local clientele, cheap drinks and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Blues, Jazz, Folk, World, Ska… check their Facebook page to see what’s coming up. 15 rue Auguste Gal, Tram stop Acropolis.
Kosma Piano Bar behind Galeries Lafayette, features nightly live jazz from 8pm-11pm. 8 rue Sasha Guitry, tram stop Massena. Small cover charge.
Galerie Depardieu A hip New York loft-style art gallery by day, but by night, once or twice a week, they turn into Nice’s coolest pop-up jazz club. 12-15€ cover charge for non-members, but join the club and then it’s just 8-10€. 6 rue du Docteur Jacques Guidoni, behind Galeries Lafayette, tram stop Opera or Massena.
The Riviera is famed for its amazing star-studded Summer Jazz Festivals like the Nice Jazz Festival and Jazz à Juan, but there are also great jazz concerts in smaller Nice concert venues all year ’round.
Born out of the Nice Jazz Festival, Nice Music Live brings in top jazz musicians for shows at various concert halls around town, including the open-air Theatre de Verdure across from the seaside, the Black Box just across from tram stop Point Michel, and at the Acropolis Theatre (tram stop Acropolis). Check out their monthly roster of concerts, which range from legends to up-and-coming.
To stay up to date on all concerts and who’s playing where, pick up the monthly La Strada, or the quarterly Le Jazzophone, which has the added bonus of an up-to-date online listing of all the upcoming concerts, gigs and happenings around Nice and the Cote d’Azur.
By the way, the jazz radio station in Nice is TSF Jazz at 98.1, but FIP from Paris is my favorite with an eclectic mix during the day and jazz every night, but it’s only available on the web or as a free app. Other stations have periodic jazz soirees; click here for the list.
Jazz Art: Check out the highly original photopeintures© by Lio Fantini based on local musicians in some of the jazz venues mentioned above. His gallery is La Galerie Numérique in Mougins Village.
- Back up to Nice by Night page
Photo credits: Denia Ridley at Shapko by Gianni Sacco, Cave Romagnan and MU Live by Alain Morana Best of Nice, and ‘Bop 1’ photopeinture© courtesy of Lio Fantini.