The Franciscan Monk Museum

The tiny and little-known Franciscan Friar Museum is tucked into the side of a working Monastery with lush gardens, and just minutes from the famous Matisse Museum.

The signage is all in French, but the exhibits, drawings and recreations speak the universal language, making it completely accessible for non-French speakers, …and plus it’s free, so why not?

The first part of the museum takes you through the daily life of a monk through the ages, and since this is still a working monastery filled with actual modern-day monks, it’s especially poignant. Click here and scroll down for some surprising stories of the the various orders of monks, or ‘Penitents’ in Nice in the middle ages…

The second part of the museum is dedicated to the Shroud of Turin (the burial cloth that may-or-may-not show the imprint of Christ’s body), which was held (hidden) in Nice for a time in the 14th century.  This is a fascinating exhibit, and brings you face to face with a life size reproduction of the imprinted image (hint: the face is not what you would expect!), plus very interesting photos and drawings.

While you’re here, don’t miss the lovingly monk-tended Italian-style gardens and magnificent views.

How to get there:  Here’s how to get to Cimiez by bus, take the #5 and get off at the Arenes/Musee Matisse stop, then walk through the olive grove to the church on the other side.  The entrance is the door to the right of the church entry, and you climb the stairs to the top floor.

Hours: 10am to noon and 3pm-5:30pm; closed Saturdays and Sundays

Tickets: Free!

While you’re up on Cimiez…

Back inside the Cimiez gardens, you’ll find yourself in a 500-year-old olive grove which used to be part of the Monastery.  The paths in the Cimiez gardens are all named after jazz musicians because this olive grove was the site of the Nice Jazz Festival until just a few years ago when it moved down to Place Massena.

The Matisse Museum on the left, and the ruins of the ancient Roman coliseum straight ahead.  Just behind the Matisse Museum is a great view of the ruins of the Roman Bath Complex, also a museum worth seeing.

If you want to now visit the Chagall Museum, just pass the Regina and walk down the scenic tree-lined boulevard de Cimiez for 15-minutes (it’s all downhill).   Or take Bus #5 toward Nice for a couple of stops, to the Musee Chagall bus stop.

See related page on the History of Nice:  21 Fascinating Facts About Nice  

Photo credits: Monastery by Eric Coffinet,  licensed under Creative Commons.

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