Nice, on the Côte d’Azur, has more museums than any other French city outside Paris. While this is great news for the tourist who is truly spoilt for choice with places to visit and activities to do, it has led to a bewildering array of options when it comes buying tickets and passes. With four separate passes available as well as the option to pay separately for each museum, which of these passes is best for you when you are holidaying on the French Riviera? Having just returned from a week’s stay in Nice with her family, Sarah sets out your options.
The information on this page was last updated on 3rd May 2019
The two main factors that will help you make your decision about which pass to buy are a) your own interests and b) the location of where you will be staying whilst in Nice. Some of the passes cover a wider geographical area than others and so require a lot more travelling which takes up more time and can also be quite tiring, particularly for children.
It is worth bearing in mind that the majority of museums don’t charge for under 18’s or students.
Antique harps from Palais Lascaris, a Roman dryad from Cimiez Archaeological Museum and the blue Museum pass that gives entry to both of these sites.
Nice Museum Pass (Musées De Nice Pass)
Cost: €10 for 24 hours access or €20 for 7 day access.
Buy: At any of the participating sites.
Participating Museums: MAMAC (Museum of Modern Art), Galerie Des Ponchesttes, Musée Matisse, Galerie de la Marine, Musée Masséna, Prieuré du Vieux Logis, Musée de la Photographie Charles Negre, Palais Lascaris, Musée d'Archéologie site de Terra Amata, Musée d'Archéologie Site de Cimiez, Muséum D'Histoire Naturelle, Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée International d'Art Naif Anatole Jakovsky.
Any Extras: There are no transport or leisure activities included with this pass.
Good for: This is the ideal card for art lovers, and for people who will be staying firmly within the city limits. The seven day pass particularly is excellent value for money and it is easily possible to cover all of the sites listed within a seven day time period, with time to spare to fit in other activities.
Disadvantages: If you only plan on visiting one museum, it will still cost you the €10 for the 24 hour pass to get entry, which is a lot of money for just one site.
Inside the flamboyant Villa Ephrussi, a Greek living room inside the Villa Krylos and the French Riviera passes that will give you access to these sites and many more.
The French Riviera Pass
Cost: €26 for 24 hours, €38 for 48 hours, €56 for 72 hours.
Buy: Online or at the Tourist Offices at the train station or 5 Promenade des Anglais (right next to the Hard Rock Cafe).
Participating Museums: All of the museums listed for the Nice Museum Pass, as well as the Musée National du Sport, Crypte Archéologique, Musée March Chagall and the Musée Matisse as well as a further nine museums outside Nice, including the Musée Oceanographique in Monaco if you buy the 72 hour pass.
Any Extras: Transport can be added for an extra €4 per card per day, giving you unlimited bus and tram transport on the Métropole Nice-Côte d'Azur system. The card also offers free guided tours around some sites, free access to the Hop on/Hop off bus tour, free 30 minute segway, a day's use of the holiday bikes, a free glass of champagne and €4 chips at the casino, snorkelling, a boat ride, tastings and much more; full list >>
Good for: This is the ideal card for people who are planning an activity packed holiday around the wider Riviera as there is so much to choose from. With some planning, it would be easy to get your money's worth and do a wide variety of activities as there is something to keep the whole family happy with this card.
Disadvantages: Unless you are planning on using transport a lot, it may not be worth adding the transport option, as bus fares only cost €1.50 per person anyway. Normally you would get a bus to your activity or site and then one back to your hotel, meaning you only need to spend €3 for that day anyway. If you plan on several buses in a day, then adding the transport option would be worth it.
The race track of the Monaco Grand Prix, the scenic beaches of the French Riviera and the Cote d'Azur passes.
The Côte d'Azur Culture Pass
Cost: €25 for 3 activities, €40 for 5 activities.
Participating Museums: An assortment of museums that are in the wider Côte d'Azur outside Nice. Within Nice there is only the Musée Chagall and the Musée National du Sport, Full List >>.
Any Extras: The card gives access to various gardens as well as guided tours around a couple of sites and visits to perfumeries.
Good for:The advantage of this card is that it is not time restrictive, it just covers a certain amount of activities and stays active until you have used them all (within one month). You do not need to decide what the activities are in advance, you just show up/book and it will be deducted from your card.
Disadvantages: The activities are widely spaced across the Côte d'Azur and all will involve considerable travel. The cultural offerings are perhaps more limited and not for the culture vulture with a true interest in history and archaeology.
The Côte d'Azur Leisure Pass
Cost: €45 for 3 activities, €55 for 5 activities.
Participating Museums: The only museum on this pass is the Musée Océanographique in Monaco.
Any Extras: The whole purpose of this card is leisure activities and it includes water world parks, mini golf, walking tours, segways, boat trips, paddle boarding, kayaking etc., Full List >>.
Good for: The advantage of this card is that it is not time restrictive, it just covers a certain amount of activities and stays active until you have used them all (within one month). You do not need to decide what the activities are in advance, you just show up/book and it will be deducted from your card.
Disadvantages: This is not a card for those who are interested in seeing the historical and archaeological sites. The activities are widely spaced across the Côte d'Azur and all will involve considerable travel. A lot of the leisure activities are seasonal and only run during the warmer months, so this card is unlikely to be a good idea out of season.
Scenic views over the Riviera from St. Jean Cap Ferrat.
So which card should I get?
The best all-rounder is definitely the French Riviera Pass. It covers all of the sites in the Museums Pass but also includes many more, as well as plenty of leisure activities. The Côte d'Azur passes cover too wide an area and would involve a lot of travelling, although they do have the advantage of not having the time restrictions. They also have less of a cultural offering and are more seasonally dependent.
I would recommend getting the Riviera Pass, without the transport option and doing all of the sites that aren't on the standard Museum Pass. When the Riviera Pass had expired, and if you are still yearning for more culture, you could then buy the museum pass to visit any you missed. As children and students go free in most of the cultural sites, you would only need to buy passes for the adults in the group. However, if you are planning on doing a lot of the leisure activities too then it could be worth buying a pass for the kids. Nice Tourist Office have provided a helpful table itemising children's prices on all of their offerings >>.