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This was once the preferred strolling spot for British aristocrats, and today it is a fashionable meeting place for beach lovers and sports fans: in a century and a half the famous Promenade des Anglais hasn’t lost any of its appeal. Convertibles cruise along the streets lined with palm trees, and walkers enjoy the view of one of the most beautiful bays on the Côte d'Azur.
The residents of Nice lovingly refer to the Promenade des Anglais as ‘La Prom’. The 8-kilometre-long boulevard is a favourite destination for joggers, roller-bladers and cyclists. Pedestrians settle on the many benches under the white pergolas: a pleasant place to watch the large cruise ships that sail through the azure blue waters of Baie des Anges. Large signs display the names of the beach clubs, including the famous Beau Rivage (at the Beau Rivage Hotel) and trendy HI Beach.
The Russian aristocrats were the first to fall in love with Nice, but halfway through the 19th century many wealthy British also discovered the mild climate of the Riviera. They came to Nice in droves to escape the chilly English winters. In those days there was only an unpaved walking path along the beach, but to keep the beautiful dresses of the English ladies clean, the Promenade des Anglais was built in 1844. During the Belle Époque period, tourism expanded even more and luxury hotels and casinos arose along the boulevard.
In 1917, a French painter from the north named Henri Matisse settled in one of these hotels to recover from bronchitis. This would be the start of an important period in the work of this world-renowned artist, whose views of the Baie des Anges are depicted in numerous works. Many of his paintings are on display in the beautiful Musée Matisse on Cimiez Hill in Nice. Other famous painters, such as Marc Chagall and Raoul Dufy, have also been inspired by the mythical promenade of Nice.
Over time, most of the Belle Époque villas and hotels have been replaced by new buildings, but one historic luxury hotel remains the face of the promenade. With its white façade and pink dome, Le Negresco oozes old-fashioned charm. Its interior also evokes days of yore, and thanks to the flamboyant owner who ran the hotel for almost 60 years, this 5-star hotel boasts a huge collection of art and antique furniture. The decor features some Baroque touches, for example in the Brasserie La Rotonde, which is decorated with carousel horses.
The most beautiful view of the Promenade des Anglais and Baie des Anges is from the Parc de la Colline du Château. This park on a rock on the east side of the city can be reached via an old-fashioned elevator in Rue des Ponchettes in Vieux Nice. Located on the site of a former fortress, the viewpoint offers sweeping vistas of the entire coast and the harbour of Nice. The view is perhaps even more impressive at dusk, when the lights along the boulevard begin to twinkle – truly unforgettable.