Nice is home to one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Settled in 350 B.C. by the ancient Greeks, it was originally called Nikaia after the goddess of victory. Since then, it’s changed hands multiple times, thanks to its strategic location and port.
Although Nice has been French for 150 years, many of its residents identify as Niçoise, not French (similar to how I always say I’m California, not American). Niçoise culture is more unpretentious than the rest of the Cote d’Azur, and remarkably more laid-back than Paris. The Niçoise language is still spoken by a substantial minority, despite being impossible for any native French or Italian speaker to understand.
Some popular Niçoise proverbs illustrate the practical and budget-conscious thinking that dominates the traditional culture. Here are a few of my favorites:
A ardit demandaire prount refudiare: A bold asker is best matched by a resolute denier.
Loura seren sensa denari, baleren davan l’armari: When we are without money, we dance in front of the buffet.
L’ordre aduha lou pan, lou desordre la fam: Order brings bread, disorder brings hunger. (I like the rhyming of pain et faim when translated into French—this one is my favorite!)
Qu depensa sense counta maja sous ben e lou tasta pa: Who spends without counting eats delicacies without tasting them
San-dounat es mourt: Saint Giving is dead! (Sounds like my parents…why don’t you just go shake the money tree?)
Una clau d’or duerbe pertout: A key of gold opens anywhere.
Enfan e can counouissoun qu ben li fan: Children and dogs recognize who loves them.
Regal, favour e doun roumpoun roca e maioun: Delicacies, favors and donations ruin a house.
Au nemic qu’escap noun li course darie: If your enemy escapes, don’t run after him.
Which one is your favorite?