Coastline, Beaches and Ports in Nice, French Riviera

The natural environment of the Nice area and its mild Mediterranean climate came to the attention of the English upper classes in the second half of the 18th century, when an increasing number of aristocratic families took to spending their winters there. The city’s main seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais (“Walkway of the English”) owes its name to visitors to the resort. The clear air and soft light have particularly appealed to notable painters, such as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Arman. Their work is commemorated in many of the city’s museums, including Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Nice consists of two large bays. Villefranche-sur-Mer sits on an enclosed bay, while the main expanse of the city lies between the old port city and the Aeroport de Côte d’Azur, across a gently curving bay. The city rises from the flat beach into gentle rising hills, then is bounded by surrounding mountains that represent the Southern and nearly the Western extent of the Ligurian Alps range.

The natural vegetation of Nice is typical for a Mediterranean landscape, with a heavy representation of broadleaf evergreen shrubs. Trees tend to be scattered but form dense forests in some areas. Large native tree species include evergreens such as holm oak, stone pine and arbutus. Many introduced species grow in parks and gardens. Palms, eucalyptus and citrus fruits are among the trees which give Nice a subtropical appearance. But there are also species familiar to temperate areas around the world; examples include horse chestnut, linden and even Norway spruce.

Nice has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) with characteristics of a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csb), enjoying mild winters with moderate rainfall. It is one of the warmest Mediterranean climates for its latitude. Summers are warm to hot, dry, and sunny. Rainfall is rare in this season, and a typical July month only records one or two days with measurable rainfall. The temperature is typically above 26 °C (79 °F) but rarely above 32 °C (90 °F). The climate data is recorded from the airport, located just metres from the sea. Summer temperatures, therefore, are often higher in the city. The average maximum temperature in the warmest months of July and August is about 27 °C (81 °F). The highest recorded temperature was 37.7 °C (99.9 °F) on 1 August 2006. Autumn generally starts sunny in September and becomes more cloudy and rainy towards October, while temperatures usually remain above 20 °C (68 °F) until November where days start to cool down to around 17 °C (63 °F).

Winters are characterised by mild days (11 to 17 °C (52 to 63 °F)), cool nights (4 to 9 °C (39 to 48 °F)), and variable weather. Days can be either sunny and dry or damp and rainy. The average minimum temperature in January is around 5 °C (41 °F). Frost is unusual and snowfalls are rare. The most recent snowfall in Nice was on 26 February 2018. Nice also received a dusting of snow in 2005, 2009 and 2010. Spring starts cool and rainy in late March, and Nice becomes increasingly warm and sunny around June.

The coastal path
The coastal path extends from the port of Nice to the Cap de Nice. Five large signs were placed along this path to present the beauties of the seabed of Nice.

This trail is an opportunity to discover and preserve the marine heritage. Thanks to explanatory panels, we can apprehend the many species that evolve along our coast, the Posidonia which stabilize the beaches and prevent erosion or even observe the jellyfish.

From the airport to Villefranche-sur-Mer bay, the sea is at the heart of Nice. Famous for its “Promenade des Anglais”, Nice is truly THE city of France where diversified and protected marine areas are a few meters from the avenues. Such an asset deserves to be known, loved and preserved… Five large panels celebrate the beauties of the seabed of Nice. They were placed along the coastal path, located after the port of Nice, between the restaurant “La Réserve” and the Cap de Nice (see access map). Invitation to a walk in front of the great outdoors, but also invitation to discover all these riches that are at your fingertips… and with a simple mask.

There is the heritage of Nice, there is the stake of a development which must preserve these treasures. The protection of the marine environment in Nice involves a whole series of actions initiated over the past twenty years and extended in recent years:

Nice leads the French and Mediterranean metropolises for the protection of bathing water. 90%: an excellent efficiency in the treatment of wastewater discharged into the sea thanks to Haliotis, the treatment plant of the City of Nice,
Creation in 2000 of a new Environmental Laboratory on the Haliotis site, for continuous monitoring of water quality,
Environmental Charter (2001-2006): 114 actions which formalize the commitments of the City and the State in favor of the environment,
Bay contract currently under development, which unites the coastal municipalities of the Nice Côte d’Azur Agglomeration Community for management of the marine environment,
Regular cleaning of the beaches and water of the Baie des Anges

Discovering the sea in Nice means realizing that in a few meters of water, in the immediate vicinity of the shore, dozens of species live on rocks, in faults, in seagrass beds, on sand, etc. With a simple mask and a snorkel, the most mobile of these species (fish, cuttlefish, octopus) are easy to observe. Learn to recognize them: algae, sponges, sea anemones, sea urchins and starfish, jellyfish and many more.

The zone of small rocky bottoms, which is located after the port between the restaurants “La Réserve” and “Coco Beach”, is ideal for introducing children to the seabed of the Mediterranean. The “Discover” panel presents ten species that it will be easy to show to a child. But be careful, do not touch or take anything and do not turn the stones. It is a fragile world which has its own rules, protect it from a human impact.

Posidonia (Posidonia oceanica), flowering plants, cover large areas of the coastal seabed from 2 to 30 m deep, forming real underwater forests. Under their long leaves, fish and invertebrates find their food, a safe place for reproduction and for the rearing of young or a refuge from predators.

The Posidonia protect our beaches against erosion: with their roots they stabilize the bottoms and when the leaves die and fall, as in the majority of higher plants, they form a protective layer by depositing on the beaches. Due to its major ecological role, this species is protected by law. Other protected marine species can be observed in Nice: the Brown Grouper has been protected from spearfishing since 1995; the great mother-of-pearl, the great sea cicada and the ferruginous limpet are also protected because their stocks are threatened.

Thousands of scuba divers (between 15,000 and 20,000 according to recent estimates) come each year to explore the underwater cliffs that start at the foot of the Cap de Nice. Magnificent gorgonians in bright colors deploy their fans in the current to capture the plankton on which they feed. This show leaves an unforgettable memory and has been immortalized by many photographers.

The underwater rocky areas attract and concentrate fish and large crustaceans (lobsters, cicadas, sometimes lobsters). Nearby, the fishermen of Nice set their nets to catch sar, sea bream and scorpion fish. In recent years the inshore fishing fleet has decreased considerably (from 35 boats in 1982, to 6 boats in 2000), and the maritime area of Nice is used more and more for leisure: diving, boating, fishing boating, swimming, walking, etc.

New uses are reflected in new demands: respect for landscapes and the environment, protection of fragile areas, information to the public about this sometimes little-known heritage, information on actions underway to enhance and preserve these natural environments.

The open sea is the appeal of the great outdoors, the taste for freedom, the open and limitless world… Leaning against the rocks of the Cap de Nice or lying in the sun, it is the ideal place to get away from everyday life.

Associations take children and tourists to see these impressive visitors, a few Offshore often, but sometimes near the beaches, it is easy to spot beautiful jellyfish and gelatinous plankton with extraordinary shapes. Some, translucent and bristling with fine tentacles, resemble galactic vessels.

Others, like small barrels, pulsate the water through their bodies in a rhythmic movement that spreads throughout the colony. You have to go early in the morning to see these strange creatures, when the sea is calm and the boats are not too numerous. But beware, most of these species can cause painful bites and you should not swim in their midst without protection (coveralls, gloves, mask, etc.).

The beaches
Discover all the information concerning the beaches of the city of Nice, the Blue Flag eco-label, beach cleaning and associated projects.

Along the Promenade des Anglais there are many public beaches but also 15 private beaches:

Bamboo beach
Beau Rivage Beach
Blue Beach
Castel beach
Florida Beach
Galion Beach
Hi Beach
Lido beach
Miami Beach
Neptune beach
Beach opera
Régence plage by Radisson Blu
Ruhl beach
Sporting beach
Beach sailboat

The Promenade des Anglais
As early as the 19th century, the English made the Baie des Anges their favorite winter resort offering their name to the most famous promenade in the world, on the initiative of the Reverend Lewis Way. It gives Nice its cosmopolitan and aesthetic identity between sea and palm trees.

Nice’s relationship with the sea has long been purely utilitarian and often full of fear. The utility lies in fishing, not very productive because of the depth of the bottom and in the trade, welcomed from the origins in the 18th century in the cove of Ponchettes, devoid of fixed port facilities. As for the fear, in addition to the violence and the suddenness of the storms in the Mediterranean, it also rests a lot on the omnipresence of the corsairs, whether they are Christian (Genoese, Provençal, Monegasque or Catalan) or Barbarian.

This fear generated from the 14th century the construction of a wall along the coastal part of the city (that is to say the current Old Nice), pierced with a single door, the Marine Gate. The 18th century saw the combination of several facts that suddenly opened the city to the sea: the destruction of the walls by the army of Louis XIV in 1706, the transfer of commercial activities to the new Lympia port from 1751, the arrival of first British winter visitors in the 1760s, the construction of the Terraces in the 1770s and the opening of their walk on the roof changed the relationship between Nice and the sea. This change made it possible to create a coastal promenade entirely and originally dedicated to leisure, the first in the history of the world, the Promenade des Anglais.

Modest beginnings
In 1513, the Duke of Savoy Charles III conceded to the municipality of Nice the vacant lots located between the Route de France (current rue de France and Avenue de la Californie) and the sea. create additional roads but more effectively ensure the exploitation of the shore by the inhabitants. From the middle of the 18th century, Nice was adopted as a winter resort by wealthy Englishmen. Absent during the Revolution and the Napoleonic period, they find their way back to our town with the restoration of the Maison de Savoie (1814). Most settle in houses located along the route de France, between Magnan and Paillon, or in the Buffa district colloquially known as “Newborough” or “Little London”. But the British complain about not having a walk along the seaside, an innovative practice which combined admiration of the landscape and the search for beneficial medical effects. It is necessary to make a long detour by the Pont-Vieux, the only possibility of crossing the Paillon, to go to the Terraces which dominate the sea, along the Cours Saleya which was since the XVIIth century the center of worldly life.

In 1822, the misery is great because of bad weather generating bad harvests and the Anglican pastor Lewis Way launches a subscription near his compatriots in order to help the inhabitants without work by making them level a pavement of two meters wide, from Paillon to the current rue Meyerbeer. In 1824, the work was completed. If public acts call it “Strada del littorale”, the population designates the new roadway as the Camin dei Inglés or Chemin des Anglais. In 1837, the sandy land granted to the city in 1513 was divided into thirty-three lots and sold to individuals. In 1844, Count Jules Caravadossi d’Aspremont being the city’s first consul, that is to say mayor, the municipal council gave the new route the official name of “promenade des Anglais”, extended it to Baumettes and orders the planting of trees and flowering shrubs. In 1856, the Promenade arrived in Magnan. It is eight meters wide but no sidewalks and it is so dusty that Alphonse Karr writes: “at the edge of a Mediterranean sea, we walk in an ocean of dust”. But the movement is launched. The new route, dedicated to the only idle walk,

New town planning
The new form of this route, which is not intended to lead from one point to another but only to contemplate, motionless or at a slow pace of the walk, the sea horizon, generates the creation of a new urbanism ” panoramic “and seaside made of constructions oriented towards the sea and exotic gardens. As for access and service, they are provided by the road to France, roads in the classic sense of the term. The first buildings to date are, from the end of the 18th century, imposing villas in the middle of vast gardens, of which only two remain. The Furtado-Heine villa called “Officers” was built in 1787, so long before the opening of the Promenade, by an Englishwoman, Lady Penelope Rivers. During the Empire she welcomed Pauline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon and Marie-Louise, former queen of Etruria. In 1895, Madame Furtado-Heine offered it to the French army to receive convalescent soldiers.

The other still existing villa was built by his daughter and son-in-law, Prince d’Essling, a descendant of Marshal Masséna. It is the last large villa built on the Promenade in 1900 by the architect Tersling. It replaced the one built in the mid-19th century for the Diesbach family in the troubadour style, where Tsarevich Nicolas had stayed before settling in the Bermond villa and dying there (1865). In 1919, the sponsor’s son and heir almost gave it to the city of Nice on condition of making it a museum and opening the gardens to the public. The Masséna museum has since been devoted to the history of Nice. Among the other villas now destroyed, let us quote the villa of Orestis, built in 1845, who welcomed the Dowager Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. It then belonged to Prince Stirbey, a former Wallachian hospodar. His son hosted the great sculptor Carpeaux in one of the pavilions.

Queen Isabella of Spain stayed there in 1882, just before its destruction to open the Boulevard Gambetta. At the corner of the current rue Andrioli, let us mention the Villa Avigdor, built in 1786, along the route de France. Alexandra Feodorovna, the king and queen of Wurtemberg, the king of Bavaria, Marie Baschkirtseff lived there during the 19th century. Finally, let us recall the Lyons villas, three buildings in a large park, which also receive large aristocratic families. Louis I of Bavaria died there in 1868. As for the first hotels, they were built in the neo-classical style then in vogue:

A confirmed innovation
In 1863, the road was widened by two meters, the Promenade was increased by a causeway by twelve meters and a sidewalk by three meters. Thirty gas burners light it up. In 1864, a bridge, the Napoleon bridge and then the Angel bridge spans the mouth of the Paillon and connects it to the Quai du Midi (currently Quay in the United States). The Promenade becomes the center of worldly life. In winter, the preferred time of the Season, at the end of the morning or the afternoon, there is an incessant coming and going of riders, prams, coupés, victorias. We walk, umbrella in hand, between the oleander hedges. In 1867, the first casino in Nice was inaugurated there, which the Cercle de la Méditerranée, the most elegant in the city, replaced between 1872 and 1884. So, the Savoy hotel, which was demolished and built in 1951, was built on its site by the current Savoy-Palace building. In 1880, the Westminster Hotel replaced two villas.

We then witness an architectural mutation at the end of which the initial neo-classicism is replaced by all the variants of an eclecticism then in vogue. A monument that has remained in Nice’s collective memory for its metallic architecture, its construction on a pontoon, the eclectic forms of its architecture, the richness and diversity of its musical programming, the Casino de la Jetée-Promenade was opened in 1891. In 1906, the Promenade des Anglais reaches the racecourse on the banks of the Var. It is the time of palaces with the construction of the Royal Hotel (1905) and the Ruhl Hotel (1913) by Charles Dalmas, of the Negresco Hotel (1913) by Edouard-Jean Niermans.

A modern walk
Closed the terrible wound of the war of 1914-1918, the promenade des Anglais regains its elegant animation. From the 1920s, with its new seaside leisure and dynamic water sports, the Summer season gradually replaced the Winter season and the American Franck Jay Gould financed a new casino: the Palais de la Méditerranée, considered one of the masterpieces of the Art Deco style (architects: Charles and Marcel Dalmas), opened on January 10, 1929. The new mayor of Nice, Jean Médecin, decided to give the Promenade a new dimension. In 1931-1932, the lane reserved for cars was doubled (ten meters each), a flower bed of five meters separated them, new urban furniture was created and installed (light fountains, candelabras). The sidewalk alongside hotels and villas is three meters wide and the one overlooking the beach is increased to sixteen meters. The new developments (limited at the beginning to Boulevard Gambetta) were inaugurated on January 29, 1931 by one of the Queen’s sons

Victoria, the Duke of Connaught and the Duchess of Vendôme, sister of the King of the Belgians. Many villas begin to be destroyed to be replaced by apartment buildings often of undeniable architectural quality where an Art Deco style is seductive under the signature of the architects Dikansky, Sorg or Guillot: La Couronne (1927), La Mascotte (1930), Le Forum (1932), Solemar (1934), Palais Mecatti (1937), a movement which will continue and intensify after 1945 with Les Loggias (1947), Le Capitole (1948-1959) or the palace from the Orient (1960). The destruction of the Pier-Promenade in 1944

The main port of Nice is also known as Lympia port. This name comes from the Lympia spring which fed a small lake in a marshy zone where work on the port was started in 1745. Today this is the principal harbour installation of Nice – there is also a small port in the Carras district. The port is the first port cement manufacturer in France, linked to the treatment plants of the rollers of the valley of Paillon. Fishing activities remain but the number of professional fishermen is now less than 10. Nice, being the point of continental France nearest to Corsica, has ferry connections with the island developed with the arrival of NGV (navires à grande vitesse) or high-speed craft. The connections are provided by Corsica Ferries – Sardinia Ferries. Located in front of the port, the Place Cassini has been renamed Place of Corsica.

Port lympia
The Lympia harbor is the name given to the port of Nice. This name comes from the source Lympia that fed a small lake in a marshy area where the work of the port. start in the middle of the 18th century. Today it is the main port facility in Nice. There is also a small port in the Carras district.

The port of Nice is divided into two parts. Commercial port at the entrance and marina at the bottom. It is the leading cement port in France in conjunction with the pebble processing plants in the Paillon valley. The supply of Corsica cement is provided by bulk cargo ships to Bastia where a bagging plant is installed to supply the island. The basin at the bottom serves as a mooring place for sharp and yachts. A small fishing activity remains, but the number of professional fishermen is now less than ten.

Nice being the point of mainland France closest to Corsica, connections with the already very old island developed with the arrival of NGV or high speed ships. Two companies also operate with traditional vessels: SNCM, a partially public company and Corsica Ferries – Sardinia Ferries, a fully private company.

Located in front of the port, Place Cassini has been renamed Place de l’ Île de Beauté.

A mysterious 16-hour wave has been reported since 1992 at various points on the coast, but we cannot formally see the cause in the wake of the NGV.

The city of Nice sets up free handiplages during the summer (Centenary and Carras) allowing disabled people to enjoy the pleasures of the sea and thus swim safely.

As part of the integration policy for people with disabilities, the city of Nice makes every effort to facilitate the daily life of people with disabilities and to ensure that a disabled person is a person like any other who travels, works and enjoys his leisure time.

French Riviera
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean. Riviera is an Italian word that corresponds to the ancient Ligurian territory, wedged between the Var and Magra rivers.

The climate of the Côte d’Azur is temperate Mediterranean with mountain influences on the northern parts of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. It is characterized by dry summers and mild winters which help reduce the likelihood of freezing. The Côte d’Azur enjoys significant sunshine in mainland France for 300 days a year.

This coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it also played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon, Edith Wharton, Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans. After World War II, it became a popular tourist destination and convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.

The eastern part (maralpine) of the Côte d’Azur has been largely transformed by the concreting of the coast linked to the tourist development of foreigners from North Europe and the French,. The Var part is better preserved from urbanization with the exception of the agglomeration of Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël affected by the demographic growth of the maralpin coast and the agglomeration of Toulon which has been marked by urban sprawl on its part West and by a spread of industrial and commercial areas (Grand Var).