Two Departments have been named after the mountain range in the southeastern corner of mainland France.

(1) The first Département des Alpes-Maritimes was formed in 1793 from the annexed lands of the County of Nice (previously in the Kingdom of Sardinia) and the Principality of Monaco, but in 1814 the lands were given up by France and the department ceased to exist.

Signs welcoming visitors to the French city of...

Signs welcoming visitors to the French city of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and department of Alpes-Maritimes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(2) The second Département des Alpes-Maritime (06) was formed in 1860 from (i) the County of Nice, which had just been ceded to France by the Kingdom of Sardinia;  (ii) the districts around Roquebrune and Menton, which had more or less seceded from Monaco in 1848; and (iii) the eastern sector of the Department of the Var around the town of Grasses, formerly part of Provence.

In 1940 the border districts of the department were seized by Italian troops during the brief period of fighting and were annexed by Italy in 1940.   The remainder of the department was in unoccupied France, though Italy claimed the former county of Nice as its own.   After the allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, Italian troops occupied the rest of the Alpes-Maritimes, though in 1943 they were replaced by Germans.

The department has belonged to the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region since 1964.

The capital is Nice, which is also the see of the Bishop.   The other sub-prefecture is Grasses, in the west.   Monaco was a sub-prefecture in the first Alpes-Maritimes.   So was Puget-Théniers, in the northwest, which also served in the same capacity in the second Alpes-Maritimes until 1926

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