"When I realized that every morning I would see this light again, I couldn't believe
how lucky I was." Henri Matisse

Cours Saleya in Old Nice is the site of an enticing outdoor market,
and home to the Riviera's biggest flower market.

Nice is France's largest tourist resort, and fifth biggest city. It has its own dialect and its own cuisine of socca (chickpea pancakes), but the pizza ovens throughout lend a rich Italian flavor. A dense network of pedestrian alleys, narrow buildings and pastel, Italianate facades make up the Old Town (Vieux Nice).

Place Masséna is the heart and soul of Nice, as well as its geographic center. Constructed in the early 19th century, the Italianate porticos that fringe the square were modeled after those on the rue de Rivoli in Paris. The Fontaine du Soleil stands in the center of the square, and the seven towering sculptures which punctuate the square, "Conversation in Nice," represent the seven continents and are illuminated at night.

The Italianate terracotta tones are widely found on buildings in Nice

Hotel Négresco on the Promenade des Anglais

The famous palatial hotel was built in 1912 for Henri Négresco, a Romanian immigrant son of an innkeeper and gypsy-violinist. Gustave Eiffel was chosen to construct the pink glass dome above the Salon Royal, in which hangs a Baccarat chandelier made from 16,000 stones. It is said that the chandelier was built for the Russian czar's Moscow palace, but because of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the czar could not take delivery. During WWI, Henri opened the hotel to the Nation as a temporary hospital; at the end of the war, he was a ruined man, and died bankrupt. The sumptuous hotel has always attracted a brilliant international clientele. The infamous American dancer, Isadora Duncan, spent her last months here in 1927, until she died tragically leaving the hotel when her trailing scarf caught in the wheel of her Bugatti convertible and broke her neck.

One of city's most remarkable features, the Promenade des Anglais (“walkway of the English”) began as a four-mile long seafront walkway financed in the early 19th-century by wealthy English tourists wanting a safe place to stroll and admire the view. In 1822, the walk was paved in marble for aristocrats who didn't want to dirty their shoes or smell the fishy gravel. Today, it is an eight-lane, 3-mile highway.

The port of Nice

Elise and Jeff enjoy time out at a café in old Nice.

View of Villefranche from the sea.

The pink Villa des Arènes houses exclusively the Musée Matisse. The decorative stonework that adorns the 17th-century Genoese villa is a masterful trompe l'oeil façade. The Musée Matisse is situated on the hill of Cimiez Park which encompasses Gallo-Roman ruins and the Cimiez cemetery, where Henri Matisse lies. The Roman amphitheatre, Les Arènes de Cimiez, is the most ancient monument in the city.


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