John Douglas Errington Loveland.

The romance of Nice online

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" Cette bourgade du soleil et des fleurs."

Thkodoue de Banviixe

" Vertumne, Pomone et Zephyre,
Avec Flore y regnent toujours ;
C'est I'Asyle de leurs amours,
Et le trone de leur empire."— XVIIIth Centuhy





Albert Adsit demons

Aug. 24, 1938

(Not available for exchanga)

Printed in Great Britain by
William Brendon and Son, Ltd. , Plymouth

J a


THE amount of literature which has been
written about the Riviera is very large,
and it may well seem that there is no adequate
necessity for increasing it. But that is a view to
which I am unable to subscribe, and I will
briefly give my reasons. The twentieth century
is a hurrying age, and people require literary fare
to be set before them without the trouble of going
to look for it. The many notable works on the
Riviera which have appeared from time to time
written in English, French, and Italian, to say
nothing of the classical authors, are most of
them unattainable to the general reading public.
Many are long out of print, many are too detailed
and technical, and many again are out of date
and inaccurate.

For these reasons I have thought it worth
while to add one more to the long list of books
dealing with Nice and its country-side ; I have
gleaned very freely from all the sources to which


I have alluded, preferring to quote the authors
themselves, rather than to attempt to para-
phrase their writings ; and it has been my aim
to endeavour to present the story of this old
city and its fair country in such a form as may
interest the reader, rather than to give a fully
detailed account of those events which are
to be found in the history of all towns whose
origin goes back into the far past.

Baring-Gould, in his " Book of the Riviera,"
says he has given but a meagre sketch of the
history of Nice, for the reader would have no
patience with all the petty troubles — great to
those that endured them — which afflicted Nice
and its vicinity through many centuries. Au-
gustus J. C. Hare, for all his voluminous dis-
cursiveness on the Cities of Italy, could never
be induced to write even a dozen lines on the
story of Nice; he dismisses the town in his
" Southern France " — if my memory serves me —
as a hot, dusty, windy place, which is not worth
more than the most cursory investigation.

Undeterred by the opinion of these two great
writers, I have ventured to try and show that
there is much that is interesting not alone in the
history of the country, but also in its legends


and folk-lore, its people, small as well as great,
its wonderful flora, and in that charm which per-
vades it that so speedily seizes on the stranger
within its gates. In a word, I would present
the " Romance of Nice " to all those who, for lack
of observation or want of opportunity, have
hitherto failed to grasp it. It is a story full of
colour and life, set in a brilliant framework by
the greatest of all scene-painters, Nature herself ;
and those who steep themselves in the Mediter-
ranean sunshine during the long pleasant months
of winter, may find interest in the tale of their
temporary home, as it is unfolded to them
from the dim past to the clear-cut present. If
this prove to be the case, the object with which
this book has been written will be more than


J. D. E. L.



Nice and the poets— The land of flowers— The Stone Man of
the Riviera — The legend of Adam and Eve — The passing of
Heracles — Phoenician settlements — The foundation of Nice —
The story of Glyptis— The coming of the Romans, and the
rise of Cimiez . . • . pages 1-19


The Roman dominion — The visits of the Empress Poppaea and
of the Empress Julia Cornelia Salonina — The introduction of
Christianity — The martyrdom of Saint Pons — A legend of the
amphitheatre of Cimiez — The contest between the Emperors
Vitellius and Otho — The Emperor Pertinax — The develop-
ment of the province — The dancing boy of Antibes . 20-43


The coming of the Lombards — The sack of Cimiez and the
destruction of Nice — The legend of Saint Hospice — The
passing of the Franks — The plague — The Saracen incursions
— Gradual evolution of the County of Provence — The
Saracens' power broken — Religious fervour of the times —
The ejectment of the Knights Templar by Charles of Anjou
— Guelphs and Ghibellines — The tale of Queen Joanna — First
appearance of the House of Savoy — The county raised to a
dukedom — Amadeus VIII elected Pope as Felix V . 44-71



The Congress of Nice — Pope Paul III, Francis I, and Charles V
— Mediaeval history — Sieges of Nice — The Chateau and its
destruction by the Duke of Berwick — Nice under the Terror
— Napoleon's visits — Pope Pius VII and the Queen of Etruria
— Napoleon and the Prince of Monaco — Nice finally becomes
French ..... pages 72-91


Matrimonial alliances of the House of Savoy — Some letters of a
Queen of Spain — The worthies of Nice — Catherine Segurane
— The painter, Vanloo — The astronomer, Cassini . 92-113


Massena, " l'Enfant cheri de la Victoire " — Paganini, his death
and strange obsequies — The wanderings of his coffin, and its
final interment — Giuseppe Garibaldi — La Bella Rosina —
Alexandre Dumas — Queen Victoria at Cimiez — Other Royal
guests — The Maharajah Duleep Singh — Father Gapon . 114-137


Religious piety in former times — The patrons of the city — Monu-
ments and palaces — The town gates — The Pont Vieux — The
port — The terraces — The Hotel de la Prefecture — The Tour
Bellanda — The Mint — Palais Lascaris — Palais Marie Christine
— The churches of Nice — The Cathedral of Saint Reparate —
The monasteries of Cimiez, Saint Pons, and Saint Barthelemy
—Old inns ..... 138-163


The history of Nice and its worthies written in the names of its
streets, squares, and public places — The Chateau de Mont-
boron — The English and Russian churches . . 164-180



Legends of the country-side — The caterpillars of Contes — The
Devil's Bridge at Eze — The capture of the Evil One by the
Man of Contes . . . pages 181-205


Old customs in Nice — Lou Presepi — The Noue of the Madeleine
— The Fete of the Rogations — The confraternities — "La
Gloria'' — The Festins of Lent — The Cougourdons — Summer
Festins — Folk-lore — W olf superstitions — Witch villages — Bad
luck in planting cypresses — Bee customs — The mistral —
Old weights and measures . . . 206-226


The vegetation of the Riviera — Olives, palms, oranges, fruit
trees and gardens — The carouba and the eucalyptus — The
garden of Saint Barthelemy— The Grottos of Saint Andre and
of Falicon— Bird life— The green lizard . . 227-248


The industries of the Riviera — Wine — Scent — Dried fruits —
The extinct tunny fishery — Pottery — The spread of gambling



The rivers of Nice — Gi-eat floods and storms in history — Cold
years and earthquakes — Epidemics — The beginnings of Nice
as a health resort — Difficulties of access — Gradual develop-
ment—The annexation and the making of the railway — The
position of Nice to-day .... 262-280



The neighbourhood of Nice on the east of the Var — Mont Alban
and its siege — The port of Villefranche — Duke Emmanuel
Philibert's stud at Cap Ferrat — The Duchess and the Corsair
— The Saracen tower — Beaulieu and Olivula — The worship of
IsiSj and the vicissitudes of Eze — Contes — Chateauneuf, the
Deserted Village— Luceram and Aspremont, their history —
Mont Chauve — Pei'ra Cava and the Hinterland . pages 281-303


The country west of the Var — The old frontier town of Saint
Laurent-du-Var — The Castle of Cagnes — The Bishop's reproof
to his flock — Francis I at the Chateau of Villeneuve-Louhet
— The old burgh of Saint Paul — The battle between the
armies of Vitellius and Otho at La Brague — Biot repeopled
by Genoese — Curious custom at Vallauris — Antibes^ its vener-
able antiquity — Roman buildings — The Terpon Stone — Fre-
quent sieges — Honoured by Louis XVIII — Bonaparte under
arrest — Madame Letitia's sojourn — Demolition of the ramparts
— Vence — Roman tombs — Development of Christianity there
— Its Bishops — The Reformation — Huguenot persecutions —
Village of Saint Jeannet — Gourdon — The country folk . 304-326


The Nice carnival — Its derivation and origin — Its history and its

development — Its present splendour , . . 327-343

List op Works Consulted . . ... 345

Acknowledgment . . ... 347


I. The Old Cross at Cimiez . . . Frontispiece


II. Ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre at Cimiez . 24

III. Mediaeval Nice . . . . . .78

IV. Staircase of the Palais Lascaris . . . 148
V. La Croix de Marbre . . . . .150

VI. The Monastery Church at Cimiez . . .156

VII. Fountain of The Tritons in the Public Garden . 172

VIII. The Old Bridge over the Var . . . 262

IX. The Old Bridge over the Var . . . 268

X. Alpine Scenery at Peira-cava .... 302



Nice and the poets — The land of flowers — The Stone Man of the
Riviera — The legend of Adam and Eve — The passing- of Heracles
— Phoenician settlements — The foundation of Nice — The story of
Glyptis — The coming of the Romans, and the rise of Cimiez.

THE northern coast of the blue Mediter-
ranean lives, and has lived in the forefront
of the world since European history began.
Rich in time-honoured cities, and in golden
legends of the past, the ages have wrapped it so
closely in their embrace that to-day its exist-
ence is accepted without much thought as to
what lies beyond that which is actually pre-
sented to the eye.

But the story of Nice and its country-side
goes far back into the distant past, and even
then that story springs from legend upon legend.

Writers in all times and in all countries have
celebrated the beauties of the Riviera and the
splendour of Nice. Set like a pearl on the rim
of the azure semicircle of the Bay of Angels,
with the snow-capped mountains — those altars


of Nature on which the sun offers his sacrifice
at dawn and sunset — rising in the background,
its situation is incomparable. Well was Nice
named in the chaplet of the cities of Italy, where
each bore its own proud designation, Nizza la
Bella. How fittingly were these titles bestowed
— Rome, the Eternal City ; Genoa, the Proud ;
Milan, the Great ; Lucca, the Industrious ;
August Perugia, Iron Pistoia, and many another ;
but Nice it was which shared with Florence —
two cities of Flowers — the appellation Beau-

Poets have woven their fancies about Nice
with no sparing hand ; here is what Heinrich
Heine wrote : " From the sun which blazes in
the firmament will I snatch the glowing and
glittering gold to make a diadem for thine
anointed brow. From the azure gossamer which
floats from the arch of the sky, where flash the
diamonds of night, will I tear a splendid frag-
ment, and of it will I fashion thee a court mantle
for thy regal shoulders." Theodore de Banville
maintains that towns have their destinies written,
and says that the lot of Nice is to reign unques-
tioned over all those daughter cities of the
Mediterranean, lapped by limpid waves, and
smothered in roses. There is an irresistible
seduction in this Mediterranean, which passes


from azure and lapis-lazuli in the foreground,
to the deeper richness of blue on the horizon,
a delicious blue, a thousand times more so than
that of the sky itself. In its liquid firmament
bathe every night the cold flock of stars, for
its waters are enchanted. But the soft Tyr-
rhenian Sea recalls its history no more. It is
the Lake of Oblivion set at the gate of Paradise,
and on its shores December, clad in verdure
and flowers, usurps the place of spring. Roses
everywhere, the day when Nice disappears
from the page of history, it will surely be buried
beneath a thicket of roses. So says the poet.

But this coast was not always a paradise of
flowers. In the dim ages when Prehistoric Man
fought his hard struggle for existence, it was a
very different place from the sun-kissed, flower-
bearing land it is to-day. Yet the interest of
the Riviera begins with the Stone Age, for the
remains of men and women of that period have
been found at more than one spot. The question
at once arises, what manner of man was he
of the Stone Age ? Dr. Allen Sturge, a well-
known living authority on the subject, tells us
that he differed in no great measure from the
man of the present day, although he was almost
certainly of greater stature. He was no tillei
of the soil, but a hunter and a fisherman, and


the animals which he hunted (whose remains
have been found here in close proximity to his)
were the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, a
great extinct lion, a huge extinct bear, and the
extinct so-called " Irish " elk, with its magnifi-
cent spreading antlers, with many other forms
of life now unknown ; domestic animals did
not exist in the Stone Age. This primitive
ancestor of ours lived in caves, or sheltered under
overhanging rocks, and though he made no
pottery, he carved horn and bone — sometimes
even stone — to a high degree of finish. He
had a rudimentary knowledge of drawing, and
reproduced the outlines of the animals he was
accustomed to see in everyday life. This is
proved by the representation of a mammoth
scratched on a piece of one of its own tusks,
which may be seen in the Museum of the Jardin
des Plantes, in Paris.

Some of the skeletons discovered on the Riviera
are of great size. Out of ten which have been
found of late years, the shortest man could not
have been less than six feet four, while the
tallest measures not less than seven feet. The
women would seem to have been about six feet
in height. But this Man of the Stone Age,
besides being something of an artist, gave evi-
dences of care for the adornment of his person,


which places him higher than the mere hunter
who chased wild animals to provide his daily
food. Several skeletons which have been found
were ornamented with what had been strings of
shells pierced with holes, which had evidently
been used as necklaces, bracelets, and even
coronets. Other necklaces have been found made
of deer's teeth, also pierced for stringing together.

The age of this first known inhabitant of the
Riviera has caused much discussion, but it
would appear to be an accepted view that he
lived in the later period of the old Stone Age,
an epoch impossible to date, but which probably
runs into hundreds — rather than tens of thou-
sands of years ago.

But although it is in comparatively recent
years that we have acquired this knowledge
of the Stone Man who once dwelt here, yet a
pretty legend has for centuries been current
along the coast in connection with Adam and
Eve. The Riviera is fertile in legends, and
this is not the least picturesque of them. There
is no need to go into any comparative tables of
dates ; let us accept the story that Adam and
Eve were our first parents, and dismiss the
older Stone Man to the dim, smoke-hung recesses
of his cave on the sea-shore.

When the Almighty in His wrath had decreed


that Adam and Eve should be expelled from the
earthly Paradise, Adam, in his misery, thought
only of the moment, and cursed the curiosity
of his partner. Eve, more clear-sighted, took
heed for the future, and, as the Archangel
turned his back upon the guilty pair, to unlock
the gate which led into the outer darkness
of the world, ere leaving Paradise she furtively
snatched a fine fruit from a lemon tree which
grew beside the door.

Adam and Eve passed into exile, and the
Archangel clanged the gate behind them, which
shut them off for ever from the delights of
Paradise. The moment they were alone Adam
took his spouse to task. " Wretched woman,"
said he, " you have been talking to the serpent
again." " No, no," replied Eve, "it is only a
souvenir of Paradise." " If the Creator sees
you there will be more trouble." " But He
won't see me," retorted the first woman, quickly
hiding the product of her theft under the some-
what exiguous proportions of the fig leaf which
formed her single garment.

They trudged along as the seasons changed,
now in blazing summer, and anon in the snows
of mid- winter; they crossed rivers, and pene-
trated through vast forests, toiling painfully
over mountains, and wandering through deserts


and plains, until one day they found themselves
in a country where the hill-side sloped gently
towards the sea, whose blue waves sang softly
under the everlasting sapphire of the sky.
" This is the spot," cried Eve, throwing on the
ground the lemon she had so long preserved.
" Increase and multiply, O golden fruit, in this
garden which is worthy of thy beauty." Thus
were born the lemon trees on the Riviera, and
thus did our first parents, driven out from the
earthly Paradise for the sake of a common apple,
find another, thanks to a lemon of gold.

But if the pride of prior antiquity be conceded
to the lemon, yet the orange can claim an origin
equally remarkable, and equally glorious. Still
in the realms of legend, but at an epoch when
legend was fast crystallizing into history, came
the demi-god Heracles, conquering and swagger-
ing along the Riviera, as he marched from con-
quest to conquest, till he set up the Pillars
on the shores of the Atlantic where the Straits of
Gibraltar join it to the Mediterranean. Heracles
is presented to us by some of the old authors
as a sort of primeval Napoleon, to whose genius
many unexplainable works are attributed. Dio-
dorus of Sicily precises so far as to tell us that
he made a road along the Maritime Alps fit
for the passage of armies and chariots.


The demi-god is said to have founded the
town of Heracles Monaco, and was reposing after
this task at Villefranche, where he was directing
the harbour works, when Tanaris, the local
chief of the Ligurians, who then inhabited the
coast, sent a deputation to beg him to rid the
land of the monsters which were decimating the
flocks all over the country-side, offering a present
of five hundred oxen for the due accomplishment
of the task.

Heracles accepted, and straightway attacked
the terrible winged serpent Octopis, in the
gorges of Aspremont, where this legendary
reptile had his lair. The hero quickly strangled
it with his powerful hands, and used its body
as a scourge, which served to whip to atoms
the other monsters with which the whole
neighbourhood was infested. Five hundred
superb oxen were handed over with the grateful
thanks of the tribesmen, but when Heracles
started to drive them, he found it impossible
to get them over Mount Boron. It was in the
early spring-time, and when the innumerable
cows scented the departure of the bulls, they
bellowed to such an extent that the latter,
breaking all control, smashed up the barriers
and returned to their mates.

The vengeance of the demi-god is worthy of


the times and of the legend, for it is said to
have been wrought on five hundred virgins of
the tribe on the following night ! But the
daughter of Tanaris succeeded in making the
hero drunk, and while he was sleeping off the
effects of his debauch, she stole his club. Flying
to rouse her people, she led them to the attack
of the camp, but Heracles awoke, and called
the gods to his aid, by which means he obtained
an easy victory. In the melee, however, the
Apples of the Hesperides, which were packed
up in his baggage, were spilt on the soil, where
they have ever since flourished.

These legends of the passage of Heracles all
along the coast refer, as is now well recognized,
to the Phoenician nation personified and deified
in him. Wherever we come across the name of
Heracles or Melkarth, we have but to substitute
for it that of the Tyrian people, of whom the con-
quering and civilizing hero was only the deified
symbol and representative. As Lentheric points
out, the tales of all the mythical historians with
reference to the journeys and exploits of the
demi-god, freed from all the fictions and em-
bellishments with which the poetical imagination
of the Greeks has surrounded them, assume
the importance of geographical and historical
documents. All the legends of Heracles, in-


terpreted by sound sense and historical criticism,
turn out to be nothing else than the history of
the progress and the conquests of the original
Tyrian people, and Heraclean towns are so many
Ligurian towns transformed and colonized by
the Phoenicians. Aristotle distinctly states that
an ancient route led formerly from Italy to Gaul
and Spain, passing successively, by way of the
Maritime Alps, through the country of the
Celto-Ligurians, then through that of the Iberians,
and by way of the last spurs of the Pyrenees,
on to the sea-coast. This road, which was not
only a strategic route, but was also used for
commercial purposes, was the great Heraclean
Way. Portions of it are still found in many
parts of Provence, and this was the road made
eight or ten centuries before the Christian Era, if
not by Heracles the demi-god, at any rate by —
or for — the Tyrian merchants. The substratum
of this primitive road was afterwards made use
of for laying down the Domitian and Aurelian
Ways, and hence it has, to a great extent,
disappeared under the repairs and rectifications
of the Romans. But the Phoenicians had been
the first to mark out the route ; and the frag-
ments of it which are found at various places
inland, between the two Ligurian oppida of
Vence and Cimiez, furnish indisputable evidence


that the Phoenician occupation was not con-
fined to a mere coasting trade from port to port,
but that it had struck its root deep into the
heart of the country, and by works of public
utility had brought thither the first elements of
civilization and progress.

The Riviera henceforth enters into the direct
historical period, although there is — as is natural
— considerable diversity of opinion as to actual
dates. What immediately concerns us here is
the approximate era of the foundation of Nice.
From the researches made by Monsieur J. Brun
and Monsieur Honore Sappia, it can confidently
be asserted that Nice is contemporary with
Marseilles, and must have been built about six
centuries before the birth of Christ, by the
Phocaeans of Ionia, whose principal towns on
the shores of the Mediterranean had been taken
and burnt by the Persians. The testimony of
Herodotus, of Diodorus of Sicily, of Ammianus
Marcellinus, and certain other historians of
great antiquity, should carry more weight than
that of some writers who declare that Nice was
founded some three hundred years after Mar-
seilles, and three hundred years before the
Christian Era.

There is no doubt that Nice is a Greek town ;
its name proves it at once. It was to com-


memorate the victory gained by the Phocseans
over the Carthaginians and the Tyrrhenians in
the vicinity of the Isle of Cyrnos (Corsica),
that the Phocseans decided to build a town
which they called Nike (Victory). In the
beginning the city was built on the sea-shore
between the castle rock and the mouth of the
Paillon, but the attacks of the Saleyan and
Ligurian tribes who lived in the mountains
round forced the inhabitants of the new town
to move to the top of the rock, where they could
more easily defend themselves.

According to Strabo, when the settlers who
had founded Marseilles had become sufficiently
strong, they penetrated into the adjacent country
and even pushed on as far as the banks of the
Var. Delighted with the picturesque country

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Online LibraryJohn Douglas Errington LovelandThe romance of Nice → online text (page 1 of 19)