Nice (nēs) [key], city (1990 pop. 345,674), capital of Alpes-Maritimes dept., SE France, on the Mediterranean Sea. Nice is the most famous resort on the French Riviera. Although the economy depends mainly on the tourist trade, the electronics industry as well as other manufactures are important. The old port of Nice handles both commercial fishing and passenger service to Corsica. The new port, west of the city, engages in more commercial shipping. Nice also has one of France's major airports. There are several churches dating from the 12th through the 17th cent. and a Russian Orthodox cathedral (1912). The Carnival of Nice marks the height of the city's festival season.
Probably a Greek colony ( Nikaia, or Nicaea in Latin) established in the 5th cent. B.C., Nice became an episcopal see in the 4th cent. A.D. It was pillaged and burned by Muslim forces in 859 and 880. In the 13th and 14th cent. the city belonged to the counts of Provence and Savoy. In 1543 the united forces of Francis I and Barbarossa attacked and burned Nice. It was annexed to France in 1793, restored to Sardinia in 1814, and again ceded to France in 1860 after a plebiscite. At the beginning of the French Revolution the city was a haven for Royalist émigrés. Its popularity as a resort began in the late 18th century, increasing with the building of roads in the 1820s and the arrival of the railroad in 1864. At first a retreat for royals and aristocrats, the city became a middle class resort as accessibility to it grew. Nice was claimed and occupied by Mussolini during World War II.
See R. Kanigel, High Season (2002).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Nice from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: French Political Geography