Visiting the Riviera Palace by Georges-Paul Chedanne, Beausoleil, France, dating from 1903: fine, Mediterranean views

Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
The former Riviera Palace hotel, Beausoleil
The former Riviera Palace hotel, Beausoleil | Source
Map location of Alpes-Maritimes department, France
Map location of Alpes-Maritimes department, France | Source

'Belle Epoque' grace, at a height of 180 metres

This elegant building, dating from the Belle Epoque , an era when so many fine structures emerged in France, is situated in Beausoleil, in the department of Alpes-Maritimes.

Some history and features

Its architect was Georges-Paul Chedanne (1861-1940), also known for the Galéries Lafayette, Paris, the French Embassy, Vienna, and many other fine building designs.

The Riviera Palace served as a hotel in the early years of its existence, at a time when the town of Beausoleil was undergoing considerable growth and expansion; the future mayor of the town, Camille Blanc, exercised significant input into the building of the edifice. The town is characterized by steep inclines and the Riviera Palace is situated at a height of 180 metres, from where the views of the nearby Mediterranean coastline are breathtaking.

The principal building material for the Riviera Palace was concrete, with stucco facing. It was begun in 1898 and completed in 1903.

Access to the Riviera Palace included the use of a funicular railroad, the Downtown terminus of which was located close to the border between France and the neighbouring Principality of Monaco at place de la Crémaillière . However, a fatal accident put the funicular railway out of service in 1932. After an economic downturn, the management of the Riviera Palace Hotel eventually found it increasingly difficult to remain in business and the building was converted into private residential accommodation, which function it currently serves. When from time to time some of these units come onto the property market, they are thus highly sought after properties.

A Winter Garden at the Riviera Palace has a glass roof by Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), the celebrated architect of the Tower named for him in Paris.

Interestingly, when the Riviera Palace was built, the official name of what is now Beausoleil was Monte-Carlo Supérieur (Upper Monte-Carlo), which at the time formed part of the municipality of La Turbie. With its ancient Roman-era ruins, La Turbie still exists as a municipality, albeit with a significantly smaller territory.

By the year 1989, the Riviera Palace had been acknowledged in France as a national monument.

Linguistic note

It is useful to bear in mind that the word 'Riviera', which occurs in the name of this building and which, in the phrase 'French Riviera', is used in English generally to refer to the coastline of France's Alpes-Maritimes department, is actually referred to by French people as the 'Côte-d'Azur'. The word 'Riviera' itself is Italian and is used in Italy to denote the coastline of the nearby Italian region of Liguria. In Italian, different parts of the Riviera are referred to as 'Riviera di Levante' and 'Riviera di Ponente', the second term of which is also sometimes used to refer to what in France is usually called the 'Côte-d'Azur'. It may be noted also that the Alpes-Maritimes department, largely consisting of the former County of Nice, has been definitively part of France only since 1861, some 38 years before building of the Riviera Palace commenced.

Also worth seeing

In Beausoleil itself, the Town Hall is a splendid building, regularly floodlit. The tower of the church of St.Joseph is a prominent landmark.

In the Principality of Monaco , close to the border with Beausoleil, is St.Charles's Church, Monte-Carlo (distance by road: 1.4 kilometres). Monaco Town (French: Monaco-Ville ; (distance: 3.4 kilometres) has numerous visitor attractions, including the Prince's Palace, the Cathedral, and the Oceanographic museum.

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How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur ), where car rental is available. There are regular bus links from Nice airport to Beausoleil /Monaco. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. For border crossing arrangements which may apply to travellers of certain nationalities, please consult the appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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