Nice, city (1990 pop. 345,674), capital of Alpes-Maritimes dept., SE France, on the Mediterranean Sea. Nice is the most famous resort on the French Riviera. Although the economy depends mainly on the tourist trade, the electronics industry as well as other manufactures are important. The old port of Nice handles both commercial fishing and passenger service to Corsica. The new port, west of the city, engages in more commercial shipping. Nice also has one of France's major airports. There are several churches dating from the 12th through the 17th cent. and a Russian Orthodox cathedral (1912). The Carnival of Nice marks the height of the city's festival season.

Probably a Greek colony (Nikaia, or Nicaea in Latin) established in the 5th cent. B.C., Nice became an episcopal see in the 4th cent. A.D. It was pillaged and burned by Muslim forces in 859 and 880. In the 13th and 14th cent. the city belonged to the counts of Provence and Savoy. In 1543 the united forces of Francis I and Barbarossa attacked and burned Nice. It was annexed to France in 1793, restored to Sardinia in 1814, and again ceded to France in 1860 after a plebiscite. At the beginning of the French Revolution the city was a haven for Royalist émigrés. Its popularity as a resort began in the late 18th century, increasing with the building of roads in the 1820s and the arrival of the railroad in 1864. At first a retreat for royals and aristocrats, the city became a middle class resort as accessibility to it grew. Nice was claimed and occupied by Mussolini during World War II.

See R. Kanigel, High Season (2002).

Nice (nis; Niçard Occitan: Niça [classical norm] or Nissa [nonstandard], Italian: Nizza or Nizza Marittima, Greek: Νίκαια, Latin: Nicaea) is a city in southern France located on the Mediterranean coast, between Marseille, France, and Genoa, Italy, with 1,197,751 inhabitants in the 2007 estimate. The city is a major tourist centre and a leading resort on the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur). It is the historical capital city of the County of Nice.


Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur région, Nice is a commune and the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Alpes-Maritimes département. However, it is also the largest city in France that is not a regional capital; the much larger Marseille is its regional capital.


Nice has a Mediterranean climate: the city enjoys mild temperatures most of the year; rainfall is very moderate and mainly concentrated in the darkest part of the year (September to March).

Summer is hot, dry, and sunny. Rainfall is rare in this season, and a typical July month only records one or two days with measurable rainfall. Temperatures seldom go below 20°C, and frequently reach 30°C. Average annual maximum is about 35°C. The absolute maximum recorded temperature in Nice was 37.7°C on the 1st of August 2006.

Autumn generally starts sunny in September and becomes more cloudy and rainy towards October, while temperatures usually remain above 20°C until November where days start to cool down to around 17°C.

Winters are characterized by mild days (11 to 17°C), cool nights (4°C to 9°C) and variable weather. Days can be either sunny and dry, or damp and rainy. Frost is unusual, and hasn't happened in the last few years. Annual minimum is on average around 1°C.

Spring starts mild and rainy in late March, and is increasingly warm and sunny towards June.

Nice is a windy city, especially in spring.

Snow is extremely rare - so rare that it is remembered by inhabitants as special events.


Nice is the seat of Chambre de commerce et d'industrie Nice Côte d'Azur. It manages both the Nice - Côte d'Azur Airport, the Cannes - Mandelieu Airport as well as the Port of Nice.

Nice has the second market of national interest of France, the first port cement-manufacturer of France as well as a great number of museums and hotels.

Investors from France and abroad can benefit from the assistance of the Côte d'Azur Economic development agency Team Côte d'Azur.

Nice is the second most popular French city among tourists after Paris, which, combined with the difficulties of the terrestrial communications at long distance (because of the Alpes), allows Nice to have the second busiest airport of France in terms of passenger numbers (close to 10,000,000 passengers in 2005).

Nice has two conference centres, Palais des Congrès Acropolis and Palais des Congrès de Nice. Nice has several business parks; l' Arenas, Nice the Plain, Nice Méridia, Saint Isidore, Northern Forum. There are also several shopping centres in Nice like Nice Star, Nice TNL, Nice Lingostière, Northern Forum, St-Isidore, the Trinity (around the Auchan hypermarket) and Cape 3000 with Saint-Laurent-du-Var.

Sophia Antipolis is a technology park northwest of Antibes. Much of the park is within the commune of Valbonne. Established between 1970 and 1984, it primarily houses companies in the fields of computing, electronics, pharmacology and biotechnology. Several institutions of higher learning are also located here, along with the European headquarters of W3C.

Sophia Antipolis is named after Sophie Glikman-Toumarkine, the wife of French Senator Pierre Laffitte, founder of the park, and incidentally, Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, and Antipolis, the ancient Greek name of Antibes.

Port of Nice

The port of Nice is also known as Lympia port. This name comes from the Lympia source which fed a small lake in a marshy zone where in 1745 work of the port ¹ was started. It constitutes today the principal harbour installation of Nice - there is also a small port in the Carras district. The port of Nice is the first port cement manufacturer of France in connection with the treatment plants of the rollers of the valley of Paillon.

Fishing activities remain but the number of professional fishermen is now lower than 10. Nice, being the point of continental France nearest to Corsica, has ferry connections with the island developed with the arrival of NGV or navires at high speed. Two companies ensure the connections: SNCM, a partially public company and Corsica Ferries - Sardinia Ferries, an entirely private company. Located in front of the port, the place Cassini was renamed place of Corsica.

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport

The Côte d'Azur International Airport or Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur) is an airport in Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France. It is the third most important airport in France after Charles de Gaulle International Airport and Orly Airport, both 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, with helicopter service linking the city and airport.

It 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 Côte d'Azur International Airport's cousin airport, Cannes-Mandelieu. In 2006, 9,948,035 passengers travelled through the airport.

Places of interest

The Promenade des Anglais ("Walk of the English") is a celebrated promenade along the Mediterranean at Nice, France. Before Nice was urbanized, the coast at Nice was just bordered by a deserted band of beach covered by large pebbles. The first houses were located on higher ground well away from the sea.

Starting in the second half of the 18th century, the English took to spending the winter in Nice, enjoying the panorama along the coast. When a particularly harsh winter up north brought an influx of beggars to Nice, some of the rich Englishmen proposed a useful project for them: the construction of 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 (the English Way) by the Niçois in their native dialect Nissart. After the annexation of Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais, replacing the former Nissart name with its French translation.

The Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais on the Baie des Anges in Nice, France was named for Henri Negresco (1868-1920) who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. In keeping with the conventions of the times, when the Negresco first opened in 1913 its front opened on the side opposite the Mediterranean.

Another place worthy of mentioning is the small street parallel to the promenade des anglais, leading from Nice's downtown, beginning at Place Massena, and shadowing the promenade towards the airport for a short distance of about 4 blocks. This section of the city is referred to as the "Zone Pietonne", which translates to the "Pedestrian Zone". This area of the city is off limits to cars, and by eliminating traffic creates a more serene setting. On this small strip tourists can find a fine selection of restaurants, ranging from those specalizng in Nicoise cuisine to ones which make an attempt at foreign cuisine, such as one called "Le Quebec", which offers diners a variety of Quebecois and otherwise traditional Canadian dishes. Also present is a large selection of cafés where one can sit, enjoy an espresso or choose from a variety of specialty coffees, gelatos and desserts, and watch the city walk by. To add to all of the above, the small street is also embedded with small shops for clothing, shoes as well as souvenirs.


Sports and entertainment


According to the estimates of INSEE, the population of Nice was 347,900 inhabitants on January 1, 2005. Nice is thus the fifth largest city in France, behind Paris, Marseilles, Lyon and Toulouse. The Agglomeration of Nice, defined by INSEE, is home to 888,784 inhabitants (fifth most populous in France) and its urban surface totals 933,080 inhabitants, which makes it the sixth largest in France.

The city saw a big demographic rise in the second half of the 19th century, a period when the population more than doubled, mainly due to French immigration. At the beginning of the 20th century, this rise intensified with the arrival of internal immigrants from the County of Nice itself.

After the First World War, the city had a strong increase in population. Immigration was again the reason of this growth. The hotel industry and that of the construction industry, in full strength in the 1920s, attracted the world more and more and thus made it possible for Nice to become a town of national importance. In 1921, Nice then became the eleventh most populous town of France, then in 1931, the eighth, before being ranked sixth in 1946;thereafter the city reached its current demographic level thanks to the arrival of sixty thousand people including French citizens from Algeria.

Since the 1970s, the number of inhabitants has not changed significantly; the relatively high migration to Nice is compensated by a natural negative growth of the population. Nice has a high proportion of elderly people.

Currently, the population of the city is growing again, the reason of which is a preference for the climate. Nice is projected to have 360,000 citizens in 2008, and 370,000 by 2012.


Like any Mediterranean city, the town of Nice has squares; allowing people to gather, to organize great shows, performances or public display, or just to sit down at a terrace.

Place Masséna

The Place Masséna is the main square of the city. Before the covering of the Paillon River, the Pont-Neuf was the only practicable path between the old town and the modern one. The square was thus divided into two parts (North and South) in 1824. Since the destruction of the Masséna Casino in 1979, the Place Masséna became more spacious and less dense and is now bordered by red ochre buildings of Italian architecture.

The recent re-building of the tram gave the square back to the pedestrians, restoring its status of a real Mediterranean square. It is lined with palm trees and stone pines, instead of being the rectangular roundabout of sorts it had become over the years. Since its construction, the Place Masséna has always been the spot for great public events. It is used for concerts, and particularly during the summer festivals, the Corso carnavalesque (carnival parade) in February, the military procession of July 14th (Bastille Day) or other traditional celebrations and banquets.

The Place Masséna is a two-minute walk from Promenade des Anglais, old town, town centre, and Albert I Garden (Jardin Albert Ier). It is also a large crossroads between several of the main streets of the city: avenue Jean Médecin, avenue Felix Faure, boulevard Jean Jaurès, avenue de Verdun and rue Gioffredo.

see also (sites in French) : Nissa la bella, Nice Tourisme

Place Garibaldi

The Place Garibaldi also stands out for its architecture and history. It is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, hero of the Italian unification (born in Nice, which was still a part of Sardinia-Piedmont at the time), who was ferociously attached to the union of Nice to Italy.

A Statue of Garibaldi is erected in the centre of the place. The re-building of the square (still ongoing) will make this square semi-pedestrian, making it more pleasant.

It is a crossroads between the Vieux Nice (old town) and town centre. Place Garibaldi is close to the eastern districts of Nice, Port Lympia (Lympia Harbor), and the TNL commercial centre. This square is also a crossroads of important streets : the boulevard Jean Jaurès, the avenue de la république, the rue Cassini and the rue Catherine Ségurane.

Place Rossetti

Entirely enclosed and pedestrianised, this square is located in the heart of the old town. With typical buildings in red and yellow ochres surrounding the square, the cathédrale Sainte-Réparateand the fountain in the centre, place Rossetti is a must-see spot in the old town. By day, the place is invaded by the terraces of traditional restaurants and the finest ice-cream makers. By night, the environment changes radically, with tourists and youths flocking to the square, where music reverberates on the walls of the small square. The square's lighting at night gives it a magical aspect.

Place Rossetti is in the centre of the old town, streets Jesus, Rossetti, Mascoïnat and the Pont-vieux (old bridge)

Cours Saleya

In the past, it belonged to the upper classes. It probably is the most traditional square of the town, with its daily flower market. The court Saleya also opens on the Palais des rois Sard (Palace of the Kings of Sardinia). In the present, the court is mostly a place of entertainment. There are good restaurants serving typical Nicois cuisine, markets and many pubs. It is no doubt one of the most active spots in Nice.

It is situated parallel to the Quai des Etats-Unis.

Place du Palais

As its name indicates, the place du palais is where the Palais de Justice (Law courts) of Nice is located. On this square, there also is the Palais Rusca, which also belongs to the justice department (home of the tribunal de grande instance).

The square is also notable due to the presence of the city clock. Nowadays, the Place du Palais is alive day and night. It is particularly appreciated by youths who hangout on the steps leading to the Palais de justice, often with alcoholic bottles in hand. The place is not a large open-air bar, though, concerts, animations and events are frequent.

It is situated halfway between cour Saleya and place Masséna.

Nice Observatory

The Observatoire de Nice (Nice Observatory) is located on the summit of Mont Gros. The observatory was initiated in 1879 by the banker Raphaël Bischoffsheim. The architect was Charles Garnier, and Gustave Eiffel designed the main dome.

The 76-cm (30-inch) refractor telescope that became operational in 1888 was at that time the world's largest telescope. It was outperformed one year later by the 36-inch (91-cm) refractor at the Lick Observatory.

As a scientific institution, the Nice Observatory no longer exists. It was merged with CERGA in 1988 to form the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur.


Nice is one of the oldest human settlements in the world. Terra-Amata, an archaeological site dating to the Lower Palaeolithic age is situated near Nice. Nice was established by the ancient Greeks. There was also an independent Roman city near Nice, where the hill of Cimiez is located. It is an archaeological site with treasures, of which only a small part has been excavated. The excavated site includes thermal baths, arenas and Roman road.

Since the second century AD, the light of the city has attracted many famous painters such as Chagall, Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle, Ben and Arman and inspired many artists and intellectuals in different countries (Berlioz, Nietzsche, Rossini…).

Nice also has numerous museums of all kinds: Musée Chagall, Musée Matisse (arenas of Cimiez where one can also see Roman ruins), Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret, Museum of Naïve arts, Musée Terra-Amata, Museum of Asian Art, Museum of Modern art and Contemporary art which devotes a broad place to famous “the Ecole of Nice ”), Museum of Natural History, Musée Massena, Naval Museum and Galerie des Ponchettes.

Being a vacation resort, Nice hosts many festivals throughout the year. For example, Carnaval de Nice and Nice Jazz Festival are among the festivals held in Nice.

Nice has a distinct culture due to its unique history. The local language Niçard (Nissart) is an Occitan dialect (but some Italian scholars argue that it is a Ligurian dialect), still spoken by a huge minority. Strong Italian and (less) Corsican influences make it more intelligible than other non-extinct Provençal dialects.

Nice has a few local dishes. There is a local tart made with onions and anchovies (or anchovy paste), named "Pissaladière" (French spelling). Socca is a type of pancake made from chickpea flour. Nice is also known for bouillabaisse and various fish soups; "Stockfish" (traditionally pronounced as "Stoquefiche" (French spelling) with special emphasis on the first "e"). Farcis niçois is a dish made from vegetables stuffed with breadcrumbs; and salade niçoise is a tomato salad with green peppers of the "Corne" breed, baked eggs, tuna or anchovies and olives.

In the past, Nice welcomed many immigrants from Italy (who continue to make a large proportion of the population), as well as Spanish and Portuguese immigrants. However, in the past few decades immigration has been opened to include immigrants from all over the world, particularly those from former Northern and Western African colonies, as well as southeastern Asia. Traditions are still alive, especially in folk music and dances. The most famous is farandole.


The cuisine of Nice uses resources of the local countryside (olive oil, anchovies, fruit and vegetables) but also resources from more remote regions, in particular those from Northern Europe because ships which came to seek olive oil arrived full with food products. Thus one finds specialities such as those using stockfish made from dried haddock.

Local meat comes from neighbouring valleys, such as the sheep of Sisteron. Local fish, such as mullets, bream, sea urchins, and anchovies (alevins) are used to a great extent, so much so that it has given birth to a proverb: "fish are born in the sea and die in oil.” Naturally, this refers to the olive oil made in the Nice hills. Indeed, seafood is generally much appreciated in the delicate and healthy cuisine of Nice.

Examples of Niçois specialties include:

  • Beignets de fleurs de courgettes
  • Ratatouille
  • Pichade
  • Pissaladière
  • Pan-bagnat
  • Socca
  • Soupe au pistou
  • Tourte de blettes
  • Daube


Nice is home to many preparatory schools which prepare students for entrance to the Grandes Ecoles (e.g. the Ecole Normale Supérieure).

Sister cities

Nice's town twins are:

See also

Sources and references

External links

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