Nice is with it’s stunning location on the Mediterranean Sea, its warm weather and French way of life a very popular tourist destination in the South of France. And when you love historic architecture you will also find castles in and around Nice.
In this post you will find the best castles and castle ruins that you can see and visit in Nice. Some castles near Nice are now museums (including a Picasso museum) and many are located in beautiful surroundings, which worthy for a visit in itself. Enjoy the good weather, stunning landscape and historic castles near Nice.
Castles in Nice
Château & Parc Valrose
Baron Paul von Derwies, a Russian entrepreneur and advisor of Tsar Alexander II built one of the most extravagant estates in the French Riviera. Château & Parc Valrose was built in 1870 in Neo-Gothic architecture style. The château is designed by architects David Grimm and Antonio Crocci, and it consists of richly decorated rooms and even a private concert hall.
In the park are mainly Italian plant species, as well as an Isba (a traditional Russian house), and faux ruins. Today the castle houses the Faculty of Science of the university of Nice. But the parkland is open for visitors.
Address: 28 Av. Valrose, 06100 Nice
Le Palais de la Préfecture
Located in the Old Town stands the former Royal Palace (Palais Royal) called Le Palais de la Préfecture. In the 17th century this was the palace of the Dukes of Savoy, and during the French Revolution the palace was a hospital. When Nice became part of France in 1860 the palace became the Prefecture. Today it is the home of the Préfet of the Alpes-Maritimes department.
The Palace was built in the 15th century, though not much remains of this period. It has often been remodeled most recently in the 20th century.
Address: Pl. Pierre Gautier, 06000 Nice, France
La Colline du Château
The fortress that stood in this place was reputedly impregnable but eventually it got destroyed by King Louis XIV in 1706. But on the Castle Hill the remains of the cathedral and the medieval fortress are now incorporated in a stunning park. The park included play areas, restaurants, and it also gives you spectacular views over Nice.
You can climb the stairs to the top (213 steps), but from March-October you can also reach the top with an (art-deco) elevator. Thoughout the park you can read the story of the former fortress and there’s an old graveyard.
La Tour Bellanda
La Tour Bellanda was originally medieval defence tower, built on an acropolis (the upper fortified part of an ancient Greek city). The acropolis was destroyed during the reign of Louis XIV. But the tower was transformed into a belvedere adorned with ceramic mosaics with ancient Greek motifs.
Tour Bellanda was home to the 19th century composer Hector Berlioz. While he was living here he wroter the King Lear Overture. The terrace offers views over the city and the sea.
Castles near Nice
Château de la Napoule
Château de la Napoule is a restored castle in Mandelieu-la-Napoule. The castle dates back to the 14th century when it was built by Countess of Villeneuve, though it has been rebuilt several times. In 1918 the Americans Henry Clews Jr. and Marie Clews bought and restored the castle. During the German occupation in the Second World War, Marie acted as the maid of the castle so she could keep on living there.
Henry and Marie not only restored the castle but also its gardens. The gardens have elements of a French formal garden, an English landscape garden, and three smaller gardens in Italian style.
Marie also founded the La Napoule Art Foundation, and the castle now serves as a cultural centre which can be visited by the public.
Address: Château de La Napoule, Boulevard Henry Clews, 06210 Mandelieu-La Napoule
Château Médieval de Roquebrune
Roquebrune Castle (or Grimaldi Castle) is a medieval fortress built in the 10th century by Count Conrad I of Ventimiglia. For several centuries the castle was owned and lived in by the Grimaldi family. The castle has the oldest donjon that can be found in France and it’s the only example of Carolingian architecture in France.
William Ingram gifted the castle to the city, who have opened it up for the public, from the top you’ll have stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Address: Place William Ingram, 06190 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
Musée Picasso (Château Grimaldi)
Built atop the foundations of the ancient Greek town Antipolis stands the Musée Picasso (formerly known as the Château Grimaldi). The castle in Antibes was built in the late 14th century as the residence of the town’s feudal lords Marc and Luc Grimaldi.
Since 1925 the castle was known as the Grimaldi Museum. For six months in 1946 the castle was the home of Pablo Picasso, where he made (and left in the castle) 23 paintings and 44 sketches. Over the years more works by Picasso have been donated to the museum, which is now known as the Picasso Museum.
Address: Place Mariejol, 06600 Antibes
Grimaldi Castle Museum
Château Musée Grimaldi is originally a fort built around 1300 by Rainier Grimaldi. In the early 17th century Jean-Henri Grimaldi turned this defensive castle into a richly decorated palace. In the 20th century the castle was purched by the township who turned it into a museum.
Grimaldi Castle Museum houses the Olive Tree Museum, a collection of Suzy Solidor portraits (who was a famous actress, singer and muse in the 20th century), and temporary modern art exhibitions. If you climb the tower you will also find a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.
Address: Pl. du Château, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer
Citadelle de Villefranche
The citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer – close to Nice – was built in 1557 to help defend the city. The citadel is designed by Italian engineer Gian Maria Olgiatti for King Charles V. Later it became the military base of the 24th Battalion of Alpine Chasseurs. Since the 20th century turned the citadel into a cultural center with several museums and the Town Hall.
Address: La Citadelle, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer
Fort du Mont Alban
Built between 1557 and 1560 on the orders of the Duke of Savoy, this hilltop military fortress is located just east of Nice. The fort is located in the Mont Boron National Park between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer and it’s still beautifully preserved.
You can reach the 16th century fortress from eather town. And On the top you have views over the French Reviera towards the Italian border. Le Fort de Mont Alban is open in the Summer months.
Address: Chemin du Fort du Mont Alban, 06000 Nice