Housed in an Italianate neoclassical villa fronting the Promenade des Anglais, the Massena Art and History Museum (Musée Masséna) focuses on the shared history of the city of Nice and Napoleon Bonaparte, through the personal effects, artifacts, and artwork of the Masséna family. The manicured grounds are also a high point.
The Masséna family gave this villa to the city in 1917. Converted into a museum, it has 23 exhibition rooms filed with personal and historical artifacts and artworks through which visitors discover the history of the city and its roster of celebrated artists, writers, and musicians. A special highlight is the room dedicated to Napoleon and Josephine, where their love letters to one another rest alongside her cape and tiara and his death mask.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Massena Art and History Museum is suitable for history buffs and art lovers of all ages.
Admission to the villa is free.
Descriptions of artifacts and artwork are in French.
Guided tours (also in French) are Fridays at 3pm, for a small fee.
Plan enough time to relax under the Mediterranean sun in the mansion’s English-style gardens.
How to Get There
Massena Art and History Museum looks out to the Promenade des Anglais on Rue de France, one street inland from the beachfront avenue, the Prom. Many buses arrive nearby: Take No. 8 or 11 to the Congres-Promenade stop, No. 9 or 10 to the Rivoli stop, or No. 7 to Dante-Gambetta. Look for the pink turrets of Hotel Negresco across the street.
When to Get There
Massena Art and History Museum is open daily, except for Tuesdays. With a mild Mediterranean climate, Nice is a lovely place to visit any time of the year. Come in spring and autumn to avoid the crowds and heat of summer. Hotel rooms are also cheaper during these shoulder seasons.
Cross the Street to Hotel Negresco
Walk across the street to this hotel and enjoy its quirky mix of luxury and kitsch glamour. Have a cocktail at the clubby bar and wander the old mansion to admire the cupola by Gustave Eiffel, a Niki de Saint Phalle pop-art sculpture of a giant woman with a tiny head that spins, a gigantic Baccarat crystal chandelier, and an enormous portrait of Louis XIV showing off his legs.