Nice , queen and capital
of the French Riviera, a place legendary for the frolicking and
youthful indiscretions of the jet set ; number one destination
for those in pursuit of sex sun. Beneath this enticing postcard
is a city and region that deserves better than this clichéd
image, often artificial and always diminishing.
long and richly complex history of Nice has produced a special
identity that is very different from the opulent image of a playground
for carefree frolicking. The image of the Riviera as the habitué of
the rich and famous belies the fact that there are many treasures
to be discovered beyond this superficial postcard image.
Nice is not, in its origins, a rich region. It is a mountainous
territory with an area of 3000 square kilometres rimmed by a narrow
coast often featured in views of the city. This coastal rim stretches
from Nice to Monaco and for most of its history was characterized
by poverty in stark contrast to its current opulence.
much of its history Nice's value was primarily its strategic
position for transport and as a guardian of the southern Alpine
passages. In 1860 the Comte de Nice became a part of the nation
of France and struggled for years with the process of integration.
In 140 years the population increased form 44,000 to 370,000.
In the intervening years she experienced a burgeoning tourism,
invented modern horticulture and saw the proliferation of the castles
and villas of millionaires and aristocrats on its verdant hillsides
and its meandering streets and boulevards. These opulent residences,
as well as opera houses, casinos and luxury hotels , built by
the skilled hands of thousands of Italian artisans and craftsmen
display a rich and varied architectural legacy. Yet in the midst
of this cosmopolitan whirlwind beats the heart of Nice, modest
and simple, which is embodied in the Nice patois known as, "nissart".
Many authors, such as Francis Gag (1900-1908) have preserved this
idiom in a variety of literary works.
The birth around
1930 of mass tourism has contributed to the narrowing of the
view of Nice to its sun-drenched pleasures. This has been to
the detriment of its soul, at once Greek, Latin & Baroque;
of the Mediterranean and mountains, of its people; poorer, rougher,
more simple and loving than the popular image reveals.