Until 1860 Nice was an Italian city. The rococo legacy of soaring churches, Genoese buildings and elegant piazzas like Place Garibaldi remain.
When Nice became part of France counts more in property investment terms. In 1861 the French took surprise ownership of the finest port after Toulon, and an infrastructure building boom continues to this day.
To guard their new possession the French connected Nice with Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux by train in 1864. Direct ferry services to the French island of Corsica started a century and a half ago – and haven’t stopped since.
To house the industry of France’s fastest growing port, grand residences were constructed along the streets of Ségurane, Ile de Beauté and along the quays. Most had an export warehouse for olive oil, wine or citrus in the basement. A lawyer, architect or chandler as a shop front. Middle managers lived above. From 1860 to 1910 shipping from Nice Port rose tenfold.
The boom furnished even greater construction. Grand villas like the Chateau Anglaise (1862), public parks like Vigier (1863) edifices like Le Club Nautique (1883) on boulevard Franck Pilatte followed in quick succession.
In short, the Port of Nice has always been posh. Today it houses Michelin-starred restaurants, Montessori schools and more street cafés than a Paris arrondissement. And it’s only getting better.
In the decade that I’ve lived here prices have risen steadily. That’s mainly because of hip new urban centres around rue Bonaparte and Place du Pin, plus pedestrianisation and a dozen new restaurants on Place Garibaldi.
Superyachts like the 124m-long Katara now dock in Nice. (It’s $300m in case you’re interested.) There are new cruise ship visits, new ferry Sardinia services from Corsica Ferries, and new Corsica ferry services from Moby Lines.
But the main drive in the Port’s property profile is the forthcoming airport tram. Due to open in summer 2018, the full line from Nice Airport to Nice Port will be entirely operational by 2019. Not only can residents and holiday rental guests whiz to Terminals 1 and 2 in 26 minutes flat. A massive gentrification plan is following in its wake. The street I live on will be part pedestrian, with only one lane of traffic. Yippee!
There’s final proof of the Port’s status as a next neighbourhood. To wit is the forthcoming Galères au Port. In summer 2017 the conversion of 19th-century Italian prison into a 230m2 art space will be complete. That’s a rags to riches tale if ever there was.