Stairway up Colline du Château, early 1900s
The title on the card, written on the bottom, is “l’escalier Lesage” (Lesage Staircase?) and printed on the left side margin is T.S. édit, Nice – 24 probably indicating the publisher and the card number. I’ve not seen this before on postcards but it also looks like the city name and a space for the date is printed at the upper right with a narrow blank portion below the date available for a message. The reverse side of the card would have been used for the address and stamp only--no message, as it says “Carte Postale Ce ésté est exclusivement réservé à l’adresse.“ That restriction on the card dates it as closer to 1900 than 1920. Today the place is still called Colline du Château (Castle Hill) even though there is no longer a castle at the top.
It was with a little surprise that I realized a photo on our recent trip actually shows nearly the same scene as the card. The seawall and modern buildings make it difficult to see the staircase but the white tower is quite discernable. In addition to the switchback steps there is also an elevator that lets passengers off at the top just barely visible at the upper left of the picture above, small white tower with red tile roof. From the top there is a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea, the beach and the city.
"Nice la Belle"
This card, also of Nice, shows the Promenade along the water together with what is today a busy street filled with automobiles but in the card there are horses and buggies instead. This is a used card and the message on the reverse side gives the date of December 22, 1918. It was sent by an American soldier who must have been on leave for a week and mailed without stamp via Soldiers Mail to his girlfriend in the United States. The publisher was Levy Fils & Co of Paris. The card is numbered 44 and titled: La Promenade du Midi – LL at the lower left. The lower right has what looks like “Selecta.” It is printed on much lighter weight cardstock than most postcards.
Biking along the Promenade
[photo: courtesy of the Gimlets]
There are benches all along the Promenade and beach access every couple of blocks. When we were there in April we saw people riding bikes, walking, rollerblading and jogging along the Promenade at all times of the day and night. I cannot begin to imagine how crowded it must get during the summer tourist season. In April it was lovely, sunny but a little cool, the breeze coming in from the sea, with just a few people on the beach and even fewer hardy enough to get into the water.
During the late 1700s wealthy English people came to Nice to escape the wet cold winters of England for the warmer, sunnier clime along the Mediterranean. During one particularly harsh winter there were numbers of poor people who fled south to get away from the cold. Many of them ended up as beggars. A group of the Englishmen suggested to the city that these individuals could be put to work building a promenade along the sea. The city was pleased with the idea and extended the original plan to span a greater distance along the shoreline. It was called Promenade des Anglais in honor of the Englishmen who proposed the idea in the first place.
For more see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nice
Also: Eyewitness Travel, Provence & The Cote D’Azur, pp 80-85