The French Riviera has some amazing old buildings ranging from palace hotels along the Croisette in Cannes, to Belle Époque mansions in Cap Ferrat and Art Deco apartments lining the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
For a while now, I’ve been intending to look into the history of some of these beautiful architectural gems located in my own neighbourhood – Juan les Pins.
Juan les Pins grew in popularity from the 1920’s when it became fashionable as a resort town for wealthy aristocrats and a place to be seen by artists, writers and the movers and shakers of the Belle Époque and Jazz Age.
JUAN LES PINS HERITAGE TRAIL
This free Heritage Trail covers 17 places of interest and architectural landmarks of Juan les Pins related to the eras of Belle Époque, Art Deco and/or the Jazz Age.
I have designed it to include major places of interest that are as accessible as possible.
Numbers 1-16 are situated on flat, paved pavements and entirely accessible for families with baby buggies/strollers, and wheelchair-bound tourists – Please note: one place of interest, number 17 Château de Juan les Pins is situated on a steep paved residential street and there are no pavements.
Numbers 1-16 on this Heritage Trail are suitable for:
Families with baby buggies/strollers (Familles avec poussettes)
Wheelchair-bound tourists or those with reduced mobility that need to avoid stairs (Personnes avec fauteuil roulant ou avec mobilité réduite)
Duration: 40 minutes – 1.25 hours
Juan les Pins Heritage Trail : Art Deco, Belle Époque & Jazz Age
- Villa Al-Djezair, 1 boulevard Charles-Guillaumont
Built in 1922 by Cannes architect Ernest Truch, it is one of the best preserved examples on the Côte d’Azur of Moorish architecture. The style showcases the orientalist references: Minaret, cupolas and domes, terraces lined with battlements and merlons, latticework and Arabic decoration. The garden is planted with exotic species. The villa’s name was inspired by the original owner’s vacations in Algeria.
- Juan les Pins railway over-bridge, avenue Amiral Courbet, Juan les Pins
Example of Art Deco decoration with geometric columns and floral designs – artist unknown.
- Palais Beau Rivage, 16 avenue de Guy Maupassant
Built in the 1930’s and designed by Cannes architect César Cavallin, this building is now private residential apartments. The balconies, forged iron and geometric motifs on the façade are typical of Art Deco style.
- La Baigneuse, statue by Alphonse Grebel
Installed in 1940, the statue symbolises the beautiful life in Juan les Pins. Grebel also has other statues in the area ‘L’hymne au soleil’ at nearby Antibes les Pins beside Parc Exflora, and a sculpture of Andrè Capron in Cannes.
- Villa L’ile Verte, 21 avenue Maréchal Joffre
This villa was built in 1891 by architect Ernest Macé (who was the auctioneer of the plans of the new Antibes city in 1895), and is an example of seaside architecture of the Belle Epoque. The name ‘L’ile Verte’ is due to the large garden that surrounds the villa on three sides.
- Palais Mirasol, avenue Docteur Hochet
Built in 1926, the front door entrance is an example of typical Art Deco rounded design.
- Auberge du Pin Doré, 21 avenue du Docteur Fabre, Juan les Pins
Built in the 1920’s by French architects François Aragon and Edmond Copello, the building’s Art Deco and neo-Provencal facade boasts a wealth of ornamental features characteristic of these styles: large vases, wrought iron balustrades, round windows, round arched windows and geometrical decoration in sgraffito (wall decoration obtained by applying a light render on a dark background which is scratched with a point to obtain a design).
In the 1930’s, Auberge du Pin Doré hotel was a firm favourite with the British colony. It had a winter restaurant in the basement and the terrace, still visible today, served as a summer restaurant. Note: Look for the sgraffito decoration on the right-hand side entrance wall of one of the outbuildings that depicts the date it was built in Roman numerals: 1926.
Auberge du Pin Doré welcomed the Blue Lagoon Orchestra Jazz Band and other guests for the Jazz à Juan festival. Today, the building houses a mixture of private residential and holiday rental apartments. The exterior of the building was repainted in 2012 with façade murals to replicate the previous hotel.
- Palais Wilson, 120 boulevard Président Wilson
The Palais Wilson is a prime example of 1930’s architecture, built to the plans of Georges Dikansky, the architect of the nearby Hotel Juana and Le Grand Pavois.
He designed a building with roof terraces with views of the surrounding countryside, which was very open at the time. Its facades were decorated with beautiful mosaics, pergolas and detailed wrought ironwork.
Today, the building houses residential apartments and offices.
- Pam-Pam bar, 137 boulevard Président Wilson
Originally created in the late 1920’s by an American, today Pam-Pam is a busy Brazilian-themed bar to visit in summer for a cocktail or ice-cream sundae.
In the past, Pam-Pam welcomed many celebrities including Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Rita Hayworth, and many jazz stars held jam-sessions in the back room and on the street terrace.
- Hotel Juana, 19 avenue Georges Gallice
Designed in 1931, the Hôtel Juana, was built for Joseph Barale, a Russian industrialist, in the purest Art Deco tradition.
The hotel welcomed many celebrities, including Ella Fitzgerald, and it became one of the first air-conditioned hotels on the French Riviera.
Since it was built, the façade of this listed historic building has remained unchanged with the stucco decoration, wrought iron, fluting, columns, balconies and round arched windows.
Today, the hotel remains one of the flagships of Juan les Pin’s hotel industry.
- Hotel Le Grand Pavois, 5 avenue Saramartel, Juan les Pins
Hot on the heels of the Provençal, Le Grand Pavois hotel was built on the site of a villa that had belonged to a Russian national from Saint Petersburg.
The hotel, whose plans were designed by the architect Georges Dikansky (already creator of the Hotel Juana and Palais Wilson), opened for business in spring 1932.
The hotel was built in a rationalist style, very much in fashion at the time. It is reminiscent of the bows of an ocean liner, with the Art deco dining room done out in the same style.
- Jazz Walk-of-Fame, 20 boulevard Édouard Baudoin (square Gould), Juan les Pins
Located beside ‘La Pinède Gould’ (the site of the annual Jazz à Juan Jazz Festival), you can stroll along the walk-of-fame and see handprints of many jazz musicians including Sidney Bechet, BB King and Ray Charles who have played at the festival over the years, set into the pavement.
- Hôtel Le Provençal, boulevard Édouard Baudoin
In the Roaring Twenties, foreigners came to Juan les Pins for its climate and extravagant lifestyle and recognising the attraction of a seaside resort in the vein of Miami without the crowds, American millionaire Frank Jay Gould, the son of financier Jay Gould, a developer of American railways built Le Provençal in 1926.
At its opening, the hotel was considered extremely avant-garde with a tennis club, jetty, restaurants and luxury suites, and signalled a whole new era on the Côte d’Azur.
Le Provençal became hugely popular, especially with the Hollywood crowd, gaining a reputation as the ‘place-to-be’ in Juan les Pins, and a spot where the world’s celebrities and beautiful people came to party.
Over the years Edith Piaf danced in the ballroom, Coco Chanel and Marilyn Monroe are said to have lounged on the expansive terrace, and Ella Fitzgerald is remembered for having thrown open an upstairs window of the hotel to serenade the crowds below. At various times Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway propped up the hotel’s bar.
By the 1970’s its heyday was past, and in 1976 the hotel was shut for the last time. Its owner, Parisian jeweller Alexandre Reza, decided to close Le Provençal for a complete makeover, but the refurbishment never eventuated and the building was left to fall into ruin, remaining one of Juan les Pin’s most prominent unused buildings.
Development was restarted in 2009 and has been delayed numerous times. The hotel was bought by Cyril Dennis, a British-born, Monaco-based property developer who made his fortune by investing in London’s Docklands in the 1980s. His intention was for the owners of the luxury apartments to have access to concierge services, a luxury boat, helicopters, and a ski chalet in Courchevel.
It has since been resold to John Caudwell, a British philanthropist and billionaire of mobile phone fortune who is intending to build twenty to thirty luxury apartments.
- Villa Picolette, boulevard Édouard Baudoin
Built at the end of the 19th-century, Villa Picolette has a wealth of Mediterranean resort architectural features: a loggia at the top of the tower, a beautiful ornamental frieze depicting storks and ceramics on its façades.
The villa is one of the oldest houses in Juan-les-Pins and is featured on numerous period views of Juan les Pins, especially on vintage travel posters and postcards.
- Hôtel Belles Rives / Villa Saint-Louis, 33 boulevard Édouard Baudoin
The history of the Hôtel Belles Rives started in 1925 with Francis Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The American writer and his wife were staying with friends in Cap d’Antibes and seduced by the charm of the place, they decided to move into the Villa Saint-Louis, a seaside residence surrounded by pines.
The villa was built by Nice architect Charles Dalmas (who also built the Carlton in Cannes and Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice). It was there that they lived and regularly received friends such as Rudolf Valentino and Ernest Hemingway.
In 1929, a Russian named Boma Estène travelled to Paris to meet with the villa’s owner, an elderly French widow. He proposed the idea to transform Villa Saint-Louis into a hotel. With his wife Simone, from a dynasty of hoteliers, owners of the Hôtel Splendid in Antibes they turned this charming little villa by the water’s edge into the Hotel Belles Rives.
Between 1930-1931, Cannes architect César Cavallin added a wing and two floors to the establishment which then had 44 rooms. It was the Niçois designer Victor Gillino, designer of the furniture at the Palm Beach and Cannes Casino, who applied his talent to the interior design of the rooms in the new establishment, using a blend of precious wood and innovative forms.
After the Second World War, architect Maurice Guilgot modernised the Belles Rives by building a beach. The current owner Marianne Estène-Chauvin (third generation of the Estène family) acquired the hotel in 2001.
The hotel is elegant and furnished in 1930’s style and décor sympathetic to the time of Fitzgerald.
If you visit the Hôtel Belles Rives, try one of their two signature cocktails at the Fitzgerald Bar – the Hemingway (rum, grapefruit juice, lime and cherry liqueur) and the Gatsby (gin, lychee liqueur, violet syrup and Perrier).
- Villa La Vigie, next to Hôtel Belles Rives. 30-37 boulevard Édouard Baudoin
Not to be confused with villas of the same name in Monte-Carlo and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, this neo-medieval style villa was built in 1912 by an eccentric American.
It was painted by Picasso in 1924 as seen from the Chêne Roc Villa where he set up an artist’s studio in a garage across the boulevard.
Villa La Vigie, Picasso
The villa was purchased in 1928 by Frank Jay Gould, and his wife Florence Gould received the celebrities of the era including Jean Cocteau, Charlie Chaplin, even Estée Lauder at her famous lunches.
In 1956, widening of the boulevard lead to demolition of an annex and Florence Gould asked for a reconstruction sympathetic to the Hôtel Belles Rives to be built on the plot of the Chêne Roc Villa to give two contiguous dependencies a homogeneous look.
- Chateau de Juan les Pins (known as Castle of the Crouton), 62 chemin du Crouton
Built in 1860, the chateau was the residence of Queen Emilie of Saxony. It was acquired in 1914 by an American perfume manufacturer, Richard Hudnut, and his adopted daughter, Natacha Rambova and his son-in-law Rudolph Valentino chose to reside there in the summer.
A local Antibois architect Henri Logut purchased the property and subdivided the garden in 1951, then the chateau itself in 1954. A loggia was built in 1980 to take advantage of the garden and views.
Other places of interest in the local area (Note: These are not numbered on the Heritage Trail map):
Villa La Calade, 61 passage du Diable, Cap d’Antibes
The distinguishing feature of this villa is its colour. It was built in 1937 by the Cannes architect César Cavallin. It was built on principles of functionalism favoured by the architects at the time and was inspired by the ocean liner style: portholes, tubular hand rails, masts, etc.
Villa Aujourd’hui, 1546 boulevard Maréchal Juin, Cap d’Antibes
Villa Aujourd’hui was built in 1938 for a wealthy American, Audrey Chadwick, by the American architect Barry Dierks (1899-1960) who spent his entire career on the French Riviera. The villa follows the curve of the road, and is situated next to Port de l’Olivette, a small harbour that berths traditional fishing boats (pointus).
It is one of the most beautiful modern houses in the region with simple forms and minimal lines, The house was bought just before 1950 by Jack Warner, co-founder and chairman of Warner Bros, and guests included a host of Hollywood notables such as Charlie Chaplin.
Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, boulevard John F Kennedy, Cap d’Antibes
Built in 1870 in the purest Napoleon III style at the initiative of Auguste Villemessant, founder of Le Figaro, as a place for convalescing artists and writers to stay, it was first named La Villa Soleil before becoming the mythical Hôtel du Cap in 1889.
Celebrities and royalty were quickly charmed by the place with guests over the years including Russian royalty, Sir Gordon-Bennett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Douglas Fairbank, Mary Pickford, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, the entire Kennedy family, Gary Cooper, Marc Chagall, Madonna, Tom Cruise, Robert de Niro, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
If the hotel looks familiar, you’d be right – it’s a popular filming location and has featuring in 1971 Bond movie ‘Diamonds are Forever’, 1986 film ‘Under the Cherry Moon’, and Dior’s beautiful ‘Miss Dior’ commercial starring Natalie Portman. Today, high profile stars flock here during the Cannes Film Festival and the regular gala events. It is one of the finest examples of luxury hotels on the French Riviera.
Villa Les Chenes Verts, 152 boulevard John F Kennedy, Cap d’Antibes
Built in 1866 by architect Auguste Abeille for Adolphe d’Ennery, a Parisian playwright well known in the theatre world at the time. He spent all his winters there, receiving his friends such as Rochefort and Auguste Villemessant, director of the Figaro.
Jules Verne also visited him and stayed there every winter for a number of years, during which time he worked on the theatrical adaption of his novel ‘Around the world in 80 days’.
Villa Hier, 374 avenue Mrs L.D Beaumont, Cap d’Antibes
Designed by Barry Dierks for Anthony Edgar Somers in the first half of the 20th-century. Villa Hier was used as Michael Caine’s character’s house in the movie “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”.
Villa Eilenroc, 460 avenue Mrs LD Beaumont, Cap d’Antibes
Built in 1867 to the plans of Charles Garnier who had just built the famous opera houses in Paris and Monte-Carlo, the Eilenroc villa was commissioned by the former Governor of the Dutch East Indies, Mr. Hugh Hope Loudon. Its name is an anagram of his wife’s name, Cornélie.
The new owner in 1873, Scottish philanthropist James Wyllie, surrounded himself with talented gardeners who transformed the rocky terrain and scrubland around the Villa into 11-hectares of gardens with traditional species from the Mediterranean landscape.
The villa was also owned by Louis and Hélène Beaumont (today, their legacy remains in the naming of the road the villa is located on), who hosted fabulous parties with guests including Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald who continued their champagne soirees just below the villa at the water’s edge – you can walk along the public Sentier du Littoral coastal path and see the swimming area and grotto with a stone-cut bar.
In the 1980’s, Mrs Louis Dudley (L.D) Beaumont donated her property to Antibes to create a foundation in her name to welcome prestigious guests. The villa has been used as a location for numerous films:
- Under the Cherry Moon (1986) starring Prince and Kristin Scott Thomas (the Sharon residence)
- Une chance sur deux (1998) by Patrice Leconte starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon and Vanessa Paradis
- Les Kidnappeurs (1998) starring Elie Kakou and Elodie Bouchez
- Karl Lagerfeld’s 2011 short film ‘The Tale of a Fairy’ for Chanel
- Woody Allen’s ‘Magic in the Moonlight (2014)’ starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone
The Roseraie rose garden is very well known and open to the public seasonally with many rose varieties; there is an annual ‘Senteurs au Jardin’ open day for the public as well. The Antibes council also planted an olive grove to mark the 21st century, and to guarantee its eternity 54 olive trees were planted in the year 2000 symbolising the residents of Antibes born in the first month of that year.
Château de la Croe, Cap d’Antibes
This exceptional château in the Victorian style was built in 1927 for an English aristocrat Sir William Pomeroy Burton to the plans of architect and interior designer Armand Albert Rateau.
The Duke of Windsor (King Edward VIII of England) abdicated his throne in 1936 in order to marry Wallice Simpson, and they leased the property in 1938, renovating the chateau to the highest standards with the finest furniture, silver and porcelain.
Past owners have included the shipping magnates Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos.
In 1980’s, the chateau suffered from a fire that damaged the house and surrounding trees and it was left as a derelict shell to squatters.
Château de la Croe is currently owned by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who carried out a large scale program of renovations over 4 years commissioning the likes of landscaper Peter Wirtz, considered to be one of the masters of the genre. The property has a roof-top pool with garden and sea views, an underground restaurant, gym and cinema room.
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Notes: This Heritage Trail is copyright to Rebecca Whitlocke from Access Riviera, and is permitted to be printed and distributed for personal use only. For a free downloadable copy (Word document), please email email@example.com
Text has been reproduced from various third party sources: En Patrimoine de France, Monument Tracker, www.culture.gouv.fr, The Telegraph UK, France Today, Wikipedia, Le Figaro. Images: Antibes-Juan les Pins Tourist Office, Hotel Juana, Flickr
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Additional copies of this Heritage Trail in English and French can be obtained in person from the Juan les Pins Tourist Office, Palais des Congrès, 60 chemin des Sables, 06160 Juan les Pins.