In the heart of Nice is its main square, “Place Massena”, the point of origin for the major shopping artery of Avenue Jean Medecin, with stores like Zara, Sephora, and Nice Etoile shopping center. The square is noted for its distinctive black and white checkerboard pavement, Italian-inspired red ochre buildings, large ferris wheel, contemporary thinkers/Buddha-like statues (representing the seven continents with changing-colored lights symbolizing the soul), and the “Fountaine du Soleil,” formerly with its five bronze statues, representating Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Saturn around the large central water jet. Place Massena video
As a transportation crossroad for Nice’s first tram line, the square is used for public events and festivals, most notably the annual Carnaval in February.
However, since June, 2011, the main attraction has been “Apollo,” the re-instated 7-meter high, 7 ton, marble statue placed in the square’s “Fontaine du Soleil.” Why all the hoop-la? Well………apparently, his family jewels are greatly enhanced due to his massive size (yes, pun intended!), and were the source of past controversy. As has been highly publicized, the story goes that the League of Feminine Virtue caused his displacement to a less-visible location in 1979 to avoid being offensive to the ladies – so much for the sexual revolution in the late ’60’s! The recent return of the statue has re-stroked his popularity, and I, too, am amused when driving through this square.
(Apollo unveiled video-literally and figuratively!)