The French Riviera: A Cultural History

Overview

We all have our image of the French Riviera: the azure blue of the sea and the swimming pools; the dark green of the pines and the swaying palms; the yachts and the sports cars on the Corniche roads; the hovering croupiers raking in the chips in the Monte Carlo casino.

But there is another Riviera. Above Monaco towers a ruined reminder of Roman power, the Emperor Augustus' Trophy of the Alps. Monuments to Napoleon and Maginot Line forts testify to turbulent times, while statues ...

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Overview

We all have our image of the French Riviera: the azure blue of the sea and the swimming pools; the dark green of the pines and the swaying palms; the yachts and the sports cars on the Corniche roads; the hovering croupiers raking in the chips in the Monte Carlo casino.

But there is another Riviera. Above Monaco towers a ruined reminder of Roman power, the Emperor Augustus' Trophy of the Alps. Monuments to Napoleon and Maginot Line forts testify to turbulent times, while statues and gravestones recall the years from the belle ?poque to the 1930s when the British, then the Russians and Americans swept in with their money, and their weak lungs, for relaxation and rest cures.

The C?te d'Azur is now French. But for centuries, until 1860, the land from Nice eastwards to Menton and the Italian border, were part of the Kingdoms of Savoy and Sardinia. Churches and chapels all along the coast and in the inland, hilltop villages and towns contain pictorial and architectural treasures from the Brea family during the Renaissance to Picasso and Matisse in the twentieth century. Grand hotels and villas, the film festival at Cannes all place the Riviera at the center of show business and artistic enterprise.

If the Riviera has had its critics-Somerset Maugham famously used the Phrase "a sunny place for shady people"-it remains the epitome of glamour. Julian Hale reveals how a piece of rugged, inaccessible coastline was transformed into a byword for luxury and hedonism-but always with a special beauty of its own.

Foreigners and Expatriates: the British "discovery" of the Riviera; Russian millionaires and American bohemians; grand villas and hotels; the lure of the Casino; Riviera gardens.

Artists and Writers: Renoir, Chagall and Bonnard; F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton; Chekhov and Diaghilev.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195398748
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/10/2010
  • Series: LANDSCAPES OF IMAGINATION Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,279,226
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Julian Hale is a writer and broadcaster who divides his time between London and Menton.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements ix

Introduction: Paradise Imagined xi

Chapter 1 Via Aurelia: The Roman Riviera 1

Le Troph?e des Alpes 4

Via Julia Augusta 5

Cemenelum and Antipolis 8

Forum Julii (Fr?jus) 8

Fragments 12

Chapter 2 A Paradise at War: The Riviera as Battleground 15

The Middle Ages 17

Napoleon and After 18

The Maginot Line 21

The Pont St.-Louis 24

Occupation 25

The Champagne Campaign 28

War and Peace 32

Chapter 3 A Dynastic Record: Monaco and the Grimaldis 33

The Story of Monaco 35

Monte Carlo and the Casino 38

A Succession of Princes 46

The Rainier and Grace Effect 52

Chapter 4 Snobs, Consumptives and Penpushers: The British 57

First Comers 59

The Great Influx 67

Late Comers 72

Nobs and Snobs 80

New Comers 82

Chapter 5 Roubles and Roulette: The Russians 83

The Belle Epoque-Russian Style 83

Revolution and Change 89

The Rouble's Return 94

Chapter 6 An Azure Dream: The Americans 95

First Impressions 98

The Literary Elite 99

The Very Rich 101

Literary Refractions 104

Chapter 7 Natives and Neighbours: The French 111

Litt?rateurs by the Sea 115

Colette and St.-Tropez 121

The Dark Side: Simenon and Sartre 124

Poets and Drinkers 128

Dangerous Liaisons 129

Footnote 1: The Languages of the Riviera 131

Footnote 2: The Food of the Riviera 133

Chapter 8 Finding the Light: Art, Music and Cinema on the Riviera 135

The Nice Primitives 135

Jean Mirahlet and the Penitents 135

The Brea Circle 138

The Acceptance of Art 139

Riviera Collections 141

Artists on the Riviera: Renoir, Matisse and Chagall 147

Picasso, L?ger and Bonnard 153

Jean Cocteau 156

Nall 157

Music 158

Cinema: Nice's Studios and the Cannes Film Festival 159

Chapter 9 Building the Dream: Religious and Secular Architecture 165

The Baroque 166

The Nineteenth Century 168

Grand Hotels and Casinos 170

The Modem Villa 173

The Twentieth Century 178

Synagogues, Mosques and Pagodas 182

In Context 183

Chapter 10 Eden Tamed: The Art of Cultivation 185

Untamed Beauty 187

The Hanbury Gardens 192

Historical Gardens 193

Collectors' Gardens 196

Show Gardens 199

Eze and Cap Ferrat: Exclusive Playgrounds 202

Urban Oases 203

Port-Cros 204

Chapter 11 Hilltops and Islands: Tall Stories from the Back Country 205

Ste.-Agn?s, Gorbio and Castellar 207

Castillon and Sospel 207

Roquebrune 209

Peillon and Peille, plus Eze 209

Behind Nice: From the Paillon to the Var Valleys 211

Behind Cannes 211

Behind St.-Tropez 213

The Avant-Pays: Islands off the Riviera Coast 214

Further Reading 221

Index of Literary & Historical Names 225

Index of Places & Landmarks 231

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