History of Nice

History of Nice as part of France does not begin until 1860 when the Turin Treaty between Napoleon III and the Duke of Savoy and king of Sardinia ceded Savoy and the county of Nice to France. However, Nice France history stretches much further back than that, and facts about Nice include human settlement as far back as 40,000 years ago. It became a city of Classical Greece when it was settled by the Greeks of another city in what is now France, Massilia (Marseille) in about 350 BC. Later, a rival Roman city was established in Cemenelum, which is now the district of Cimiez and part of the city of Nice. Here, you can explore ancient Roman ruins, including baths and an amphitheater. Other attractions here are a Franciscan Monastery and several museums, including the Nice Archaeology Museum and the Matisse Museum.

The more modern history of Nice begins in the seventh century, when the city joined the Genoese (now Genoa) League of Italy and later the House of Savoy (also of Italy). It remained part of Savoy, the world's longest reigning royal family until 1860 and the Treaty of Turin. The medieval facts about Nice are concentrated around the Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) that towers above the city's seafront.

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Chateau du Colline was occupied by Louis XIV of France, who destroyed the castle between 1706 and 1713. For the next 150 years, Nice France history is marked by struggles between France and the House of Savoy. During this time (around 1730), the English aristocracy "discovered" the delightful Mediterranean climate of the area. They were followed by the aristocracy of Russia and then other Europeans. The history of Nice changed again as tourism began to develop and the wealthy of Europe came to spend winters during their Grand Tours of the continent. The gracious seaside boulevard called the Promenade des Anglais was developed during this period. Today, this celebrated promenade is lined with the stately mansions and elegant Belle Epoque hotels. Today, some of these are the best luxury hotels and finest bed and breakfasts in the city, including the lovely Hotel Negresco, opened in 1913.

During World War II, Nice France history is dominated by the French Vichy government, as Nice was the center of the so-called Free Zone ruled by the Vichy who openly collaborated with the Italian and German occupiers. As a consequence, the city was also a center of the French Resistance. This is where Allied forces landed to begin the liberation of France from the south, finally meeting the forces that landed on the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944 in Paris.

One of the most important facts about Nice concerns its location on the Mediterranean. For centuries, it rivaled Genoa in importance as a strategic port. Today, it is one of the main ports of call for large passenger ships on Mediterranean cruises. It is also a major ferry port, and it is possible to end your visit to France by hopping on a ferry and continuing your vacations in Corsica or on the mainland of Italy.

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