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 L'Abbaye in Mont Boron, Nice, French Riviera
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Why visit Nice

"He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it." - F.Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby, written on the French Riviera).

There are a hundred and one reasons why to go to Nice and those reasons have been bringing visitors and tourists to Nice for hundreds of years. It's a place of dramatic natural beauty that no matter how it had grown, developed or changed throughout the generations, remains unchanged in its ability to captivate, inspire and charm.

Nice has become, over time, a city of incredible diversity. A holiday in Nice is a city break, a beach holiday, a family holiday, a mountain holiday, an activity holiday. It's a culture trip, historically fascinating and a shoppers paradise. It's a sailing trip, a kids playground, a teenagers first night out, a glamourous springboard onto the French Riviera. It's all things to all people and on top of it all it's an ordinary vibrant European city. It's every holiday all rolled into one destination.

Nice to the EastPromenading in Nice 21st century styleStill invading Nice

A glimpse at Nice's History

'Nizza - Neither(ne) here (za)nor there
- from High Season by Robert Kanigel.

Nice City springs from incredibly varied and interesting beginnings with Greeks, Romans, Moors, Sardinians, French and Italians all laying claim to some part of its founding history, while just about every nation with a royal family can lay claim to bringing to bear considerable influence on its later day development, from the British to Russians, especially in the later part of the 18th Century when Europe wide travel became easier and royalty and the worlds nobility were want to display their idle wealth.

With so many influences it is said, even today, that the Nicoise people wear their French nationality loosely and there is an independent streak that runs through the proud people of the south. A thought that has run through the course of Nice's history. In 1517 an Italian cleric passing through Nice with his master, a Roman cardinal, commented on Nice being neither French nor Italian and suggested that none other than the city's own emblem reinforced this sentiment, "An eagle with one foot raised, and not resting anywhere".

It may be considered 'neither here nor there' but there is one place that Nice has been, and always will be, and that is in the hearts of the millions of visitors who have come to see her natural beauty and revel under her blue skies, for quite literally, hundreds of years.

Nice, An Ancient City

The earliest traces of humans and human habitation were found in Nice 400,000 years ago at the site of Terra Amata where evidence of 'Homo Erectus' era humans have been unearthed who pre date even Neanderthals. From just a site of habitation it has grown to a world renowned city of rich and varied history.

In 350BC the ancient Grecian tribe called the Phoceens established the city of Marseilles from where, in the 5th century BC, they expanded out and founded the town of Nikaia which centred around the site of the, now non existent, Citadelle. Nice was an important trading post.

The Romans arrived next but they choose a site further inland in what is now a suburb of Nice. They established the town, Cemenelum, or Cimiez as it is known today, and an uneasy truce between the two nations existed.

It was an incredibly turbulent time however and Nice has had to wage battle against marauding Saracens, Vandals, Goths, Burgundian, Lombards, Ligurians, French and Barbary Pirates during the course of its history.

Original site of the city Nikaia
Romans choose further inland
Rome too
Sunny footpaths in Mont Boron national park
unchanged landscape
Coming out into the light
Ancient Arches

Nice's uncertain path

In the 7th Century Nice signed up to Genoese league for protection against the constant invasion and threat, which brought it under Italian influence, although more specifically under Genoan influence as Italy was still, at this time, a nation of Kingdoms. It didn't become unified until the late 1800's.

Nice later prospered under the, now extinct, Counts of Provence, a title that had its roots in Roman and Frankish history, but turned again to Italy and the House of Savoy for protection.

So began the ping pong effect of Nice between French and Italian rule. In the 1600's Nice became French, under the House of Guise, following a siege. It remained French until the end of the 1600's when it was recaptured and returned to Italy under the House of Savoy. Like centuries before, when Greek Nikaia and Roman Cimiez had uneasily coexisted, now the French border was just across a river from Savoy ruled Nice.

Nice, A thorn in France's side

The beginning of the 1700's saw all of Europe in conflict as the War of the Spanish Succession raged. Nation was pitched against nation as each tried to claw back territories from the other.

Nice, ruled by Savoy, enemy to France, became something of a front-line. Tucked high on its hill behind the indestructible defences of its walled Citadelle it was a constant taunt to France. It was besieged by 8000 French troops who kept up a barrage of canon fire for over a month and still failed to indent on her city walls.

Finally King Louis XIV ordered his army to deal with it fully and firmly. It was a determined and imposing French army that took up residence across the river Paillon with much to prove, this one small city defying a great nation. Canon fire rained on Nice's ancient city walls for nearly 6 long months, from February to July. Nice fell and all remnants of the fortified Citadelle on the Château hill were wiped out.

The light and the palette of colours makes old Nice very specialYou are never far from the beach in Nice
Beautiful 17th century buildingsEverybody loves the beach
InfluencesCity Life
France reigned but, rather than exist as a broken captured city, Nice adapted, spread along the flood plains and foothills of her surrounding mountains, and thrived.

In 1713, The Treaty of Utrecht, returned Nice to Italy until the treaty expired in 1860 and the city, finally and fully, came under French domain after a vote was taken. Peace endured and Nice had found her final home.

Stability at last for Nice

The early 1800's saw visitors arriving in Nice of a more benign disposition. People were travelling from different countries but still in very small numbers and more as 'great explorers' or 'adventurers' than as tourists. Word was spreading nevertheless and as diaries and accounts of travels were published more and more people were interested in braving the arduous journey to witness for themselves the magical land of light and beauty.

Travel during this time was long, difficult and expensive. It became the preserve of the very wealthy who could both afford the time away and the expense of doing it in as great a style as possible. People flocked to Nice from the cold northern European climates to wile a way the long dark winters on Nice's glittering shores.

Nice's entire 'raison d'etre' became about looking after and catering to her illustrious visitors and it was during this time that many of the grand and imposing hotels were built. The 'modern' face of Nice was being constructed and with such well to do and wealthy clientèle each was more grand, more embellished and prettier than the next. The beautiful buildings of the 'Belle Epoch', or beautiful era, began to take shape, changing Nice forever from a poor mongrel trading post into one of the most glamourous and beautiful cities in Europe where the worlds elite opted to spend their winters.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”-Coco Chanel

Times changing in Nice

The rail road arrived in Nice in the 1850 and as travel became easier more people arrived. Not just any people however. Most of Europe's royalty arrived. Queen Victoria wintered in Cimiez, King Leopold of Belgium built a palace on Cap Ferrat and Russian royalty forged a relationship in Villefranche.

The standard was being set and has remained; the glamour, the luxury of the French Riviera. In this wake came artists, writers, actresses, singers.

In the early 1900's, around the time of the Great War, Americans began to arrive. Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald as well as lots of ordinary service men. They weren't afraid of the hot summer sun and breathed life and action into the regions beaches.

Coco Chanel, ever causing a stir, stayed on the French Riviera and boldly wore a deep golden tan. It was a first, a dramatic fashion statement and Nice resisted. The season was Winter, that was how it was and that was how it would stay.
Nice PostersGetting used to the idea of Summer in Nice
CarnavalSummer Sun
Coco Chanel causes a stirElegance personified
CocoNew Events
It was impossible to hold back the shift to a year round season and circumstances colluded to ensure that it became a necessity.

The Great depression and World War II hit tourism hard but as the people kept coming then Nice had little choice but to open her arms and welcome them.

New events were planned, new ways of entertaining tourists were born and, with personal travel and motor cars now a regular fixture, towns began to compete for attention.

Renting holiday Accommodation in Nice

So now you know a little of the history and culture of Nice, as you can see, there is a lot to explore and discover and the city of Nice, one of the founding cities of the French Riviera tourist industry, is well versed in providing you with an incredible vacation experience.

To get some ideas on what to do in Nice during your holiday continue on into the next section where we have some suggestions. To begin browsing Nice holiday rental apartments simply select the accommodations type below or go straight to 'Browse Rentals' on the menu on the left. To learn more about Nice please continue on to the next section.


Some top holiday rentals in Nice

Central Boulevard 1-Bed Terrace Apartment

French Riviera » Nice 38 sq.m. Apartment 1200
»Holiday rental apartment
»Price per night:$121.59
»Per person (x4):$30.40
City Centre, Contemporary
This contemporary, 1-bed pied-à-terre is situated right in the centre of Nice and is a great base from which to explore the city. The apartment has a lovely sunny terrace and is perfect for a couple’s retreat but can also accommodate a group of 4.

Magnan Sea View 2-Bed Apartment

French Riviera » Nice » Nice Promenade 92 sq.m. Apartment 1145
»Holiday rental apartment
»Price per night:$138.80
»Per person (x4):$34.70
Contemporary, Beachfront
Lovely designer two-bedroom apartment with fabulous sea views which can be enjoyed from your own private terrace. This apartment is well located for both the beach and the city centre and is perfectly suited for either two couples or a family.

Stylish 2-Bed City Centre Apartment

French Riviera » Nice 105 sq.m. Apartment 1260
»Holiday rental apartment
»Price per night:$148.12
»Per person (x5):$29.62
Contemporary, City Centre
This stylish, newly renovated 2-bed apartment boasts a furnished wrap-around balcony and is located in the heart of Nice's city centre, just a minute's walk from the beach and next to a multitude shops, restaurants and cafés on the popular Rue de France.


Find your holiday rental in Nice


Immediate Area

» St Paul de Vence» La Colle sur Loup» Nice Promenade
» Nice Port» Old Nice» Cimiez
» Mont Boron» Cap de Nice» Nice Hills
» Cagnes sur Mer» Gattieres 
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