The French Riviera : A History – Michael Nelson

“The French Riviera: A History” ranges from the Terra Amata in Nice, occupied from 380,000 years ago and one of the oldest inhabited prehistoric sites in the world, through wars and revolutions, to the establishment of the Silicon Valley of France in Sophia-Antipolis in 1974.

Michael Nelson shows the surprisingly cosmopolitan nature of the area in the early Middle Ages, such as the story of the finishing school run by Frankish kings where Siagrius, the ruler of the region, had studied and where the son of King Edwin of Northumbria in England was also sent.

Colour maps and plates illustrate the book, and it is also full of fascinating anecdotes. Examples include the loan of a guillotine by Nice to Grasse in the French Revolution (Nice had no victims and Grasse had thirty) and the occasion when Jean Moulin, the leader of the French Resistance in World War II, invited the Germans to the opening of an art gallery in Nice which he was using as a front.

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