Nice Family? En famille at the Massena Palace

Tish Farrell

The family who lived in the Palais de Masena

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Believe me, the family gathering depicted in these two murals has more tales to tell than most. They could be the very depiction of Tolstoy’s famous opening to the tragic novel Anna Karenina: (and I paraphrase) all happy families look alike, but the unhappy ones are unhappy in their own inimitable way. I leave you to decide which sort we have here.

But before the stories, first a little about the murals’ setting. They face one another across the top of the grand staircase in the Palais Masséna in Nice. This imposing house was one of the last of its kind to be built on the Promenade des Anglais, looking

Palais de Masena

out on the sparkling blue Mediterranean.  It was designed by Danish architect Hans-Georg Tersling (1857-1920),  and  finished in 1901. By then Nice had long been a thriving upper class resort, a trend begun in the 1730s when British aristocrats…

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Stunning Belle Epoque architecture in Nice – lost and “recovered”

Re-blogged from ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly.

Nice Winter Garden 1895

Nice Winter Garden 1895

The city of Nice in southern France has long attracted holiday makers from the north. The construction of the Promenade des Anglais in 1820 suggests that the town council was actively targeting British tourists who, if they had enough money, would certainly want to avoid the cold winter at home. But Nice’s lovely beach and attractive weather did not seem to be enough. In the 1870s Nice’s Council decided to examine Brighton Palace and London’s Crystal Palace, to create a pier and casino that would be appealing in Belle Epoque France. It was to have a casino, cafes, restaurants, shops, theatre and a great space for promenading. The location was perfect – Place Masséna where Nice is closest to the sand and water. And so was the timing – compare this plan with the Victoria Pier in South Blackpool that opened at the same time. A suspicious fire broke out just days before the Nice pier was due to be opened to the public in April 1883. But finally, years after the project was first mooted, the casino (opened 1884) and pier (opened 1891) were finished. Every thing was top notch for the complex facing Place Massena: the music, operettas, vaude­ville and orchestras, all a huge success with visitors. The casino was even extended to the rear with a hall containing a much-loved winter gard­en, totally covered in a huge glass roof… Read more: ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly.