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Ville de Nice
City flag City coat of arms
(City flag) (City coat of arms)
City motto: Nicæa civitas.1
(Latin: Nice the city)
Location of Nice
City proper
Région Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur
Département Alpes-Maritimes (06)
Mayor Jacques Peyrat
(UMP) (since 1995)
Area 71.92 km²
2004 estimate
1999 census
(Ranked 5th)
Density 4,766/km² (1999)
Metropolitan area
(aire urbaine)
Communes 117 (1999)
Area 2,268 km² (1999)
1999 census
(Ranked 6th)
Yearly growth +0.51 %
Density 411/km² (1999)

  - president

Community of Agglomeration Nice Côte d'Azur
Jacques Peyrat
(UMP) (since 2002)
Twin cities Miami (USA)
Houston (USA)
Edinburgh (UK)
Cuneo (Italy)
Gdansk (Poland)
Hangzhou (China)
Laval (Canada)
Nuremberg (Germany)
Szeged (Hungary)
Saint Petersburg (Russia)
Thessaloniki (Greece)
Yalta (Ukraine)

1 The original city motto was Nicæa civitas fidelissima, i.e. "Nice the very loyal city" (loyal to the House of Savoy), but the motto was shortened in 1860 when Nice became French.

Nice (pronounced [nis]) (Occitan: Niça or Nissa; Italian: Nizza) is a city in southern France located on the Mediterranean coast, between Marseille and Genoa, with 933,080 inhabitants in the metropolitan area at the 1999 census. The city is a major tourist center and a leading resort on the French Riviera (Cote d'Azur).



Located in the Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur région, Nice is a commune and the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Alpes-Maritimes departement.


Night view along the "Promenade des Anglais"
Night view along the "Promenade des Anglais"

There were settlements in the Nice area approximately 400,000 years ago: the site of Terra Amata shows one of the earliest uses of fire and construction of houses.

Nice (Nicaea) was founded in the 5th century bc by the Greeks of Marseille and received the name of Νικαία ("Nikaia") in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike being the goddess of victory). It soon became one of the busiest trading stations on the Ligurian coast; but as a city it had an important rival in the Roman town of Cemenelum, which continued to exist as a separate city till the time of the Lombard invasions, and has left its ruins at Cimiez, which is now a quarter of Nice.

In the 7th century Nice joined the Genoese league formed by the towns of Liguria. In 729 it repulsed the Saracens; but in 859 and 880 they pillaged and burned it, and for the most of the 10th century remained masters of the surrounding country.

During the Middle Ages Nice had its share in the wars and disasters of Italy. As an ally of Pisa it was the enemy of Genoa, and both the King of France and the Emperor endeavoured to subjugate it; but in spite of all it maintained its municipal liberties. In the course of the 13th and 14th centuries it fell more than once into the hands of the Counts of Provence; and at length in 1388 the commune placed itself under the protection of the Counts of Savoy.

The maritime strength of Nice now rapidly increased until it was able to cope with the Barbary pirates; the fortifications were largely extended and the roads to the city improved. During the struggle between Francis I and Charles V great damage was caused by the passage of the armies invading Provence; pestilence and famine raged in the city for several years. It was in Nice that the two monarchs in 1538 concluded, through the mediation of Pope Paul III, a truce of ten years.

Distant view
Distant view

In 1543 Nice was attacked by the united forces of Francis I and Barbarossa; and, though the inhabitants repulsed the assault which succeeded the terrible bombardment, they were ultimately compelled to surrender, and Barbarossa was allowed to pillage the city and to carry off 2,500 captives. Pestilence appeared again in 1550 and 1580.

In 1600 Nice was taken by the duke of Guise. By opening the ports of the countship to all nations, and proclaiming full freedom of trade, Charles Emmanuel in 1626 gave a great stimulus to the commerce of the city, whose noble families took part in its mercantile enterprises. Captured by Catinat in 1691, Nice was restored to Savoy in 1696; but it was again besieged by the French in 1705, and in the following year its citadel and ramparts were demolished.

The treaty of Utrecht in 1713 once more gave the city back to Savoy; and in the peaceful years which followed the "new town" was built. From 1744 till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) the French and Spaniards were again in possession. In 1775 the king of Sardinia destroyed all that remained of the ancient liberties of the commune. Conquered in 1792 by the armies of the French republic, the county of Nice continued to be part of France until 1814; but after that date it reverted to Sardinia.

Benedictine Abbey of St Pons, founded 778, rebuilt in the 11th century: A Romanesque abbey with a Baroque belltower
Benedictine Abbey of St Pons, founded 778, rebuilt in the 11th century: A Romanesque abbey with a Baroque belltower

By a treaty concluded in 1860 between the Sardinian king and Napoleon III it was again transferred to France, and the cession was ratified by over 25,000 electors out of a total of 30,700 although the plesbicite was most likely sabotaged by the French.

In the second half of the 20th century, Nice bore the influence of mayor Jean Medecin (mayor from 1947 to 1965) and his son Jacques (mayor from 1966 to 1990). October 16, 1979 23 people died when the coast of Nice was hit by a tsunami. As accusations of political corruption against Jacques Medecin grew, he fled France in 1990 and was arrested in Uruguay in 1993, leading to his extradition in 1994. He was then convicted of several counts of corruption and associated crimes and sentenced to prison.

Jacques Peyrat, the mayor of Nice since 1995, is a member of the UMP party and former member of the Front National.

In 2003, local head prosecutor Eric de Montgolfier alleged that some judicial cases involving local personalities had been suspiciously derailed by the local judiciary, which he suspected of having unhealthy contacts, through Masonic lodges, with the very people that they are supposed to prosecute or judge. A controversial official report stated that de Montgolfier had made unwarranted accusations.


Nice has a distinct culture due to its unique history. The local language Niçard is still spoken by a minority and there are strong Italian and Corsican influences as well as Occitan. Niçard is a Occitan dialect but strong Italian influence makes it less uninteligible with others non-extinct Provençal dialects that they are among their.

Local food culture, which includes pissaladiere a pie with onions and anchovies paste; socca, a kind of pancake made from chickpea flour; bouillabaisse and fish soup; "Stockfish" (traditionally prounounced as "Stoquefiche" (French spelling) with special emphasis on the first "e"), farcis, vegetables stuffed with breadcrumbs; and salade nicoise, a tomato salad with green peppers of the "Corne" breed, baked eggs, tuna or anchovies, and olives.

In the recent decades Nice, as the rest of France, has received immigrants from other parts of the world, mainly Northern and Western Africa as well as southeastern Asia, which has further enriched the cultural life of the city.


The city is served by Cote d'Azur International Airport and has a railway station. Public transportation within the city and to neighboring areas is provided by the Ligne d'Azur company. A tramway is currently under construction and is expected to begin operation in 2006. The ferry companies SNCM and Corsica Ferries operate from the Nice harbour and sail to several towns on Corsica.

Night panorama from the Mont Alban
Night panorama from the Mont Alban



Nice was the birthplace of:

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