Nice: a river runs through it

Nice: a river runs through it

Many towns have grown up around rivers which have later been covered in (Liverpool and London included). Beneath the city streets, waterways continue on their ancient courses in underground culverts. Nice was once such place, where the Paillon, a river fed by mountain streams that flood each year with the melting of the snows, for much of the 19th century divided old Nice from new, poor from rich, servant from master.  Then,  in 1883, the Paillon was culverted, paved over, and became an unknown presence.

But last October, in a dramatic beautification of the city landscape, a new, linear park – the Promenade de Paillon – opened following a major urban renewal project that restores, at least metaphorically, the Paillon to its original place in the heart of the city.   Continue reading “Nice: a river runs through it”

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Walking in Nietzsche’s footsteps

Walking in Nietzsche’s footsteps

The last time we were in Nice – last September – a summer-long celebration of Matisse was just drawing to a close, so we spent a lot of time in galleries.  This time was different: armed with John and Pat Underwood’s sublimely-titled Walk and Eat around Nice we spent a good part of our stay taking advantage of the excellent public transport system, travelling out of the city to experience some of the Underwood’s recommended walks.

The first walk we embarked on began at the hilltop town of La Turbie, followed the north side of the Grande Corniche crest with superb views of the snow-clad Mercantour mountains before crossing the shoulder and heading for the medieval hilltop town of Eze. From there we dropped down to the sea, following an old mule track known as the Nietzsche Trail.  There were magnificent coastal views and a profusion of springtime wild flowers. Continue reading “Walking in Nietzsche’s footsteps”

Another fine salade Nicoise

Another fine salade Nicoise

When we last visited Nice – on the occasion, last September, of my 65th birthday – I posted a celebration of the city under the title A new state pensioner’s salade Nicoise.  We’re just back from another few days in Nice, so here’s another mixture of flavours and colours that recall our short break.  There are strong opinions as to what should or should not go into a Salade Nicoise – residents of Nice are horrified at the English tendency to add potatoes, and tinned tuna or anchovies are (surprisingly) acceptable, but both together are not. Furthermore, they don’t use French beans as we tend to: a classic Salade Nicoise should be made with fresh fava beans.

Which is merely a preamble to this eclectic selection of memories of the four days we spent in Nice.  We had found an apartment at the top of the Old Town (the very top, in fact: our building was actually located just inside the wall of the Château gardens. From the balcony we had stunning views across the rooftops of the Old Town, and across the bay to the airport. Continue reading “Another fine salade Nicoise”

Matisse: his last resting place and resurrection

Matisse: his last resting place and resurrection

Back in Nice again, we headed up to Cimiez to wander in the tranquil gardens of the monastery and, of course, revisit the Matisse Museum.  First, though, there was something I wanted to see that I had overlooked on previous visits: the artist’s last resting place. Continue reading “Matisse: his last resting place and resurrection”

Before the Ice: the first inhabitants of Nice

Before the Ice: the first inhabitants of Nice

If comprehending the span of time in thousands or tens of thousands of years is hard, how much more difficult is it to imagine human existence that spans hundreds of thousands of years?  Writing yesterday’s post about Steven Mithen’s book After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 – 5,000 BC reminded me of a chance discovery we made during our trip to Nice last September.

We had climbed to the top of Castle Hill in the warm morning sunshine and stood for a moment, looking out across the port where a flotilla of sailboats were heading out of the harbour on the last day of the Nice regatta.  We noticed an information board that told a little of the history of the site and suggested a visit to the Terra Amata Museum of Prehistory, situated in the port below. Continue reading “Before the Ice: the first inhabitants of Nice”

The Chagall Museum in Nice: a dream of all humanity

The Chagall Museum in Nice: a dream of all humanity

The Chagall The Matisse Museum isn’t the only space dedicated to a great artist on the leafy hill of Cimiez overlooking the city of Nice.  In 1973 the Chagall Museum was inaugurated, funded by the French state and designed partly by the artist himself.  It now hosts the biggest collection of Chagall’s work anywhere in the world.  We made our second visit to the gallery during our recent trip to Nice.

We arrived as the museum celebrates its 40th Anniversary with a special exhibition of Chagall’s self-portraits called Chagall in Front of the Mirror with over 100 paintings and drawings assembled to explore how his self portraits reflected Chagall’s personal life and struggles, and the times he lived through. Continue reading “The Chagall Museum in Nice: a dream of all humanity”

A summer of Matisse: the colour of music

A summer of Matisse: the colour of music

Music and colour may appear to have nothing in common, but they follow parallel paths.  Seven notes, with slight modifications, suffice to write any score.  Why is it not the same for the visual arts?
– Matisse

Our recent short break in Nice coincided with the final days of a city-wide tribute to Matisse – Un Ete Pour Matisse – that consisted of eight exhibitions celebrating his work and legacy presented in museums across the city.  I wrote in my last post about two of the three shows we managed to see; this post is about the third – Matisse: The Music at Work at the Matisse Museum (which was also celebrating its 50th anniversary). Continue reading “A summer of Matisse: the colour of music”