Step Back in Time with Three Celebrated Buildings in Nice
November 27, 2017
In this blog we step back in time with three celebrated buildings in Nice.
Churchill, Chaplin, Piaf, Picasso, Taylor and Burton, the Beatles . . . The Négresco’s guest list is legendary. It was built in 1912 for Henri Négresco, once a gypsy violin serenader, who went bankrupt eight years later. Nevertheless, it remains a famous Riviera landmark, a National Historic Monument and one of France’s most magnificent hotels.
The interior is full of surprises, ranging from the world’s largest Aubusson carpet to gaudy, gold glittery bathroom suites. The décor is inspired by Versailles and the lavatories alone are more lavishly ornamented than many other hotel lounges.
From the outside, its pink and white turreted façade looks more like a wedding cake than a hotel. You may have trouble finding the main entrance because it is in a small back street. The whole hotel was built backwards to protect guests from the then unfashionable sun.
In a narrow back street at the heart of the Vieille Ville, behind a façade of ornate balconies and pilasters adorned with garlands of flowers, lies the beautiful Palais Lascaris. This Genoese style palace was originally four separate houses, bought in 1648 by the powerful Lascaris-Ventimiglia family. The city of Nice purchased the property in 1942 and has since restored this noble building.
In the entrance hall, the family coat of arms is engraved on the ceiling, bearing the motto ‘Not even lightning strikes us’. On the ground floor, there is a reconstruction of a pharmacy dated 1738, with an unusual collection of porcelain vases. A grandiose balustraded staircase, decorated with 17th century paintings and statues of Mars and Venus, leads to sumptuous reception rooms containing elegant chandeliers, Flemish tapestries, 17th and 18th century furniture and a trompe-l’oeil ceiling.
Palais Masséna – Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Palais Massena was built in the first Empire style in 1901 by Prince Victor Masséna, the great grandson of Nice born, Marshal Messéna, Napoléon’s ruthlessly ambitious military genius. The building was bequeathed to the city of Nice on the condition it became a museum devoted to regional history.
The solemn statue of Napoléon that stands near the entrance sets the tone for the wide ranging historical exhibits inside, which include paintings by members of the early Nice School, a library containing over 10,000 rare books and manuscripts, and a fearsome collection of 15th and 16th century weaponry. There are various rooms dedicated to Garibaldi, Napoléon, Marshall Masséna and the Nice plebiscite of 1860. A fascinating section is reserved for local traditions; especially enjoyable are the collections of costumes, furniture, faïence pottery (tin glazed earthenware) and regional craftwork.