This article is also available in: Italian
Nice (about 345,000 inhabitants, 970,000 inhabitants in the urban area), is located in a wonderful position along the Mediterranean Sea on the Bay of Angels (Baie des Anges), 30 km from the border with Italy, the city is the capital of the department of Alpes-Maritimes.
Nice originated from a settlement founded by the inhabitants of Marseille, the city developed in Roman times with the name of Nicaea, but the most important center throughout the Roman Empire was Cemenelum, capital of the province of Alpes Maritimae, and today the district of Nice (Cimiez). During the Middle Ages Nice became an important commercial port and then, in the 11th century, it was a free municipality, starting from 1388 it became part of the Kingdom of Savoy to which it remained linked until 1860, the year in which it was ceded to France as territorial compensation, in exchange for the help given by France for the unification of Italy. Nice is the birthplace of Giuseppe Garibaldi.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF NICE
The city of Nice is one of the main French tourist destinations, thanks to its sea and particularly mild climate. The old town (Vieux-Nice, in “nizzardo”: Vièia Vila), is the most characteristic part of Nice, and has a typically Italian-Ligurian appearance, with narrow streets and colorful houses. The port district, with wide streets, is characterized by buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The new neighborhoods, built after the annexation to France, present the characteristic style of French cities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among the main attractions of Nice is the old town, where it is wonderful to get lost in the streets and alleys in search of some characteristic corner of the Nice that once was, full of restaurants, bars and small shops selling clothes, shoes and souvenirs.
Among the things to see in old Nice there are several churches and palaces in Genoese baroque style, including the Cathedral of Sainte-Réparate, the Palace Lascaris, the Church of Jesus and the Palace of the Prefecture (17th century), seat of the governors of Savoy.
Rue Pairolière, which connects Place Garibaldi with Place Saint-François, is the most commercial street of the old city, it is home to numerous shops, restaurants and cafés. Place Rossetti is the heart of the old city, with numerous restaurants and often animated by the market. The Cathedral of Sainte-Réparate overlooks the square. Another square to visit is the Place du Palais, where the neo-classical Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice) is located; the Rusca Palace and the city clock also overlook the square.
The main square of Nice is the Place Massena, paved with white and gray tiles, and decorated with modern works of art by the artist Jaume Plensa. In the square there is also the fountain with very high waves and the monument dedicated to the French Riviera. The most famous seafront in Nice is the Promenade des Anglais, where it is a must to take a walk and stop on one of the many benches to admire the sea that bathes the city. Among the modern buildings not to be missed is the visit to the Louis Nucera library (Tête Carrée) designed by the architects Bayard and Chapus and the sculptor Sacha Sosno.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MUSEUMS OF NICE
The city of Nice is home to several museums and galleries, dedicated to art, history and local traditions, all municipal museums have free entry.
Among the most important museums in the city we find: The Matisse museum, located in the Cimiez district, houses Matise’s personal collection, from his first paintings to his famous watercolours, with over 200 engravings, sculptures, paintings and photographs.
Also in Cimiez, there is the Biblical museum of Marc Chagall (musée national Message biblique Marc-Chagall) which collects the works of Marc Chagall dedicated to the Bible.
The museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art (Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (Mamac)), presents realist works (Niki de Saint Phalle, Tinguely, César, Arman, Raysse), by American abstractionists, by pop art (Andy Warhol, Indiana, Wesselmann, Dine) etc. The Masséna museum (Musée Masséna), dedicated to the art and history of Nice, houses furniture, paintings, sculptures and art objects. The museum of Palazzo Lascaris, inside the famous Genoese Baroque style palace, there is an ancient pharmacy (18th century) and representative apartments with 17th and 18th century furniture.
The Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts) houses works dating from the end of the 16th century to the mid-20th century, of particular note is the collection of works by Jules Chéret, Van Loo, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Joseph Vernet, Kees Van Dongen. The Asian Arts Museum (Musée des Arts asiatiques), located inside an ultra-modern building designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, collects works of Buddhist art. The Anatole-Jakowsky Museum of Naive Art (Musée international d’Art naïf Anatole-Jakowsky) collects all the works donated by Anatole and Renée Jakowsky.
Other interesting museums are the Paleontological Museum of Terra-Amata (Musée de paléontologie humaine de Terra-Amata) dedicated to prehistory, the Archaeological Museum of Cimiez dedicated to the Roman era, the Natural History Museum (Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Nice) and the Navy Museum (Musée de la Marine).
HOW TO GET TO NICE
TRAIN: The French State Railways (SNCF) guarantee 11 daily train connections with foreign countries and 20 with the most important French cities. Nice is connected with multiple trips a day to Paris via the High Speed Train (TGV), the journey takes just 6 hours and 30 minutes. Thanks to its proximity to Italy, Nice is well connected via the Genoa-Nice line with the Italian railway network.
PLANE: The Nice-Côte d’Azur International Airport (Aéroport de Nice Côte d’Azur) is located about 7 km west of the center of Nice, after the two Paris airports (Charles de Gaulle and Orly) it is the most important in France. Connections between the city center of Nice and the airport are guaranteed by a regular bus service and a taxi service.
HOW TO MOVE: URBAN TRANSPORT IN NICE
The city of Nice and its metropolitan area is served by an efficient urban transport network with 40 daytime lines and a night service of 4 lines. The tram currently consists of a single line that runs from north to east passing through the historic center. All public transport has a single ticket, the ticket must be validated on board.
The climate of Nice.
This article is also available in: Italian