This long pedestrian thoroughfare—half street, half square—is the nerve center of Old Nice, the heart of the Vieille Ville, and the stage-set for the daily dramas of marketplace and café life. Framed with 18th-century houses and shaded by plane trees, the narrow square bursts into a show of color Tuesday through Sunday until 1 pm, when flower-market vendors roll armloads of mimosas, roses, and orange blossoms into cornets (paper cones) and thrust them into the arms of shoppers, who then awkwardly continue forward to discover a mix of local farmers and stallholders selling produce (try the fresh figs), spices, olives, and little gift soaps. Arrive early, especially in summer, to avoid being at the mercy of the crowd's general movement (and a target for the rampant pickpockets). From June to September, 6 pm until midnight, there's also an artisanal craft market selling jewelry, pottery, purses, and paintings. Cafés and restaurants, all more or less touristy (don't expect friendly
service, although Safari at No. 1 is an exception) fill outdoor tables with onlookers who bask in the sun. At the far east end, antiques and brocantes (collectibles) draw avid junk-hounds every Monday morning. At this end you can also find Place Charles Félix. From 1921 to 1938, Matisse lived in the imposing yellow stone building at No. 1, and you don't really need to visit the local museum that bears his name to understand this great artist: simply stand in the doorway of his former home and study Place de l'Ancien Senat 10 feet away—the scene is a classic Matisse.