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Quirky Stories From Nice

Place Messena 

False Windows in Nice

 

Nice Cannon

Curtain, Nudity and More .. 

Every day, tourists gather in the expansive main square of Place Masséna, a beautiful spot right next to historic old town in Nice. The impressive Fontaine du Soleil overlooks the square and is the perfect spot for a selfie.  The square serves as a meeting point for tourists, walking tours and locals and features in thousands of holiday snaps.  

The city's Italian heritage shines through in the neoclassical buildings with vibrant ochre facades and pastel green window shutters. 

​Wouldn't it be lovely to own a unit on this historic square?  Maybe .. but owners are subject to the most fascinating set of regulations!  As one of the most visited and most photographed places in Nice, the council have strict regulations that must be followed by all building owners facing onto the square. 

Curtains can only be those approved by the council and no washing or other items can be hung outside the windows.  Don't even think of repainting in your favourite shade - the distinctive colour palette must remain.  And, if you're assuming that regulations could only cover the building itself .. think again.  Nudity in front of the windows or doors is strictly forbidden.  In fact, any risque behaviour visible from the square is not allowed.  Fines are in place to preserve the look .. and the dignity .. of this historic square. 

 

Deception, Art and Taxes 

As you stroll through the streets of Nice, it's easy to get caught up in the beauty of the old buildings.  But look a little closer and you may see you have been deceived.

Many windows, including balconies, architectural features and even plants are actually painted on. Sometimes, just one window amongst "real" ones is fake and in the case of this building in Place Garibaldi, one whole side is a trompe l’oeil - which is French for "deceive the eye".

Why? During the revolution, there was a tax on every door and window. The residents of Nice (and many other French cities) would simply paint them on. The building looked stylish and they appeared to be wealthy, but the clever owners avoided paying any extra tax to the Government.

  

Lunch with a Bang
 
At exactly 12 noon every day, for 158 years, the residents of Nice quietly chuckle as tourists jump out of their skins at the sound of a very loud cannon.
 
It started in 1860, when the very punctual Scotsman Sir Thomas Coventry and his easily-distracted wife were living in Nice. Sir Tom was frustrated that his wife was always late for lunch.  He asked the Mayor if he could shoot a daily noon cannon to remind her that it was time to come home for lunch.  He offered to foot the bill, the Mayor agreed and so the daily ritual began. 
 
Some years later, they returned to Scotland, taking the cannon with them, but the locals were so used to their midday marker, they petitioned the city to reinstate the tradition.  It continues today, although with giant fireworks rather than a cannon.

 

Did You Know

We import our gorgeous traditional Provencal tablecloths from Nice.  The family have been making these iconic colourful tablecloths in the south of France since 1933 and are now in their third generation. But you don't have to go to Nice to enjoy them, we have a full range of French cotton and coated cotton tablecloths.