Nice is a city in southern France located on the Mediterranean coast,
between Marseille, France, and Genoa, Italy, with 1,197,751 inhabitants in the
metropolitan area at the 2007 estimate.
The city is a major tourist centre and a leading resort on the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur).
It is the historical capital city of the County of Nice.
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The capital of the Riviera
and fifth largest city in France, NICE scarcely deserves
its glittering reputation. Living off inflated property values
and fat business accounts, its ruling class has hardly evolved
from the eighteenth-century Russian and English aristocrats who
first built their mansions here; today it's the rentiers and
retired people of various nationalities whose dividends and pensions
give the city its startlingly high ratio of per capita income
to economic activity.
Their votes ensured the
monopoly of municipal power held for decades by the right-wing
dynasty, whose corruption was finally exposed in 1990 when mayor
Jacques Médecin fled to Uruguay. He was finally extradited
and jailed. Despite the disappearance of 400 million francs of
taxpayers' money, public opinion remained in his favour. From
his Grenoble prison cell, Médecin, who had twinned Nice
Town during the
height of South
regime, backed the former Front National member and close friend
of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Jacques Peyrat, in the 1995 local elections.
Peyrat won with ease.
Politics apart, Nice has
other reasons to qualify it as one of the more dubious destinations
on the Riviera: it's a pickpocket's paradise; the traffic is
a nightmare; miniature poodles appear to be mandatory; phones
are always vandalized; and the beach isn't even sand. And yet
Nice still manages to be delightful. The sun and the sea and
the laid-back, affable Niçois are fine. The medieval rabbit
warren of the old town, the Italianate facades of modern Nice
and the rich, exuberant, fin-de-siècle residences that
made the city one of Europe's most fashionable winter retreats
have all survived intact. It has also retained mementos from
its ancient past, when the Romans ruled the region from here,
and earlier still, when the Greeks founded the city. In addition,
its bus and train connections make Nice by far the best base
for visiting the rest of the Riviera.
It doesn't take long to
get a feel for the layout of Nice. Shadowed by mountains that
curve down to the Mediterranean east of its port, it still breaks
up more or less into old and new. Vieux Nice , the old town,
groups about the hill of Le Château , its limits signalled
by boulevard Jean-Jaurès , built along the course of the
River Paillon. Along the seafront, the celebrated promenade des
Anglais runs a cool 5km until forced to curve inland by the sea-projecting
runways of the airport. The central square, place Masséna
, is at the bottom of the modern city's main street, avenue Jean-Médecin
, while off to the north is the exclusive hillside suburb of
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