don’t know what I did to deserve it, in this life or the last, but I’ve recently spent ten months in Nice with my family as part of a university exchange. In most cities, the bus from the airport is an embarrassment, as it chugs through the grottiest back-quarters. Not so Nice, where our visitors start letting out little squeals of delight the minute we turn onto the Promenade des Anglais (English Walk) with its giant palms, orange and lemon trees, and the glittering Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) opening out before them like a ballerina spreading her arms. As for me, I always watch out for the spot where Isadora Duncan’s red Chinese shawl got wound around the wheel of the Amilcar Grand Sport in which a young mechanic was taking her for a test-drive, that warm September evening in 1927 ... But Nice has a longer pedigree than that. The school our kids go to (free and excellent, as you’d expect of French education) is just around the corner from an archaeological site called Terra Amata, where a band of elephant hunters – Homo erectus, upright hominids and possibly our ancestors – made very Previous pages, sea view at Neptune Plage in front of the famed Hotel Le Negresco and, this page, right, divers at Castel Plage soak up the sun. Below, writer Emma Donoghue at home in Nice.