The Promenade du Paillon, also called Coulée Verte, i.e. green belt, was opened after two years of construction work on 26th October 2013. The construction site was one of the most extensive ones on the Côte d’Azur. It now offers twelve hectares of green area in the centre of Nice: a green lung stretching from the MAMAC museum and the theatre to the Promenade des Anglais and all the way to the beach, a wonderful stroll above the Paillon river that was buried in the 19th century in order to drain the city.
The gardens include approximately 40,000 m2 of planted green area, 17,000 m2 of which are grass. This promenade is also equivalent to a botanic journey through the continents, with a promise of blooming trees in all seasons. The biggest attraction is the water level of around 3000 m2, equipped with 128 beams, inspired by the one in Bordeaux at the edge of the Garonne. The “fog area” made of basalt and limestone, measuring 1400 m2 and equipped with hundreds of atomizers, is also very much worth a visit.
Anyone who explores the mundane city of Nice on the Côte d'Azur can hardly avoid a visit to the world-famous Place Masséna, the heart of the city. No matter in which direction of the cultivated square you turn, there is always something beautiful to discover. The square is surrounded by red and ochre-coloured buildings with stately arcade arches from the 17th century. The epochal buildings conjure up a Venetian flair in Nice. Everywhere on the Place you are reminded of how close Italy is. The interplay of modern cobble stones chequered in dark and bright colours brings another special touch to the square. Every once in a while a streetcar sidles across the middle of the square.
Garibaldi Square is the oldest large square in Nice and its construction began in 1773, with the intention to make the route between Turin, the former capital, and Nice passable for traffic. It was therefore decided to equip this royal route, of which the final station in Nice is now the Avenue de la République, with a colossal entrance gate: a square with a rectangular outline measuring more than one hectare, lined by uniform three-storey buildings, with smooth facades originally painted in ochre and red colours, their outlines highlighted by fresco paintings. The facades with Nicean tradition are reminiscent of the arcades of the Via Po in Turin.
Ever since it was built, the square has been an emblematic crossroad not only in symbolic terms with the chapel du Saint-Sépulcre, but also in functional terms, because it connects the historic district with the port. This is where all the important activities came together: be it the transportation of goods or the welcoming of ruling people such as Napoleon III. The square was also meant to outline the urban graphic with the planning of the new eastern districts through the axes of the streets Cassini, Segurane and République, radially arranged towards the port and today’s quarters of Riquier and Saint-Roch, which used to be agricultural and later became industrial. Over the years the square has found another role: with Nice having become part of France in 1860, the trade business with Turin heavily decreased. The square as a place of power thus also lost its symbolic function. Additionally, with the increase in luxury tourism, the activities in these quarters also changed with increasing tempo: they became the hidden face of Nice’s tourism display, a vacation spot for European aristocrats. Garibaldi square then revealed itself as a privileged location that expresses the Nicean identity: it is a central, popular and populated place that symbolises the culture and tradition that continues to flourish, protected from the flood wave of tourism.
The square was successively called Piazza Vittorio, Place de la République and eventually Place Napoléon. One hundred years after its foundation, the square was assigned the name that it has to this day, in memory of politician and Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was born in Nice. At the same time, the square was turned into a green area: a large basin with a water feature in the middle, and various alleys of trees with lawns, lined by rose bushes. Oleander, oaks and eucalyptus trees provided welcome shade. As time passed, the park lost all its charm, and traffic began to invade the entire area.
In the years of 2007 and 2008, on the occasion of the construction and the establishment of the tramline, the entire square was fully modernised. It partially became a pedestrian zone with a selected number of lanes for car traffic. After approximately two years of extensive work, the modernisation of the 6500 m2 facade was completed in March 2012. About twenty painters, specialised in fresco painting, participated in the restoration process using photographs of the square from the 19th century. Among other things, the square has Trompe-l’oeil decorations on four of its sides, which is a rare peculiarity in Europe.
Come and explore this special place just around the corner of Apartment PATOU. Enjoy the sun terraces, have a glass or try the sea food at the famous Café de Turin, which was founded in 1908, and delve into history!
Ever since the 19th century, Englishmen have chosen the bay “Baie des Anges (bay of angels)” as their favourite place to spend the winter and, with some encouragement by Reverend Lewis Way in 1820, it was them who assigned a name to the most famous promenade in the world. The promenade gives Nice its cosmopolitan and aesthetic identity between palm trees and the sea.
Nowadays, the locals simply call the Promenade des Anglais the promenade or prom. Pedestrians, joggers, inline skaters and skateboarders populate the promenade at any time of the day. Aside from various sportive and cultural occasions such as the Ironman or the Carnival, which take place along the promenade each year, the promenade is also well-known for its blue chairs (chaises bleues) and its pergolas.
Before Nice became urbanised, its coast merely consisted of an abandoned strip of pebble beach. The first houses were located on higher ground far away from the sea.
Ever since the 19th century, aristocrats from northern Europe (mostly from England and Russia) have begun spending their winters in Nice, where they enjoyed the mild climate and the view along the coast.
With the arrival of a larger number of beggars in Nice during one particularly harsh winter, some of those rich Englishmen suggested to them that they undertake a project which would be useful: the construction of a walkway along the coast. The city of Nice supported this work. The people of Nice, using their Niçard dialect, initially called the promenade Camin dei Anglès. Once the county of Nice had been added to France in 1860, the dialect description was replaced by the French translation Promenade des Anglais.
As time went by, the villas and gardens were gradually destroyed and replaced by palaces, hotels, casinos or residential buildings. Traffic rapidly increased and started to become a problem by the early 1920s. Between 1929 and 1931, the city had some extensive construction work done between the opera house and Boulevard Gambetta, which was to give the promenade the look it has to this day. The broadening between Boulevard Gambetta und Avenue Ferber was continued from 1949 until 1953. Today, some sections are not unlike a double four-lane city expressway.
The museum for modern and contemporary art in Nice (MAMAC) was opened on 21st June 1990. The architecture of the museum was to combine two main elements of Nice’s urban structure: the Sardinian urban planning and the exotic utopia of the Belle Époque. The goal was to connect the port area and the historic district on the one hand with the city districts established in the 19th and 20th century on the other hand.
An optical interplay combines the ochre and red colours of the building’s pedestal with the towers’ smooth surface made of Carrara marble, contrasted by olive trees, thus transmitting the themes of order and peace of the Mediterranean nature in the heart of the city. The cover over the Paillon river offers a unique chance to use some free space in the middle of the city’s centre, and it makes it possible to develop a widely extending dispositive called “Promenade des Arts – promenade of the arts”, which consists of a museum and a theatre.
The artistic programme of the museum mainly expresses itself in the relation between European New Realism and the American expressiveness of Assemblage Art and Pop Art. This contrast depends on a historic reality that is evidence to strong agreements between these two movements.
The port of Nice, port Lympia, owes its name to the Lympia spring that supplied water to a small lake in a swamp area, in the very place where the construction work for the port of Nice began in the middle of the 18th century. Today it is one of Nice’s most important port facilities. Plans were made as early as in the 17th century to enlarge the city, and several construction designs included the development of the port and its quarter in the swamp area of the Lympia valley. In 1748, King Charles-Emmanuel III decided to establish what would become the port of Nice in the area of the Lympia valley, at the foot of the former citadel. The construction work was to take one and a half centuries.
In 1840, a final design is determined for the access to the sea with a perspective and an axial symmetry. It shows a dam that is fifty meters long and six hectares of water space. At its end and in the north, a long square (previously called Cassini square, now known as Place Île-de-Beauté) dominates a beach that does not yet have a wharf. The church Notre-Dame du Port is to be located at the centre of the square, and at its left and right symmetrical houses and a portal. The construction of these new, three-storey buildings is approved in 1844. The southern facades are painted in ochre and red tones, and large motives in natural relief decorate the outlines of the balconies. The arcades are embellished with coffered ceilings, and the floor is paved with stone plates. In the same year, a hole is made through the Rue Cassini: it connects the Garibaldi square and extends the royal street to the port. The church Notre-Dame du Port opens for church services in 1853. Most of the wharfs and shores are developed between 1842 and 1860. The first section of the coastal road towards Villefranche-sur-Mer was opened with great ceremony by the Russian empress on 11th March 1857.
The most attractive and most original location of Nice is Vieux Nice, the historic district of the city. Those who live there call it vièia vila, which also means “old city” in the dialect of Nice. Additionally, it used to be called babazouk, which is a local adaption of the Arabic phrase “the door to Souk, i.e. to the Bazaar”.
This part of Nice meets almost every cliché that you can imagine with regard to a city in the Provence in particular and the more southern regions of European in general: winding, narrow alleyways invite visitors to wander and explore, while hidden courtyards shadowed by pine trees invite them to stay and rest; houses with facades of pastel or earth-like colours, and ochre colours respectively, and baroque churches make you stop in awe, and the numerous small shops offer a chance to go shopping and explore (fashion boutiques, souvenir stores and art galleries)...
Vieux-Nice is also the capital of nightly parties on the Cote d’Azur; its narrow alleyways are populated by visitors of restaurants, bars, pubs and discotheques. At night, this is a go-to place for tourists and Nice’s residents alike. The morning after, the city returns to normality and its residents do their shopping at the market at Cours Saleya or in one of the numerous, typical stores (olives and spices, local vegetables or flowers from the region). This part of the city also includes different administrative buildings such as the City Hall or the Palace of Justice. The Opera house of Nice is also located there.
Our recommendation: Leave the map in your pocket and simply let yourself drift a bit through the labyrinth of alleyways – you will automatically come to the most important sights. Do as the locals do and get your morning coffee in one of the nice little cafés, hide from the midday’s heat in the cool maze of alleyways, and enjoy the evening with local specialities in one of the many restaurants, some of which offer special dishes such as “tourte de blette” (chard cake), grilled meat dishes with lavender or fish specialties with various spices.
This district has a special, natural climate-control. Nice’s architects and bricklayers have made use of the natural flow of air masses and the sea breeze to control the climate in the historic district. In terms of the meteorological mechanism, it presents the principle that, when two places in close proximity have different temperatures, the air begins to circulate to adjust the thermal balance. In the summer, the sun overheats the roofs. A few meters below, the narrows always are much cooler in contrast. Just a few degrees cooler makes a difference and the air begins to circulate. It is drawn upwards and any clothes hanging outside the windows dry very quickly. This phenomenon occurs in any city that has a network of narrow streets and alleyways.
Vieux-Nice, however, takes this phenomenon to new heights with some architectural particularities. The Clairoirs, these barred openings above the house entrance doors in the historic district, which are part of the local charm with their style and diversity, are not merely decorative elements. Combined with other architectural elements, they actively help to ensure that the air in the narrow alleyways and inside the houses becomes bearable, particularly during the scorching heat of the summer. The Clairoirs generate a source of air, as do the typical Nicean window shutters with their flaps not fully closed towards the alleyway. The incoming air can be absorbed into the hallway and the living rooms, and then move upwards into the houses’ interior courtyards. This flow of air in a house is expelled through a glass cover lying on the roof of the house. The glass cover helps increase the effect of a heat outlet.
The Colline du Château, the “Castle Hill” located between Vieux-Nice and the port, is what used to be the settlement of Nice. The remnants of the fortress and the cathedral are all that remains at the strategically favourable location on this hill overlooking the sea – but visitors can expect to have a fantastic view across the historic district of Nice that spreads out at the foot of the hill. Particularly in the evenings, when the sun slowly sinks into the sea, the beautiful old houses glow with their red tiled roofs under the spotlights and the streetlights magically turn the Promenade des Anglais into a sea of light, and Nice shows off its soft, romantic side…
Spécialités nicoises et de viande
Belle carte de vins
20/22 Avenue Saint-Jean-Baptiste
06000 Nice - Centre
04 93 85 93 71
Cheese & Delicatessen from Vieux-Nice
33 Rue Pairolière
04 93 79 39 38
Galerie Eva VAUTIER