The mere mention of Nice, France’s fifth largest city conjures up images of glamour, a stretch of beaches, 7.5 km to be precise, lined by a multitude of luxury hotels, casinos and restaurants, including the famous and impressive four-stars on the sea front: the Negresco Hotel, the Palais de la Méditerranée, the Casino Ruhl and others.
However, there is more to it than meets this image.
While maintaining its traditional charm the city has grown up and rebelled against a one-track image and now the city’s charming old architecture happily coexists with its new, modern luxury image. Nice is a vibrant city that is alive and living to the tempo of its cosmopolitan population. Contemporary art and sculptures are creatively and colorfully scattered throughout the city and the multitude of museums trench the city in a wealth of culture. The lush green parks slow the city pace down while the stylish multi-ethnic restaurants and trendy night life venues to suit all tastes, pick up the beat and reflect the eclectic mix of residents and visitors.
The city’s name is enough to evoke images of Provencal markets, Mediterranean colors, palm trees, historic monuments and places; the whole beautiful parcel wrapped in an enticing package of gorgeous clear blue sea, mirrored by the azure blue cloudless sky.
The Promenade des Anglais is one of the most celebrated, coastal walk ways in the world. Built by the English gentry in the 19th century to provide a means for them to enjoy a stroll by the sea, it continues to fill its original role, with its famous blue chairs providing repose en route. Each year visitors from all over the world visit to walk it, run it, skate it or simply to relax and contemplate the beauty of this city facing the sea. All this and more is proof of the irresistible allure the capital of the Mediterranean holds for visitors.
Nice is steeped in a violent but rich history. Many people do not realize that it has been owned by Italy longer than France. Its identity has switched back and forth in a schizophrenic frenzy of wars among the independent Italian states prior to reunification and it retains many remnants of this past with palazzos and colorful baroque buildings scattered throughout the city. Place Massena, at the heart of Nice at the bottom of avenue Jean Médecin, the main street, is a fine example of the wide squares, adorned with fountains found in most Italian cities. The streets in the old town (vieux Nice) have plaques indicating the French and Nissart names, a vernacular tongue and rooted in old Ligurian dialect.
Invasions by the Greeks, Saracens, Turks and the French often left it ragged, but infused the city with a unique and exotic legacy of culture and architecture. By 154 BC the Romans had built the second city of Cemenelum next to Nikaia on the hills of Cimiez, where Nice’s famous jazz festival is held in the ruins each July. It was destroyed in 813 by the Saracens and it took many centuries for the town to build itself up and become a major centre. It wasn’t until 1860 that the Comte de Nice was delivered into French hands as a result of negotiations with the King of Sardinia. It has remained a part of France ever since. Evidence of the city’s prehistoric origins can be seen at the Musée Terra Amata.
The panoramic view from the Colline du Château is spectacular - you can reach it by taking the elevator at the base of the hill, at Place du 8 Mai 1945, where the end of the Promenade turns a corner to the port. At the top you will understand immediately the former strategic importance of this place for spotting approaching invaders and surveying the port. An easy stroll around the 19-hectares of parks and ruins will lead you to the west side where you can observe the arrivals and departures of the luxury cruise ships and Corsican ferries.
NICE TOURIST OFFICE
NICE TOURIST INFORMATION
5 Promenade des Anglais
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