Insight Guides: Explore Nice & the French Riviera (Insight Explore Guides) (2015)
HISTORY: KEY DATES
Long and turbulent, the history of the Riviera saw waves of successive rulers, and traces of their presence remain today. More recently, the area’s beauty, light and climate attracted artists and foreign nobility, as well as mass tourism.
FROM PREHISTORY TO THE ROMANS
400,000 BC Prehistoric elephant hunters camp out at Terra Amata.
5thC BC Phocaean Greeks from Marseille set up trading posts at Nikaia (Nice), Antipolis (Antibes) and Monoikos (Monaco).
2ndC BC The Romans colonise southern France.
1stC AD Cemenelum (Cimiez, Nice) becomes the capital of Roman province of Alpes Maritimae.
King François 1er and Emperor Charles V discuss the Treaty of Nice
DARK AND MIDDLE AGES
5th-7thC The barbarian invasions; Saracens establish strongholds at Èze, Ramatuelle and La Garde Freinet, but are expelled by 972.
1144 Nice becomes quasi-independent, ruled by elected consuls.
1246 Charles d’Anjou marries Béatrice de Provence and becomes Count of Provence, ruling over Anjou, Provence, Naples and Sicily.
1295 François Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, takes control of Monaco.
1388 Nice forms alliance with dukes of Savoy and declares separation from Provence under the Dédition of Nice.
1481 Cannes, Vence and the area west of the River Var (but not Nice or Monaco) become part of France. Conflicts arise between Savoy-controlled Nice and French-controlled Provence.
RENAISSANCE AND BAROQUE ERAS
1538 The Treaty of Nice is negotiated by Pope Paul III between François 1er and Emperor Charles V.
1543 The siege of Nice by French and Turkish armies.
16thC The Wars of Religion begin: the reformist bishop is thrown out of Vence; the Counter-Reformation Baroque style dominates in Nice.
1680-98 Antibes is fortified by Louis XIV’s military architect Vauban.
1706 Louis XIV razes Nice’s citadel.
1731 English visitors winter for the first time in Nice.
REVOLUTION AND EMPIRE
1789 French Revolution: three years later, Revolutionary troops take Nice.
1815 Napoleon escapes from Elba and spends night in Cannes before marching on Paris via the Alps for the ‘Hundred Days’ in power.
The winter season in 1920s Nice
BIRTH OF TOURISM
1822 The construction of the Promenade des Anglais.
1834 Lord Henry Brougham discovers Cannes.
1860 Nice joins France after a referendum; Monaco relinquishes its rights to Menton and Roquebrune, which had also voted to join France.
1863 Monte-Carlo’s casino opens.
1864 The railway reaches Nice from Paris.
1880 Guy de Maupassant discovers St-Tropez.
1890s Queen Victoria visits Nice on several occasions.
20TH- AND 21ST-CENTURY RIVIERA
1912 The Hôtel Carlton opens in Cannes.
1922 The first ‘Train Bleu’ travels from Calais to the Côte d’Azur.
1923 The summer season is born when the Hôtel du Cap on the Cap d’Antibes stays open in summer for the first time.
1942-3 During World War II, the Alpes-Maritimes are occupied by Italian troops and from September 1943 by German troops.
1944 The Liberation of Provence sees landings in the Var.
1946 The first Cannes Film Festival; Picasso installs a studio in the Château Grimaldi in Antibes.
2005 Rainier III dies; Albert II is crowned sovereign prince of Monaco.
2007 Nice tramway opens.
2011 The new Jean Cocteau museum in Menton opens. Prince Albert II of Monaco marries Charlene Wittstock.
2014 The Fort de Brégançon, former official retreat of the French President near Bormes-les-Mimosas, opens to the public.
Late afternoon in Nice’s busy place Masséna