European Vacation – September 22-28/19 – Nice, France, Part 3 – Place Massena – Home Base

Place Massena is a historic square in Nice, named after Andre Massena (1758-1817), 1st Duke of Rivoli, 1st Prince of Essling. The layout was designed by Joseph Vermier in 1843-44.

Before the Paillon River was covered over, a bridge was the only connection between the old town and the new town. The 1979, demolition of the Massena Casnino and the recent redevelopment of the tram line, have restored Place Massena as a Mediterranean square, returning it to the pedestrians.

It is also the site of many public events (festivals, concerts, celebrations, banquets and protests (more on this in a later post)).


As I explained in my post on our apartment, it was the perfect area to be based beside. We crossed this square several times a day and it was always a great place for people watching.

Place Massena

Statue of Apollo in the Sun Fountain. When the statue was installed in 1956, the people were not impressed with the design. Apollo is supposed to be carried across the sky in a chariot pulled by 4 horses, not have 4 horses on his head. The 4 horses reminded people of an advertisement for a new Renault car, the 4CV (4 horsepower) and they nicknamed the statue, the 4 horsepower statue. The populace were also outraged by the anatomical details lower down, if you catch my drift. Some thought them too big and some thought them too small. From time to time, the “detail” would be adorned with ribbons, bows, etc. The sculptor eventually took a chisel to the offending member, reducing its size. In response, the people nicknamed the statue, The Virgin.

“Conversations a Nice” statues (7 resin men on poles representing the 7 continents or communication between different communities in today’s society. Sculptor: Jaume Plensa from Spain created this sculpture in 2007.

3 thoughts on “European Vacation – September 22-28/19 – Nice, France, Part 3 – Place Massena – Home Base

  1. Although my favourite place in Nice was its beautiful Old Town, I loved Place Massena too! Thanks for sharing the story about the fountain, I somehow never really got around to research it myself, both the background and people’s reactions towards it. Have a good day 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

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