Needless to say, the glamorous allure of the French Riviera is legendary. Far from a coterie of picturesque seaside villages, the area has long been the playground of the rich and famous. Among the world-class accommodations, stunning architecture, sublime dining opportunities, unparalleled luxury, quaint villages, and natural beauty, is an attitude that embraces the historical and stylish foundation of the environs, while boldly embracing modernization.
At over 100 years old Le Nergesco has never sparkled more brightly or offered guests a more unique opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the culture, art, grand style, gastronomy, and joie de vivre that has made this hotel one of the Riviera’s brightest shining stars. Built in 1912 and opened in 1913 by Henri Negrescu, the hotel was his vision of opulence suitable for elite and royal visitors. Topped with a regal pink dome designed by Édouard-Jean Niermans, the Belle Époque façade anchors the hotel to Nice’s Promenade des Anglais and the azure waters of the Mediterranean. The Royal Lounge’s stunning glass-ceiling rotunda is punctuated with an oversized Baccarat chandelier built for Czar Nicolas II. Likewise, throughout the hotel one can find an eclectic treasure trove of antiques, artifacts, fine art, and sculptures installed by Madame Jeanne Augier, who purchased and revived the hotel with her husband in 1957.
The heritage of Le Negresco is alive in each of the uniquely decorated 96 rooms and 21 suites, as well as being evident in the hallway and public space where decades of a determined art collection is on display. Committed to tradition, graced with touches of whimsy, and outfitted with all the modern amenities expected of a world-class hotel, Le Negresco is a wonderland for the curious. Madame Augier has dedicated her complete concentration to the fine art of hospitality and her vision is endlessly endearing. Handsome bellman wearing plumed hats open the doors with equal warmth for beach-going guests adorned in flip flops and tees, businessmen, and well dressed diners on their way to Chantecler — the hotel’s famed 2 Star Michelin-rated restaurant.
In Le Relais Bar, fine walnut woodwork from 1913 cover the walls, a tapestry from 1683 hangs center stage, and lively cocktails are served. The elegant refrain is enlivened with live music each evening. An 18th century carousel, complete with wooden horses, fills the décor of the vibrantly painted La Rotonde Brasserie, Le Negresco’s gourmet family restaurant. Truly a place to see, La Rotonde Brasserie’s fantasy kaleidoscope of colors, wooden horses, and pink velvet booths will make the most ardent snobs smile. And so it goes at Le Negresco, where the formality might make you mind your posture and walk a bit taller, but you do so with affection for all that has been done to make your guest experience so superb!
The Michelin starred gourmet restaurant, under the direction of Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland, is a destination in itself. The elegant regency salon style dining room is splendidly appointed and the service is as crisp as the pressed linens. The “experience” of dining at Le Chantecler is wonderful.
We were charmed by the sommelier, delighted by offerings of fresh bread and rolls, and tempted by the intricate descriptions of the menu by our immaculate waiter. Chef Rieubland’s wizardry was sublime and exquisite. I still dream of our table surrounded by waiters serving us delicious course after course, in perfect unison. Le Chantecler is not to be missed for gourmands visiting the South of France, for there may be fewer great pleasures in life than dining at Le Chantecler and then retiring to an opulent suite at Le Negresco.
Story by Ken Panton. Photography by David Lewis Taylor.
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