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The French Riviera Travel Guide

  • Photo: jbor / Shutterstock

Nice

United with France only since 1860, Nice has its own history and atmosphere, exemplified by the stark contrast between the openness and modernity of the Promenade des Anglais to the narrow, ocher-tinted streets of the Old Town against the center of town and the sleek tramway whizzing down the main shopping thoroughfare Avenue Jean Médecin. (A second tramway line running to the airport

is expected to be operational by 2017.)

It was on Colline du Château (now château-less) and at the Plage des Ponchettes, in front of the Old Town, that the Greeks established a market-port and named it Nikaia. Having already established Marseilles as early as the 4th century BC, they branched out along the coast and founded the city that would become Marseilles' chief coastal rival. The Romans established themselves a little later on the hills of Cimiez (Cemenelum), already previously occupied by Ligurians and Celts, and quickly overshadowed the waterfront port. After falling to the Saracen invasions, Nice regained power as an independent state, becoming an important port in the early Middle Ages.

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