Nice – the pearl of France

  • 2011-01-20

Friendly Cote d’Azur

There is probably not a city in the world that is at least a little reminiscent of Nice. Everyone who comes here and sees it his own way - for some this is a resort where you can enjoy the gentle warmth of the sun and plunge into the azure waters of the sea, for some - a bustling town with its carnivals, prestigious restaurants, nightclubs and casinos. And some come here to be alone, find themselves, and take a rest from work and everyday problems.

There is trustful evidence that Nice was founded by Greeks in the 4th century BC, though it was called a little differently - Nicaea. The city was named after Nike, the revered Greek warrior goddess of victory. Because of its location, Nice was the largest Greek trading center for a long period of time.

In the Middle Ages Nice was the cause of many wars. Those were hard times for the townspeople, as people were dying in the streets from hunger, and between years 1550 and 1580 the city was almost extinct as a result of the plague epidemic. Francis I and Charles V did not spare the lives of their brave soldiers in order to take possession of Nice, and at the same time the residents of the city were threatened by raids of the Berber pirates from the sea. The chronicles brought us the name of a valiant defender of the city - Catherine Segurane. During a raid of the pirates, she killed one of them with a roller for laundry. Taking away his banner, she terrified enemy soldiers with her valor and courage, and then she lifted up her skirts, showing her back side to the pirates in order to show them her contempt and complete lack of fear of death.

As centuries went on, the glory of Napoleon has died down in Europe, peace and tranquility have come to Nice and the city became one of the most popular resorts. Wealthy and famous people started to arrive here. Nice is so beautiful and hospitable that many decide to stay there.

The modern tourist that comes to Nice will not wonder “What sights should I see in the town?”. Here every street, every house has its own history. Even buildings constructed in the early 20th century are officially recognized as historic monuments.
It is best to start a walk in Nice from one of the numerous parks. As it was mentioned above, the city survived many tragedies in the Middle Ages, so there are practically no medieval ruins, castles and fortresses in Nice. With the exception of Park Chateau that is still called “Castle Hill,” of course. This is, without a doubt, the most beautiful park in Nice. Waterfalls, which were created by humans, are not inferior in beauty and magnificence to natural ones. The park is located on a hill and offers a beautiful panoramic view over the city. Looking at Nice nestled at your feet and at the azure sea, a cozy feeling of calmness and serenity settles inside of you.

Here you can see the ruins of the Cathedral of San – Marie. The archaeologists began to dig in early 1878, but they only finished in 1957. You should get to the top of the hill, because here you can find an observation deck, from where you can see the observatory built by Charles Garnier and Gustave Eiffel, as well as enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city from the “Bellande” tower. If you reach the highest point, you will find a scheme of the city and you can choose the correct and most interesting route through Nice. “Chateau” welcomes guests from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Alas, in the late evening and at night it is closed to tourists, though the view of the city when it lights up with hundreds of thousands of lights is a magical sight.

“Phoenix” is one of the most interesting parks in Nice. There is an entrance fee, but what you can see in it cannot be measured in monetary terms, and to be honest, the fee is quite small - only 2 euros. For this symbolic amount of money it is possible to visit seven tropical and subtropical zones in a short amount of time. Before you have time to “recover” from the wealth of tropical forests and orchids of unearthly beauty, you suddenly find yourself in an African garden, with its dry climate. Very little time passes and you are in a ferny forest that captures the imagination, passing which you find yourself near a wonderful pond, with ducks swimming with a very important look, and birds singing in the trees, where they have arranged their nests. All of this immerses the visitors in some sort of “nirvana.” It is inconceivable that this entire splendor, this pristine nature is located in a major city.

You can see numerous architectural monuments in the so called “Old Nice.” The world-famous Palace of Justice is located there. Since the early 17th century it belonged to the King of Sardinia. Meetings of top officials are often held there.
Another amazing building is the building of the Senate. It was built in the same 17th century, under the guidance of Count Charles - Emanuel I. The Government of France in 1999 gave the building the title of a monument of architecture and history, as states the plaque at the entrance... to a rooming house for the homeless. Yes, you heard right, the walls of this magnificent monument are for the people who do not have their own roof over their heads. New buildings in the city-museum Nice are rare, so even the homeless people live in houses where the walls remember the great kings.

In “Old Nice” among other monuments stands a marble cross. It was created in 1568 after the meeting of Charles Quint Francis I and the head of the Catholic Church Pope Paul III. In 1731, the quarter in which this cross is located, was chosen by tourists from the Old World as wintering grounds. From this period Nice is known as a resort city.

If you ask the question “What symbolizes Nice? What are the main attractions of Nice?” then the choice in favor of any monument or structure is very difficult. But if you ask the locals: “What do you consider the symbol of your city?” – then it turns out that the vast majority of citizens believe that the main attractions are the Clock Towers and the famous Hotel Negresco.
The towers are located in the east and north of Old Nice. They previously belonged to two monasteries - Dominican and Franciscan. They have been restored and now attract large crowds of tourists with cameras who want to touch a little part of the history of Nice.

Hotel Negresco, perhaps, is nothing other than a Mecca for all the famous and influential people in the world. When you start listing those who have stayed here at some point, you conclude that it is easier to name those who did not deign this hotel with their attention. Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway - everybody wanted to visit the hotel, built by the great architect, a genius in his field, Edward Niermans. The dome crowning the building itself is a sight worth seeing, it was designed by the creator of the legendary French tower - Gustave Eiffel.

Since 1974, “Negresco” is an invaluable historical and architectural monument. In 2000, one of the U.S. stock exchanges tried to calculate its approximate value in monetary equivalent. It turned out that 10% of the total value of the hotel belongs to the carpet, which covers the marble floor of the Great Hall. Its area is 375 square meters; it was woven by hand, by the best craftsmen in the world. The hall is lit by a huge chandelier with a diameter of 2,5 meters, and it is made from 16,000 crystal details. The cost of living in these apartments is extremely high; a bottle of wine in the well-known “Le Chantecler” costs at least 2000 Euros.

If we talk about the “Russian” history of Nice, it is impossible to ignore the most beautiful Orthodox Church – the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. This is the most magnificent Orthodox Church outside of Russia. A villa of the Russian Czar Nikolai II was located in this place. After the death of czarevich Nikolai, the czar decided to build an Orthodox church here, in which people would commemorate his son.

The famous Russian orthodox cemetery “Kokad” is another attraction of Nice. On the tombstones here you can find the names of Volkonski, Tsereteli, Obolenski, Gagarin. Earlier this cemetery was called “Nikolaev”, the land was originally acquired from France by Czarist Russia for placing artillery on it, but soon it was given to a burial. In the cemetery there is an orthodox chapel that was built with financial support from the countess Tolstoy. The keeper of the cemetery is a descendant of a White Army officer, Eugene Verevkin.

Nice is a real treasure for art lovers. There are: the Museum of Matisse, the Museum of Marc Chagall, and the Museum of Modern Art. A very rich collection of paintings by famous artists are exhibited in these museums. Art critics from around the world are excited to come here. To anyone who wants to see beautiful paintings and sculptures, Nice is pleased to provide this opportunity. Each first and last Sunday of the month the entry to all museums is free of charge. True, it is worth noting that in these days museums are very crowded and those who want to enjoy the beauty in a leisurely pace and in silence should choose other days for a visit.

The best known and shrouded with many dark legends violin of Nicolo Paganini sounded for the last time in Nice.  You can see a memorial plaque on the second floor of a small nondescript house, situated near the cathedral. Here ended the life of the great composer and musician, it ended suddenly with the sounds of his violin. He died with the instrument in his hands. There are a lot of different rumors about the musician – it is said that he had struck a deal with the devil and he was buried near Nice in a cave in a coffin, hanging on rusty chains. But these are only rumors, the body of Paganini was re-buried many times until it has found its eternal rest in Parma. But the residents there still tell horror stories that when the moon is full, you can hear sad sounds of the violin in the house where Paganini died.

Choosing a place for travel or leisure, turn your attention to Nice. Many tourists that have visited Nice said: “The feelings overwhelming you in this city are impossible to convey in words, it seems that you returned to your homeland after many years of absence.” No one can explain this phenomenon, but Nice is a city in which every man feels at home.

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