Nice, queen and capital of the French Riviera, a place legendary for the frolicking and youthful indiscretions of the jet set; number one destination for those in pursuit of sex sun and the sea, glittering parties, festivals and long, crazy and perfumed nights by the Mediterranean; Nice, with its castles, palaces and casinos
But beneath this enticing postcard is a city and region that deserves better than this clichéd image, often artificial and always diminishing of its true grandeur.
The inspiration for this website is to provide a venue through which you can discover the true nature and deep wealth of these places as well as the lavish creative activity of its inhabitants.
The long and richly complex history of Nice has produced a special identity that is very different from the opulent image of a playground for carefree frolicking. The image of the Riviera as the habitué of the rich and famous belies the fact that there are many treasures to be discovered beyond this superficial postcard image.
Nice is not, in its origins, a rich region. It is a mountainous territory with an area of 3000 square kilometers rimmed by a narrow coast often featured in views of the city. This coastal rim stretches from Nice to Monaco and for most of its history was characterized by poverty in stark contrast to its current opulence. A modest commerce plied the region from Marseille to Genova and between the Mediterranean and the Piemont. Its primary commodities were olive oil, wood and leather from the mountains. The chronic deficit of food resources led, ironically, to the “Cuisine Niçoise”. This unique cuisine was crafted from already meager resources and the remains of what would normally be considered leftovers and the residue of meals. What would have been discarded by most was raised, in the inimitable French way to high culinary art!
For much of its history Nice's value was primarily its strategic position for transport and as a guardian of the southern Alpine passages. In 1860 the Comte de Nice became a part of the nation of France and struggled for years with the process of integration. In 140 years the population increased form 44,000 to 370,000. In the intervening years she experienced a burgeoning tourism, invented modern horticulture and saw the proliferation of the castles and villas of millionaires and aristocrats on its verdant hillsides and its meandering streets and boulevards. These opulent residences, as well as opera houses, casinos and luxury hotels, built by the skilled hands of thousands of Italian artisans and craftsmen display a rich and varied architectural legacy. Yet in the midst of this cosmopolitan whirlwind beats the heart of Nice, modest and simple, which is embodied in the Nice patois known as, “nissart”. Many authors, such as Francis Gag (1900-1908) have preserved this idiom in a variety of literary works.
The birth around 1930 of mass tourism has contributed to the narrowing of the view of Nice to its sun-drenched pleasures. This has been to the detriment of its soul, at once Greek, Latin & Baroque; of the Mediterranean and mountains, of its people; poorer, rougher, more simple and loving than the popular image reveals.
The image prevalent today of Nice knows not of its rich yesterdays; leaves little room for appreciating the fineness of a complex and rich history and a dynamic and diverse culture. Behind the indolent palm trees, in the silent and tiny streets of Old Nice, the industrious neighborhoods of the harbor, the shaded pathways in the hills beats the heart and vibrates the soul of the men and women of this place. It is here, beyond the clichés that the true depth of this magnificent place is revealed. Welcome to our website !
And welcome to our home !