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Nice—the Newest World Heritage Site

Volume XIX, Issue 29

Smoke from twelve canons fired at noon in Nice on Tuesday, photo by Patty Sadauskas
Twelve canons fired at just past 2 p.m. on Tuesday, photo by Patty Sadauskas

Last week you didn’t hear from me because it was the one week a year I take as a real vacation. My daughter and I spent six days in Italy that you can read all about in Monday’s Nouvellettre®.

One of the things I learned very quickly by traveling in Italy is that while dining out is a treat everywhere in Italy you go, the quality of Italy’s infrastructure can’t compare with France’s. And, that owning a property in Italy would be a very different and seriously frustrating experience. After having explored Genoa, a very similar city in many respects to Nice, we came back to Nice with new appreciation, realizing its perfection as a city that offers so much more than so many others as a great place not only to visit, but to live.

View of Nice from Castle Hill

View of Nice from Castle Hill

And then we got the good news that Nice has been inscribed as one of 40 World Heritage sites by UNESCO (which include the banks of the river Seine in Paris, the Amiens cathedral, the Mont Saint Michel and stretches of the Loire valley)! We heard 12 canon shots at midday on Tuesday, not realizing at the time that they were fired in celebration of the inclusion of the city on the list as a “winter resort city of the Riviera.”

Thanks to a long an arduous process by Mayor Christian Estrosi, UNESCO recognized the outstanding universal value of the architectural, landscape and town planning heritage of Nice. In particular, of the vast urban complex of 522 hectares, an eminent example of the fusion of international cultural influences, shaped from the mid-18th century to the mid-20th century by the cosmopolitan winter resort that it is. According to the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, a site must justify an “Outstanding Universal Value.” It is a declaration which demonstrates that the property has outstanding cultural significance that transcends national borders and is equally invaluable to current and future generations of all of humanity. To justify this Outstanding Universal Value, the Nice dossier relied on criterion among the 10 selection criteria set by UNESCO.

Nice recognized by UNESCO

The Nice city website explains that Nice is an eminent example of the fusion of international cultural influences. The characteristic attributes of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are essentially the buildings, through the variety of architectural styles and decorations, but also specific uses and functions: hotels, villas, pleasure buildings, opera houses, casinos and places of entertainment, and the cults of foreign communities. The landscaping associated with this period (walks, parks, belvederes and panoramas, acclimatization of exotic species, etc.) as well as the perspectives that create a permanent visual link between the city and its geographical setting (sea and mountain) complete an urban ensemble, an archetype of the Riviera resort.

Colorful pastels of buildings in Nice France

Nice Old Town

For now, there is a responsibility this award places on the city of Nice. A local committee must be set up to protect the site and report back to UNESCO, including justifying development projects within the zone’s parameters. This new classification should increase tourism, but too much can adversely affect the city, as well.

The areas of Nice protected as a World Heritage Site include:

• Avenue Jean Medecin east to boulevard Carabacel
• Baumettes
• Carré d’Or
• Castle Hill
• Cimiez
• Mont Boron
• Ponchette terraces
• Port Lympia
• Promenade des Anglais
• Quai des Etats-Unis and Rauba Capeu
• Quartier des Musiciens
• Russian Orthodox Cathedral

The protected area encompasses 500 hectares including a UNESCO-authorized buffer zone.

Map of the World Heritage Site zones in Nice

World Heritage Site zones in Nice

And here’s what UNESCO has to say about it!:

Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera

    • The Mediterranean city Nice, near the Italian border, bears witness to the evolution of the winter climatic resort due to the city’s mild climate and seaside location at the foot of the Alps. From the middle of the 18th-century, Nice attracted an increasing number of aristocratic and upper-class families, mainly British, who took to spending their winters there. In 1832, Nice, then part of the Kingdom of Savoy-Piedmont-Sardinia, adopted a regulatory urban plan aiming to make it attractive to foreigners. Shortly thereafter, the Camin dei Inglesi, a modest 2-meter wide path along the sea shore, was expanded to become a prestigious promenade, known as the Promenade des Anglais after the city was ceded to France in 1860. Over the next century, an increasing number of winter residents from other countries, notably Russia, flocked to the city driving successive phases of development of new areas next to the old medieval town. The diverse cultural influences of the winter residents and the desire to make the most of the climatic conditions and scenery of the place, shaped the urban planning and eclectic architectural styles of those areas, contributing to the city’s renown as a cosmopolitan winter resort.
Photo of The Cours Saleya from Above, Photo by Patty Sadauskas

The Cours Saleya

What I might object to is the constant referral to Nice as a “winter resort.” It’s so much more than that. Ask any of its residents. We all love Nice for its beauty, its moderate climate, its cuisine, its lifestyle, but what makes it particularly more attractive is its infrastructure…transportation that makes it very easy and simple to travel all over the city, the region and the world thanks to its international airport.

A real Salade Niçoise

A real Salade Niçoise

We have many, many clients who have romantic ideas about living in the enclaves adjacent to Nice, such as Cannes, Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer or Menton…and one can certainly dream about such ideas, but these towns will never offer the advantages that living in the heart of Nice offers.

View down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

The Promenade des Anglais

No, I was not at all surprised that UNESCO feels the same way as I do about Nice! You will, too.

A bientôt

Adrian Leeds on the beach in NiceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. If you are considering a property purchase in Nice, don’t do it lightly. Let us help you make the smartest decisions to ensure you make the best investment you can. We can also expertly advise you how best to create a profitable rental. Contact us to learn more.



  1. Marylouise Sillman on July 29, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    38 years ago, as a new Bride from Ct
    My Romantic Husband flew me to Nice for our Honeymoon! During these past years I have returned often finding Nice has kept its beauty and charm. I live in Paris, year round, finding the TGV take me to Nice
    during any season of the year!

  2. Laura Pigg on July 30, 2021 at 2:36 am

    Nice is super nice. I was so surprised at the affordability of the rentals.

    Ah, someday! Laura Pigg

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