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The Republic of France

Nice - France

Holiday in Nice, FranceNice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse. The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of about 1 million in an area of 721 square kilometers or 278 square miles. Located on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille.The city is called Nice la Belle, which means Nice the Beautiful, which is also the title of the unofficial anthem of Nice, written by Menica Rondelly in 1912. 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 is the capital of the French Riviera and offers a sophisticated allure that has been drawing people in for decades. The beautiful surroundings and an exceptional climate makes tourism flourish during the warmer months. The main boulevard in Nice is the Promenade des Anglais. Lined with palm trees, it provides access to some of the most popular beaches in Nice. The beaches on the Mediterranean coast by Nice actually extend for more than four miles along the seafront and they are divided into beaches with various names. Private concessionaires offer amenities to tourists, such as food and watersports equipment rentals. Nice beaches start right at Nice Airport and continue for several miles along the waterfront up to the Old Port. These beaches are not composed of powdery white sand as in other parts of the French Riviera, but are instead made up of small round pebbles. So it is a good idea to bring some kind of chair when visiting them. You can also rent a lounge chaise with a soft mattress if you prefer at one of the private beaches. Parasols to block the sun can also be rented at many of these Nice beaches, and you can also pay to use the freshwater showers and the changing rooms. As for the best beaches overall, Plage Castels is a good example of a fine private beach, with Plage Publique de Beau Rivage and Plage La Reserve being among the most favored public beaches.

Holiday in Nice, FranceThe area that comprises modern Nice is believed to be situated on one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. One of the archaeological sites, Terra Amata, displays evidence of a very early use of fire. Around 350 BC, Greeks of Marseille founded a permanent settlement and called it Nikaia, after Nike, the goddess of victory. Down through the ages the town changed hands numerous times. Its strategic location and its port significantly contributed to its maritime strength. For years it was an Italian dominion until it became part of France in 1860. Culturally and architecturally enriched over time, today Nice has become a truly cosmopolitan tourist destination. The spectacular 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, when an increasing number of aristocratic families took to spending their winter in the city. The main seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais (English: the Walkway of the English) owes its name to the earliest visitors to the resort. For decades now, the picturesque surroundings of Nice have attracted not only those in search of relaxation, but also artists seeking artistic inspiration. The clear air and soft light has been of particular appeal to some of Western culture’s most outstanding painters, such as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Arman. Their work is commemorated in many of the city’s museums, including Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret. The climate and landscape are still what attracts most visitors today. It has the second largest hotel capacity in the country and it’s the second most visited destination in France after Paris, receiving 4 million tourists each year. It also has the second busiest airport in France after Paris and two convention centers catering to business travellers. The city also has a university, several business districts and some major cultural facilities, such as museums, a national theatre, opera house with a regional library and several concert halls and casinos. It is the historical capital city of the County of Nice (Comté de Nice).

Holiday in Nice, FranceThe first known hominid settlements in the Nice area date back approximately 400,000 years; the Terra Amata archeological site shows one of the earliest uses of fire and construction of houses and flint findings are dated as being around 230,000 years old. Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Nikaia in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians - Nike being the Greek goddess of victory. The city soon became one of the busiest trading ports on the Ligurian coast, but it had an important rival in the Roman town of Cemenelum, which continued to exist as a separate city until the time of the Lombard invasions. The ruins of Cemenelum are located in Cimiez, which is now a district in Nice. In the 7th century, Nice joined the Genoese League formed by the towns of Liguria. In 729 the city repulsed the Saracens; but in 859 and again in 880 the Saracens pillaged and burned it, and for most of the 10th century remained masters of the surrounding country. During the Middle Ages, Nice participated in the wars and history of Italy. As an ally of Pisa it was the enemy of Genoa, and both the King of France and the Emperor endeavoured to subjugate it; but in spite of this it maintained its municipal liberties. During the course of the 13th and 14th centuries the city fell more than once into the hands of the Counts of Provence, but finally remained independent even if related to Genoa. In 1388 the commune placed itself under the protection of the Counts of Savoy. Nice participated – directly or indirectly – in the history of Savoy up until 1860. The maritime strength of Nice now rapidly increased until it was able to cope with the Barbary pirates; the fortifications were largely extended and the roads to the city improved. In 1561 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, abolished the use of Latin as an administrative language and established the Italian language as the official language of government affairs in Nice.

Holiday in Nice, FranceDuring the struggle between Francis I and Charles V great damage was caused by the passage of the armies invading Provence; pestilence and famine raged in the city for several years. It was in the nearby town of Villeneuve-Loubet that the two monarchs in 1538 concluded, through the mediation of Pope Paul III, a truce of ten years. In 1543, Nice was attacked by the united Franco-Ottoman forces of Francis I and Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, in the Siege of Nice; and, though the inhabitants repulsed the assault which succeeded the terrible bombardment, they were ultimately compelled to surrender, and Barbarossa was allowed to pillage the city and to carry off 2,500 captives. Pestilence appeared again in 1550 and 1580. In 1600, Nice was briefly taken by the duke of Guise. By opening the ports of the county to all nations, and proclaiming full freedom of trade, the commerce of the city was given great stimulus, the noble families taking part in its mercantile enterprises. Captured by Nicolas Catinat in 1691, Nice was restored to Savoy in 1696; but it was again besieged by the French in 1705, and in the following year its citadel and ramparts were demolished. The treaty of Utrecht in 1713 once more gave the city back to the Duke of Savoy who was on that same occasion recognized as King of Sicily. In the peaceful years which followed the "new town" was built. From 1744 till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 the French and Spaniards were again in possession. In 1775 the king, who in 1718 had swapped his sovereignty of Sicily for the Kingdom of Sardinia, destroyed all that remained of the ancient liberties of the commune. Conquered in 1792 by the armies of the First French Republic, the County of Nice continued to be part of France until 1814; but after that date it reverted to the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. By a treaty concluded in 1860 between the Sardinian king and Napoleon III, the County was again ceded to France as a territorial reward for French assistance in the Second Italian War of Independence against Austria, which saw Lombardy unified with Piedmont-Sardinia. The cession was ratified by over 25,000 electors out of a total of 30,700. Savoy was also transferred to the French crown by similar means.

Holiday in Nice, FranceGiuseppe Garibaldi, born in Nice, strongly opposed the cession to France arguing that the ballot was rigged by the French. Italian irredentists considered Nice one of their main nationalist goals, along with Istria, Dalmatia, Corsica and the South Tyrol. In 1942–1943 the city was occupied and administered by Italy during World War II. The 20th century saw the arrival of modern transportation. In 1900, the Tramway de Nice electrified its horse drawn streetcars and spread its network to the entire department from Menton to Cagnes-sur-Mer. By the 1930s additional bus connections added to the transportation network of the entire area. In the 1930s Nice hosted international formula car racing in the Formula Libre which was the predecessor to Formula One on the so-called Circuit Nice. The circuit started along the waterfront just south of the Jardin Albert I, then headed westward along the Promenade des Anglais followed by a hairpin turn at the Hotel Negresco to come back eastward and around the Jardin Albert I before heading again east along the beach on the Quai des Etats-Unis. As war broke out in September 1939, Nice became a city of refuge for many displaced foreigners, notably Jews fleeing the Nazi progression into Eastern Europe. From Nice many sought further shelter in the French colonies, Morocco and North and South America. After July 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy Regime, antisemitic aggressions accelerated the exodus, starting in July 1941 and continuing through 1942. On 26 August 1942, 655 Jews of foreign origin were rounded up by the Laval government and interned in the Auvare barracks. Of them, 560 would be deported to Drancy internment camp on 31 August 1942.

Holiday in Nice, FranceThanks to the activity of the Jewish banker Angelo Donati and of the Capuchin friar Père Marie-Benoît the local authorities hindered the applications of anti Jewish Vichy laws. The first ”résistants” to the new Regime were a group of High School seniors of the Lycée de Nice, now Lycée Masséna, in September 1940, later arrested and executed in 1944 near Castellane. The first public demonstrations occurred on 14 July 1942 when several hundred protesters took to the streets along the Avenue de la Victoire and Place Masséna. After November 1942 and the arrival of Italian troops occupying the city, a certain ambivalence remained among the population, many recent immigrants of Italian ancestry. However, the resistance gained momentum after the Italians surrendered in 1943 when the German armies occupied Vichy France. Reprisals intensified between December 1943 and July 1944 when many partisans were tortured and executed by the local Gestapo and the French Milice. Nice was also heavily bombarded by American aviation in preparation for the Allied landing in Provence. It left 1000 dead or wounded and more than 5600 people homeless with famine ensueing during the course of the summer of 1944. Finally American paratroopers entered the city on 30 August 1944 and Nice was finally liberated. The consequences of the war were heavy, the population decreased by 15% and the economy was totally disrupted.

Holiday in Nice, FranceIn the second half of the 20th century, Nice enjoyed an economic boom primarily driven by tourism and construction. Two men dominated this period: Jean Médecin, mayor for 33 years from 1928 to 1943 and from 1947 to 1965 and his son Jacques, Mayor for 24 years from 1966 to 1990. Under their leadership, the city experienced extensive urban renewal and new construction was undertaken such as the Convention Center, theatres, new thoroughfares and expressways and other projects. The arrival of the Pieds-Noirs, refugees from Algeria after 1962 independence, also gave the city a boost and somewhat changed the make-up of its population and traditional views. By the late 1980s, rumors of political corruption in the city government surfaced and eventually formal accusations against Jacques Médecin forced him to flee France in 1990. Later arrested in Uruguay in 1993, he was extradited back to France in 1994 where he was convicted of several counts of corruption and associated crimes and sentenced to imprisonment. On 16 October 1979, a tsunami, caused by an undersea landslide hit the western coast of Nice and 23 people died. In February 2001, European leaders met at Nice to negotiate and sign what is now the Treaty of Nice amending the institutions of the European Union. In 2003, local Chief Prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier alleged that some judicial cases involving local personalities had been suspiciously derailed by the local judiciary, which he suspected of having unhealthy contacts through Masonic lodges with the very people prosecuted or judged. A controversial official report stated later that de Montgolfier had made unwarranted accusations.

Holiday in Nice, FranceThe Promenade des Anglais (English: Promenade of the English) is a promenade along the Baie des Anges (English: Bay of the Angels) in Nice. Before Nice was developed the coastline at Nice was just bordered by a deserted stretch of beach covered with large pebbles. The first houses were located on higher ground well away from the sea, as wealthy tourists visiting Nice in the 18th century did not come for the beach, but for the warmer winter weather. The areas close to the water were home to Nice's dockworkers and fishermen. In the second half of the 18th century, many wealthy English people took to spending the winter in Nice, enjoying the sights along the coast. When a particularly harsh winter up north brought an influx of lower class individuals to Nice, some of the wealthy Englishmen proposed a useful project for them - the construction of a walkway (chemin de promenade) along the sea. The city of Nice, intrigued by the prospect of a pleasant promenade, greatly increased the scope of the work. The Promenade was first called the Camin dei Anglès (English: the English Way) but after the annexation of Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais, replacing the former name. The Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais was named after Henri Negresco (1868–1920) who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. In keeping with the conventions of the time, when the Negresco first opened in 1913 its front opened on the side opposite the Mediterranean. Another place worth mentioning is the small street parallel to the Promenade des Anglais, leading from downtown Nice, beginning at Place Masséna and running parallel to the promenade in the direction of the airport for a short distance of about 4 blocks. This section of the city is referred to as the "Zone Pietonne" (English: Pedestrian Zone). Cars are not allowed, with exception to delivery trucks, which makes this avenue a popular walkway where tourists can find a fine selection of restaurants, specializing in various types of cuisine, including Niçoise, Italian, and Spanish. There is also a large selection of cafés where one can sit and enjoy an apéritif, as well as several bakeries with coffee, cake, and terraces. There are also plenty of small shops selling clothing, shoes, and tourist souvenirs. Old Nice is also home to the Opéra de Nice, constructed at the end of the 19th Century under the design of François Aune, to replace King Charles Félix's Maccarani Theater. Today, it is open to the public and provides a regular program of performances.

Holiday in Nice, FranceThe port of Nice is also known as Lympia port. This name comes from the Lympia spring which fed a small lake in a marshy zone where work on the port was started in 1745. Today this is the principal harbour installation at Nice – there is also a small port in the Carras district. Fishing activities remain but the number of professional fishermen is now practically nonexistent. Nice, being the point of continental France nearest to Corsica, has ferry connections with the island developed with the arrival of NGV (French: Navires à Grande Vitesse) or high-speed craft. Two companies provide the connections: SNCM - a partially public company and Corsica Ferries/Sardinia Ferries, an entirely private company. The Nice Côte d'Azur Airport is the third most important airport in France after Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport in Paris. It is on the Promenade des Anglais, near l'Arénas and has two terminals. Due to its proximity to the Principality of Monaco, it also serves as that city–state's airport. A helicopter service provided by Heli Air Monaco and Monacair links the city and airport; it averages 39 flights a day and is run by the Chamber of Commerce and the Nice Côte d'Azur industry. Its director is Hervé de Place, director of the Côte d'Azur Airports, which includes Cannes - Mandelieu Airport. The main railway station is Nice-Ville. The high speed TGV train connects Paris and Nice in less than 6 hours, while Marseille can be reached in 2.5 hours. Nice also has international connections to Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Russia. Tramway de Nice began operating horse-drawn trams in 1879. They were electrified in 1900 with the combined length of the network reaching 144 kilometers or 89.48 miles by 1930. The replacement of trams with trolleybuses began in 1948 and was completed in 1953. In 2007, the new Tramway de Nice linked the northern and eastern suburbs via the city center. Two other lines are currently in the planning stage with the second line running east-west from Le Port to the Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, extending to Cagnes-sur-Mer, while the third line will provide a connection to the future TGV Nice Saint-Augustin Lingostière rail station. For automobiles the A8 autoroute and the Route nationale 7 pass through Nice linking Marseille with Italy.

Holiday in Nice, FranceNice has a Mediterranean climate, enjoying mild temperatures most of the year; rainfall is very moderate and mainly confined to the winter months. Summers are warm, dry, and sunny. Rainfall is rare during this season, and a typical July month only records one or two days with measurable rainfall. The temperature is typically above 20°C or 68°F, and frequently reaches 30°C or 86°F. The average maximum temperature in the warmest months of July and August is about 27°C or 81°F. The highest recorded temperature was 37.7°C or 99.9°F on 1 August 2006. Autumn generally starts sunny in September and becomes more cloudy and rainy towards October, while temperatures usually remain above 20°C or 68°F until November where days start to cool down to around 17°C or 63°F. Winters are characterized by mild days, cool nights and variable weather. Days can be either sunny and dry, or damp and rainy. Frost is unusual and snowfalls are so extremely rare that they are remembered by inhabitants as special events. The average minimum temperature in January is around 5°C or 41°F. Spring starts mild and rainy in late March, and is increasingly warm and sunny towards June. The summer holiday season lasts for 6 months from May to October even though in April and November sometimes there are temperatures above 20°C or 68°F.

Climate data for Nice
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.1
Average low °C (°F) 5.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 69.0
Avg. precipitation days 6 5 5 7 5 4 2 2 5 7 7 6 61
Mean monthly sunshine hours 158 171 217 224 267 306 348 316 242 187 149 139 2,724
Source: Wikipedia
See a great photogallery of Nice at: www.naviquan.com

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