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Sisterhood relationship applauded as 'perfect match'

By CHEN WEIHUA in Nice, France | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-05-06 10:10
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To Rudy Salles, deputy chairman of the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolitan Tourist Office, the sister-city relationship between Nice on the French Riviera and Hangzhou in East China is a perfect match.

Spanning about 9,300 kilometers, the two vibrant cities have been fostering a unique bond since their official declaration as sister cities in 1998.

Having visited Hangzhou several times, Salles describes it as a "beautiful city", a metropolis boasting a population of 12 million.

The two cities have actively nurtured their connection through numerous initiatives, including extending invitations to each other's major events, he said.

Salles was fascinated by the "incredible" shows on the West Lake that he has watched several times, and the dinners he has had by the lake.

"I remember all that and I hope I will go back as soon as possible," said the 69-year-old, who was a member of the French National Assembly from 1988 to 2017, including serving as its vice-president.

Salles also recalled a Nice food festival at the Dragon Hotel Hangzhou, where traditional food, such as salade nicoise — made from tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives and anchovies or tuna and dressed with olive oil, and pan bagnat, a sandwich made from whole wheat bread enclosing the classic salade nicoise, was served.

Hangzhou had received an invitation to attend the annual carnival in Nice, one of the largest in the world, which concluded in March.

In 2017, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the sister-city ties, Hangzhou Opera and Dance Drama Theater staged the show To Meet the Grand Canal in Nice, at the invitation of the Nice government.

Prestigious positions

Both Hangzhou's Grand Canal and West Lake, along with the city of Nice itself, hold prestigious positions on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

"We have many exchanges like this, cultural exchanges between our two cities, and we are proud of it," Salles said.

Nice has developed links with many other Chinese cities, he said, such as Hong Kong, Macao, Ningbo, Xiamen and Zhuhai.

Nice had become the second-most popular destination after Paris for Chinese tourists in France, Salles said. During his term as the city's deputy mayor, he had called for efforts to attract Chinese tourists.

Emphasizing the importance of exchanges between China and France, Salles said people in France should know more about China, and Chinese should know more about France.

Having visited several Chinese cities, he said, "It's important for French people to discover China, because it's not just three or four cities, but many new and beautiful cities.

"It's a modern country, very well-organized, welcoming to foreigners.

"I just want to tell the people who don't know China — that the progress in China in the last 50 years has been enormous."

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