Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera, France

A unique example of a historic urban landscape shaped by the international influences of its winter visitors

By UNESCO World Heritage

View of Nice from the western hills (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Nice, located on the Mediterranean, at the foot of the Alps, near the Italian border, in the Provence–Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, reflects the development of a city devoted to winter tourism, making the most of its mild climate and its coastal situation, between sea and mountains.

View from Castle Hill (Terrasse Nietzsche) (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

From the mid-18th century, the site attracted growing numbers of aristocratic and upper-class families, mainly British, who developed the habit of spending their winters there.

Promenade des Anglais (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

In 1824, the British community built a coastal path that would later become the “Promenade des Anglais”.

Place île de Beauté (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

In 1832, Nice, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, set up the “Consiglio d’Ornato” which drew up a city planning scheme and architectural requirements designed to make the city attractive to foreigners. 

Gare Ville de Nice (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

After the city was ceded to France in 1860, and thanks to its connection to the European rail network, an increasing number of winter visitors from all countries flocked to the city. 

Promenade du Paillon (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

This led to successive phases of development of new districts beyond the medieval old town.

Waterfall of the park of the Castle hill (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Some of the current vegetation dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. The landscape is scenic, with numerous squares and parks, both private and public, containing exotic and unusual plant life.

Château de l'Anglais (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Robert Smith, retired from the British army in India, built his castle in Nice around 1856. It is known as the Château de l’Anglais.

Château de Valrose (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

The diverse cultural influences of the winter visitors and the desire to make the most of the weather conditions and the coastal landscape have shaped the urban development and eclectic architectural styles of these districts, contributing to Nice’s reputation as a cosmopolitan winter resort.

Palais Tony Pin (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Apartment buildings, designed for the seasonal visitor, were often referred to as "Palaces" and were the most widespread form of accommodation. Nice's heritage is characterised by this particular type of accomodation, which is present in very large numbers and is found rarely, or in limited quantities only, in other holiday resorts, where villas dominate.

Opéra of Nice, interior (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

The number and quality of entertainment venues also shape the image of the city centre and the coastline, as shown by the Nice Opera.

Villa des Arènes, current Nice Matisse Museum (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

This mansion, the Villa des Arènes, was built amongst the Roman ruins and olive groves of Cimiez at the end of the 17th century by Jean-Jerôme Gubernatis, the president of the Senate and ambassador for the Dukes of Savoy. 

It was constructed in a typical Genoese style, with a richly-coloured façade adorned with trompe l’oeil decorations. 

In 1871, the villa became an English guest house, and, later, seasonal rental accommodation. In 1954, the painter Henri Matisse was buried right next to it. The city of Nice acquired the property and the villa became the Matisse Museum.

Villa Kotschoubey, current Fine Arts Museum (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Built in 1881, the Villa des Baumettes, with its impressive peristyle loggia, is inspired by the Italian Renaissance. Its initial sponsor was the wife of Prince Leon Kotschoubey, private advisor to Tsar Alexander II. 

Sold before its completion to an American couple, the Thomsons, it is now the Museum of Fine Arts.

Main lobby of the former hotel Excelsior Regina Palace (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Opened on the hill of Cimiez in 1897, the Excelsior Regina Palace is at the pinnacle of a vast estate of palaces and luxurious villas, which was designed in 1881. The palace was mainly dedicated to the winter stays of Queen Victoria and her entourage. 

The ground floor was reserved solely for reception areas, with six lounges, three dining rooms, restaurants and a room with a winter garden where parties were held. 

Divided into apartments in 1937, one of which was home to the painter Henri Matisse, the transformation of its original function, from palace to residence, has allowed the building to be perfectly preserved.

Promenade des Anglais, Hôtel Negresco (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

In 1913, when the emblematic Hôtel Negresco was inaugurated, Nice had a population of 145,000 and welcomed 150,000 visitors, including 20,000 who stayed for the entire winter, 600 of whom were Russian visitors with their own seasonal residences.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

The inscription is based on criterion (ii), as this historical urban landscape represents an important example of the merging of British, Italian, French, Russian and other cultural influences resulting in a diversity of architectural styles, designs and building decoration that express its cosmopolitan character as a winter climatic resort, particularly during the 19th century.

"La Rotonde" building (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Witnesses to early modernity in the 1930's, many constructions in the Art Deco style were added to the architectural heritage of the Belle Epoque.

Gloria Mansions, interiors (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

The Gloria Mansions was designed in 1932 to attract an exclusive clientele and was inspired by the American model of apart-hotels, at the forefront of modernity at the time. Both the decorative elements of the facades and the fixtures and fittings of the interior were treated with the greatest of care. 

As is traditional with the architecture that dominates in Nice, the entrance is monumental, with a lobby teeming with rich decor.

Example of an Art Deco entrance (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

The Pergola is a perfect synthesis of the decorative techniques of the time and illustrates the ornamental movement of Art Deco. The old, traditional techniques of fresco and sgraffito, which originally came from Italy, are blended with the more "modern" techniques of colored concrete and ceramics.

At the entrance, the multi-coloured ceramic mosaic design bearing the name of the building creates a landmark on the landscape, allowing the Pergola to stand out.

Former hotel Alhambra (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

The choice of an Eastern and, more precisely, Moorish style met the expectations of the cosmopolitan and wealthy winter visitors who came to the Riviera looking for a change of scenery tinged with exoticism. The Alhambra incorporates into its architecture this style of Moorish fantasy that is often found in seaside villas.

Aerial view of the city (2021) by Nice, Winter Resort Town of the RivieraUNESCO World Heritage

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by the Ville de Nice: patrimoinemondial.nice.fr/en

More on Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera and World Heritage: whc.unesco.org/en/list/1635

Photos: Ville de Nice

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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