• Riviera Insider editorial

Nice listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site

After 10 years of their bid, Nice is granted Human Heritage status with UNESCO for the beautiful historic winter residences.

View of Nice in 2019. c. Ville de Nice

It's done. "Nice, the city of the riviera winter residence" is now inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The decision was taken this Wednesday morning at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Fuzhou, China. The challenge of an enrollment has been taken up. Nice had launched it nearly ten years ago in recognition of the quality and originality of its buildings and gardens, which were the result of the city's exceptional contribution to the history of winter tourism. (Photo DR: the famous Prom' with the Negresco seen from the blue of the Baie des Anges).

Nice in the footstep of Grasse

These two centuries of history and ten years of candidacy are finally coming to fruition. After the Grasse region, listed for its "perfume-related know-how", the Côte d'Azur is benefiting from a second Unesco World Heritage listing, while the Bay of Cannes also applied in 2015 for its Croisette and its two Lérins islands.

Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice and President of the Metropolis, also welcomed a "historic event, unique in our history by its size and impact. And he recalled what has been done to obtain this precious listing which distinguishes Nice for the quality of its landscapes, the protection of its most beautiful buildings, the promotion of its resort heritage and a certain ''art de vivre''. An important detail that Mayor Estrosi emphasised was that Nice was listed for its cultural heritage not for a monument, but for the city itself - it's beauty, its architecture and its history.

At a press conference in the Hotel de Ville on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Estrosi emphatically thanked the delegates and members who made the distinction possible, including: the World Heritage Committee, to its Chairman H.E. Mr Tian Xuejun and the representatives of the 21 Member States; to UNESCO as a whole and its Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay; Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, who, in January 2020, chose Nice's candidature to represent France; the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Ministers of Culture, Franck Riester and Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, who have kindly supported NIce's bid; and to Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former Minister of Culture and President of the Nice World Heritage Mission in 2014, who played a decisive role in the bid, together with Olivier-Henri Sambucchi, François Laquièze and Julie Reynes.

Nice, Eff d’Hey, Poster 1935, Nice, Musée Masséna

A long process to give Nice its "visage de beauté et de joie"

"Since 2008, we have worked tirelessly to bring back to life all that we had forgotten: the beauty of our facades, our buildings, our diverse places of worship, our gardens, our landscapes, our public spaces," emphasises Christian Estrosi. "We have knocked down the urban warts that were destroying this harmony."

"We have pacified traffic, restored the light and colours of our facades, replanted emblematic plants, revived and enacted urban planning rules in line with the tradition inherited from the heritage of Turin, in a word, restored Nice's appearance of beauty and joy. We have worked hard to inventory and protect more than 300 buildings under our Local Metropolitan Urban Plan, to restore dozens of buildings, villas and gardens in this amphitheatre of hills facing the Mediterranean, which is the exceptional value of the urban centre of Nice and its seafront, over 500 hectares.

Nice: a heritage that bears witness to the invention of the Riviera

With its inscription on the World Heritage List, the city of Nice brings to the attention of the universal heritage conscience an exceptional urban ensemble, born of the appearance and development of the riviera winter resort. The city is characterised by a number of attributes, the first of which is the use made of an exceptional site and its mild, sunny climate. The second attribute is the specific urban planning to which this use has given rise, as an extension of the historic core.

Slide through the photos of the historic villas in Nice, including La Pergola, Gloria Mansions, The Grand Hotel Massena, Manoir Belgrano and Villa Rachel. Photos: Ville de Nice

The third is the choice of abundant and varied vegetation to enhance the urban landscape and its exoticism. The fourth attribute is the architectural heritage linked to the functions of accommodation and tourism, a heritage marked by numerous stylistic influences resulting from the cosmopolitanism of the city. Finally, the last attribute is characterised by Nice's artistic and literary fortune, both as a place of creation and as a source of inspiration.

Next challenge: the bid for the European Capital of Culture 2028 label

A success that opens up a new challenge: Nice's application for the label of European Capital of Culture 2028.

The perimeter of the registration includes a good part of the seafront with the Promenade des Anglais, the Quai des États-Unis, the Ponchettes terrace (designed in the 18th century for the spectacle of the sea), Rauba-Capeù at the foot of the Château hill, the port. It includes Mount Boron, the hills of Cimiez and Baumettes, an amphitheatre facing the sea that is characteristic of Riviera towns. The perimeter also takes into account the vast urban space with a line delimited to the north by the railway and to the south by the sea, with some extensions such as that granted to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

-Jean-Pierre Largillet

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