Stage town for the 37th time

Prefecture of Alpes-Maritimes (06)

Population: 345,000 and 537,000 in the 49 communes of Nice Côte d'Azur.

Specialities: pissaladière, fougasse, socca, brissaouda, tapenade, salade niçoise, pan bagnat, porchetta, trulle, ratatouille, daube niçoise, bellet (wine)

Personalities : Giuseppe Garibaldi (19th-century general and politician, architect of Italian unity), Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Yves Klein (painters), Arman Jean Sosno (sculptor), Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Louis Nucera, Max Gallo, Didier Van Cauwelaert (writers), Simone Veil (politician), Georges Lautner, Jean-Pierre Mocky (film-makers), Michelle Mercier, Mylène Demongeot, Michèle Laroque (actresses), Denise Fabre (TV presenter), Dick Rivers, Jenifer, Rose, Medi (singers), Yannick Agnel, Clément Lefert, Camille Muffat (swimmers), Jean-Pierre Dick (sailor), Suzanne Lenglen (tennis), Hugo Lloris (footballer), Fabio Quartararo (motorcycleGP world champion 2021), Surya Bonaly (ice skater), Gilles Veissière (football referee, until 2014), Marcel Huot (winner of a Tour stage in 1928).

Sport: OGC Nice (football), OGC Nice Handball (women's Ligue 1), Olympic Nice Natation, Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur (cycling team). Events: Paris-Nice cycling, Iron Man France, Nice Tennis Open, Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes. 

Economy: tourism, business tourism, commerce, construction, France's third-largest airport. 

Culture: Nice Carnival (February) / Crossover Festival (September) / Nice Book Festival (June) / Nice Jazz Festival (July).

Motto: Nice the very faithful

Signature: capital of Côte d'Azur (French Riviera)

Labels: Tour de France cycling town / Town in bloom (4) / 5@ Internet City / UNESCO World Heritage Site as a winter resort on the French Riviera.

Website: / / / / Twitter : @VilledeNice



Nice is becoming a key city in the Tour de France. Before enjoying the privilege of becoming the first town to host the final finish of the Tour away from its Parisian base, the prefecture of Alpes-Maritimes had the honour of organising the Grand Départ of an edition that was already unlike any other, that of September 2020, when covid-19 made the logistics particularly tricky. The opening stages, won by Alexander Kristoff in the sprint and then by Julian Alaphilippe in yellow, left a lasting impression, not least because of several crashes, one of which seriously disrupted the end of Thibaut Pinot's career. In 2013, for the 100th edition of the Tour de France, Nice was back on the course, thirty-two years after hosting the 1981 Grand Départ. On their return from Corsica, the Orica Greenedge outfit won the team time trial, handing the Yellow Jersey to Simon Gerrans, who had already won a stage in Calvi. The Australian team held the lead for four days, with Gerrans handing over to team-mate Daryl Impey, the first African to wear the yellow jersey.  In 1981, Bernard Hinault swapped his rainbow outfit for the Yellow Jersey by winning the prologue. The next two half-stages were won by Freddy Maertens and then by Dutch outfit Ti-Raleigh in a team time-trial, with Gerrie Kneteman taking over the Yellow Jersey. “Nice la très fidèle” (Nice the very faithful), the city's Latin motto, has also been widely respected, with thirty-seven appearances as a stage town in the Tour de France since 1906. Aside from its dates with the Tour, Nice welcomes the World Tour each spring for the finale of Paris-Nice. In the eighty-two editions of the Race to the Sun, thirteen Tour de France winners have won here. Six of them have done the double in the same year, including Egan Bernal in 2019. Nice is also home to one of cycling's most famous champions, writer Louis Nucéra, author of the famous Roi René and Mes Rayons de soleil, in which he recounts how, in 1985, at the age of 57, he cycled the route of the 1949 Tour. And there are countless other riders born in Nice. Among the most famous are Lucien Teisseire, winner of three stages between 1947 and 1954, Pierre Molineris, winner of a stage in 1952, and Charly Bérard, a loyal team-mate of Bernard Hinault who contested seven Tours de France.


Nice gave birth to one of the most legendary, romantic and historically decisive figures of the 19th century: Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was so influential in his day that some see him as the Che Guevara of the previous century. Abraham Lincoln even considered entrusting his armies to him during the American Civil War, while in England, ladies bought his bath water as true groupies of a global star. The son of a fisherman from Nice, who had little interest in studying, lived an extraordinary life since his birth in 1807. Signed up as a ship's boy in his teens, he travelled the Mediterranean and was introduced to the followers of saint-simonism, a political movement that advocated scientific progress and friendship between peoples. His liberal, republican and above all anti-clerical ideas stemmed from this. Moving from the navy to activism, he befriended Mazzini, creator of the Young Italy movement and an ardent supporter of Italian unification. Garibaldi, who was born French, became one of the champions of this ideal, at a time when Nice had briefly passed from the control of Savoy to that of France. His exile took him to Latin America, where he supported the independence movements in Brazil and Uruguay. On his return to Nice, he played a key role in the fight for Italian unification and the peninsula's battles against Austria and France. Unsubmissive, independent, a leader of men but a poor strategist, he pulled off many brilliant coups, but did not get on well with the other heroes of Italian independence, such as Mazzini, who reproached him for making a pact with royalty, or Cavour, whom he reproached for having ceded the city of Nice to France in 1860. Garibaldi was not anti-French, far from it. He gave strong support to the men who proclaimed the French Republic in 1870 and Léon Gambetta offered him command of the Eastern Front. He was then elected member of parliament, but his election was invalidated by the enemies of the Republic on the pretext that the man who had been born French against his will... was Italian! Fed up with these schemes, this idealist retired to the islet of Caprera, where he died in 1882. He had written: "I am from Nice, so I am neither French nor Italian". Garibaldi dreamt of a European Union with Nice as its capital.   


  • Promenade des Anglais

Built: 1931

History: the famous seafront promenade, always elegantly decorated with flowers and following the harmonious curve of the Baie des Anges, was originally just a two-metres wide footpath. It was an Englishman, Reverend Lewis Way, who had it built at his own expense in 1820. The local population immediately dubbed it the "English Way". In its final form, with two carriageways separated by a median strip planted with palm trees, the Prom was opened in 1931 by the Duke of Connaught, one of Queen Victoria's sons. As the Promenade is only bordered by land on the north side, the numbering (progressing in an east-west direction) is initially continuous rather than two-by-two, and then progresses from odd number to odd number. The first palaces (Royal, Negresco), the Villa Furtado-Heine, the Villa Masséna (now the Masséna Museum), all had their entrances on the north side, on the city side, sometimes on Rue de France itself (the road running from Nice to the border with France), with their backs to the promenade: Nice was a winter resort, where people enjoyed the mild climate and the dry winter season, and turned their backs to the sea, which was not yet a place of entertainment. The name Promenade des Anglais can therefore be taken in a pejorative sense, meaning that only the English are crazy enough to walk there.

Listed as: the Promenade was listed as a World Heritage Site on 27 July 2021, as part of Nice's listing as a winter resort on the Riviera.  

  • Place Masséna

The red of its facades, the white window frames, the arcades and the square shape of its northern section all bear witness to the Piedmont influence in the architecture of this place, the centre of the city and the venue for the famous carnival. Since it was gradually built between 1820 and 1830 on the model of the Piazza Vittorio Veneto in Turin, Place Masséna has become an integral part of Nice's heritage. Formerly split in two by the Paillon river, it was not united until 1884. It pays homage to André Masséna, Marshal of the Empire and a native of Nice.

Special feature: since 2007, Place Masséna has been home to seven white resin statues standing some ten metres above the ground. These statues of scribes crouch or sit on top of their plinths. They are illuminated at night by a changing play of light that turns them into translucent men who light up in different colours depending on the moment. They were created by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa.  

  • Sainte-Réparate Cathedral

Construction1650 to 1699.

Style: Baroque.

History: in the first half of the 16th century, the transfer of the cathedral from the castle hill was ratified. In 1531, the abbey of Saint-Pons agreed to cede the church of Sainte-Réparate to the cathedral chapter. In 1649, Bishop Didier Palletis deemed the building too small and commissioned architect Jean-André Guiberto, a military engineer from Nice, to build a larger edifice. On 18 September 1658, the vault of the nave collapsed in front of Bishop Palletis, who suffered a head injury and died a few hours later. The structural work on the cathedral was completed between 1680 and 1682, and the cathedral was consecrated in 1699. In the 18th century, work began on rebuilding the bell tower that had been demolished in 1651. A restoration campaign began in 2009 to enhance the cathedral's interior and façade.

Characteristics: This is the largest sanctuary in Old Nice. Inspired by Roman architectural models from the early Baroque period, the building is organised around a Latin cross basilica. The decoration of the chapels and choir is particularly sumptuous, and the interior is inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1906.  

  • Hotel Negresco

Built in 1912.

Characteristics: built on the famous Baie des Anges by the great Art Nouveau architect Édouard Niermans for Romania’s Henri Negresco, this Belle Époque palace remains the only palace-museum in Nice. It houses numerous collections tracing five centuries of art history. Each of the 100 rooms and 25 suites has its own unique decor. Styles from the most brilliant periods of French art are represented, from Louis XIII to modern art. Recently listed as a five-star hotel, it is one of the most beautiful hotels in the world.

History: the hotel was founded by Henri Negresco, who had worked as a butler for wealthy clients such as the Rockefeller family for many years. In the 1910s, he decided to build his own luxury hotel in Nice. The plan of the hotel adopted by Negresco was reminiscent of that of the Grand Hotel in Madrid built by Niermans. In 1957, the hotel was bought by Jean-Baptiste Mesnage, who entrusted it to his daughter, Jeanne Augier, who acquired dozens of works of art and transformed Negresco into a veritable museum. On her death in 2019, the hotel was placed under the control of a foundation pending the settlement of her estate.

Trivia: legend has it that Henri Negresco had a pink dome built in the shape of his mistress's breast.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 2003.  

  • Nice Castle

Château de Nice was a fortified military structure built between the 11th and 18th centuries on a rocky hill overlooking the Bay of Nice. After undergoing several sieges, notably in 1543 and 1691, it was taken in 1705 by French troops, then destroyed in 1706 on the orders of Louis XIV. The site is now known as a park and garden, a place of worship for the locals and a must-see for many tourists. Its many breathtaking panoramas, accessible from sunrise to sunset, have earned it the nickname of Cradle of the Sun, as the site offers such magnificent and varied scenery, depending on where you are on the hill, from sunrise on the Port of Nice side to sunset on the Promenade des Anglais side. The site is also a favourite with photographers for its panoramic views over the Bay of Angels and Promenade des Anglais. Every day, a cannon shot is fired from the castle, in reality a pyrotechnic device, signalling noon to the surrounding area.  

  • Allianz Riviera

Construction: 2011 to 2013.

Architect: Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

Characteristics: Inaugurated on 22 September 2013 after almost two years of construction work, the Nice stadium has 35,624 seats in its football configuration. OGC Nice has been the resident club ever since. The Allianz Riviera hosted several matches in the 2016 European Football Championship.


  • Socca

It is impossible to trace the history of socca with any certainty, except to say that its origins go back a very long way. Neither Provençal nor Italian, Nice's cuisine borrows from both to forge its own identity. In this case, socca is probably derived from farinata, a galette made from chickpea flour that Italians have been browning in the oven since the Middle Ages. It may have been imported to Nice by the Genoese in the 19th century. Chickpea flour cakes can be found under different names and in different forms from Genoa to Marseille - and in other countries in North Africa, Asia and South America - but it is in Nice that it has become a permanent part of the city's culinary heritage, under the name socca.

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