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Because The World Moves

There is one commercial for CIC (a bank) here in France that I find to be very catchy. The various scenes always take place in the competitor’s bank.  There is a client with a life changing event demanding a particular service from the bank.  Unfortunately the competitor bank isn’t very helpful and the final shot is the client looking through the window and seeing a CIC across the street.  Their slogan is parce que le monde bouge (because the world moves) and they claim that they, as a bank, are as dynamic as life itself.  They will be there with you continuously as your life changes.

The Official Logo of Nice

The Official Logo of Nice

I am curious if they are the official bank for the city of Nice.  I just read this week a big spread in the daily newspaper about the changes to come in 2011 chez moi.  I am proud to say I picked a good spot to be living as it is clear Nice is on the up and up.  Here are some highlights and how they pertain to me.

Voie Rapide – The French give this name to any stretch of road that doesn’t have any stop lights nor roundabouts and gives you a quick way to get from one part of a city to another.  It is like a highway but doesn’t have any formal numbering like the A8 autoroute that I take every day to work.  For Nice, there is a voie rapide that cuts the city in two going east and west.  I use this stretch of road in my daily commute back home.  Right now, it can be a bit of a pain because you can always count on bouchons (bottlenecks) due to construction as they have closed one lane.  It has been officially announced that construction will be complete by February 9th and it will return to 3 lanes. 🙂

Stade Sportif – Nice will begin construction of a brand new stadium on the north side of the city.  This new stadium will definitely put Nice on the map to be able to host more sporting events within the French market.  It was recently heavily considered to be one of France’s selection as a candidate for the  Winter Olympic Games but fortunately another French town further in the Alps beat us.  I say fortunately because the infrastructure in Nice would be catastrophe; we have the Alps behind us and the ocean in front of us leaving no room to build out to handle volumes of people.  You can enjoy a 3-D animation of how the stadium is going to be built (no French needed to understand).  They are proud that this stadium will be one of the most green, ecology friendly stadiums in the world.

Public Transport – Nice has one light rail tram in service that crosses the city going north and south (everything else is served by buses).  It has been a huge success as the ridership figures are huge and its integration into the city landscape has been flawless.  This year they are kicking off construction to extend the tram as well as begin construction of line #2.  The second line will go east and west and connect the downtown with the airport using avenue de la Californie (my street) as the main route.  So I may have some painful seasons to come as construction will arrive tearing up my street but seeing the results of the first line, it will be well worth the agony.  The second line won’t open for service until 2014.

Gare Routière – The bus station right in the heart of downtown closed for good on Wednesday the 5th.  Why? Well in such a beautiful city as Nice, it was a major eye-soar.  It was built back in the ’70s or early ’80s judging by its design.  It was very functional but did not hold any ascetic.  To the south of the bus station is a lovely green space, along with Place Massena leading out to the sea.  To the north is the big National Theater of Nice and the Modern Art Museum.  The plan is to completely destroy the bus station and make it an open mall from the museum down to the sea.  They claimed we won’t recognize this part of town by September.  Plus all the bus lines won’t converge at one location causing a bit of a traffic jam; they will spread out the bus lines a little more evenly.

Electric Cars Are Coming!

Electric Cars Are Coming!

Voitures en libre-service – Remember my days of Philly Car Share and ZipCar?  Well I may get them back again.  Nice has had a very successful Vélo Bleu program where you can rent a bike to go across town.  I have talked about how I use it regularly either here on the blog or on Facebook.  Due to its success Nice is going to venture into doing a similar program with cars in the same fashion as ZipCar.  What is even better, they have ordered a fleet of electric cars for the program so zero emissions.  After reading this article it made me wonder if I will continue to own my car in the next year or so.  I truly miss those days back in Philadelphia and not having a car.  Now owning one, I am reminded how much car expenditures can eat into your personal budget.  For work, I have been taking the bus that goes door-to-door more often and my car is sitting more and more in the parking lot.  Something I will continue to ponder in the years to come.

Gare Thiers – The national government authorized spending last year to expand the world-famous TGV train line all the way to Nice.  Currently, if you take the train to Paris it is a 5.5 hour ride.  Although at first one can be impressed with that speed you need to look closer to find some discrepancies.  The first 3 hours is where the train is going at top speed covering the distance from Paris to Marseille, 800 kilometers.  The remaining 2.5 hours is spent going at normal speed from Marseille to Nice; the same amount of time it would take to drive there.  The route quickly looses its appeal.  Due to topography and population density, the train can’t go any faster on the current set of tracks.  Now the government will build a new set of tracks specifically for the TGV between Marseille and Nice potentially making it possible to be in downtown Paris within 4 hours – very impressive.  I foresee a lot of weekend trips to Paris in my future.  In addition, our train station (Gare Thiers) is getting a complete face lift with a brand new all glass exterior and easier access to the tram lines.

Whew!  Now that I have bored you to death with my urban design addictions, you may have the question who’s paying for all this?  Well, I will say France does a decent job at public works and the tax structure is supportive of these measures.  But the important point to not forget is politics.  The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, is both political party partners and best friends with president Sarkozy.  It totally helps to have friends in the right places when it comes to finding the finances.  That is true any where in the world.

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