Online Encyclopedia Search Tool

Your Online Encyclopedia


Online Encylopedia and Dictionary Research Site

Online Encyclopedia Free Search Online Encyclopedia Search    Online Encyclopedia Browse    welcome to our free dictionary for your research of every kind

Online Encyclopedia


This article is about the city. For other Nice articles, see Nice (disambiguation).

Nice (SAMPA and IPA pronunciation: [ni:s] as in "niece"; Italian Nizza, Provençal Niça or Nissa) is a city in Southern France located on the Mediterranean coast, between Cannes and Monaco. It is the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Alpes-Maritimes département.

The city is a major tourist centre and a leading resort on the French Riviera - Côte d'Azur. The population of the city of Nice at the 1999 census was 342,738. Population of the metropolitan area (in French: aire urbaine) at the 1999 census was 933,080.


Nice (Nicaea) was founded about two thousand years ago by the Greeks of Marseille, and received the name of Nikaïa in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike being the goddess of victory). It soon became one of the busiest trading stations on the Ligurian coast; but as a city it had an important rival in the town of Cemenelum , which continued to exist till the time of the Lombard invasions, and has left its ruins at Cimiez, which is now a quater of Nice.

In the 7th century Nice joined the Genoese league formed by the towns of Liguria. In 729 it repulsed the Saracens; but in 859 and 880 they pillaged and burned it, and for the most of the 10th century remained masters of the surrounding country.

During the middle ages Nice had its share in the wars and disasters of Italy. As an ally of Pisa it was the enemy of Genoa, and both the king of France and the emperor endeavoured to subjugate it; but in spite of all it maintained its municipal liberties. In the course of the 13th and 14th centuries it fell more than once into the hands of the counts of Provence; and at length in 1388 the commune placed itself under the protection of the counts of Savoy.

Benedictine Abbey of St Pons, founded 778, rebuilt in the 11th century: A Romanesque abbey with a Baroque belltower
Benedictine Abbey of St Pons, founded 778, rebuilt in the 11th century: A Romanesque abbey with a Baroque belltower

The maritime strength of Nice now rapidly increased till it was able to cope with the Barbary pirates; the fortifications were largely extended and the roads to the city improved. During the struggle between Francis I and Charles V great damage was caused by the passage of the armies invading Provence; pestilence and famine raged in the city for several years. It was in Nice that the two monarchs in 1538 concluded, through the mediation of Pope Paul III, a truce of ten years.

In 1543 Nice was attacked by the united forces of Francis I and Barbarossa; and, though the inhabitants, repulsed the assault which succeeded the terrible bombardment, they were ultimately compelled to surrender, and Barbarossa was allowed to pillage the city and to carry off 2,500 captives. Pestilence appeared again in 1550 and 1580.

In 1600 Nice was taken by the duke of Guise. By opening the ports of the countship to all nations, and proclaiming full freedom of trade, Charles Emmanuel in 1626 gave a great stimulus to the commerce of the city, whose noble families took part in its mercantile enterprises. Captured by Catinat in 1691, Nice was restored to Savoy in 1696; but it was again besieged by the French in 1705, and in the following year its citadel and ramparts were demolished.

The treaty of Utrecht in 1713 once more gave the city back to Savoy; and in the peaceful years which followed the "new town" was built. From 1744 till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) the French and Spaniards were again in possession. In 1775 the king of Sardinia destroyed all that remained of the ancient liberties of the commune. Conquered in 1792 by the armies of the French Republic, the county of Nice continued to be part of France till 1814; but after that date it reverted to Sardinia.

By a treaty concluded in 1860 between the Sardinian king and Napoleon III it was again transferred to France, and the cession was ratified by over 25,000 electors out of a total of 30,700.

In the second half of the 20th century, Nice bore the influence of mayor Jean Médecin (mayor from 1947 to 1965) and his son Jacques (mayor from 1966 to 1990). As the accusations of political corruption grew, Jacques Médecin fled France in 1990 and was arrested in Uruguay in 1993, leading to his extradition in 1994. He was then convicted of several counts of corruption and associated crimes and sentenced to prison.

Jacques Peyrat , the mayor of Nice since 1995, is a member of the UMP party and former member of the Front National.

In 2003, local head prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier alleged that some judicial cases involving local personalities had been suspiciously derailed by the local judiciary, which he suspected of having unhealthy contacts, through Masonic lodges, with the very people that they are supposed to prosecute or judge. A controversial official report stated that de Montgolfier had made unwarranted accusations.


The city is served by Côte d'Azur International Airport.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has multimedia related to Nice .

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

Last updated: 02-08-2005 05:03:52
Last updated: 02-20-2005 07:07:52