The Tour de France Finish in Nice!

Poster for Tour de France finish in Nice 2024

For the first time ever: The Tour de France will Finish in Nice!

Due to the impending Olympic Games, for the first time in the history of the Tour de France, instead of finishing on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, this year it will finish… on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice across from the Old Town!

  • Friday-Sunday, July 19-21 – Come visit the free Fan Park just off Place Massena with lots of animations, demos, workshops, displays… and swag!
  • Saturday July 20 – The action happens at the Nice Port from noon on, for the second-to-last-day festivities leading up to the dramatic shotgun start at 1:35pm as they head up to the mountains.
  • Saturday night July 20 – Party on the eve of the Tour de France finish with a DJ concert in the Fan Park with Ofenbach at 9:15pm, followed by a giant fireworks/drone show with 1500 drones at 10:30pm on the Prom!
  • Sunday July 21 – The final day of the Tour de France starts in Monaco with individual time trials: each rider will climb La Turbie and then the Col d’Eze, then zoom down into Nice to finish on the Nice Promenade des Anglais in less than 45 minutes!  The first rider is expected to hit the finish line on the Prom at around 3:15pm and the last around 7:30pm, as the tension mounts…
  • Sunday evening – The Tour de France Awards Ceremony will be held at Place Massena at 7:45pm, right after the last finisher.  Wow!
Posted in Fun Stuff to Do | Leave a comment

Two Major Hotel Openings that are Quite a Surprise

Anti hotel banners in Old NiceIn medieval times, ancient Convent of the Visitation in Old Nice was an austere abode for pious nuns.  The nuns are long gone and the convent has been boarded up for decades, but nevertheless the locals fought tooth-and-nail to stop its transformation into a lavish 5-star hotel, fearing the introduction of an ostentatious luxury resort would forever alter the feel of the vieille ville.

After years of delays, The luxury 5-star Hotel du Couvent just opened, and what a surprise!  The sprawling complex is so understated and discrete that the entry is practically hidden!  The 88-room hotel is as remarkable for its fidelity to the history and architecture, as much as for its resistance to the typical trappings of many luxury hotels.

It feels like a convent, a spiritual place, an oasis, like a meditation, as if you discovered a secret garden where you instantly feel the history in your bones.

Guest room at Hotel du Couvent NiceIt’s rare to find a hotel with such a sense-of-place: the guestrooms are sober yet elegant, the spa evokes Roman baths, the terraced gardens beg to be strolled, the restaurants serve on antique linens and vintage glassware …and they grow their own herbs, just like the nuns used to do.

With its lack of sea-view and bells-and-whistles, this one-of-a-kind hotel will not be to everyone’s taste, which is what makes its restraint so laudable.  What an impressive addition to Old Nice!

But if bells-and-whistles are more your thing, another major hotel just opened in the Nice Port this month that basically is the polar opposite of Hotel du Couvent…

The reception area for Mama Shelter hotel in NiceMama Shelter Riquier!  Fun and affordable, playful and eccentric, and employing lots of state-of-the-art tech, this cutting-edge 4-star hotel is kind of a whirlwind.  With a décor that riffs wildly on Matisse, its 102 rooms are kitschy, irreverent and innovative, to the point of being over-stimulating.  It’s as if the hotel threw art, humor and cartoons into the cocktail blender to create a big, bold sensory experience that you won’t soon forget.

In fact, after a stay here, you’ll probably need a few days at Hotel du Couvent!

See related pages:  

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Two Major Hotel Openings that are Quite a Surprise

Nice’s Weekend Winery Bus: The Bellet Shuttle

Grenache grapes on the viteIt’s a conundrum: you want to visit Nice’s Bellet wine region, tour the picturesque wineries and taste lots of wine, but the vineyards are spread out in the backcountry, necessitating a car, and driving the windy roads isn’t exactly compatible with the tasting, sampling, and savoring that is the whole point of the trip…

Nice Weekend Wine Bus to the rescue!

Every Saturday in June and September, and Fridays and Saturdays in July and August, catch the Vignobles de Bellet Navette Wine Shuttle which runs a continuous 80-minute circuit, starting from just across from the Magnan tram stop in Nice.

The Chateau Bellet chapel as seen from the vineyardsAfter a scenic 20-minute bus ride up to the hilly vineyards, the first stop is maybe the most famous, Chateau Bellet (pictured).

An hour and 20 minutes later the shuttle passes again, taking you to the Pylones stop, for access to two wineries, Domaine de la Source and Domaine de Vinceline (but both of these are also walkable from Chateau Bellet).

When the shuttle passes again, it’s for a 15-minute drive to the other side of Bellet, to the Tennis de Cremat stop for the Collet de Bovis winery, then a short hop (or both walkable) to the spectacular Chateau de Cremat and then Clos Saint-Vincent from the Raiola stop, which is where the shuttle picks you up (hopefully not from off the floor…!) for the 30-minute drive back into town, and drops you off right where you started, across from the Magnan tram stop.

The cost to take the wine shuttle is just the price of a regular bus/tram ticket (1.70€) but since you need to validate a voyage each time you board, it makes the most sense to just get the bus/tram day pass for 7€.

Here’s all the info in English and timetable…  Pace yourself!

Timetable for Nice Bellet Wine Shuttle circuit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See related page: Best Wine Bars in and around Old Nice

Photo credits: Une grappe de Grenache by Magnetto and Chapelle by Chateau de Bellet, both licensed under Creative Commons

Posted in Fun Stuff to Do | Tagged | Comments Off on Nice’s Weekend Winery Bus: The Bellet Shuttle

Death of Artist Ben: Nice in Shock

Front page of the Nice-Matin announcing the death of Ben VautierUpdate:  The city held a huge memorial with the two caskets right in the middle of the Promenade du Paillon gardens (!) backed by a big screen with photos and memories.  Over 1400 people showed up to pay their respects, including a who’s who of the local art world.  Following the public tribute, a private ceremony was held before the cremation.

Few artists incarnate the absurdity and optimism of life as Ben, a true original that painted with his words.  A world-renown wordsmith with an unmistakable French grammar school scrawl, it was in Nice that he made his home, and where he left his biggest mark.

Ben’s pithy French sayings are posted at every tram stop in Nice, not to mention popping up in unexpected places like on wine bottles (La Jaja de Jou), restaurants (Bar des Oiseaux), hotel rooms (Windsor Art Hotel ‘Ben’ room, #65), and even crowning a public toilet (“I piss, therefore I am” just below the Opera tram stop).

He was instrumental in the birth of the modern art movement which defines Nice (L’Ecole de Nice), and his whimsical work is featured not only in museums, but he printed his platitudes on almost anything to create an ironic pairing, and his ramblings soon started showing up in trendy French-leaning boutiques world wide, and of course online.

Late last Monday night, Annie Vautier, Ben’s wife of 60 years and inseparable companion, suffered a massive stroke and died shortly thereafter Wednesday morning at 3am.  A few hours later, unable and unwilling to live without her, Ben wrote his final act, taking his own life at his home in Nice, to join his beloved Annie in eternity.  Ben Vautier was 88.

Read more here from The Guardian

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Death of Artist Ben: Nice in Shock

80 years ago today: the US Dropped Bombs on Nice!

B-24 bomberIn the spring of 1944, the situation in Nice was dire.  Nice was not only under German occupation, but after the townspeople frequently foiled the Gestapo’s efforts to ferret out hiding Jews, the SS had recently sent a new commandant, the brutal and sadistic Alois Brunner, who was now ruling Nice with an iron hand, and submitting the town to daily horrors.

Imagine the buildings along the Promenade painted in camouflage and the empty beaches lined with bunkers and bales of barbed wire.  Armaments built on top of the Chateau hill were ready to fire upon Old Nice at a moment’s notice.  The Hotel Excelsior on Ave Duranty near the train station was being used as Nazi torture headquarters, and by that point over 3000 Jews had been packed into freight trains in Nice and sent to their deaths.

At the same time, the Allies had started a bombing campaign targeting strategic military sites in occupied France, including supply depots and train lines sending supplies to the North, and had already bombed Toulon and Saint-Laurent-du-Var.

The morning of May 26, 1944, it was Nice’s turn.  Around 10am there was an ominous buzzing in the air, then over the next 20 minutes 4 waves of American B-24 bombers dropped their payload on the neighborhood of Saint Roch, just behind the Nice Port.

Map of Saint Roch neighborhood in NiceThere were 29 bombers in all, each carrying 5-6 tons of explosives.  The targets were a Saint Roch warehouse stocking metal (from the Jette de la Casino?) and the Saint Roch train station which sent the supplies to the North.  But the bombs were dropped from such a high altitude, especially with the resulting smoke, that precision was not possible and the bombs fell everywhere…

The catastrophic result:  an entire quarter destroyed: 384 people killed, 480 injured, and 600 buildings damaged or completely destroyed.

See related pages: 

Posted in Social Unrest | Comments Off on 80 years ago today: the US Dropped Bombs on Nice!