Do you know the city of Beaulieu sur mer? This commune, which has managed to preserve its calm and charm of yesteryear so particular. If you want to learn more about its history, read this article.

Beaulieu was part of Villefranche sur Mer

In 1860, when the Kingdom of Savoy was annexed to France, Beaulieu became gallicized. Beaulieu at the time makes part of the municipality of Villefranche sur Mer. In 1886, under the impetus of the large local families, (François de May, Hippolyte Marinoni, Charles Lotter (Director of ‘La Réserve’), Eugène Giorgio (future mayor of Beaulieu), Gabriel Gras (vicar of Beaulieu) and other personalities such as the Countess De Gray, the Count of Foy, Goubareff) a petition for the detachment in an independent municipality was written.

A three-member trade union Commission expressed in a report of 14th November 1888 a favourable opinion on the separation project. On the 24th of August 1888 the General Council will vote in favour of the project. The case will be referred to in 1890 before the Council of State which gives its approval and on the 31st of January 1891 the Chamber of Deputies voted the autonomy of Beaulieu sur Mer in separating Beaulieu from the municipality of Villefranche sur Mer.  On the following July 18th 1891 the Senate ratifies the law and the 23rd President Sadi Carnot promulgates the law. An annexed plan to the legislation delimits the two municipalities.

Politically the real craftsman of the assignment was the Viscount François de May born in Nice 1834 from an old family niçoise and assisted by Alfred Borriglione the very popular deputy mayor of Nice supported by the newspaper “Le Petit Nice”.

The elections that took place on September 20th 1891 saw the triumph of the list of Hippolyte Marinoni obtaining the unanimity of the votes so strong was the desire of separation from the guardianship of Villefranche.

The love of Marinoni for Beaulieu sur Mer

From September 27th to October 15th 1891, Hippolyte Marinoni was the first elected mayor of Beaulieu. One might have thought that being a Parisian industrialist, inventor of the rotary press brake and director of the “Petit Journal”, he sought any political or financial interest but he left after only 19 days. It is hard to find a man being so selfless financially and politically as Hippolyte Marinoni.

Despite his business in Paris, he continued to endow Beaulieu sur Mer with his largesse until the end of his days, distributing money to the poorest, paying for road works and all that without expecting anything in return. As a real patron of Beaulieu, he will finance a school, the station, the sewers and participate in the financing of the port.

Beaulieu an ideal place to be

Three major events in the life of the municipality of Beaulieu sur Mer will provoke the raise of tourism: The road in 1861, the railway in 1864 and the tram from 1900 to 1931.

From then on everything is accelerating. Beaulieu becomes a famous climatic and seaside resort. We then see numerous hotel constructions, there are no less than 82 hotel accommodations in Beaulieu in 1898 and some luxury palaces such as the Bristol (1898), the Reserve (1880), the hotel of the English, the Metropolis (1892) and the creation of a Casino in 1929.

In 1894 the first stone of the Anglican Church “St Michael Church” was laid and it was completed in 1903 and consecrated by the Archpriest of York. The population still increases and the construction of a new church was decided in 1899 and consecrated in 1903. The bell tower dates from 1908, and in 1927 it enlarged with a porch.

Many crowned heads and other celebrities and industrialists from all over the world frequent Beaulieu sur Mer. The Queens of Italy and Portugal, of England: Victoria (1843) The king of the Belgians: Leopold II, William II of Prussia, Empress Eugénie, the Prince of Wales, the Marquis Salisbury (1885-1902), the British Prime minister), Count Tolstoy, the Duke of Connaught, Theodore Reinach (initiator of Villa Kerylos), Gordon Bennet (Villa Mamawa and owner of the New York Herald), Gustave Eiffel (Villa Salles), Léon Tolstoy (writer), Stravinsky (who composed his ballet Petrushka in the winter of 1910-1911), Scott Fitzgerald.

In April 1945 General de Gaulle stayed in a villa on Boulevard Déroulède where he wrote his speech of the liberation of Nice.

During the Second World War the Rotunda became a hospital and hosted the first Free French Division (DFL). But some hotels will not survive like the Bristol and the English Motel that became later ‘le palais des Anglais’ and which will be sold by apartments.

Today Beaulieu still retains its calm and charm of yesteryear due to a “Belle epoque” architecture, beautiful landscapes, two great beaches: ‘La petite Afrique’ and ‘La Baie des Fourmis’, and its two ports.

Despite being situated at only 7 kilometres from the metropolitan city of Nice, the beautiful seaside of Beaulieu-sur-Mer is characterized by its tranquillity and its architecture that is in line with Nice’s “Promenade des Anglais” mainly built in the 1800s. Beautiful hotels and exclusive surroundings with shops and restaurants are included in the city’s main street, with an active marketplace.


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