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File: Nice

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Uploaded:
05.09.13
Modified:
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Nice Cote d'AzurNice 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 on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi).

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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 (Nissa La Bella in Niçard), 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.

The area of today's Nice contains Terra Amata, an archaeological site which 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. Through the ages, the town has changed hands many times. Its strategic location and port significantly contributed to its maritime strength. For years it was a dominion of Savoy, then became part of France between 1792 and 1815, when it was returned to Piedmont-Sardinia until its reannexation by France in 1860.
The 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 there. The city's main seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais (‘the Walkway of the English') owes its name to the earliest visitors to the resort. For decades now, the picturesque Nicean surroundings have attracted not only those in search of relaxation, but also those seeking 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. Nice has the second largest hotel capacity in the country and it is one of its most visited cities, receiving 4 million tourists every year. It also has the third busiest airport in France after the two main Parisian ones. It is the historical capital city of the County of Nice (Comté de Nice).

The Promenade des Anglais ("Promenade of the English") is a promenade along the Baie des Anges ("Bay of the Angels"), which is a bay of the Mediterranean, in Nice. Before Nice was urbanized, 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 gentle 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 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 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 (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 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 Nice's downtown, 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", or "Pedestrian Zone". Cars are not allowed (with exception to delivery trucks), making this avenue a popular walkway. Here, 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 a terrace. There are also plenty of small shops selling clothing, shoes, and souvenirs.

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