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French city of Nice wins UNESCO world heritage status


The southern French city of Nice has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s list of world heritage sites. UNESCO announced its decision in a tweet, calling Nice -- famous for its mild climate -- the "Winter resort town of the Riviera". Nice joins more than 40 other world heritage sites in France, which include the banks of the river Seine in Paris, the Amiens cathedral, the Mont Saint Michel and stretches of the Loire Valley. "The history of Nice, which is at the same time deeply rooted and open, Mediterranean and Alpine, European and cosmopolitan, has produced an architecture and a landscape that are unique, a model for many other cities in the world," Nice's mayor, Christian Estrosi, said in reaction to the announcement. With close to one million inhabitants, greater Nice is the second-biggest city on the French Mediterranean coast after Marseille, and the fifth-biggest in France. Nice is a tourist hotspot, attracting several million visitors per year, and its airport is one of France’s busiest. The World Heritage Committee added a total of 13 cultural sites to UNESCO’s World Heritage List and one extension to an existing cultural site in Mexico. For more information about the 13 new world heritage sites, visit the UNESCO website here: *Image of Nice by Prosag-Media from Pixabay

Paris Mayor wants Right Bank of the River Seine to be Made Car-Free


The left bank of the River Seine in Paris is already a pedestrian haven, but now the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, wants to extend the car-free zone to cover the right bank as well. Hidalgo has been waging a personal war on vehicles in the French capital for a while in an attempt to reduce pollution and make Paris a nicer place to live and visit. Speaking at a press conference last week, Hidalgo said: “It’s an urban project, almost philosophical, which is to envisage a city in an alternative way than through the use of cars.” Other French cities like Lyon and Bordeaux have been lauded for reclaiming parts of their river banks for use by pedestrians and it’s cities such as these that Hidalgo is using to reinforce her case. “The transformation of an urban highway into a promenade will be very strong marker of this mandate,” she added. At present, some 2,700 or so vehicles pass along the right bank of the Seine each hour at peak times, but these will be replaced by riverside gardens and a games area. The current Georges-Pompidou highway on the right bank of the Seine is part of a larger Unesco World Heritage Site and it is thought that it will become a pedestrian-only zone after the annual Paris Plage festival next year.   Credit photo: JC Choblet

France World Heritage Site: The Fortified City of Carcassonne


France has 37 UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered throughout the country. From cities to beaches, mountains to canals. No trip to France would be complete without visiting one of these cultural sites. The Fortified City of Carcassonne is one such place. Located in the department of Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon Region, this city was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997 and is proud to be the number one tourist draw to France after the Tour Eiffel. Carcassonne is the picture perfect example of a medieval town - with its huge defences surrounding the stunning castle and nearby buildings, narrow cobbled streets and its stunning Gothic cathedral. In fact this fortified city is reported to have been the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It’s been home to Romans and Visigoths, but it wasn’t until the late 12th Century when it really thrived under the affluent Trencavel family where it played a major role in cross-border trade with Spain. That was until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, where Roussillon was restored to France and trading dried up. Inevitably the city became neglected. Money was thin and the walls of the Citadel were crumbling, until renowned architect Viollet-le-Duc started restoration work in the 1800’s. The castle and citadel shone once more. The region, and its millions of tourists, have Viollet-le-Duc to thank for being able to visit this beautiful fortified city in all its glory. Photo credits: Flickr