Monastère de Cimiez Nice – Une oasis de paix au charme historique

Nestled on the peaceful hillside of Cimiez in Nice, Cimiez Monastery, also known as Monastère de Cimiez, stands as an emblem of tranquillity and historical significance. 

This architectural gem, comprising a church, a garden, and a Franciscan museum, serves as a testament to the region’s rich cultural and religious heritage. 

The location of Cimiez Monastery offers stunning views overlooking the city of Nice, making it a cherished destination for both its spiritual value and scenic beauty.

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The monastery complex, embodying serene gardens and a remarkable collection of artefacts, has been a centre of religious activity since the medieval era. 

Beyond its ecclesiastical functions, Cimiez Monastery is also recognized for its contribution to arts and culture and housing works related to the notable artist Henri Matisse. 

The peaceful surroundings of the Monastery’s grounds reflect centuries of careful cultivation, initially serving the needs of the monks who resided there.

Cimiez Monastery Nice – Key Takeaways

  • Cimiez Monastery is a historical and cultural landmark in Nice.
  • It encompasses a church, a museum, and well-preserved gardens.
  • The complex is known for its serene atmosphere and artistic connections.

Histoire et importance

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The Cimiez Monastery is a testament to the rich historical tapestry of Nice, marked by periods of destruction and restoration. Serving as both a religious and cultural cornerstone, the Monastery has witnessed significant events, reflecting the changing times from its founding to the present day.

Founding and Development

The establishment of the Cimiez Monastery dates back to the 9th century when it was built by the brothers of the Saint-Pons Abbey. It became prominent in the 16th century when the Franciscan Monks became their residence after their convent was destroyed in 1543 during the Siege of Nice. The Monastery’s resilience and historical value later led to its classification as a Historical Monument.

Sardinian Restoration

In the wake of the Sardinian Restoration, the Monastery underwent significant refurbishment. The period marked the re-establishment of religious monuments, and Cimiez Monastery benefitted from renewed attention and conservation efforts.

Siege of Nice

Le Siege of Nice was a tumultuous time for the Monastery. In 1543, the Franciscans’ convent was destroyed, compelling them to seek refuge. They eventually acquired the Monastery from the Benedictine Brotherhood. 

Three years later, this heritage site transitioned to the hands of the Franciscans, marking a new chapter in its history and fortifying its connection with the Franciscan order. 

The military engagements surrounding Nice, including the Siege, had long-lasting impacts on the region’s ecclesiastical structures.

Art et Culture

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Cimiez Monastery in Nice is a nexus for art and cultural heritage, featuring the works of esteemed artists like Henri Matisse and Louis Bréa. It houses significant museums celebrating the rich Franciscan history and contributions to the arts.

Musée Matisse

Le Musée Matisse is a major cultural attraction in Nice, dedicated to the life and work of French artist Henri Matisse. It holds a significant collection of his works, including paintings, drawings, and sculptures, amidst the historical backdrop of the Cimiez district.

Franciscan Museum

Located within the Monastery, the Franciscan Museum offers insight into the Franciscan presence in Nice dating back to the 13th century. Visitors can explore frescoes and religious works of art, highlighting the order’s influence on the region’s history and culture.

Works of Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, a leading figure in modern art, has a profound connection with Nice. The Musée Matisse holds a comprehensive collection showcasing his artistic evolution through his varied works, from vibrant paintings to his famed cut-outs.

Frescoes by Louis Bréa

The Cimiez Monastery is also home to remarkable religious artworks by the Niçard primitive painter Louis Bréa. The frescoes displayed here radiate the Gothic style prevalent during the 15th century, attracting art aficionados and casual admirers.

Gardens and Grounds

Nestled within the serenity of Nice, the Cimiez Monastery boasts expansive gardens and grounds that have captivated visitors for centuries. 

These picturesque grounds include a well-manicured Garden of the Monastery, a sprawling Olive Grove, and a charming Rose Garden, each offering a unique horticultural experience surrounded by historical ambience.

Garden of the Monastery

Le Garden of the Monastery presents a tranquille retreat, reflecting the Italian style prevalent during this space’s creation. Visitors will find meticulously arranged flower beds and pathways that invite strolls. 

Central to this area stands a fountain, adding to the garden’s peaceful atmosphere, with the gentle sound of water resonating amongst the greenery.

Olive Grove

Adjacent to the formal gardens, the Olive Grove is a testament to the region’s agricultural heritage. 

Here, rows of centuries-old olive trees stretch across the grounds, their gnarled trunks bearing witness to the passage of time. The grove serves as a historical landmark and a peaceful spot for reflection and relaxation.

Rose Garden

Le Rose Garden is captivating with its vibrant colours and fragrant blooms. Various roses vie for attention, each meticulously tagged and cared for. 

Sheltered by tall cypress trees, this section of the Monastery’s grounds is trendy when the flowers bloom in the spring and summer months, offering a sensory delight to all who wander through its pathways.

Religious Heritage

The Cimiez Monastery is a jewel of religious heritage, showcasing centuries of Christian art and architecture. 

Its significant components include the Church of Our Lady of Assumption with its baroque altar, the tranquil Cloister, and a collection of religious artefacts that embody the devotion and artistic expression of the Franciscan Order.

Church of Our Lady of the Assumption

Le Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is a central element of the Cimiez Monastery, known for its spiritual and architectural grandeur. Inside the church, visitors can marvel at the Baroque altar, which stands as a testament to the religious artistry of its time. 

The church also houses a rendition of the Pieta, a powerful representation of Mary cradling the body of Christ after the Crucifixion.


Adjacent to the church, the Cloister offers a serene atmosphere, inviting reflection and tranquillity. It serves as a historical passageway connecting various elements of the monastery complex and is an exemplary illustration of medieval monastic life.

Religious Artifacts

Within the confines of the Monastery, numerous religious artefacts are displayed, each narrating a part of the Franciscan narrative. 

Among these artefacts are depictions of the Deposition et Crucifixion, which hold significant liturgical importance and contributed to the spread of Franciscan ideals through visual arts.

Attractions à proximité

A wealth of historical and cultural sites surrounds Cimiez Monastery. These attractions add depth to any visitor’s exploration of the area and are conveniently located for an enriching experience.

Cemenelum Archaeological Museum

Le Cemenelum Archaeological Museum, situated a short walk from the Monastery, gives visitors a remarkable insight into the ancient Roman settlement of Cemenelum. The museum showcases a variety of artefacts, revealing the extent of Roman influence on the Alpes Maritime region.

Roman Ruins

Adjacent to the museum, the Roman Ruins include the remains of thermal baths, arenas, and streets that paint a vivid picture of life in Roman times. These ruins are some of the most significant in the French Riviera, allowing visitors to step back in time and witness the grandeur of ancient Rome.

Military Hospital

The site of the former Military Hospital is a stone’s throw from Cimiez Monastery. Although it is not open to tourists as an attraction, the building holds a historical significance since its conversion from a luxurious hotel to a hospital during wartime, serving the injured soldiers of the region.

Informations touristiques

Cimiez Monastery is a historical gem offering rich heritage and a tranquil environment for visitors. It presents a valuable experience combining cultural enrichment with serene surroundings.

Opening Hours and Admission

Le Franciscan Church and Monastery of Cimiez invites visitors to explore its grounds and museum at no cost. Access to the site is typically available:

  • Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Closed: Sundays and public holidays

Visitors should verify the current times before their visit to ensure the most accurate information.

Transport en commun

Those wishing to travel to Cimiez Monastery via public transit can use the local bus services in Nice. Detailed and updated transit routes and schedules should be consulted before travel to ensure a smooth journey.

Conseils généraux

Visitors frequently commend the Monastery for its peacefulness et propreté, making it an ideal location for those seeking a tranquil retreat. The adjacent Regina Hotel, which features Neo-Gothic architectural elements, enhances the district’s charm.

To make the most of one’s visit, it is recommended to:

  • Wear comfortable footwear for exploring
  • Bring a camera to capture both the artistic and natural beauty
  • Allocate sufficient time to appreciate the art exhibitions and gardens

Cemeteries of Cimiez

Nestled in the district of Cimiez in Nice, the cemetery by the Cimiez Monastery is a site of historical significance and the resting place of notable figures. 

The serene gardens and the poignant artistry of the gravestones combine to create an atmosphere that reflects the solemnity and respect of this final resting place.

Cemetery of the Monastery

Le Cemetery of the Monastery in Cimiez, adjoining the majestic Cimiez Monastery, is an integral part of the area’s history, adjoining the magnificent Cimiez Monastery. The Monastery established centuries ago, has witnessed the changes through Nice’s Belle Epoque and beyond. 

In tandem with the Monastery’s gardens, the cemetery provides a tranquil escape and has attracted royal attention. La reine victoria was known to visit the area during her stays along the Riviera for its remarkable beauty and serenity.

Graves of the Famous

Within the Cemetery of the Monastery, one finds the graves of several illustrious personalities. Notably, it is the final resting place for Roger Martin du Gard, the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature laureate. 

In addition, prominent artists such as Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy, who contributed significantly to the art world, are buried here. 

The presence of these graves draws visitors globally, adding a layer of cultural reverence to the site, which coincides with events like the Nice Jazz Festival, acknowledging the past while celebrating live artistic endeavours.

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