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Cruising through
Colourful Nice


Thursday, August 12, 2004
Style in the sun!
David heads to France’s seaside village to not on bask in the sun, but to cruise the boulevard in style!

Nice is the unofficial capital of the French Riviera and makes a great base for exploring the rest of the Côte d'Azur. While the area does attract the rich and famous, there is also relatively inexpensive accommodation and it's a short train or bus ride to Monaco, Cannes and other places of interest. It has easy access to the rural villages of Provence and is only 30km from the Italian border.

Nice is very popular with young travellers and is a place of lots of action, day and night. It was founded in 350BC by Greek seafarers who had settled Marseille. The Romans arrived in 154BC and settled around Cimiez. There are a number of Roman ruins there.

By the 10th century, it was ruled by the counts of Provence, but in 1388 the town refused to recognise Louis of Anjou, the new count, and turned to Amadeus VII of the House of Savoy.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Nice was temporarily occupied several times by the French, but did not become part of France until 1860, when Napoleon III struck a deal with the House of Savoy. Its climate guaranteed its popularity with British and European royalty and nobility during the Victorian era. Its light attracted Renoir, Matisse, Chagall and Picasso. The Côte d'Azur has around 25 museums and 500 exhibitions of modern art.

Nice stretches along the Baie des Anges, where the Alps and Paillon River meet the sea, and is protected by wooded hills and the Estérel and Mercantour Mountains to the north.

The port and the old town, which sits on a hill known as Le Château, are in the south-east of the city, a wonderful quarter for sightseeing, restaurants and nightlife. It is a potpourri of winding streets, squares and architecture, ranging from Genoese and Provençal to medieval and baroque. The north-east is a wealthy residential neighbourhood with some outstanding museums. The modern city stretches north and west of the central square, Place Masséna, behind the Promenade des Anglais, which follows the crescent-shaped shoreline.

A sensational way to explore Nice is on a Segway tour. The Segway is a self-balancing, personal transportation device that has been designed to operate in any pedestrian environment. It goes anywhere people go. A guide accompanies a maximum of seven tourists.

The new avant-garde 38-room Hi Hotel is outrageous and fun. Designed by Mathali Crasset, a student of Philippe Starck, the white building on a residential street is certainly innovative. He called on other designers to create bathrobes, soaps and china for the hotel.

It is a lather of purple-tinted glass, raspberry, pistachio, vanilla and chartreuse, with the bar as the hotel's focal point. It has been built around a suspended hot-air-balloon-style basket.

The 38 rooms are a combination of nine concepts. Some are white-on-white, others are a mix of fuchsia, sherbet green wood and pink and internal doors which create a sitting area during the day and sleeping area at night. Light is cleverly filtered and comfort is all-round.

The self-service eating area is open 24 hours a day. Meals come in small rubber-sealed jars, prepared by chef Alain Llorca.

Thirty kilometres north-east of Nice in Provence is Saint-Paul-De-Vence, France's most beautiful medieval village, with 1536 ramparts intact. Built as a border fortification, it was in decline in the 1920s until it became popular with painters, writers and film-makers. Since then the town has become a foundation for modern art, with works by Chagall, Miró, Bonnard, Kandinsky, Léger, Matisse and others.

Wealthy Parisian gallery owners Aimé and Marguerite Maeght designed and decorated their beautiful villa in the 1950s with the aim of creating a contemporary art institution, a daring move in those times. Today it constitutes one of the most important collections of twentieth century art in Europe.

La Colombe d'Or has for decades been Saint-Paul's most celebrated restaurant, famous for its art collection. Diners sit surrounded by the works of Miró, Picasso, Klees, Dufy, Utrillo and Calder. There are 26 guest rooms scattered amongst three areas: the original 16th-century stone house, a more recent wing stretching into the garden adjacent to the pool and the most modern annex, built in the 1950s and upgraded several times.


The French Riviera


Nice Segway tours cost around $80 per person. They run from March to November.
Hi Hotel rooms start at around $310 a night.
Colombe D'or rooms start at around $455 a night.
Qantas flies daily to London, with British Airways codeshare to Nice, starting at $2130 from Perth, $2192 from Melbourne, $2207 from Sydney, $2230 Adelaide and $2236 from Brisbane and Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.

More information

City Segway Tours
16 rue de la Buffa
06000 Nice France
P/F: 33 01 56 58 10 54

Hôtel Hi
3, Avenue des Fleurs
06000 Nice France
Ph: 33 04 97 07 26 26
Fax: 33 06 22 01 65 18

La Colombe d'Or Restaurant & Hotel
Place des Ormeaux
06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence France

Ph: 33 4 93 32 80 02
Fax: 33 4 93 32 77 78

Fondation Maeght
Montée des Trious
06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence France
Ph: 33 04 93 32 53 22
Fax: 33 04 93 32 53 22

Riviera Tourism

Nice Tourism

French Tourist Bureau
25 Bligh Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9231 5244

Qantas: 13 13 13

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