Place Massena: Conversation in Nice

Place Massena, Nice

I was recently in Nice on business. My last visit was in 1990 and I could barely recognize the capital of the Riviera now. Surprises around every corner, especially at Place Massena, where the eye-catching Conversation in Nice takes centre stage.

In 2007, Catalan artist Jaume Plensa created this very cool and contemporary art installation, comprising seven statues along the tram lines, representing the seven continents: large opaque men, on tall pedestals. At night, they are illuminated in different, ever-changing colours.

And that’s how they converse, the continents, in a dialogue of colours – with each other, and with us. Where I’d normally hasten along, I’m instead persuaded to stop for a bit – and look up, waiting for the colour to change. What will he say next? What does purple mean? Green? Pink? Hypnotic, almost.

Grønn mann i Nice rød mann i Nice

Greek gods at Place Massena

Another addition to Place Massena – or rather, a reintroduction – is the cherished La Fontaine du Soleil – a large fountain comprising five sculptures from Greek mythology: here’s Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Saturn surrounding a magnificent seven-metre tall Apollon in shiny white marble. Again I feel invited to linger, to walk slowly around it, taking in the details.

Fontaine du Soleil, Place Massena, Nice

Apollon, Fontaine du Soleil, Place Massena, Nice Fontaine du Soleil, Place Massena, Nice

When I was here last, Place Massena was busy with traffic. Today, the square is equally busy, but much more pleasant. Like most of the old town, Place Massena is back in the hands of the city’s pedestrians. And the tram:

Place Massena, Nice

Buildings in Vieux-Nice look beguiling at night, like this red ochre Italianate facade on Place Massena:
Rød bygning Vieux Nice

… and these, on the lively Place Rossetti:

gul bygning Nice

orange bygning Nice

gul kirke Nice

gult hus med blader foran Nice

Just a few metres away, Promenade des Anglais hugs the Mediterranean coastline, an excellent venue for a lazy stroll to gawk at shiny people, fast cars and fabulous hotels, such as the legendary Le Negresco.

Hotel Le Negresco, Nice

Have you been in Nice recently?



23 Responses to “Place Massena: Conversation in Nice”

  1. Malin 5 November 2012 1417 #

    Beautiful images! I love the are area around place Massena, used to live just around the corner for 2 years, unfortunately mostly during the big renovation project.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 November 2012 1111 #

      I’d love to live in this area for a while 🙂

  2. InsideJourneys 7 November 2012 0511 #

    I love the idea of changing the colors to indicate the exchange between them. Very imaginative. Nice conversation piece. Beautiful shots of Nice. You have a cool job!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 November 2012 2130 #

      Can’t complain 🙂

  3. Leigh 7 November 2012 1523 #

    I’ve never set foot in Nice but it sure looks lovely. I like any city where the pedestrians have half a chance of walking without cars zipping by.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 November 2012 2131 #

      Me too. Thankfully, more and more countries are becoming aware…

  4. Liv 7 November 2012 1608 #

    I LOVE Nice – thanks for sharing your photos. Aren’t the colours beautiful?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 November 2012 2132 #

      Striking. I really enjoyed Nice this time.

  5. Andrea 7 November 2012 2149 #

    I haven’t been to Nice in a long time and unfortunately it was almost always in transit. Looks very pretty!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 November 2012 1110 #

      The whole Côte d’Azur is gorgeous, but Nice is absolutely worth a few days in itself.

  6. Mary @Green Global Travel 8 November 2012 2100 #

    Amazing photos! Nice is a gorgeous place.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 November 2012 1305 #

      Thanks. It really is a lovely city now.

  7. Jarmo 11 November 2012 0121 #

    Those colour changing statues are quite cool, and the whole place looks quite pretty, definitely wouldn’t mind visiting 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 November 2012 1611 #

      They are indeed very cool and unusual.

  8. Andrew Graeme Gould 11 November 2012 1409 #

    This is somewhere I’ve never been, and it looks wonderful from your photos, Sophie.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 November 2012 1611 #

      Thanks, Andrew 🙂

  9. Shing @ The Culture Map 12 November 2012 1351 #

    I love Jaume Plensa’s work, I think his figures have become very iconic – you don’t need to read his name to recognise those curves! I’m fortunate to live nearby England’s best sculpture garden, so you’ve just reminded me that I’m due a revisit!

    Nice looks very striking by night…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 November 2012 1611 #

      You know, I wasn’t at all familiar with him before I was in Nice recently. Would love to see more of his works.

  10. Abby 14 November 2012 1439 #

    Gorgeous photos of what is such a cool building!! I’ve been to Nice once, so long ago. I was definitely focused on the markets and beaches lol

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 November 2012 1553 #

      And fab markets and beaches they are…

  11. ItalianNotes 29 November 2012 1638 #

    I haven’t been to Nice for the last many years, but it looks exactly as remembered.

  12. Anila 12 December 2012 1359 #

    Hey Anne-Sophie, looks like you had a ball I wish business would take me to Nice! Thanks for putting up these pics!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 1018 #

      Yes, I’m lucky with jobs 🙂

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