Partially eclipsed by the glitterati of Cannes and the royal glare of Monaco, Nice is a place where even the brightest stars — like Brangelina — are greeted by little more than indifference.
Only the presence of paparazzi outside the seaside hospital where Angelina Jolie is waiting to give birth to twins gives any indication that the star is in the seaside resort in Southern France.
The Cote d'Azur has long been the playground of the rich and famous. Elton John, Bono and Brigitte Bardot are among the stars with houses in the region. But Nice likes to think of itself as more down-to-earth than its celebrity-crazed neighbors.
"Of course it is less glamorous. It's more for active people, people who love art, sport and gastronomy," said tourism bureau spokeswoman Isabelle Billey Quere. "It's a real town," she said, with a university, France's largest airport and largest art collection outside of Paris, 7.5 miles of shoreline — and a population that has grown accustomed to the arrival of foreigners and celebrities from at least the mid-19th century.
There are no gaggles of autograph-seekers waiting to catch a glimpse of Brad Pitt as he comes and goes, and just a handful of English-speaking tourists held their cell phones aloft in an attempt to snap photos of two of the couple's children leaving the hospital on Thursday. Jolie herself is on the fifth-floor with tinted windows — affording her privacy along with a fabulous view of the Mediterranean.
French women ‘don't aspire to be (Jolie)’
The constant flow of celebrities through the Riviera also contributes to the blase reception, said Nancy Wilson, assistant editor of the English-language Riviera Reporter and correspondent for People magazine.
"But I think all the French have this attitude, that celebrities' private lives are their own concern, and that celebrities are no better than them," Wilson said. "French people are very proud, especially the women, who are very sexy and confident; they see Angelina Jolie and don't aspire to be her."
No one is more surprised than the Nicois that Jolie and Pitt chose their city — and a regular maternity ward where normal citizens go to have their babies.
In Southern France, a strong culture of respect for privacy seems to have had nearly the same effect.
"(Celebrities) love Nice because they can be anonymous here, not like Monaco or Cannes. They can go around town and no one tries to approach them. It is very easy for them," said Myriam Chokairy, the international press spokeswoman for the tourism office.
Just last week, Chokairy said her brother ran into Tony Parker and Eva Longoria at their neighborhood pharmacy.
"They were regular customers. No one bothered them," she said.
Jolie and Pitt and their four children — including their adopted children Maddox, 6; Pax, 4; Zahara, 3 — have been settling into a new home in Correns, in the Provence region, about 60 miles from the Lenval clinic where Jolie arrived Sunday. Her doctor said she will remain in the hospital until she gives birth "in the coming weeks."