" France between the two world wars produced two masterpieces: the liner Normandy and the Palais de la Méditerranée " wrote Jules Romains . The Mecca of the entertainments of the Crazy Years, world meeting of the stars and of the personalities, the Palais de la Méditerranée was one of the most famous casinos and theaters in the world till it closed in 1978. Exhibitions and concerts, comical representations or plays, official receptions and New Year eves, made of it much more than a luxurious establishment of games of money.

From 1919, French Riviera knew a renewal of tourist interest. To develop the rich cosmopolitan clientele loyalty, it was necessary to offer them a new building which the tourist industry demanded. The idea of a Palais de la Méditerranée throning in front of the sea on the famous Promenade des Anglais came from a famous French hotelkeeper, J. Aletti. His vision was shared by financiers such as fantastically wealthy American Franck Jay-Gould ( 1877-1956 ), one of the main investors. Édouard Baudoin ( 1868-1939 ), one of the major French creators of casinos and luxury restaurants was called to oversee the project and manage the Palace

Architects Dalmas father and son won the competition of architecture. Under their management, three hundred and fifty workers succeeded in taking up the challenge to build the building in a single year. On January 10, 1929, the Palais de la Méditerranée could be luxuriously inaugurated as expected. Everything was grand, luxurious, modern and functional, from the impressive facade up to details, such as the door handles.

The Palais de la Méditerranée included an immense hall with a majestic stair, an atrium in marble of Bologna, a theater, a hall, an oyster bar, lounges for games (among which an impressive room of baccara with a private lounge), a night restaurant

From 1934, ornaments were eliminated bit by bit to modernize constantly the building Becoming a " Venetian palace ", it lost its Art Déco originality after the Second World war.Rather unfortunate managements and some weird episodes in the 1970's lead to the lock of the Casino. Condemned to be destroyed, the initial building saved only the skeleton of its main facade, classified Ancient monument on August 18, 1989. The hotel and shopping complex which should replace the former Palace has known a great number of projects and buyers in twenty years. The dossier, it is true, fed the quarrels between the city and the capital. Nevertheless, the year 2000 has seen the completion of the levels of garages in the basement.


Bovis-Aimar Nadine : « Le Palais de la Méditerranée, un défi des Années folles » in Nice Historique, 1993, n° 1-2
Bilas Charles, Rosso Lucien : La Côte d'Azur, années 20 et 30. Telleri, Paris, 1999.

Jean-Paul POTRON

 

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