Paris has its Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower. While Nice has its Promenade des Anglais and the Hotel Negresco. Whenever you will see a postcard or a documentary about Nice, be sure you will see the Negresco in it. The shiny white Belle Epoque building with its pink dome is moored like a vessel in the heart of the famous Promenade des Anglais.
It was built in 1912 by the very ambitious Romanian Chef Henri Negrescu. Between Monaco and Nice he had worked in the finest Restaurants. Kings, Queens, Princes and rich business men, everyone admired Negrescu’s art of cooking. Very quickly, the young man dreamt of building his own Hotel and of owning his own Restaurant. He wanted to offer his future guests the most beautiful, the most comfortable and the most luxurious Hotel in France.
For the construction, he chose one of the most famous architects of the Belle Epoque: Edouard Niermans. For the location: The Bay of Angels. When it was inaugurated in 1913, the Hotel was equipped with the most modern comfort of its time.
During its first year, it welcomed the Vanderbilts, the Singers, the Queen of Portugal and the Grand Ducs of Russia. It had become one of the most sumptuous Palaces.
But already in 1914 the glory ended with the beginning of World War I. The Hotel was turned into a Hospital. After Negrescu’s death in 1920, it will be bought by a Belgium Company. For more than 30 years the Hotel will sail without wind and without an ambitious captain.
But in 1957, thanks to a stroke of destiny, the Negresco will revive again. The family Augier, ambitious building promoters, bought it. I was the only Hotel to have an elevator big enough for a wheelchair to enter. After a failed operation Madame Augier, who until then had lived a block away from the Negresco, was forced to sit in a wheelchair. Her daughter Jeanne fell immediately in love with the old Hotel. She decided to restore it and to decorate it with the most beautiful art work and historical furniture.
With the Negresco, Jeanne Augier wanted to create a kind of Versailles on the French Riviera. Incognito, she travelled all over France and visited plenty of auctions in order to find the right pieces for her palace. All the rooms and suites are in a different historical style. Walking through the floors and rooms of the Hotel is like walking through the history of France.
Thanks to Jeanne Augier, the Hotel regained its splendor and fame. It became a majestic Hotel-Museum. For 62 years and until her death in 2019 at the age of 95 years, she was the fearless Captain of her vessel.
The list of famous guests who stayed and still stay in her Hotel is endless. Head of States, actors, artists, business men from all over the world. From Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, to Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, the Beatles and many more.
There are so many interesting and funny anecdotes about the Hotel Negresco and its famous guests. If you would like to learn more, it will be my pleasure to share them with you during one of my tours. I am also happy to pick you up with my van at the Negresco, if you decide to stay there during your visit of Nice.