Key Dates:

Call for Papers
Summer 2008

Abstract Submittal Deadline
3 October 2008

Authors Notified,
Student Travel Grant Recipients Notified
December 2008 

Schedule Posted
January 2009

25-30 January 2009

Nice, Its Hills and the Sea

Prepared by the Co-Chairs of ASLO 2009: Jean-Pierre Gattuso, CNRS-University of Paris VI, Laboratoire d’Océanographie, BP 28, 06234 Villefranche-sur-mer, Cedex, France;; Markus Weinbauer, CNRS-University of Paris VI, Laboratoire d’Océanographie, BP 28, 06234 Villefranche-sur-mer, Cedex, France;; Peter Bossard, Department of Limnology, EAWAG, Limnological Research Center, CH-6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland;

Reprinted from L&O Bulletin 16.1.

Prehistoric man already had the right idea and found the perfect place to set up camp: the site known as Terra Amata (meaning “beloved earth”), at the foot of the Mont Boron, one of the hills surrounding the city of Nice. A short while (400,000 years) later, it still attracted visitors! During the 4th century B.C., the Greeks arrived by sea and settled on the Colline du Chateau, yet another hill in the present-day city, intending to make Nikaïa (meaning: the Victorious) a strategic trading center. Few cities in France can boast 25 centuries of existence. Then, 100 years B.C., the Romans arrived with their architectural skills and built a complete town on the hill of Cimiez (Cemenelum in Latin), with all amenities (arenas, spas, shops...).

The town’s expansion raised a lot of envy: over the next six centuries, Barbarian and Saracen invasions reduced the place to almost nothing. The counts of Provence then took over the site first created by the Greeks. In the 14th century, the people of Nice (Nissa in the local language) grew tired of the continual political squabbling, and asked to be placed under the sovereignty of the House of Savoy. That situation prevailed until 1860 with only two interruptions: from 1691 to 1731, when the County of Nice belonged to Louis XIV, and from 1792 to 1814, when it became part of the French Republic after the Revolution and then part of the Empire under Napoleon I. In 1860, the city population welcomed a treaty signed by Napoleon III and the King of Sardinia, permanently returning Nice to France. From then on the little township was launched on the road to rapid development and became a fashionable holiday center. First the English arrived, hence the name Promenade des Anglais for a part of the water front, then the Russians, leaving their mark for example on the Russian Orthodox Cathedral as well as a Russian directors for more than 70 years of the Station Zoologique, one of the institution co-organizing the ASLO 2009 meeting.

Such a diverse and long history left an imprint on many aspects of the city and its lifestyle. One can get a feeling of the prehistoric site of Terra Amata by visiting a fine museum. The roman ruins of Cimiez comprise a well preserved amphitheater and a bath complex. Down the hill, nearer to the sea, the old town is the most picturesque and one of the busiest areas of Nice. In an environment of exceptional baroque architecture, one can discover the colors and light of Cours Saleya with its famous Flower Market, the place Rossetti with its Italian atmosphere, the place du Palais, with its recently renovated law courts, but also the narrow streets, the trompe-l’oeil façades and the terraces in the shade of parasols, the numerous churches and the steps which lead up to the magnificent park of the chateau. Walking up the steps allows several panoramic views of the city and the seafront along the Promenade des Anglais.

The good news (there is no bad news as yet!) is that the Acropolis convention center, site of the ASLO meeting, is located at a mere 5 min walk from the old town. On the way one crosses the place Garibaldi, named after Guiseppe Garibaldi the main driving force which lead to the formation of a unified Italy and who was a son of the city of Nice. There will therefore be plenty of opportunities to visit the old town at a slow pace through its narrow streets, admire the architecture, some of which date back over 400 years, and visit the daily markets, including the fish market where the smell of the sea permeates the small square in the heart of the old town. We assume that the old town will become the favorite rendez vous (headquarters) of many ASLO delegates, second only to the convention center, and a pleasant place to break for a coffee or sample the traditional Niçois dishes at one of the many restaurants and snack bars.

Subsequent short pieces will examine the imprint of history on the surrounding cities and villages, gastronomy and art.