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A streetcar named 'Art' Nice through the windows of a tram

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					                      Eye on Travel
              A streetcar named 'Art':
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              Nice through the windows of a tram                                                                                                                                    by Maryalicia Post




  P
          oetry, humour, fantasy… these are not       which to appreciate both the works designed           installation was the lighting
          words I normally associate with a ride      for day and those for night.The evening I             at station Mail de Saint-
          on a tram, but then, the Nice tramway       went along, my co-visitors were from                  Jean d'Angély. Here the
  is different. It's not just a modern                Canada, Sweden, Paris, and Nice. (The tour is         artist had raided a
  transportation system linking the old               given in English and French).The “Niçois” in          warehouse of old
  quarters of Nice with the outlying districts;       the group were quick to admit when asked              streetlights and made
  it's an open-air museum of modern art.              by the guide that they had indeed resented            clumps of them.All
      Planning for the “Art in the Town” project      the project during the long years it took to          different, but now
  took equal priority with the tramway                lay the tracks and install the art.They were          clustered together in a
  engineering works.To lay the 8.7km of track         prepared to reconsider, but they looked like a        series of 14 “bouquets”,
  took four years of digging and dust.At the          tough audience.                                       they harmoniously lit the
  same time, officials launched an international         It was a slowish start, at the installation at     platform.
  competition to find the artworks to make            Place Masséna.“Conversation in Nice”                     We visited at least eight
  the project come alive.                             seemed to me too close for comfort to the             installations, and
      A prestigious jury, chaired by François         “sylites,” – the pillar-saints who lived out          experienced a few others
  Barré, the former director of the Pompidou          their lives on top of columns, sometimes              in passing.The final stop on
  Centre, considered 218 entries from artists         arguing with other pillar-saints over theology.       the tour was the
  in Nice, the rest of France and internationally.    In any case, this work by Spanish artist Jaume        remarkable “poste
  The jury selected 15 artists, each assigned to      Plensa is said to represent five continents           restante” at la Porte
  design and produce a stop on the tramway,           plus the North and South Poles in dialogue            Fausse – the work of Sarki,
  including the signage, the furniture at the         with each other.The luminous figures                  an Armenian artist. His
  stops, and even the sound of announcements.         crouched each on its own 12-metre-high                assignment was a
      The project was inaugurated in the autumn       mast change colour, but not in unison. I              passageway leading down
  of 2007.You can admire the results simply by        wished they'd arrive at the same colour at            from a street in the
  taking a ride on the system that describes a        the same time but they never did. It seemed           modern city to “Old
  giant 'U', linking the city centre and the          like an ominous failure in communication.             Nice”. Inspired by the                                                                  Nice Tramway
  suburbs of Nice. Place Masséna sits at the             Things got jollier as we boarded the sleek         Basilica in Istanbul, he lined
  bottom of the U; the suburb of Las Planas           tram and headed off on our circuit.At Square          the walls in bands of three                      invited to leave a message. It was empty the
  tops the left prong and Pont Michel the right.      Doyen Lépine, we stopped to admire a                  colours of marble and covered the vaulted        night we were there, but even the once-
      But if you have 2 1/2 hours free on a           “bubble” of lacy aluminum in the form of a            ceiling in gold leaf. His intention was “to      disapproving Niçois – all conviviality by now
  Friday evening, take the guided tour. Full of       love seat with high walls and topped with             bring an aesthetic, poetic experience to         – looked tempted.
  fascinating detail about the works and the          coloured balls of Venetian glass. Even the            modern life, and to promote conviviality.”          To take the tour, reserve a place through the
  artists, it begins at 3 Place Masséna, at the       rather reserved couples in our group                  On the landing between two flights of steps      Nice Tourist Office, 405 Promenade de Nice. It
  office of Ligne d'azur, at twilight.The hour        playfully took turns to sit in it, face to face, as   there's a stone basin carved with the words      costs ¤8, plus ¤2 for the tram ticket.
  was chosen to offer the best conditions in          if exchanging a secret.Another popular                “poste restante,” in which the passerby is



                                                                                                            Nice – the Way it Was
          Three to see in Nice                                                                              THE ELEGANT villas that overlooked the Baie des Anges vanished a long time ago along
                                                                                                            with the wealthy aristocrats and socialites who once flocked to Nice. One remarkable
              The Promenade des Anglais.The promenade exerts a magnetic pull on                             exception, however, is the Palais Masséna on the Promenade des Anglais. This intimate
          1   every visitor. It is lined with palm trees imported from Africa and India by                  museum has just re-opened to the public after extensive restoration; the villa and its
                                                                                                            gardens offer a rare glimpse into a gilded lifestyle swept away by the first World War.
              the English community who paid for its construction to provide work for
              Nice's poor in the 1800s.Today, this is where residents walk their dogs,                         When Victor Masséna, Duke of Rivoli, bought the property at the turn of the last
              children skateboard, and tourists admire the blue Mediterranean.                              century, the original structure – where the Tzarevitch had once been a guest – had
                                                                                                            already been demolished. So, between 1898 and 1901, the Duke's seaside retreat was
              Old Nice. It's a warren of cobbled streets, affordable restaurants, a flower                  constructed to his requirements in an Italianate style, influenced by the Rothschild's villa
          2   market, art galleries, and antique and second-hand shops. It's also home to a                 in Cannes that had impressed Masséna on his visit there.
                                                                                                               In his Nice palace, the Duke – who at the death of his elder brother had become the
              number of magnificent Baroque buildings described in a section of the Nice
              tourist bureau brochure, “The Baroque-Nisso Ligurian Route.” One of the                       5th Prince d'Essling – had rooms designated for music, reading, smoking and dining as well
              buildings, the elaborate Cathedral of St Réparte, commemorates the 4th                        as a salon and an office. The rooms have been restored and furnished in a style
              century virgin martyr whose uncorrupted body was drawn by angels in a                         appropriate to the period, incorporating some pieces that had belonged to the family.
              boat of flowers to the shores of Nice, hence the name, “Baie des Anges,” or                   Both the Directoire salon and Masséna's office are entirely original. On the two upper
              “Bay of Angels.”                                                                              floors, there's an interesting small museum that displays a number of artifacts, including
                                                                                                            the train and diadem worn by Josephine at Napoleon's coronation as King of Italy.
                                                                                                               Period photographs in the Duke's library record the elegant lawn parties the Duke and
          3   Cimiez.This fashionable hill district is the home of the Marc Chagall and
              Matisse museums.The Russian Orthodox Cathedral is here too, built on                          Duchess enjoyed in the villa's English-style and French-style gardens in the early 1900s.
                                                                                                               There is a garden entrance to the Palais Masséna at 35 Promenade des Anglais, near
              orders of Tsar Nicholas and considered the most beautiful outside Russia.
              (Open daily to tourists except during services.) Russians joined the English                  the Négresco Hotel; to enter the house, apply to reception in the gatehouse at the rear
              in Nice in the late 18th century when a Scottish doctor, Dr Tobias Smolett,                   of the villa, 65 rue de France. Admission is free, but you need a ticket. There is an
              wrote that the climate had cured his tuberculosis and his melancholy.                         attractive gift shop in the gatehouse. The house and gardens are open every day except
                                                                                                            Tuesday from 10am to 6pm.

                                                                                                            Nice is the venue for the 9th EURETINA Congress from 14-17 May 2009

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