Photo courtesy of Muriel Anssens (Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain)
Where to stay
The Belle Époque-style facade is a remnant of the original building erected in 1913, but the Boscolo Exedra’s interior is up to date, thanks to its white-on-white lobby (decorated with copper horse statues) and minimal, cream-toned suites. In the basement, take a dip in the Deep Nature Spa’s heated pool, which features a large tree installation that releases a stream of water from its branch.
Designed by Matali Crasset, the protégée of celebrated French designer Philippe Starck, the Hi Hôtel is an ode to the avant-garde. Large projection screens divide all 38 brightly painted open-concept rooms (ours was white and fuchsia). Techies, rejoice: Almost everything here works with the push of a button.
Where to eat
At La Merenda, a tiny restaurant in Old Nice, former Michelin-starred chef Dominique Le Stanc serves up niçoise cuisine in an intimate setting. The menu changes with the seasons and depends on what’s available at the local farmers’ market, but regional classics like pasta with pesto, pissaladière (onion, anchovy and olive pizza) and niçoise daube (stew) are permanent fixtures.
Newly opened Le Canon is a nod to Nice’s noon cannon, which has been firing at lunchtime for the past 125 years. Strikingly efficient yet friendly, the two-man restaurant – owner Sébastien Perinetti on the floor, partner Elmahdi Mobarik in the kitchen – is in line with the “bistronomy” trend that took over the French capital a decade ago but only recently made its way to Nice. The Mediterranean bonito sashimi and haunch of Corsican suckling pig served with polenta were the highlights of our visit, as were the natural Beaujolais wines.
Where to explore
Henri Matisse took a trip to Nice in 1917 to recover from bronchitis, but he fell under the city’s spell and became a resident until his death in 1954. Over the years, he expressed his love for the French Riviera through painting, drawing and sculpture. Visit the Matisse Museum – located in the Villa des Arènes, a Genoese-style mansion – to admire the bright, colourful works of Nice’s most famous ambassador.
Nice is home to dozens of contemporary art galleries that exhibit the work of young artists. (Galerie de la Marine, with installations like Venezuelan visual artist Elias Crespin’s suspended sculptures set in motion by mathematical algorithms, quickly became our favourite.) The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is also worth a tour; it features three floors of exhibits ranging from Yves Klein’s famous blue monochromes to pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and a rooftop terrace with impressive city views.
With three new weekly flights running seasonally from May through October, Air Canada rouge offers the most non-stop frequencies between Montreal and Nice.