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Follow my Promenade du Paillon tour and you’ll come to the “Church of the Vow” or, more properly the Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste-Le Voeu at the end of the Coulée Verte park. So what was this famous vow?

Like so many Nice churches, Eglise Le Voeu was built in response to a cholera epidemic. It was the early 1830s and the disease was sweeping the region wreaking devastation in its wake. In six months there were 100,000 deaths in France. On April 15, 1832 the city council, in a special session, made a solemn vow (voeu): if Nice was spared the epidemic, the city would place itself under the protection of the Virgin and build a new church. Also, the city would organize a ceremony each year to renew its commitment to the Virgin.

Nice escaped the epidemic without a single death. Was it the Virgin or the strict quarantine that separated Nice from the lands west of the Var river? Locals were sure it was the Virgin and planning for the new church began a few years later. It was finished in 1852 and every year since then the city of Nice organises a ceremony around the renewal of the vow.

This Sunday, May 29, 2022 from 9:15 a.m., Christian Estrosi will renew the Vœu de Nice, The ceremony that follows is a great opportunity to sample Nice’s local culture.

Here’s the program:

9:15 a.m. Gathering at Place Saint-François 

9:50 a.m. Renewal of the Vow by Christian Estrosi on Place Saint-François 

10.15 a.m. Procession to the Eglise Le Voeu

10.30 a.m. Mass in the Eglise Le Voeu presided over by Jean-Philippe Nault, Bishop of Nice

12.30 p.m. Friendship drink and then a folklore performance by La Ciamada Nissarda

The Municipal Guard Band will provide the music. I don’t know who the Municipal Guard is or why they have a band but I’ve heard them play and they’re good!

 

Interior of the Palais de Marbre, Nice
Interior of the Palais de Marbre, Nice. Courtesy of Nice Tourist Office

The Villa Les Palmiers (aka Palais de Marbre) is the jewel of West Nice. Ernest Gambart, an English art dealer, built a vast mansion on an 18th-century estate to house his extensive art collection. 27 boats sailed from Carrara, Italy laden with marble for the statues, columns, balustrades, walls and floors. It soon became the center of Nice’s social life when Gambart welcomed his famous friends. Argentinian meat-baron Edouard Soulas later renovated the interior in a neoclassical Louis XV style replete with chinoiserie, paneling, inlaid wood and gilt. He also laid out the English-style garden.

Readers of Nice Uncovered know that the vast garden is open to the public and well-worth a visit. The interior contains Nice’s Municipal Archives and is usually only open to researchers and on special occasions.

This spring however, the interior will be open for free guided visits (in French). It’s an unparalleled opportunity to experience the art and design prevalent in 19th-century Nice.

The visits are from 10-11.30am every other Friday morning through June. The next visit is Friday 25 March. You must reserve in advance:

     tel 04 93 86 77 44  
    email: archives@ville-nice.fr

 

As you move around Nice for the next few years, you’ll be seeing a lot of construction. What’s going on? A lot. A major expansion to the west is intended to revitalize the entire area between Nice Airport and the Plaine du Var with parks, gardens and cultural centers. Central Nice will lose the massive TNN structure which, controversially, will be destroyed and replaced with parkland. Nice’s current administration is determined to reduce cars and pollution in central Nice. To that end there will be new transport lines to the north, east and west and plenty of greenery to keep the air fresh.

To put it in historical perspective, Nice’s mayors and governing officials have always sought to put their imprint on Nice’s urban landscape. Some projects have worked out well such as the expansion of Nice from its old town core to the Quartier des Musiciens and Cimiez. Some have been less welcomed such as the destruction of mansions and parkland in West Nice. This mayor has a vision of a much greener and cleaner Nice that extends from the Var river to the northeastern limits of the city where people can rely on modern public transport. 

For an overview of all the changes along with maps and models, stop by the Maison des Grands Projets facing the water mirror in the Promenade du Paillon.

Here are the major developments:

PARKS

Extension of the Promenade du Paillon

Future Promenade du Paillon
Future Promenade du Paillon
Inaugurated in 2013, the  Promenade du Paillon or “coulée verte” will be extended by 8 hectares right to the current Palais des Expositions. The TNN (Théatre National de Nice)? Gone! Moved to the new theatre in the renovated Franciscan church on Place Saint François (see below).  This green space will host 1500 trees which will provide shade and store 50 tons of CO2 per year. MAMAC and the Louis Nucéra Library will be restored and made accessible from the new garden.
 
When? End of 2025
 

Redevelopment of the Place Ile de Beauté

Future Ile de la Beauté
Future Ile de la Beauté
The Port district has undergone  profound changes in recent years, especially after the opening of tramway line 2 in 2019. The architectural highlight of the Port is the Eglise Notre Dame du Port, dating from 1840. The new plan is that the church will preside over 1150m² of park that will extend to neighboring streets which will be pedestrianized.
 
When? 2025
 

Plaine du Var Landscaped Park

Future Plaine du Var park
Future Plaine du Var park
Another park? Yes! This 30-hectare landscaped park is part of the redevelopment of West Nice. Extending from the Charles Ehrmann stadium to the Allianz Riviera, the meadows, groves and trees will be watered by a canal and crisscrossed by walking paths. There are also plans for a kiddie playground and educational center. It will be a welcome replacement for the tire stores and auto repair shops currently occupying the space.
 
When? End of 2025.
 

CULTURAL SPACES

Théatre des Franciscans

Future Franciscan theatre
Future Franciscan theatre

The rehabilitation of the Franciscan church on Place Saint François has been going on for some time. In excavating the 13th-century church, archaeologists discovered columns, caves and even the remains of an early 20th-century cinema. It should be a beautiful venue for the new Théatre National de Nice. The 300-seat theater will be modernized technically and acoustically and made more accessible. The stage will be fully modular with various tiers and configurations that can adapt to each production.

When? March 2022
And? The first production, Le Sourire de Darwin with Isabella Rossellini will be on April 26.
 

La Cuisine

The future La Cuisine theatre
The future La Cuisine theatre
This 600-seat hall next to the Nikaïa will be used to continue the city’s cultural life while the Palais des Expositions is turned into the Palais des Arts et de la culture. It’s easily reachable from the terminus of tramway line 2.
 
When? April 2022
And? The first performance will be Bérénice with Carole Bouquet on May 20.
 

Parc des Expositions

Future Parc des Expositions
Future Parc des Expositions
Anyone who ventures to the Grand Arénas neighborhood sees a buzzing hive of construction work. Conveniently located near Nice Airport, this new and larger convention center will replace the former Palais des Expositions. Major conventions and events will find a home here.
 
When? 2027
 

TRANSPORT

Cable Car linking Nice and Saint Laurent du Var

Future Funicular
Future cable car

This cable car is intended to relieve traffic congestion by providing a convenient link between Nice and Saint Laurent du Var. Why not just extend tramway line 2? That would involve creating a new bridge over the Var river. This cable car will link the Cadam tram stop on line 2 with the Saint Laurent town hall in less than three minutes. And, it will run every four minutes.

When? 2025
 

Tramway Line 5

Future tramway line 5
Future tramway line 5

The underserved municipalities of Drap, Ariane, Bon Voyage and La Trinité will finally get their tram line, making their commute much quicker. The new line will serve an area of 50,000 inhabitants, contain 16 stations and extend 7.6 km. 

When? 2026 for the first part to Ariane Nord, 2027 for the second part to La Trinité and 2028 before it reaches the Palace of Art and Culture (now the Palais des Expositions) in Nice.

Tramway Line 4

Future Tram 4
Future tramway line 4
In the ongoing struggle against traffic and pollution, tramway line 4 will connect Nice with Cagnes-sur-Mer and Saint Laurent du Var. The tram will begin at the Nice Saint Augustin/Grand Arénas district and run to Cagnes city center with stops at the airport, the city center of Saint Laurent du Var, Cap 3000 and then go on to the racetrack in Cagnes-sur-Mer.

When? early 2026.

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