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Belle Époque Architecture: Jewel of the city of Nice

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The Belle Époque architecture has elegantly and refinedly redesigned the space of Nice. Becoming inseparable from the azure city, this architectural movement has left it with a dazzling architectural heritage.

What is Belle Époque architecture?

The term is used to evoke the characteristic architectural styles of the Belle Époque. During this period, the affluent classes built buildings with unique architecture. To meet the demands of their clients, architects drew inspiration from various historical and architectural elements, ranging from Neo-Moorish style to Neo-Renaissance style, and even reinventing French classicism from the 17th-18th centuries. One style emerged and still remains particularly associated with this period: Art Nouveau.

Belle Époque architecture: an innovative movement in Nice

Nice has a special history with Belle Époque architecture. Historians, with Michel Steve at the forefront, consider this architectural period in Nice to extend from 1860 (the date of the annexation of the County of Nice by France) to 1914, rather than from 1870 to 1914. Two periods are then distinguished.

Nice's Belle Époque architecture from 1860 to 1900

During this period, several buildings were created under the impetus of private patrons. The majority of these patrons were wealthy foreign winter visitors who shaped Nice's first Belle Époque style. As early as 1860, these creations marked a transition to a new and decorative architecture. This architecture then reflected the picturesque vision held by the rich international residents of the region. This can be seen, for example, in the case of Château Smith, also known as "Château de l'Anglais," which was built in the style of an Indian palace (for its patron, Nice was as exotic as India at the time!), Villa Vigier (now destroyed), or Château de Valrose. It was also during this period that the famous Renaissance-style "palaces" appeared, which strongly marked the space in Nice. Some of these Italian-inspired palaces also drew from the rustic heritage of the city, creating a new style known as "Italo-Niçois." At the end of the period, the construction of palaces in a more neutral architectural style influenced by Paris also began. The Hôtel Régina, built in 1896, is particularly representative of this trend, which would be further developed in the following period.

Nice's Belle Époque architecture from 1900 to 1914

This second period saw the construction of more formally Nice-style Belle Époque buildings, as well as a more cosmopolitan approach to architecture. If the first period was private and Italianizing, this period was semi-public and marked by classicism. Hotels replaced villas in a more sober and less extravagant style. This was the era of grand palaces, the new place of residence for foreign clientele that would leave a lasting mark on the urban landscape of Nice. Architect Charles Dalmas would be one of its great representatives. He notably created the famous Royal, Ruhl, Hermitage, Carlton, and Langham hotels.

Dalmas' Belle Époque style would be adopted by several architects to the point of making it one of the major architectural characteristics of Nice:

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(dernière mise à jour 25 Jul 2023 à 03:07 )