Region: Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
France's second most popular tourist destination after Paris, Nice is renowned for its balmy climate and spectacular setting between the Mediterranean coast and the mountains to the north. Located just 30km away from the Italian border, the city has changed hands several times down the years and was last annexed by France in 1860, though it retains a strong Italian architectural legacy.
A destination of choice for foreign, and especially English, visitors since the late 18th century, Nice has also served as inspiration to many world-renowned painters, including Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall, both of whom have museums dedicated to their work in the city. A commitment to the arts remains a priority, and Nice also boasts an opera house, a national theatre and a celebrated conservatory.
Nice was first settled by the Greeks in the fifth century BC. The village soon became a busy trading post and they called it Nikaïa (after Nike, the Greek goddess of victory). The Romans later constructed the city of Cemenelum (Cimiez) at the site which came under the administrative control of Rome in 211. As a result of its location close to the border with Italy, Nice changed hands on several occasions.
The city belonged successively to Provence, Savoy, Piedmont and finally France. The last change happened in 24 January 1859, when a secret treaty was agreed between the King of Sardinia and France which resulted in Nice being annexed to the French Empire. The Sardinian and French parliaments approved the treaty of annexation in June 1860 and Nice became the administrative centre of the new French department of Alpes Maritimes.
• Catherine Ségurane, folk heroine (1506 to end of 16th century): said to have played a vital role resisting French and Turkish invaders in the siege of 1543
• Giuseppe Garibaldi, general, politician and Italian patriot (1807–82): considered one of the fathers of the modern Italian state
• Henri Matisse, artist (1869–1954): French painter, designer and sculptor, a leading proponent of fauvism
• Max Gallo, novelist, historian and politician (1932–): expert on Napoleon and a member of the French Academy since 31 May 2007
• Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, writer (1940–): awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008, the first French success in 23 years
THINGS TO SEE
• Château de Nice: The most impressive vista of Nice is from the Château de Nice, the climb to which affords many beautiful views over the city. The ruined chateau stands in beautiful gardens, and the hill on which it is sited ranked second in a survey of the favourite parks of the French people, behind the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris but ahead of Lyon's Parc de la Tête-d'or.
• Old town: The old town of Nice offers a stunning display of local cuisine, including the traditional dishes of Pissaladière, Pan Bagna, Socca as well as other specialties. This lively area is busy day and night, with its narrow streets crowded with restaurants, bars and cafes.
• Promenade des Anglais: A stroll along the Promenade des Anglais is the ideal complement to a hearty meal in the old town. Perhaps the quickest way of crossing the city from east to west, from the port to the airport, is the dedicated cycle route, popular with both joggers and cyclists.
• Albert I garden: A green oasis in the centre of the city, which takes pride of place in the new 'green corridor' that dissects Nice.
• Museums: Nice is home to many museums and galleries. The Matisse Museum, housed in a 17th century Genoese villa; the Musée des Beaux-Arts; The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, located near Place Garibaldi. The Terra-Amata Museum of Archaeology has a fascinating collection of relics. A recent addition is the National Sport Museum that has opened as part of the facilities at the new Stade de Nice.
• Avenue Jean-Médecin: The city's main shopping street, access to this north-south commercial thoroughfare is made easy by three tram stops at Gare Thiers, Jean-Médecin and Masséna.
Nice airport, the gateway to the Cote d'Azur, is the second busiest in France after Paris in terms of traffic. The airport is constructed on reclaimed coastal land and handles over ten million passengers a year.
High-speed and express trains (TGV and Corail) connect the Cote d'Azur to the rest of France and major European cities. The TGV Méditerranée completes the journey from Paris to Nice in 5 hours 30 minutes, arriving at the station situated in the heart of the city. Nice has three railway stations, from west to east: Saint-Agustin, Nice Ville and Riquier.
The port, overlooked by Château de Nice, is France's second busiest destination for cruise ships, with 467,000 passengers visiting each year. Ferries also connect Nice to Corsica.
Distances to other UEFA EURO 2016 venues
Marseille – 215km
Lyon – 480km
Saint-Etienne – 500km
Toulouse – 570km
Bordeaux – 810km
Paris – 945km
Saint-Denis – 955km
Lens – 1150km
Lille – 1170km
Distances between city centres, by motorway where possible
Source: mappy – viamichelin
Distance of Stade de Nice to...
City centre: 12km
Nice's single tram line (a second is scheduled to come into service in 2017) runs from the city centre to the northern suburbs. Public transport in the city is run by Lignes d'Azur, offering an extensive network of bus routes over the whole urban area. A variety of ticket types is available. You can also get around by means of the Vélo-Bleu bike hire scheme or by renting Auto-Bleue electric vehicles.
Gymnaste Club de Nice were founded on 9 July 1904. A year later the club were divided into two parts and a football section set up. The footballers played their first match on 29 November 1905, thrashing Stade Niçois 6-0, and on 22 December 1924, GCN became Olympique Gymnaste Club de Nice.
Nice took part in France's first professional championship in 1932. After the Second World War the club joined Division 2 for 1945/46. As champions, Nice quickly returned to the elite and embarked on a golden age. The team won their first league championship in 1950/51 on goal difference from LOSC Lille. They retained the title in 1952 (the first time this had been achieved), completing the double by beating FC Girondins de Bordeaux 5-3 in the French Cup final.
Nice lifted the cup again two years later with a 2-1 victory over Olympique de Marseille. A third championship in 1956 was followed by the side's first appearance in the European Champion Clubs' Cup. A fourth league crown came in 1959, with 18 wins from 19 home matches at the Stade du Ray, as well as a 3-2 success over Real Madrid CF in their European Cup quarter-final first leg.
Nice fell into decline in the 1960s and, despite a flamboyant playing style and a sprinkling of international stars, the 1970s were barren in terms of trophies. In the 1980s Nice focused on developing players through their academy. But the Eaglets were relegated to Division 2 and languished there for three years.
The 1990s were a decade of extremes – a period in administration, a Division 2 title, winning the French Cup in 1997 and a five-season stint in Division 2 until 2002. After coming close to another spell in administration, Nice regained their elite status in 2002 and have been a Ligue 1 team ever since.
• Vic Nurenberg (1930–): Nice's record goalscorer with 111 goals in 302 appearances
• Dominique Baratelli (1947–): a goalkeeper who came through the youth systems at Stade Niçois and Cavigal de Nice, Baratelli won 21 caps for France
• Nenad Bjeković (1947–): considered one of the best strikers to play for the club, he scored 85 goals in just over four seasons
• Robby Langers (1960–): Luxembourg forward who hit four goals in the second leg of the 1989 relegation play-off against RC Strasbourg as Nice overturned a 3-1 loss with a 6-0 win
• Hugo Lloris (1987–): a superb talent who emerged from the Nice youth ranks, Lloris is France's first-choice goalkeeper and current captain
Did you know?
Nice were the first French team to beat Real Madrid: 3-2 in the first leg of their 1959/60 European Cup quarter-final.
The Nice Lawn Tennis Club organises the ATP 250 Nice Open tournament which features the best French players as well as many talented individuals from around the world. The Acropolis Exhibition Centre in Nice hosted the final of the Davis Cup between France and Australia in 1999.
The Olympique Nice Natation swimming club produced several French medalists at the last Olympic Games, including Yannick Agnel and Camille Muffat. Nice's women's handball team competes at the highest level and Nice also has several second-tier sides playing ice hockey, volleyball and basketball.
City of Nice website: www.nice.fr
Nice airport: en.nice.aeroport.fr
Nice tourist information office: en.nicetourisme.com
Nice public transport: www.lignesdazur.com/index.asp
Local, regional and international news: www.nicematin.com
Nice Cote d'Azur municipality: www.nicecotedazur.org
Information on attractions and activities in Nice: www.nicerendezvous.com
OGC Nice official website: www.ogcnice.com/fr