Nice polishes up its handsome heritage

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Nice is back, gleaming anew amongst the old gold on the French Riviera. It used to be the last word in sophistication. Amd Nice is once more polishing up the Promenade des Anglais and the rest of its handsome heritage, and refreshing its image as a big, bold resort on the Med. Twitter - @NiceTourisme

A light intense

The Greeks named it ''Nike'' or Victory. By the time Queen Victoria brought her court on holiday, this was the hottest stop on the sparkling Côte d''Azur. Matisse settled in Nice for its 300 days of sunshine a year - ''a light intense.., yet soft and tender.'' Now, after years of partial eclipse by nearby Monaco and Cannes, Nice is reliving its champagne
days. Taittinger has restored the glorious Art Deco hotel Palais de
la Méditerranée, old haunt of Chaplin and Coco Chanel (try La Pingala
bar) on the palm-lined Promenade des Anglais.

Best art outside Paris?

For the best free show in town, wander past Italian-style palaces, ornate Belle Epoque villas and the onion domes of the St. Nicolas Cathedral, built by the last Czar of Russia. There are
umpteen cool garden squares where fountains play, parks, woodland walks
and ornamental lakes. Then lose yourself in the web of narrow streets of
the Old Town, to the potent scent of baskets of Provencal herbs. The flower market at cours Saleya runs Tuesday to Sunday. Nice has some of the best art outside Paris: the museum card gives three days entry to the best, led by the Matisse Museum, in a renovated 17th century Genoese villa, and the Marc Chagall Museum, with its biblically themed paintings,. The Fine Art Museum - Musée d''Art Moderne et d''Art Contemporain has a large permanent collection.

Class acts

There are class acts at the annual Nice Jazz Festival (8-12 July, 2011, Théâtre de Verdure and Albert 1er Garden) – with recent appearances by BB King and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. The programme includes Tribute to Miles Davis, Macy Gray and Wynton Marsalis.

The Festival Off - the free festival - spills out into public locations in the city. In 2011, Nice ''returns to the source of its jazz festival with a new configuration: more accessible, more open, more urban.''
The International
Academy of Summer Music ranges from Vivaldi to Mozart – late July to mid-August (00 33 493 81 0123). Venues are around the cool, elegant
parks on Cimiez hill. Get there with the go anywhere ticket.

Pop along the coast

Public transport is big in Nice. The ligne d’azur transport network offers a single rate for the whole of Nice côte d’azur. 1 journey: € 1 • 1 day pass*: € 4. If the beaches are too
busy, pop along the coast by train to Beaulieu, the Belle Epoque resort
just 20 minutes away. Or try the pleasant Italian border town Menton, or
Antibes, or the hill village of Eze. The ‘Carte Isabelle'' gives you hop and off rights on the line from beyond Cannes to the Italian border. Use it for an A-list day trip, to the perfume manufacturing town of Grasse. the French Riviera PASS entitles you throughout the period of validity (24hrs, 48hrs, 72hrs) to unlimited access to ''Nice Le Grand Tour'' , the panoramic double-decker bus, free access to museums and tourist sights in Greater Nice (Antibes Juan-les-Pins, Biot, Cagnes-sur-mer, Eze, Monaco, Nice)
The additions for this summer include the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschil and Villa Kerylos.
Also Included: Nice le Grand Tour, Marc Chagall national Museum, Russian Orthodox Church, Marineland.
For a scenic jaunt, sample the
‘Train des Merveilles’ from Nice to Tende, stopping for hikes or guided
walks in Mercantour Natural Park. The steam Train de Pignes runs one of the most scenic
lines in France.

The perfect Salade niçoise?

It’s Nice’s very own creation, so hear what one local writer says should
go into the perfect Salade niçoise, that big hearty dish with lashings
of summer attitude. Artichoke heart quarters, raw peppers, tomatoes,
black olives, anchovy fillets, olive oil and vinegar dressing, and
chopped ''fines herbes''. Lettuce and tuna? Definitely not.
Local cuisine is a fusion of Provençal and Italian. Specialities include pissaladière (a tart of onions, anchovies and olives), socca (chickpea flour
pancake), stockfissa (salt-cod stew) and boullabaise and provençal lamb stuffed with garlic and rosemary

Sharp chefs at work.

A crop of sharp young chefs are busy reworking Nice’s culinary staples. In the intimate little
Kei''s Passion one favourite is a tomato gazpacho, with
bright green basil-almond sorbet. Another
star of the Old Town, where Elton John is a regular, is La Petite
Maison. This showcase of local cuisine features zucchini blossom
fritters, fried lobster with cavatelli pasta, and monkfish with salt
bacon, white onions and garlic purée. Sweets include homemade ice cream
with pine nuts and candied orange blossoms. If
the queue out of the door is a guide to quality, try Restaurant du Gesu,
with local wine in a jug.
Jouni, another for the special occasion, feels like a 19th-century
farmhouse, with stone walls and wooden beams.

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