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France (General)
Type of Location
About Location

Nice, capital of the département of Alpes-Maritimes and diocesan city, lies on the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels), surrounded by the foothills of the Maritime Alps, in the eastern part of the Côte d'Azur, about 30km/19mi from the Franco-Italian border. Its sheltered location and mild climate made Nice one of the classic winter resorts of the Côte d'Azur and right up to the present time it has remained one of the most popular places of all for holidays.

Proof of prehistoric settlement has been found in the caves of the castle hill and in those of Mont Boron further to the east. Phocaeans from Marseilles in 4 BC founded the strongpoint Nikaia Polis (town of Victory) on the castle hill, in what is now the Old Town. Later the Romans settled on the Hill of Cimiez on the far side of the River Paillon farther inland in order to protect the Via Julia.

Incursions by Saxons and Saracens wreaked havoc in the town, the former in the sixth century and the latter in the ninth century. In the Middle Ages Nice formed part of the lands of the Count of Provence and from 1388 - after it had failed to recognize Louis of Anjou as heir to Provence - belonged to the dukedom of Savoy. In 1543 Nice, a Savoyard-Hapsburg city, was besieged by French and Turkish ships. In 1720 Savoy gained possession of Sardinia and it was at this period that the harbor and fortress were built (providing the only access to the sea for Piedmont). In 1792 Nice became part of France, in 1814 it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Sardinia, but in 1860 as a result of a referendum it was returned to France.

How to Reach

By Air

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is only three or four miles to the west of the city and is well connected to the rest of Europe by many major airlines. Trains run to Nice every 45 minutes and there are also reliable bus services, with the airport bus running to and from the intercity bus station and Sunbus route 23 also serving the airport. Taxis are also available, but are fairly expensive, while highway N98 runs directly to the city centre.

By Bus

Buses run to Nice from other major centres in France and are operated by Eurolines. Journeys are long and can be tiring. Buses come into Nice from many regional destinations including: Antibes, Cannes and Monaco. The bus station is located at 5 boulevard Jean Jaurès.

By Rail

Visitors can reach Nice by train and the journey from Paris by high-speed TGV is comfortable and fast. The service is run by SNCF and tickets can be booked online. The journey time from Paris to Nice aboard a TGV train is just 6 hours. Services also arrive from Lyon and Marseille among other destinations and the main train station, Gare SNCF, is situated to the northwest of the town centre.

By Car

Nice is on the main A8 motorway that links Genoa in northern Italy with Marseille. The A8 bypasses the city to the north and is well connected to the N98 coastal road, which itself runs from Monaco, through Nice and past Cannes while hugging the coast. Those heading to Nice from northern Spain should take the A7 north to the French border and join with the A9 to Nimes. From here, head east along the A54, A7 and A8 for Nice. Common road distances: from Paris, 933kms; Barcelona, 644kms; and Genoa, 193kms.

Key places to visit
Colline du Château, Fine Arts Museum, Vieille Ville, Nice Castle, Musée Chagall


Places to Visit

Colline du Château

The first part of Nice to be settled was the Colline du Château (castle hill, 92m/302ft high), which can be reached by elevator from the shore promenade (Quai des Etats-Unis) at the end of the Baie des Anges. The area at the top has been laid out as a park and offers an impressive panorama (orientation table). The citadel which once stood here was destroyed in 1706. Worth seeing are the remains of two churches built one above the other in the 11th and 15th C., which have now been excavated. Just to the east of the remains there is a good view of the harbor below.

Fine Arts Museum

The Fine Arts Msueum houses 15th to 20th C French, Italian and Flemish works. Highlights include 17th and 18th-century French paintings, and 19th-century paintings and sculptures. The museum also houses the Dufy collection and the Alexis and Gustav Adolf Mossa collections.

Vieille Ville

The lively and picturesque Old Town of Nice, with its maze of tiny alleyways and streets, in which one could be forgiven for imagining oneself transported to Italy, is popularly known as "Babazouk". It opens out at the western end of the Colline du Château and in the northwest is bounded by spacious boulevards and parks, which extend over the Paillon (Jardin Albert I, Place Masséna, Promenade du Paillon). In the south it is bordered by the Ponchettes, in which fishmongers and grocers supplement the wares on display at the market on the adjoining Cours Saleya.

Nice Castle

Located in a park overlooking the harbour, Nice’s ruined castle offers one of the best vantage points of the city. The castle itself is not much to look at, but visitors are permitted to climb the stairs to the viewing platforms that stand over 300 feet above Nice for a fantastic view.

Musée Chagall

In Nice, the avenue de Flirey and the connecting boulevard de Cimiez lead south from the amphitheater and baths. At the crossing with the avenue du Docteur Ménard stands the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, the most important exhibition of Chagall's works (paintings, etchings, lithographs, sculptures, stained glass, mosaics, wall tapestries on Biblical themes). Works by other artists are also displayed in the temporary exhibitions which are mounted.

Right Time to Visit

Information not available


January - February -> 4(°C) - Winter
July - August -> 27(°C) - Summer


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