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3 (unusual) things to love about Nice

Three things I love about Nice.

3 things to love about Nice

Nice is a city of contrasts, located on the beautiful Mediterranean sea hemmed in by Alps, its location is hard to beat.  Contrast the bright blue sea with the snow-capped mountains; the reds and ochres of the Italianate Old Town with the white Belle Epoque palaces in the "new town"; the super yachts on the harbour with the highrise blocks of social housing in the suburbs.  It's also a city of superlatives: it has the most sunshine of any city in France (300 days a year), it has the longest urban seafront in Europe, it is the most visited city in France after Paris, it has the most museums in France after Paris....and as far as I'm concerned it offers the best quality of living in France. But here I want to tell you about 3 unusual things that I love about Nice....

Promenade des Anglais Nice

 

Art in the City

Nice has a project called Art in the City which consists of public art along the tram line.  13 artists from both France and elsewhere have contributed different art installations along route 1 of the tramline.  The collection is very eclectic ranging from the enormous and very obvious Conversations by Jaume Plensa in Place Massena to light shows and even sound projections. These are perhaps the least obvious to a foreign visitor who may be surprised to hear a cutesy toddler announce the name of the stop followed by a gravelly crooner and then church bells!  The announcements change according to the time of day, time of year (summer/Christmas...), public holidays, weekend etc.  I think it's amusing and enjoy hearing a voice I haven't heard before.  

Tramway art Nice

Many of the works of art are not that obvious, being located slightly off the line, and some are badly maintained but over all I love that the city has created an unusual trail of art to entertain commuters (and visitors).  My favourites, apart from Conversations, are the name signs and little ditties written by local artist Ben (Benjamin Vautier) in each stop and the Porte Fausse (false door) in marble and gold between the old town and new.  

Ben tram Collage

 

Passive "air conditioning" in the Old Town

The Old Town is surprisingly cool even in the heat of summer.  This is partly to do with the clever planning and orientation of the streets taking account of the direction of sea breezes and other sources of cool air, but it is also because of the airflow system through the buildings themselves. Walking around the Old Town you might notice decorative metal grilles over doorways with no glass.  These are air inlets which together with vaulted ceilings push the air through to the staircases and corridors and out into interior courtyards, thereby creating a flow of circulating air. Air is also captured by the precisely calculated angle of the slats in typical Niçois window shutters. And get this...doors even used to have non-symmetrical hinges to make sure they wouldn't slam shut in the breeze!  I don't suppose this still exists in many places but the shutters and door grilles certainly do.  I find all this so clever, so ingenious, and such a great way to avoid having to install polluting and ugly modern air conditioning units.  (Though I have no idea how these very same buildings keep warm in winter!)

Nice air conditioning

 

The midday cannon

Possibly one of the quirkiest things about Nice is that every day at midday a cannon blast is heard across the city.  Well, I guess you can't hear it in the west or northern reaches of the town but around the Old Town and central streets off the Promenade des Anglais the sudden explosion makes many a visitor jump.  This cannon blast has a peculiar history relating to an English man summoning his wife home at midday to make lunch and has occurred every day since 1876 (except once when the detonator got stuck in traffic!)  Surprisingly even today when a cannon is no longer used, the noise is not automated but comes from a large firework manually set off on the Castle Hill.    For a full description of how this peculiar tradition came about check out the post I wrote about it here.

orange trees in Nice

Nice is a wonderful city, as well as my three more unknown reasons to love it, how can you not fall in love with a city that has citrus trees lining the streets, around 30 beaches, one of the world's biggest and best carnivals and is home to the world famous Salade Niçoise?  I'm totally under its spell.

Nice Old Town shutters and laundry

Have you been to Nice?  What did you love about it? Or tell me 3 things you love about your town. I'm eternally curious and love hearing from you. 

credit for first photo: Chris Wevers via photopin cc

 

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Unusual things to love about Nice France

 
 
 
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Comments

  • Guest
    Packing my Suitcase Friday, 13 November 2015

    I have been to Nice such a long time ago, I don't remember much to be honest, but I know I liked it. I remember driving around the coast and the famous church as well. I want to come back and explore it properly!
    I love the picture of the orange tree, so pretty!

    #Citytripping

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    You must come back there's so much to see here.

  • Guest
    Shobha George Thursday, 12 November 2015

    It looks like everything is to love in this city!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    You're right, everything is to love in Nice!

  • Guest
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    Wow, what interesting facts about Nice. I had heard about the cannon but not the other facts you talk about. How clever that the city has its own 'air conditioning' system #citytripping

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Most Niçois probably aren't even aware of the air-conditioning and most of the city art either!

  • Clare
    Clare Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    Oh Nice is so gorgeous! I love the Chagall on the top of the hill, the winding streets, the restaurants, the market, the temperature, the colours… I've been a few times and we stayed in an apartment with the children for a week. It's a great place for a family holiday. Lots to do and easy bus rides around the coast.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Next time you must stay at Lou Messugo and explore another part of the area! But you're absolutely right everything you like about Nice I like too.

  • Guest
    Keri (Baby Globetrotters) Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    Beautiful place, certainly "on the list" for places to revisit - who can argue with 300 days of sunshine... #citytripping

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    absolutely!

  • Wander Mum
    Wander Mum Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    These are such interesting points Phoebe- I love how you have found three things totally unique to Nice. I love the sound of the passive air-conditioning. I have yet to visit Nice but when I do will look out for these! Thank you for linking to #citytripping

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    When you go to Nice, you're staying with me and I'll show you! Ha ha!!

  • Guest
    Cathy ( MummyTravels ) Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    I had such a fleeting visit to Nice - I remember wandering the streets and soaking up some sun by the sea but not much more. The art sounds fantastic though, I'd love to come back. And so many superlatives! Thanks for joining in #citytripping

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Come and stay at Lou Messugo, you'll love it! ;)

  • Guest
    TinyExpats Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    Beautiful! And very interesting to learn about that air conditioning - thanks for sharing!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Thanks for commenting!!

  • Guest
    Steph Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    Haven't been to France yet, but it's definitely a country I would like to visit some day. Your pictures are beautiful, I really enjoyed the part about the "air conditioning" its fascinating how they adapted the architecture and building features to preserve or cool down the room temperature.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    I agree that it's fascinating and so original too. I hope you get to France one day Steph!

  • Guest
    Ersatz Expat Thursday, 05 November 2015

    I went to Nice when I was 8 years old (so a lifetime ago now) and remember thinking it was very beautiful. You have whetted my appetite and I would love to return and explore in more detail.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    You must return, it's even better than it was a few years ago!

  • Guest
    Amanda@Expat Life with a Double Buggy Thursday, 05 November 2015

    Never been to Nice but I haven't been to a French town I didn't like yet - and this looks like no exception! Lovely photos :-)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    I've been to most of France and can honestly say that Nice is in the top 2 (or even favourite). You must visit one day soon Amanda.

  • Guest
    Sherill Saturday, 10 October 2015

    We will be there for a month in Dec/Jan. Thanks for these added insights to Nice! Can't wait!;)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 11 October 2015

    I'm pleased your liked this post Sherill and hope you find it useful when you're in Nice, have a great time.

  • Guest
    Louise Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    I just love all that wonderful public art, how fabulous. I've been to France 4 times now, but not yet made it to Nice. I wish that I had an upcoming trip planned, and could look forward to it. I'll have to put it on my France wishlist (which is really quite long).

  • Guest
    Phoebe Thursday, 19 February 2015

    Nice is always good for a wishlist. It's such a beautiful place at any time of year.

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 February 2015

    I loved Nice when I was there almost (yikes!) 30 years ago...I am sure a lot has changed but it was beautiful then.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    It's changed hugely since then as it's even changed lots (for the better) since I've been in the area, about 8 years.

  • Guest
    Paulita Monday, 16 February 2015

    I was in Nice long ago, but haven't been as an adult. Perhaps that would be a nice day trip for my husband and me when we are in Aix en Provence next month. You describe it so wonderfully. Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    It's a lovely and easy day trip from Aix, I hope you go.

  • Guest
    jan Thursday, 29 January 2015

    I have been to Nice, but it was so long ago I do not have three memories left! I love the Ocean, River and Weather in my own hometown Townsville, Australia.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    Ocean and weather are defintiely 2 things to love about Nice too Jan. I've been to Townsville a few times and would have to agree about the weather and proximity to the reef and Magnetic Island

  • Guest
    Nancie Monday, 26 January 2015

    I haven't been to Nice, but when I get back to France it is definitely on my list. I love cities that incorporate art into living spaces. What is it with the British and shooting cannons. I'm from Halifax (settled by the Brits), and we have a noon day cannon/gun shot everyday. I'm not sure how long it's been going on, but a long time;) Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    How funny that another city has a British-installed midday cannon!

  • Guest
    Corinne Monday, 26 January 2015

    Phoebe, I haven't been to Nice in years. The quirky things are the things I love the most and want to see!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    And I hope you're going to get back here in April Corinne.....!!! :)

  • Guest
    Margo Lestz Sunday, 25 January 2015

    Great article on Nice! Well, I might be a bit biased since I live here, but I think it's a wonderful city.
    And I learned something from your article about the door hinges. While I haven't noticed them in Nice, my apartment in Florence had them and I couldn't come up with any reason for it. So now I know. Thanks again for a great article. Best ~Margo

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    How interesting that you had those funny hinges in Florence. I assumed that most places would have "renovated" them out these days so it's good to hear they exist elsewhere too. thanks for your kind word Margo.

  • Guest
    Kara Sunday, 25 January 2015

    I have to admit that Nice never appealed to me but its looks like a beautiful place to visit

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    I wonder why Nice never appealled to you? What was it that didn't appeal? I'd be interested to know.

  • Guest
    Mary {The World Is A Book} Sunday, 25 January 2015

    I haven't been to Nice but would really like to go. I have heard such wonderful things about it and these 3 unusual things here make it even more appealing. I love cities that offer art to amuse locals and visitors. How neat it would be to hear that midday cannon. Beautiful photos.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Mary, you need to put Nice (and Lou Messugo) on your 2015 itinerary! It would be so fun to meet.

  • Guest
    Richard Saturday, 24 January 2015

    The old bit of Nice always strikes me as almost more Italian than French - and of course it was once Italian. The "new" - ie 19th and 20th century - bit on the other hand is completely French. It's a wonderful mixture, and each visit there's always something new to see or eat!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    You're absolutely right Richard, it's such a wonderful contrasting city.

  • Guest
    Rachel Saturday, 24 January 2015

    Ive never ever thought of going to Nice, but it looks so beautiful x

  • Guest
    Stephen Saturday, 24 January 2015

    It looks wonderful, not a place that has ever been on my radar I have to admit.

  • Guest
    Clare Nicholas Saturday, 24 January 2015

    It's not somewhere I've been before but it looks truly beautiful

  • Guest
    bettyl - NZ Saturday, 24 January 2015

    Those are great reasons to visit! Your photos are just gorgeous!

  • Guest
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} Friday, 23 January 2015

    I visited Nice once a very long time ago when I was at university and traveling with my parents. It seemed so posh. I like all these unusual things and would enjoy hearing Conversations in person. Those name signs at the stops lend such a charming atmosphere and whoever figured out the ventilation in the Old Town must be a genius.

  • Guest
    Joanna Imran Friday, 23 January 2015

    You made me really want to visit Nice - your first photo is enough to fall in love, seaside and the mountains so close make it a dream place to see!

  • Guest
    agata Friday, 23 January 2015

    I like the idea of a midday cannon... sounds very unusual and exiting... big boom every day to mark the midday :-)

  • Guest
    leonii Friday, 23 January 2015

    I have never been but this post surely has made me put it on my list of places to see! i really love your photos on this post :) x

  • Guest
    Kate ~ Beak Up Crafts Friday, 23 January 2015

    I would love to go to Nice, and the south of France in general. This post makes me want to visit even more! I never knew about the midday cannon - that's really cool!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Well Kate, I know just the place for you to stay to visit Nice and the south of France....Lou Messugo!! You'd be very welcome!

  • Guest
    Catherine Friday, 23 January 2015

    I have been to Nice. I was there on Granma's day and my grandson bought me some flowers in the gorgeous flower market. We always like to visit Nice when we stay at Lou Messugo. We go by bus the fare is/was one Euro!!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    What a lovely grandson!!! The bus is now 1.50€ for a single ticket but can still be 1€ if you buy a carnet of 10. It's still very good value.

  • Guest
    charlotte Friday, 23 January 2015

    Lovely photos - I have never been but it is on my 'someday' wish list :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    I hope your "someday" happens soon!

  • Guest
    Sonya Cisco Friday, 23 January 2015

    Have heard wonderful things from people I know who have visited, and your gorgeous photos back that up - maybe one day I will get to see for myself!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    I hope so Sonya

  • Guest
    Life Images by Jill Friday, 23 January 2015

    ok - you've won me! I need to visit Nice! What a charming city. I love these little insights you have given us. I love the street art (you saw ours on my blog this week) - wow that art instillation with the glass baubles is amazing. And who wouldn't love citrus trees in a city. Thank you for bringing Nice to us - I really enjoyed seeing it through your camera.
    I've enjoyed visiting you at your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine this week. Happy travels and have a great weekend.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Thanks Jill, I'm glad I've won you over!

  • Guest
    Emma | The Mini Mes and Me Thursday, 22 January 2015

    It looks like such a beautiful place. I'm certainly in need of a city break... x

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    It's a great place for a city break, or even longer, staying at Lou Messugo!

  • Guest
    Emma Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I have never been but it looks and sounds stunning.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    It really is Emma. :)

  • Guest
    Stephs Two Girls Thursday, 22 January 2015

    We loved Nice too - in fact it's about time for us to go back!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Good to hear from another Nice fan!

  • Guest
    My Family Ties Thursday, 22 January 2015

    What a tonic on a day like today to read this lovely post! I have never been to Nice but it looks wonderful :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    I'm glad you enjoyed your "tonic"!!

  • Guest
    michelle twin mum Thursday, 22 January 2015

    It had never even occured to me to visit Nice but it does look great, thanks for sharing. Mich x

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Well now you know Mich! It is an amazing city and I hope you visit one day.

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Thursday, 22 January 2015

    This looks like an amazing place to visit! xxx

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    It is! There's so much on offer here.

  • Guest
    romanian mum Thursday, 22 January 2015

    This is one place i still need to visit! Beautiful

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    I agree! When are you booking your holiday then?!!! :o

  • Guest
    You Baby Me Mummy Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I have never been, but it does look pretty x

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    It certainly is pretty!

  • Guest
    Rosie @Wco-GItes of Lenault Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I was in Nice briefly many years ago when I met up with friends coming up from Rome before we headed off inter-raiing. Problem was I was late due to a mix up with my train tickets in Paris and being in 1989 this was pre mobiles. My over riding memory of the city was me going down the station steps as my friends were going up a different set and they recognised by legs in the distance from the rather gaudy trousers I was wearing! After that we only stayed a day to relax on the beach before heading off. Your post make me realise I need to go back and explore Nice a lot more!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    I'm waiting for you Rosie...it is definitely time you headed south...leave the gite and smalholding to the boys and pop down for a few days of girl-time!

  • Guest
    Rosie @Eco-Giyes of Lenault Wednesday, 04 February 2015

    One day!

  • Guest
    Jaime Oliver Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I have to say i have never thought of Nice on my travel go to list .. but i must say passive air conditioning and understated but beautiful art is a winner for me

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Nice should be on everyone's travel go to list! (IMHO)!!!

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I have never been to Nice but would love to. Lovely pictures of the City.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Thank you Mina :)

  • Guest
    Jen Thursday, 22 January 2015

    Wow, I have never visited Nice and I so need some sunshine now

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    We certainly have plenty of it Jen. We've been in shirt sleeves and putting on sun block this weekend....in January!

  • Guest
    Sam Thurley Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I would love to go to Nice and after reading this post i want to go even more xx

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Great Sam, I'm glad I inspired you.

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I also love Nice, and can tell you that in our flat in Vieux Nice we have a gas boiler that heats the water and the radiators in winter. In summer it is really hot even with the shutters, but you aren't allowed air conditioning units that give onto the street, you can have one if you have a balcony overlooking the airshaft. Many do as that is where the toilets are. I thought having an outside toilet in a flat was strange but a couple of Nicoise we met said it was quite normal. I will find out during the vacances what the place is like at Carnival time. I think our 15yo Grandson will even manage to put his computer away for a few hours. I can't wait, I need a city fix.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    Outside toilets sounds prehistoric! Thanks for adding your insight Kris and I hpe your grandson enjoys carnival. I have a 15 y.o and he loves it!

  • Guest
    Globalmouse Thursday, 22 January 2015

    Wow I love that they still have a cannon going off every day, that's brilliant! It's been a long time since I was last in Nice but I'd like to return.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 26 January 2015

    It's changed a lot over the last 8 years - all for the better - with more green spaces, parks and pedestrian areas for one thing. You should come back!

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