French Riviera: Must See Places

Most of us can only dream about where we’d like to visit next however I would encourage you to do more than just dream. Plan and prepare for when we can all travel again. I’m conscious that many of you only have a few days to spare for my part of the world, so where would I encourage first-time visitors to the French Riviera to go?

These places are in no particular order and can all be easily reached using public transport – train, tram bus.

Nice

Obviously I would have to say start with Nice, an all year round destination, about which I have already written one or two (slight understatement) posts. It overlooks the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Start with a climb up (or take the small train) to La Colline du Château (Castle Hill) to see what I’m talking about. Once you get to the top, you’ll have panoramic views of the Baie des Anges, the Old Town, Promenade des Anglais and the city’s varied and vibrant architecture. And while a few crumbling walls are all that remain of the namesake castle on the hill, there is a verdant park that’s perfect for an al fresco picnic lunch.

Any sightseeing should include a trip to Nice’s colorful Vieille Ville, or Old Town, which is a delightful maze of narrow streets full of lively restaurants, galleries and shops. There are cafés dotted all around the Old Town’s many squares, so take the opportunity to sit down, coffee (or rosé) in hand, and people-watch the day away. For a more active visit, spend some time strolling along the Promenade du Paillon, the city’s public park and botanical garden that links the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art with the Promenade des Anglais.

Menton

The town of Menton has all the beauty of the better-known coastal villages, but a fraction of the crowds. Its half-dozen beaches are all but empty in the off-season, and boutique-filled alleyways are relatively tourist-free. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, exceptional gardens, and quality Italian cuisine due to its position on the Franco-Italian border, it’s an ideal spot for a day trip. (For an unparalleled Provençal gastronomic experience, however, head to Mirazur, chef Mauro Colagreco’s triple Michelin-starred spot that earned the number one title in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2019.) In February, the town holds a magnificent Lemon Festival, a celebration of spring and a throwback to the town’s past, when it survived principally on citrus production.

Antibes-Juan les Pins

Beyond the megayacht boat porn and picture-perfect beaches, Antibes is a draw for its literary and artistic history. It was at the Villa Saint Louis (now the popular Hotel Belles-Rives) in Juan-les-Pins that F. Scott Fitzgerald took up summer residence with wife Zelda and his daughter Scottie in 1926 and began his work on Tender is the Night. The enclosed mansions and dramatic villas lining the shore that once fascinated Fitzgerald are still very much a part of the landscape, but there’s local charm to be found, too. Stroll around old Antibes, through the Cours Masséna, a Provençal food market, and up to the Musée Picasso, the first museum dedicated to the artist. Formerly the Château Grimaldi, the stronghold was Picasso’s home and workshop in 1946 and remains one of the commanding cultural draws of the resort town.

Cannes

Long before it was synonymous with the International Film Festival and earned its reputation as a playground for the world’s dizzyingly well-heeled, Cannes was a shimmering, seaside destination made for resting and people-watching  – something that still remains true. But it also offers extraordinary views and culture. Climb the winding staircases and pass the pastel-coated homes in Le Suquet, the city’s old quarter, and you’ll end up at the Musée de la Castre, a home for ethnographic art in a medieval fortress overlooking the marina and the Croisette. For restorative beaches and landscapes free of crowds, take a 15-minute ferry ride to two of the Lérins islands off the coast: Ile St. Honorat, known for its working monastery and forest groves, and Ile Ste-Marguerite, the spot for hidden coves and beaches.

Eze

Nestled into craggy cliffs high above the sea, the medieval village of Eze is a delightful step back in time. The well-preserved stone buildings, winding alleyways, 14th-century chapels and dramatic Mediterranean backdrop make this tiny village seem like a movie set. The dramatic views are best earned by taking one of the many hiking trails, like the famous Nietzsche path, that connect the the town and the summit, which sits over 150 metres (1,400 feet) above sea level. At the top, is the town’s medieval fortress, which you may recognize from Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, surrounded by the Jardin Exotique, a desert garden brimming with succulents and exotic florals.

Grasse

Grasse (visit write-up coming soon) is a quiet, pretty medieval village that also holds the distinction of being the world’s perfume capital. While famous perfumeries like Fragonard offer free tours of their factories, the real reason to come here is to take in the near-endless fields of flowers that dominate the area’s hilly landscape. Come August, the town plays host to the Jasmine Festival, a three-day celebration of jasmine, one of the two flowers to have dominated local perfume production (the other is Damascus rose). Grasse is conveniently located between Cannes and Nice, so a quick stop here is worth your while, if only to smell the flowers.

Monaco

Bordered by France on three sides, the petite principality of Monaco is a bastion of glitz and glamour. While it’s typically known as a playground for the ultra rich, those short on cash can still enjoy themselves. Its easy enough to walk around to view stately sights like the Prince’s Palace, Fort Antoine and Monaco Cathedral. Don’t forget to take some time to observe the luxurious yachts in the harbour (or, even better, make friends with someone who owns one), and wrap up your trip with a spin at the Monte Carlo casino.

I hope I’ve provided you with some inspiration for your next trip to my part of the world.

The Tour de France has come and gone………

Apologies that I’ve been somewhat missing in action over the past week but I was just one of a large band of volunteers from the city of Nice entrusted with ensuring the Tour de France went ahead safely.

Two months late, the Tour de France has managed to do what the summer Olympics, and countless other sporting events couldn’t, largely thanks to the determination of Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi who worked tirelessly with ASO, the Tour’s organiser.

Despite taking place under strict sanitary conditions, with heavy controls on spectators and press pack numbers, it should still bring in much needed funds to the  beleaguered French economy and the Tour’s broadcasters, advertisers, hoteliers and caterers.

To be honest, this could be one of the biggest ever tours, since the maiden one won by Maurice Garin in 1903, for a number of reasons, not all of them economic.

The race is broadcast in over 190 countries and will showcase France, the most-visited country on the planet, after months of lockdown, to around 3.5 billion people. This isn’t insignificant as it will remind the 10-12 million tourists, largely absent this year,  who usually line the route to cheer on the riders, what they are missing and where they should be looking to book their next holiday. Indeed, if we are to believe Eurosport, over 47% of those who watch the Tour do so to enjoy its truly magnificent scenery and its wealth of historical monuments.

So, what did I get up to and what did I see?

Funnily enough the answer to both those questions is not a lot. Let me clarify.

Tuesday evening we collected our instructions and missions for the Tour. Sadly, the promised Rapha t-shirts didn’t materialise and we were issued with a bright custard-yellow t-shirt, most certainly *not* one of my colours, with a black and yellow cap, plus a cheap and cheerful rucksack containing all manner of goodies! After the presentation, food and drinks had been laid on. I know only too well that an army of volunteers marches on its stomach.

Early on day one, bouyed with excitement, five of us set out for the Acropolis, home to Tour organisers ASO (and the press room) until Sunday. There was plenty going on as its logistics team was getting everything set up. The chap looking after us said I’d be able to put my language skills to good use pointing any foreign journalists in the right direction.

I hated to burst his bubble but the press couldn’t retrieve their accreditations until after 14:00 and my shift was due to finish at 13:30. In the six hours we were there, we answered just one query from the general public, which had absolutely nothing to do with the Tour.

I was sitting on the wall, in the shade, (rules one and two of volunteering) in front of the Acropolis when someone said that even with my cap and mask, they knew it was me. I should have worn my sunglasses too! This was a common refrain throughout the morning as I chatted with the long-standing ASO staffers that I know.

Later that day as I wandered around Nice, I did get asked lots of questions about the Tour by both visitors and locals alike. So not an entirely wasted day!

I’d chosen to stay in Nice and meet up with my beloved who, with his cycling club teammates, was taking part in the rehearsal of Thursday’s Team Presentation. Masqerading as former Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet of Team CCC, he rode up onto the stage several times with his teammates. This all took much longer than planned, so we had a quick bite to eat before heading back home. It was gratifying to see that Nice was busy with locals and holidaymakers alike

Less good were the numbers not wearing masks. During the rehearsals I was standing next to a policeman who must’ve asked at least 20 people to wear their masks in the space of 10 minutes. I said to him that he must do that a thousand times a day. More like 5,000 was his reply!

Yet another exciting day in prospect on day two and I was at one of the main tram terminii. This would’ve been where the VIPs parked their cars to get the tram into the centre of Nice. These VIPs would’ve been invited to the team presentation in Place Massena, starting at 18:30.

We were there from 11:30 until 18:00 with nary a sighting of anyone, much less a VIP. Luckily I had drinks, snacks and a book to hand (rules three, four and five of volunteering) and found myself a seat, in the shade, within sight of the pedestrian exit from the car park – just in case!

Of course, post-Covid and with Alpes Maritimes being classified “rouge”, VIP numbers were considerably reduced to just a handful of locals, including my hubby and a number of our ex-professional cycling friends, all of whom are familiar with how the local transport system functions.

Saturday, despite its very early start, seemed to hold more promise. A team of 16 of us were in the small bit of Place Massena not blocked off for the start of the first stage. We shared the space with eight French ambulance staff, eight firemen, eight armed gendarmes, plus a handful of well-armed soldiers who were constantly scanning the area for potential threats.

We were all standing adjacent to the entrance of the much reduced Village du Depart for the VIPs. Frankly, it was a wonder that there was any room for Joe Public to come and ask us any questions.

We had a frisson of excitement when HRH Prince Albert of Monaco and the Secretary of State for Sport turned up in their cavalcade of cars, flanked by gendarmes on motorbikes, lights flashing. Both stayed until the presentation of the jerseys.

Two very attractive German girls had unfortunately left their car for several days in the wrong car park, one they couldn’t exit until well after the stage concluded. As they were planning on driving back to northern Germany, this wasn’t exactly good news. Fearing an international incident, as the only German speaker, I intervened and duly asked ASO, the gendarmes and local police on their behalf. The answer was the same from all but at least I’d tried.

This time I was asked plenty of questions. Here’s the top 5, in reverse order.

5. Where’s the best place to watch the riders depart?

4. Where can I buy a ticket to get in there (VIP Area)?

3. How can I get across to the Old Town with all the roads blocked off?

2. How can I get to the beach with all the roads blocked off?

1. Where can I get some freebies?

Sunday I was back at yet another tram terminus, this time in Nice Nord. I was asked once if I had any change for the ticket machine. Slim pickins’ for another six hour shift. This time numbers had been reduced to four but there were also two people from the Metropole answering questions when people drove into the car park. Their presence rendered us rather surplus to requirements.

I later discovered that the volunteers’ roles had been fixed with ASO prior to Covid so we’ll never really know how busy we might’ve been. The team from Nice’s Sports department who managed the volunteers organised things well, and communication was excellent. It’s just that I hate not being busy. Remind me never to volunteer again!

A few more things to do in Nice

I know that Nice is a popular destination for a lot of you, either as part of a trip to France or Europe. Aside from my many trips to the smaller neighbouring towns, from time to time, I’ll try to cover more of Nice’s many attractions.

Visit museums in Cimiez

One of the more historically-rich neighborhoods in Nice is Cimiez. It’s home to two prestigious museums in the city, Musée National Marc Chagall and Musée National Henri Matisse, making it a hotspot for art enthusiasts from all over the world. Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez can also be found here. To be honest, the view from Cimiez back down to the sea alone is worth the trip.

Take a coastal walk or hike

The French Riviera is among the most beautiful coastal destinations in the world. Aside from exploring the Promenade des Anglais, you can walk from the port of Nice to Villefranche along the Sentier du Littoral. Alternatively, take a hike up Mont Boron. There’s the hilltop forest called Parc du Mont Boron which has a picnic area and 11 km of marked hiking trails, exercise circuits and, of course, its very own castle. Parc du Mont Boron is 190m high and overlooks Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer. From Fort Alban, you can also see the Cap Ferrat peninsula one way and and the Esterel mountains the other.

Visit a Park or Garden

Parc Phoenix is a well-known seven-hectacre botanical garden and zoo, located opposite the city’s airport. There are tropical plants, greenhouses,  dancing fountains, an aquarium and much more. The park houses more than 2,500 species of plants, some of which are truly remarkable and showcased in a Mediterranean landscape setting. Its 25 metre-high pyramid-shaped greenhouse is one of the tallest in Europe and it is split into 6 different tropical and subtropical climates. The park is a veritable oasis of greenery, education and relaxation.

Go to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (also known as MAMAC) is a Nice landmark that opened in 1990.  Located in the heart of the city, next to Place Garibaldi and an extension of the Coulée Verte, MAMAC offers a dive into art from the 1950s to the present day. The collection, rich with more than 1,300 works by 300 artists, offers an unprecedented dialogue between European New Realism and the American expression of Pop Art. The museum also displays key works of minimal or povera art. Two major figures of twentieth century art constitute the heart of the collections: Yves Klein, with a permanent exhibition room, made possible thanks to the donations from the Yves Klein Archives, and Niki de Saint Phalle which represents one of the most important collections of the artist in Europe following his 2001 donations to the museum.

See the music collection in Palais Lascaris

What used to be the home of the Lascaris-Vintimille family has been restored and turned into a Musée de France that features art and music from 17th and 18th centuries. Palais Lascaris is a Baroque palace that’s home to over 500 musical instruments, perfect if you’re a music lover. Here you’ll see some rare baroque guitars, saxophones made by Adolphe Sax and some 18th century records, among other things.

Visit Cap Ferrat

Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is property porn heaven and the second-most expensive residential area in the world right after Monaco. But, even better, go and visit the house and magnificent gardens of Villa Ephrussie at the entrance to the Cap.

Here are some more of my posts about Nice:-

Trip to Nice: Gare du Sud

Some of my favourite things to do in Nice

My potted history of Nice

Trip to Port of Nice

It’s all change at Nice’s main station

 

Visit to Musée national du Sport, Nice

To be honest, we’d long intended to visit this museum but, despite it being close to OGC Nice’s Allianz stadium, we never seemed to find the time to pop in. This was finally rectified last November, when we were invited by friends to attend the presentation of some new local bike races for elite and amateur athletes held at the museum. This afforded us the opportunity to wander around enjoying the exhibits pretty much on our lonesomes.

Naturally, I did my research beforehand not appreciating that it is the national sports museum. First established in Paris in 1922 by the French war minister – how appropriate! By the 1940s, the museum had fallen into disrepair and was re-established by the secretary of state for youth and sports in 1963. Architect Roger Taillibert created the galleries inside the Parc des Princes stadium in 1972. The museum was relocated to 93 Avenue de France (13th arrondissement) from 2008 to 2013, until its move to Nice on 27 June, 2014.

Today, the museum contains more than 100,000 items documenting different sports and sporting achievements from 16th century to the present day, including a fine collection on the history of the modern Olympic Games from 1896. The collections include sports equipment, paintings, sculptures, posters, drawings, stamps, advertising, books and magazines, plus interactive displays.

The museum has four permanent exhibition areas:-

1. Individual sports – where human limits have been pushed to the limit: swimming, cycling, athletics, skiing, horse riding, etc. featuring amazing and unique works such as: 1st speed record bike, outfits of great champions and examples of the first sports’ equipment (bikes, skis, kayak, etc …)

2. The one-on-one challenge – where athletes duel one another and only one can be declared the winner! This area features unique pieces such as Marcel Cerdan’s shorts and boxing gloves, equipment from great judokas, tennis players etc

3. The collective challenge – focuses on team sports and particularly showcases those years where France won the Football World Cup. There’s also a large collection of jerseys from famous athletes, not just French ones, such as Lionel Messi and Michael Jordan.

4. Finally, those challenges “Beyond Limits”   – bear witness to the most extraordinary of human exploits! Such as crossing the desert by bike, windsurfing across an ocean, or speed records in motor sports. This is where you can drive an F1 car at the Monaco Grand Prix using the on-site simulator.

Of course, there are also rotating temporary exhibitions. Coincidentally and very appropriately, at the time of our visit, the temporary exhibition was celebrating the centenary of the winner’s jersey, le maillot jaune, of the Tour de France.

The exhibition designed by the museum in collaboration with Amaury Sport Organization, organiser of the Tour de France, traced the jersey’s many adventures, including those where it was draped across the shoulders of the sports’ greatest champions and more modest riders.

The jersey’s first appearance was in 1919, the 13th edition of the Tour de France, and has long since become the Tour’s universal emblem. The exhibition reminded us that if the yellow jersey is synonymous with glory, it is also permeated with the sweat, and sometimes the tears, of a long succession of exploits, disillusions and even tragedies. From Eugène Christophe, the first to wear this badge of honour, to Eddy Merckx, absolute record holder who spent more than three months of his life in yellow.

More than 170 objects and numerous immersive and interactive devices (bicycle simulator, virtual reality headsets, holograms, family games, etc.) paid tribute to this legendary jersey which, since its creation, has made the rider stand out from the others in the peloton, weaving its magic and confering greatness.

If, like me, you’re a sports’ fan, this museum is well worth a visit! Of course, it’s best combined with a trip to watch my beloved OGC Nice.

Trip to Musée National Henri Matisse, Nice

The Musée Matisse is part of a vast heritage complex in Cimiez that includes the Roman arenas and ruins, a garden with hundred-years old olive trees, as well as the Cimiez monastery.

Henri Matisse (1869 to 1954) is considered by many to be the most outstanding representative of Fauvism, a style which emphasises painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational values of Impressionism. Though, before this, he painted in many different styles. He was a noted friend and peer of Pablo Picasso. From 1917 until his death, except for a five-year break when he lived in nearby Vence, Matisse lived in Nice, creating his works in a studio located in the “Yellow House” in the Cours Saleya, in Nice’s Old Town.

Matisse first stayed in the building which now houses the 4* Hotel Beau Rivage, when he came to Nice to cure his bronchitis. Unfortunately, it rained for the whole month, so he painted the interior of his room over and over again. On the final day the sun came out and, when he saw the light, he was hooked. He stayed here until he died of a heart attack. He is buried with his wife in the Cimiez cemetery, near his eponymous museum.

The Musée Matisse was inaugurated in 1963 on the second floor of 17th century Villa des Arènes (formerly the Palais de Gubernatis – after the first owner), to exhibit the artist’s and his heirs’ gifts to the City of Nice. It is one of the largest collections of the French artist’s works.

In 1989, the Archeological Museum, which previously shared the same building, moved out to its own dedicated building to facilitate a remodeling of the museum. Architect Jean-François Bodin rethought the interior spaces of the old Genovese villa and designed the expansion to accommodate a vast foyer, an auditorium and a bookshop. The new building was inaugurated in 1993. An educational workshop was added in 2002, and a design office in 2003.

In 2013, the ceramic La Piscine, a gift from Claude and Barbara Duthuit (Matisse’s grand-son and wife) , was installed in a dedicated room, on the entrance level. In 2017, another renovation project rethought the way visitors interacted with the space, remodelled the entrance and installed interactive educational devices.

Matisse Museum, Nice

The museum perfectly documents the various stages of the artist’s development. Several dozen paintings; hundreds of drawings, prints, and photographs; sculptures, mostly made of bronze by Matisse himself; as well as books illustrated by the artist and numerous cut-outs, have been gathered together here. In addition, the museum houses everyday objects that belonged to Matisse.

An exhibition about the Chapel of the Rosary (Chapelle du Rosaire) located in Vence and designed by Matisse occupies its own space. The museum has, among other things, a scale model of the chapel, as well as the projects of individual works constituting the chapel’s equipment.

This is yet another of my favourite places in Nice and can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Musée Marc Chagall.

Sculpture Saturday #5

It’s week five of my participation in this challenge hosted by the Mind over Memory blogger and I’ve chosen a statue from the seafront in Nice, near its Old Town.

Neuf Lignes Obliques is by French artist Bernar Venet, commissioned to mark 150th anniversary of the 1860 annexation of the County of Nice by France. The sculpture comprises nine steel beams, 30 metres long which meet at the top. It sits on the Quai des États-Unis, an extension of the Promenade des Anglais.

  • Share a photo of a sculpture
  • Link to the Mind over Memory’s post for Saturday Sculpture

Go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Thursday doors #56

Today we’re local with doors from nearby Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. Luckily for me there’s never a shortage of doors to photograph.

First up, two from Monte Carlo:-

Two doors from Nice Old Town that are quite close to one another.

Here are the final two from Cannes:-

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

One from the Vaults: Heavenly

I’ve decided that once a week I’ll re-post something from my extensive archives. Obviously many of my early posts 2009 – 2014 heavily feature cycling. I’ll try to keep these to a minimum as I know not everyone is a cycling fan. Here’s one from February 2013.

The cold snap appears to be over and since returning from my trip to the UK I’ve been enjoying being out on my bike. I rode with my cycling coach this week who asked if I minded whether one of his other clients joined us. He assured me that she was at a similar level to me. Of course, I didn’t believe him. Experience has shown me otherwise. The lady in question was a triathlete thinking about training for the Embrun Ironman – one of the toughest ones. She’d apparently not ridden much lately and wanted my coach to assess her form to see if this tough event was achievable.

We picked her up in Beaulieu and she easily rode me off her wheel up the short sharp incline to Cap Ferret, thereby proving my point. Now, I’m suffering a little congestion after my trip to the UK but nonetheless it’s always annoying to be beaten by someone who claims not to have ridden for ages.

I have a girlfriend at another cycling club which has a very large female membership. They often join after their husbands have ridden at the club for a while, turning up in trainers on a bike that’s clearly seen better days. Three weeks later they’re leaving my friend for dust. Typically these ladies weigh under 50kg, rode extensively when they were younger but have always kept themselves fit and trim. It doesn’t matter how long either of us train, we’re always going to be at a massive (weight) disadvantage. However, we can gain back time/put the hurt on rolling along on the the flat and, in my case, going downhill.

With my coach we did some of my favourite uphill sprint intervals. As always the legs were fine while the lungs were found wanting. By the time I’d gotten back home, I’d been out for almost four hours and was in need of sustenance and a nap! Thursday also dawned bright and fair and I couldn’t resist going for a quick thrash around Cap d’Antibes. If on a scale of one to ten, yesterday was a four Thursday felt more like a seven.

Friday is the day I do, among other things, my housework so I generally don’t ride. However, I decided to make an exception today as the weather was so mild. It seemed a shame not to go out. There’s just something so liberating about getting on my bike and thinking “Mmm, where shall I go today?” As if the world were my oyster. The answer, as always at this time of year, was along the coast. I wasn’t the only one with the same idea. The roads were pretty busy for a Friday with throngs of riders in both directions.

On the way back, still feeling a seven, I stopped to drink in the sunshine and enjoy a quick coffee. As I sat there with the sun warming my face I reflected that I never, ever want to live anywhere else. I came back down to earth with a bump as, sadly, the housework was still waiting for me when I got back.

Thursday doors #47

Today, my last door post of 2019, I’m featuring those doors photographed on my most recent trip to Nice. The wrought iron and glass doors are typical of those found on apartment blocks all over France. These were all along the rue de France, as is the last door though that one belongs to a church.

Never fear, I shall be back in 2020 with even more doors! Meanwhile, I’ll be indulging in my regular seasonal post “12  Days of Christmas” featuring some of my favourite photos of 2019.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

It’s all change at Nice’s main station

One of the things I love about living in France is its constant investment in infrastructure. In the fifteen years we’ve lived here, pretty much everywhere has benefited from urban renewal. None more so than one of the city’s main arterial roads, rue Jean Medecin. I recently described the renovation of the old station Gare du Sud but, more excitingly, just a few hundred metres down the road, further redevelopment is taking place.

The main railway station in Nice Côte d’Azur (8 million passengers a year – 11 million expected by 2020), Nice-Thiers station was built in 1870. The arrival in 2023 of the new high speed network, the reinforcement of the TER (second largest in France after the Ile-de-France) as well as the development of the tramway network, highlight the importance of the redevelopment of this station. The aim is to create a real multi-modal exchange hub, which will meet the evolving transport needs of the city’s inhabitants and visitors.

Work on the passenger building, services and access to the platforms was completed at the end of 2015. A second phase of works, to integrate a commercial space into the junction with the tramway is planned for delivery by 2020.

These works will not only upgrade the station but will also revitalise the neighborhood. The planned construction of a mixed-development complex  will be housed within an “Iconic” building designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect of Groud Zero’s “Master Plan” in Manhattan and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

The 40 metre high structure will be made of concrete, steel and glass (imagined in the header photo above) and will be reminiscent of a multi-faceted diamond.

Libeskind claimed:

I was inspired by the mineral forms of azurite, a harmonious crystallization to create a building that can be seen from all angles and thus help to remove the border between these two parts of the city. It will also serve to reflect the city, the light and the landscape.

On a footprint of 6,500 m2, this building will have 19,000 m2 over six levels. The ground and first floor will house 6,000 m2 of shops. The other levels will house 3,000 m2 of office space, a Hilton hotel with 120 rooms and a 1000 m2 fitness room, and a 600-seat auditorium – something the city currently lacks.

The development will not only unite the north and south of the city but will also, amd more importantly, regenerate the neighbourhood. This is one of the bolder station redevelopment projects ever undertaken and represents a significant investment for the city.

 

(Header: Daniel Libeskind et ­l’agence Février Carré. © Studio Libeskind)