Have you ever wondered where Queen Victoria went on vacation? Well, starting in 1882, she often travelled with her entourage of over one hundred persons to the French Riviera. Menton and Nice became favorite spots. And, of course, a Queen does not just stay anywhere. So, way up the hill in Nice, the Excelsior Hotel Régina was built with her needs in mind. That was the Belle Époque era of palace-like structures, grand entrance halls and magnificent staircases, turrets and wrought iron balconies! Today the imposing building has been turned into prime property condominiums.
Close by is the Henri Matisse Museum and not far from it is the Cimiez cemetery where he is buried (and the French Fauvist painter Raoul Dufy, also). Unfortunately, the museum shows few of the spectacular paintings Matisse is known for, just some of his early works and later cutouts.
More interesting is the Marc Chagall Museum, also in the same neighborhood. Officially called the “National biblical messages Marc Chagall museum” it is the home for the cycle of paintings based on the Old Testament “Song of Songs”, which he created between 1960 and 1966.
The third museum in the area won me over the minute we walked in – a real live cat was sitting on a bench and keeping an eye out on things: the Museum of Naïve Art Anatole Jakovsky, the art critic and collector whose perseverance was largely responsible for Naïve Art gaining respectability. The collection even includes a portrait of the most famous of naïve artists, Henri Rousseau.