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Cote d'Azur Observatory, Nice

Astronomical observatory Built by Charles Garnier and Gustave Eiffel

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This astronomical observatory is located on top of mont Gros.

Situated within a large park at 370m of altitude, this observatory was conceived by the banker Raphael-Louis Bischoffsheim. The building was designed by Garnier, while Eiffel tackled the huge 24m rotating dome, which opens to see the stars, manually at first until the installation of a motor in 1888. The movement was possible thanks to an ingenious system based on water with magnesium chloride on which the dome floated.

At the time, it had the world's largest telescope, 18m long with a lens 76cm wide, operational in 1888. With it, 2000 new stars have been discovered in Nice.

All the buildings in the observatory, as well as the telescope, have been declared a historic monument. It is set in a 40 hectare park with stunning views, and is a centre of international research.

When to come

Guided visits (in French only) are organised every Wednesday and Saturday at 14:45, all year. You can also book private English tours by contacting them.

How to get passes

To join one of the tours, you have to arrive at the observatory 10 minutes before the visit starts. You need to sign up online beforehand. Admission is 6€ for adults and 3€ for children and students.

Reviews

Visitor comments

  • "For kids and adults, it really is the place to go. Set atop Nice, the views over the Cote d'Azur are worth the admission fee. We went as a group but the kids got in free because the majority of the tour was in French. And, yes, you actually get a scientist who conducts the tour and went out of his way to answer every question any smartass kid can come up with. You literally journey back in time as you walk through the site and marvel at the ingenuity of the builders. It has the largest refracting telescope in Europe and just watching the domes open makes you want to go home and buy a telescope. Thoroughly informative and totally engrossing whatever you do in Nice, make time for the tour which takes place at certain times of the week - check and book online or get the hotel to book." - Trip Advisor
  • "Only Open to visitors at 2:45 pm every Weds and Saturday. You also need to make sure you reserve places on their website in advance. You can take the bus up the hill or drive up, but there is extremely limited parking nearby. Our tour guide was great. She did the tour both in French and excellent English for our mixed group, explaining the science behind the equipment very clearly. You walk around the site and visit three of the amazing historical instruments and really get an idea of how important their role has been in the search for understanding of our planetary system." - Trip Advisor
  • "I am a professional astronomer and visited for that reason. The observatory buildings are very interesting architecturally. The views are tremendous. Today it is one of the world's most important departments of astronomy, but the telescopes are not used professionally. The historic Grande Equatorial can be visited" - Trip Advisor

Contact

  • Address
  • Boulevard de l'Observatoire
  • 06304