Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 10, 2015

Nice

For the past three posts, we’ve been exploring a stretch of the French Riviera from the village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. There’s a nearby attraction that deserves a great deal of attention, just on the other side of Monte Alban to the east: Nice. A city of about a million people, Nice is the capital of the Alpes Maritime départment, and is a sophisticated place full of artistic, architectural and cultural attractions. It’s been a center of tourism since the 1700s. When you go there, you’ll understand why its appeal never fails.

Nice is too large, diverse and rich a place to do it justice in only a couple of articles and a few hundred words. We’ll hit a few highlights in this post and the next, and leave the rest to you.

Nice occupies a long, graceful curve on the Bay of Angels on the Mediterranean, fronted by the Promenade des Anglais, named after the English tourists who first popularized the city for tourism. With tourists in the grand age of travel came grand hotels, including this one, the Hotel Negresco, fronting the Promenade.

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The interior is just as impressive as the exterior.

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There are massive public squares, especially the Place Massena, which is shared by pedestrians and city trams, but no automotive traffic (a relatively recent improvement), making it one of Europe’s most pedestrian-friendly open spaces.

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Immediately adjacent is a long stretch of green space with fountains and lovely landscaping, including the Jardin Albert Premier and the Espace Massena.

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Immediately to the east is the Old Town.

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It’s a setting reminiscent of the old centers of countless other European cities, with narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants opening into lovely little squares, like the one fronted by the cathedral, Sainte Reparate:

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We’ve seen the Cours day and night, high season and low, in sun and rain, and it always fascinates. Be prepared for crowds in the high season, and bring your appetite at all times. Be certain to sample Nice’s trademark pissaladière and socca, but save room for gelato at Fenocchio.

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While there are “old towns” in hundreds of cities, the vieux ville of Nice has a character all its own, and there’s nowhere better to appreciate it than in the main thoroughfare, the Cours Saleya and its marketplace.

There are always flowers and fruits and vegetables, not to mention some astounding displays of treats like marzipan.

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One day a week, the marketplace is devoted to antiques and countless treasures. Allow an extra hour or two for browsing.

We haven’t begun to see a fraction of what Nice has to show us. Be prepared for plenty of walking. Next, a look at the signal place Nice occupies in the art world.

This is the fourth in a series of posts about travel through a portion of southern France. CLICK HERE to see the first, or use the navigation buttons below to go forward or back. 

© Brad Nixon 2015, 2017

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Responses

  1. man, southern looks more appealing every time i look at it.

    Like

  2. You have a very nice selection of photos that beautifully captures the spirit of the place. Your photos of the Negresco really surprised me. When I was in Nice in 1997, I took my pix from the eastern side of the hotel, focusing on the pink dome over the rotunda. I totally missed the interesting west side that you photographed. Congrats on some great photography!

    Like


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