The Museum of Wonders

Travel back in time

How about revisiting Prehistory? History lessons feel like a lifetime ago to many of us! Visit the Museum of Wonders to turn back the clock and meet early man. If you’re with family then it’s a no-brainer. Kids love its fun-filled displays and exciting events that bring our ancestors to life. A one-of-a-kind museum for all ages.

Experience recommended

by Carole

Highlight 01

Travel on the Train of Wonders

We’ve decided to take the train to visit the Valley of Wonders and make our adventure that little bit more special. Samuel and Léa were bursting with excitement when we told them we were going on the Train of Wonders last night!

An adventure in an adventure

Our TER train pulls into the platform at Nice station then we’re off on our fabulous adventure in an adventure, with our eyes glued to the window as we gaze at the scenery. What a view! We ride through pretty villages, over and into engineering structures: viaducts over rivers, mountain tunnels and more.

We reach Tende, home to the Museum of Wonders. As soon as we get off the train, we can tell that we’re in for some great hikes! But first, we hit the museum because we were told to come here before tackling Mont Bégo, to give us a better understanding of the cave art there!

Highlight 02

A trip back in time in the galleries

Awesome collections

The first pleasant surprise is that the museum is free! The larger-than-life character greeting us at the entrance whisks us back to another time and place. The permanent exhibition provides a visitor experience with three sections: natural history, archaeology and popular arts and traditions. We’re presented with a total of 400 million years of the Valley of Wonders’ history. Mind-boggling!

I’m pleased to see that the displays are very easy for children to understand and interact with. Sam and Léa can’t believe their eyes: a video animation here, a 3D bird’s eye view of Mont Bégo there… It’s all very hands-on. We learn about the everyday lives of the hunter-gatherers living in this mountain area, gaze at cave art casts that we’ll be seeing “for real” later… It feels like we’ve actually been transported back in time!

Inventaire du patrimoine culturel - Site du mont Bego
Inventaire du patrimoine culturel - Site du mont Bego
Inventaire du patrimoine culturel - Site du mont Bego
Highlight 03

Encounter with Ötzi, the Iceman

Mr Freeze

The highlight of our trip is meeting Ötzi. The kids think he’s really cool! An exact replica of the mummified iceman found in the Ötztal Alps in 1991. He lived 5300 years ago during the Copper Age. He’s aged well! Next to him are items that were found where he was with reconstructions on display in the museum. Most of them are for hunting: a dagger with a flint blade, a sharpener made of antler, a bow and arrow etc.

Highlight 04

In the cave art galleries

A singular sorceror

In the gallery devoted to the Valley of Wonders’ cave art, there are engravings from casts so get the full effect. We can’t wait to see them in real life!

We gaze at iconic depictions of the “Sorceror”, an odd anthropomorphic character who appears everywhere, and of the “Tribe Chief”, the original shot on-site by helicopter. It’s amazing to think they were carved out so long ago…

Time flies as we try out all the fun games and activities there are to do. The children love joining Battistin, a very realistic wax character that comes to life to share tales and legends about the region. A magical moment!

Highlight 05

Last stop at the gift shop

Great souvenirs

A quick trip to the museum shop ends our wonderful experience on a high. We browse a wide array of hand-crafted items made using natural material such as leather, wood, bone and wool. These original pieces are designed exclusively for the museum. Pretty notebooks, jewellery, pottery and glassware complete the shop display. Samuel goes home with a colouring and puzzle book based on the museum’s subjects. After a 2 hr visit, it’s time to head off with our new knowledge to explore the slopes of Mont Bégo…

Useful information

  • A8 from Nice, exit at Menton then Sospel > Breil-sur-Roya > Tende
  • A8 from Nice, exit at Ventimiglia then follow signs to Breil-sur-Roya > Tende
  • TER regional train from Nice;
  • Italian train from Ventimiglia or Cuneo.
    Stop in Tende
  • Daily 25 bus service from Menton
    Stop in Tende – place de la gare