Up on the hill of Cimiez around Nice is the Monastery of Cimiez, which includes a church and a monastery that have been used (and still are!) by the Franciscan monks since 1546. The 15th-century church enjoys significant paintings by the local medieval artist Ludovico Brea, such as La Pieta, La Crucifixion and La Deposition.
The imposing 17th-century monastery houses the Franciscan museum, which reveals the history of the Franciscans' monastery from the 13th Century to the present day. On display are over 300 documents and works of art of great importance from the 15th to 18th centuries. In the cemetery near the monastery are buried the painters Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy as well as the winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature, Roger martin du Gard. Surrounding the Monastery are the beautiful Jardins du Monastère, the oldest gardens of the French Riviera !
Covering 9,550 square meters and initially used as a kitchen and orchard garden by the Franciscan friars, they have been mostly preserved in their original layout (from 1546 !) and transformed into exceptionally colorful flower beds, a splendid sweet-smelling rose garden as well as a cute vegetable and herb garden. A charming alley separates the rose garden, which includes a rich variety of roses covering the original pergolas from the ornamental flower beds and leads to an incredible view over Nice....
The garden is organized as a checkerboard, as per Albert Le grand (1193-1280) recommendations.
As you stroll the beautifully maintained gardens, enjoying delicate scents, you will find quite a few old orange, lemon and even pomegranate groves eagerly stretching to seek each ray of sunshine
Among the many beds, I enjoyed the delightful combination of glowing yellows provided by the Canna 'Tropicana' and French Marigolds (Tagetes Patula), the flamboyant reds of the Coleus (Solestenum) and Zinnia 'Ruffles' contrasted by the sober Purple-leaved Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) and the Bloodleaf 'Carminata' (Iresine).
Another colorful flower bed crowned by funny tricolor Amaranthus in their stripped yellow-red pajamas!
Soft and tender colors for these Spider Flowers (Cleome), Nicotianas, Dusty Millers (Senecio Cineraria), Petunias and Zinnias......
Further away is this expressive and cheerful border…
Isn’t it a ravishing mix of Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta), Klondyke Cosmos (Cosmos Sulphureus) and Purpletop Vervain (Verbena Bonariensis). I’ve always been charmed by the mix of warm orange colors with the coolness of blues or purples.
Hidden behind the fluffy Floss flower (Ageratum Houstonianum) is a colony of Petunia Wave Rose discreetly overlooked by the delicate clumpy heads of the Purpletop Vervain (Verbena Bonariensis)
I loved the rich harmony of blue, pink and purple generously offered by the Alyogyne Huegelii, the Blue Pimpernel (Anagallis Monelli), the Mealy-Cup Sage (Salvia Farinacea) as well as the Spider Flowers (Cleome).
Enjoying the immaculate blue sky and the soft but rather persistent caress of the Mediterranean sun, the Floss Flower 'Blue Horizon' (Ageratum Houstonianum) and Mealy-Cup Sage (Salvia Farinacea) are in seeming competition with the almost fluorescent pinks and yellows of the Zinnia 'Profusion' (Zinnia Elegans), the American Marigold (Tagetes Erecta) and petunias
Towards the end of the main alley, you will discover this small vegetable and herb garden, which was added in 1930.
Ornamental black Tuscan cabbages, burgundy Redbor kales are alternating with salvia, lavender and thyme, all centered around a beautiful and charming fountain.
Such a serene atmosphere that a few benches implore us to sit and enjoy the view for a spell!
Take a look at the north old wall of the garden : totally covered with flamboyant bougainvillea!
These stairs will take you up to the location of the ancient oppidum where the city of Cemenelum (Cimiez) was created.
The monastery, church and gardens are really worth a visit.
In summer, classical concerts are held under the stars within the courtyard of the monastery.
Wouldn't it be a fabulous way of spending a Mediterranean summer's evening ?
If you happen to be in Nice, you have to visit the Monastere and its gardens !