How did the idea of the French Riviera come about?


In the 19th century the English and Russian aristocracy introduced the fashion of spending the winter months on the French Riviera.

We often talk of a conflict of interest between these two imperial nations, but in fact their discovery of this beautiful French paradise took place at almost exactly the same time.


Who first discovered the charm of the French Riviera?


In 1834 Lord Peter Brougham, Lord High Chancellor, was planning to accompany his sick daughter to Italy, but the French-Italian border was closed because of an outbreak of cholera, so he decided to stop in Cannes.

He was so charmed by the village and its landscapes that 8 days later he decided to buy a plot of land on the hills in Cannes to build a property to spend the winters here.

Once the villa Eleonore-Louise was built, Lord Brougham invited the English aristocracy to Cannes and the story of the city of Cannes began.

By the way, this very first holiday villa in Cannes remains to this day, converted to an apartment residence surrounded by parkland.

As far as Russian Imperial history is concerned, most people know that the church in Nice in Imperial Park was built on the site of the villa where the Tsar Alexander the second’s son Prince Nicolas died.

However it was the Tsar’s mother who came to the French Riviera first of all, and, as usual with Russians, it’s a romantic story.

Alexandra Fedorovna, the wife of Nicolas I, was very close to Josephine, her husband’s illegitimate daughter, who married a painter from Nice, Joseph Fricero.

Joseph Fricero had been invited to the Imperial court in Russia as a painter to give Josephine lessons. They had fallen in love, were married in 1849, and moved to Nice.

Their descendants are still living in Nice today….


Who invented the expression “Côte d’Azur”?

Stephen Liegard, a French lawyer, politician, writer and poet invented the word in 1887 . 

The “Côte d’azur” the “azure coast” was the name of Liegard’s book which he dedicated to his trip to the French Riviera, staying between Marseille and Menton.

Tobias Smollett, a Scottish poet and author, stayed in Nice in 1763-1765, and published his “Travels through France and Italy”, introducing for the first time the French Riviera to English readers.

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