Formerly an ancient Roman city, Cimiez is now the home to several extraordinary sites and museums.
Of course you know the famous Matisse Museum and Chagall Museum, but you can also visit the ruins of an ancient Roman coliseum, a 500-year-old olive grove, a working Franciscan Monastery with its own little monk museum, lavish Italian-style gardens with a panoramic view of Nice, and the ruins of a massive Roman bath complex which can be seen behind the Matisse museum or explored via the Archaeology Museum.
How to get there by bus
Catch the Bus #5 Rimiez Saint-George from behind Nice Etoile Shopping Center (tram stop Jean Médecin), behind Galeries Lafayette (tram stop Massena), or anywhere on rue Geoffredo (tram stops Opera, Cathedrale, or Garibaldi) which runs one block inland from the Promenade du Paillon gardens. The Bus #5 runs every 8-10 minutes, even on Sundays.
The ticket costs just 1.50€ (or just 1€ if you use a 10-trip card), and you can also use a day or week pass, all of which you can buy in the ticket machines at any tram stop. You can also buy tickets from the driver as you board (with the exception of the 10-trip card). Also note that your bus/tram ticket gives you unlimited transfers in Nice for 74 minutes, so if you take the tramway to get to the stop to transfer to the Bus #5 (tram stop Massena) it will not cost extra.
Where to get off
Once the bus is well up the hill and you have a great city view to your left, you know you are getting close. For the Chagall Museum, after you pass the ‘Roland Garros’ stop, your stop is next, so push the red button and get off at the ‘Musée Chagall’ stop and the museum is via the road on your left. Stay on a few more stops for the Matisse Museum, Archaeology Museum and Monastery, which are all at the ‘Arenes/Musee Matisse’ stop, which is just after you pass the beautiful Hotel Regina on your left.
After the Matisse Museum, if you still have the energy for the Chagall Museum, take Bus #5 back toward Nice for 6 stops, or better yet just walk: it is a charming 15-minute scenic tree-lined stroll, and all downhill. Due to the one-way streets, the Bus #5 takes a slightly different route on the way down, so if you want to get off the closest to Vieux Nice, get off at Place Wilson, which you can recognize by the small park on your right.
The Bus #5 goes until 1am, which is great if you come up to Cimiez for a classical concert at the Conservatory, or for summer concerts under the stars in the Cimiez gardens.
Other Transportation Options…
If you don’t want to bother with the bus, the quickest easiest option is to just take an Uber, which would cost around 6-7€ from the Old Town to the Chagall Museum and 7-9€ to the Matisse Museum, which is a little farther. Don’t take a regular taxi as it would cost 15-20€ or more.
See related page on Museums in Nice
Photo credit: Matisse Museum by Tubantia, licensed under creative commons.