International Affairs

What You Need to Know About Nice

The French town is one of Houston's sister cities, but what does that mean?

By Katharine Shilcutt July 15, 2016

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Nice, France

Image: Shutterstock

After the tragic events in Nice on Bastille Day, in which a terrorist attack killed 84 people and injured over 200 others who had lined the streets in celebration of the French national holiday, many Houstonians sent special messages of love and support to the residents of our sister city, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, who Tweeted:

Before the Bastille Day attack, many Houstonians may not have realized that Nice (pronounced like "niece") is one of our sister cities, let alone what a sister city is. Today happens to be Sister Cities International Day, a call to action for Americans to work with their sister cities in pursuit of peace and prosperity. In light of both events, here's a rundown of what you should know:

Nice, Like Houston, Is a Coastal City

Located along the Côte d'Azur—the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea—Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast, with an urban population of over 1 million. Also like Houston, Nice has a vibrant Vietnamese population, with many popular pho restaurants dotting the city. Unlike Houston, however, Nice is located directly on its coastline and the primary economic activity in this seaside city is tourism; it's the second-most visited French city after Paris.

Nice Was One of Our First Sister Cities

The concept of "sister cities" was created in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed establishing connections between American cities and those abroad in order to exchange people, ideas and cultures. The nonprofit Sister Cities International was founded that same year. Houston's first sister city relationship was forged with Taipei, Taiwan in 1961. Huelva, Spain joined with Houston in 1969, followed by Chiba, Japan in 1972 and finally Nice, France in 1973.

Nice Is One of 18 Total Sister Cities to Houston

Sister Cities of Houston, a local nonprofit, was founded in 1993 to further trade and communication between Houston and its sisters across the globe. While these sister city relationships are officially established through formal agreements by the respective municipal governments, Houston’s own sister city group is a volunteer-based program that works with the City of Houston. SCH hosts regular networking dinners and other activities centered around building relationships with Nice as well as cities such as Istanbul, Leipzig and Perth.

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The Deputy Mayor of Nice, Rudy Salles (center, in suit), recently visited Houston along with 12 other delegates from our French sister city.

The Deputy Mayor of Nice Was Recently in Houston

The Jumelage de Nice et Houston—translation: Houston-Nice Sister City Committee—hosted Rudy Salles, the Deputy Mayor of Nice, and 12 delegates from the French city at our own City Hall in April. The volunteer organization works in partnership with SCH to increase cooperation in even more specific fields such as research and medicine, says Lina Corinth, vice president of the SCH's Houston-Nice committee.

A Memorial Vigil for Nice Will Be Held Tomorrow Night

The SCH and the Jumelage de Nice et Houston are holding a prayer vigil tomorrow, July 16, at the reflecting pool outside City Hall (900 Smith St.) at 8 p.m., to "to show our support and love to Nice, the victims of this tragic events and the people of France." 

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