Saturday May 12, 2018 was a day for exploring the old town or Vielle Ville of the lovely city of Nice, France. and a bright sunny day it was. I made my first visit to Nice in about 1982 or so and I have visited many times before, including in May 2017 with my daughter Ann but somehow I missed learning about the fascinating old town and what a terrible omission, to miss this wonderful part of the city. The omission is particularly strange in view of my deep interest in history and the fact that the origins of the city lie in and around the old town. The origin of the city dates to 350 BC when Greeks from Marseille named the location after Nike, the Greek Goddess of victory to celebrate a victory in battle over the neighboring Ligurians. The city changed hands many times and for centuries was ruled by the Dukes of Savoy, then was part of France from 1792 to 1815 when it became a part of Piedmont-Sardinia and finally it again became a part of France in 1860. Nice is the 5th largest city in France and it’s international airport is the 3rd busiest in France after the two Paris airports.
Many of the buildings still standing in the old town date from the middle of the 17th century and remain with cryptic clues to their origins. My tour of old Nice was conducted by the engaging Nathalie Gaglio whom I would highly recommend for her superb knowledge of the region and her obvious passion for her profession as a tour guide in Nice. Our walking tour began at the Hotel Beau Rivage and proceeded directly down Rue Saint-Francois de Paule where we very quickly approached the old town. Among the many interesting, entertaining and historical sights we visited included the Opera House designed by Garnier who also designed the Paris Opera House, the Palais de Justice, the wonderful Museum of Photography, the Cathedral of St. Reparate, the Town Hall, the Flower market on Cours Saleya as well as the produce and fish market, the Jesuit Church and the marvelous Lascaris Palace. We sampled the local favorite called Socca, made from baked chick pea dough-delicious!! Perhaps the highlight of our visit was the Lascaris Palace, dating from the mid-17th century, it was for centuries the home of the powerful noble Vintimille-Lascaris family who bought up other houses on the street so that they could be the “lords” of the block so to speak. The multilevel palace is famous for it’s fantastic frescoes, it’s amazing stairways and it’s luxurious salons including the beautiful bedroom and now the palace is home to the city’s collection of ancient musical instruments including unique miniature string instruments, a large collection of harps and many wind instruments as well as an early harpsichord. It is rather interesting to contemplate what living in such a house in the 17th century might have been like. Perhaps not as comfortable as a house today, lacking as it was running water, central heating, air conditioning and flush toilets and electricity all conveniences that we take for granted today, so perhaps for all it’s luxury and nobility, we might be more comfortable in a middle class home today. Of the more than 200 photos I took during our tour of Old Nice, I have selected just a few to illustrate that amazing place. I will have more photos of Nice and my other visits in Italy and Southern France available at Aroundtheglobephotography.com very soon. I suggest you take a look. You may find something that you would like to have printed for your home or office!!