Château and Vieux Nice
Vieux Nice has been greatly gentrified over the last decade, but the expensive shops, smart restaurants and art galleries still coexist with little hardware stores selling brooms and bottled gas, tiny cafés full of men in blue overalls, and washing strung between the tenements. The streets are too narrow for buses and are best explored on foot.
The central square is place Rossetti, where the soft-coloured Baroque Cathédrale de St-Réparate (daily 8am7pm) just manages to be visible in the concatenation of eight narrow streets. There are two cafés to relax in, with the choice of sun or shade, and a magical ice-cream parlour, Fenocchio, with an extraordinary choice of flavours. The real magnet of the old town, though, is cours Saleya and the adjacent place Pierre-Gautier and place Charles-Félix. These are wide-open, sunlit spaces alongside grandiloquent municipal buildings and Italianate chapels and the site of the city's main market. Every day except Monday from 6am to 1pm there are gorgeous displays of fruit, vegetables, cheeses and sausages, plus cut flowers and potted roses, mimosa and other scented plants displayed till 5.30pm; on Monday the stalls sell bric-a-brac and secondhand clothes. Café and restaurant tables fill the cours on summer nights.
To feast your eyes on Baroque splendour, pop into the chapels and churches of Vieux Nice: La Chapelle de la Miséricorde, on cours Saleya (open for Sunday Mass 10.30am or through the Palais Lascaris); L'Église du Gesu, on rue Droite (9am6pm); or L'Église St-Augustine, on place St-Augustine (open for Mass Sat 4pm & Sun 9am), which also contains a fine Pietà by Louis Bréa. For contemporary graphic and photographic art, some of the best art galleries in Vieux Nice include Galerie Espace Ste-Réparate, 4 rue Ste-Réparate; Galerie Municipale Renoir, 8 rue de la Loge; and Galerie du Château, 14 rue Droite.
Also on rue Droite is the Palais Lascaris (TuesSun 10amnoon & 26pm; free; closed mid-Nov to mid-Dec), a seventeenth-century palace built by the Duke of Savoy's Field-Marshal, Jean-Paul Lascaris, whose family arms, engraved on the ceiling of the entrance hall, bear the motto "Not even lightning strikes us". It's all very sumptuous, with frescoes, tapestries and chandeliers, along with a collection of porcelain vases from an eighteenth-century pharmacy.
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