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Cities of France - Nice

Cosmopolitan and chic, sun drenched and spicy, Nice sparkles as the unofficial capital of the Riviera. An established favourite of pampered aristocrats, visitors flock here from every corner of the globe making Nice the second most popular French city after Paris.

With its unusual mix of real-city grit, old-world opulence, year-round sunshine and exceptional location, Nice’s appeal is universal. Everyone from backpackers to romance-seeking couples and families love sitting at a cafe in Vieux Nice or on a bench on the legendary Promenade des Anglais gazing at the sunset.

Located on the south east coast of France, with an inspiring view of the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is the capital of the Alpes Maritimes département and the second biggest city of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region after Marseille.

Nice was established by the ancient Greeks and is one of the oldest human settlements in the world. The natural beauty of the Nice area and its mild Mediterranean climate came to the attention of the English upper classes in the second half of the 18th century and an increasing number of aristocratic families spent their winter there. When a particularly harsh season up north brought an influx of beggars to Nice, some of these rich Englishmen proposed a useful project for them: the construction of a chemin de promenade or walkway along the sea.

The city of Nice, intrigued by the prospect of a pleasant promenade, took the project further. The Promenade was first called the Camin dei Anglès (the English Way) in the native Nissart dialect. After the annexation of Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais, replacing the former name with its French translation.

This stunning walkway overlooking the expansive Baie des Anges is a highlight of the city. Europe’s glitterati, from Isadora Duncan to the Beatles have strutted their stuff on this seaside esplanade, and you should too! Curving around the turquoise bay, it’s flanked with sun-drenched palm trees and crowned by the flamboyant Hotel Negresco.

Looking up, you’ll spy the Parc du Château on a rocky outcrop. Towering over Vieux Nice, this park offers a cinematic panorama of the city with the Baie des Anges on one side, and the port on the other. It’s a perfect spot for panoramic photos. The 12th-century castle was razed by Louis XIV in 1706; only the 16th-century Tour Bellanda remains. You will find the Cascade Donjon, an 18th-century artificial waterfall crowned with a viewing platform as well as playgrounds and lovely picnic spots.

Tucked into the south-east pocket of the city is Vieux Nice. The old town’s labyrinth of pedestrian streets are filled with markets in the mornings and are perfect for holiday exploring. Old Nice is also home to the Opéra de Nice. It was constructed at the end of the 19th century and is open to the public and provides a regular program of performances.

All this exploring will be making you hungry! You’ll discover a smorgasbord of international gastronomic delights as well as the seafood specialties and la cuisine niçoise . Local dishes include Pissaladière, a tart made with onions and anchovies as well as Socca, a chickpea flour pancake. Farcis niçois is a dish made from vegetables stuffed with breadcrumbs, meat and herbs; and of course, salade nicoise, a tomato salad with green peppers, eggs, tuna or anchovies, and olives.

Being a vacation resort, Nice hosts many festivals throughout the year, such as the Carnaval de Nice and the Nice Jazz Festival. Nice also makes a perfect base to explore the fascinating Provence region on the doorstep. You could happily spend a month here and still be hungry for more.


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