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Palais Maeterlinck – Nice – A Côte d’Azur dream

Palais Maeterlinck Nice

Built on a four-hectare estate on the Cap de Nice, with 600 meters of seafront, the Palais Maeterlinck is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful residences on the Côte d’Azur.

The Palais Maeterlinck is in itself a summary of the great history of the French Riviera… After a first project for a luxury hotel that was not completed at the beginning of the 20th century, the property was bought in 1925 by a pseudo-russian aristocrat with a sulphurous reputation, the Count de Miléant, who wanted to create in Nice the counterpart of the Monte-Carlo casino. He thus began the construction of a sumptuous palace, which he named Castellamare. But like the previous one, the project was aborted, the 1929 crisis having ruined the Count de Miléant. In 1930, the complex was bought at auction by the writer Maurice Maeterlinck, who settled there with his wife, 20 years his junior, the actress Renée Dahon (1893-1969), originally from Nice. The estate is renamed Villa Orlamonde (a nod to a poem from the opera Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, whose libretto Maeterlinck had written).

A winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he obtained in 1911, Maurice Maeterlinck was a real international star at the time. His fortune enabled him to complete the construction work, with only the structural work having been carried out before he bought the estate. With its terrace overlooking the sea, its two Louis XV-inspired basins lined with Ionic columns and its 200 m² hall, the town quickly became one of the centers of gravity of the social life of the Roaring Twenties. The receptions held there became legendary, with distinguished guests such as Chaplin or Saint-Exupéry.

Splendor and decline

In 1939, the Maeterlincks left France for the United States, and spent nearly eight years as refugees in Manhattan. But nostalgia for their home in Nice pitied them, and they returned to France in 1947 to restore the splendor of the Villa Orlamonde, which had been looted during the conflict. Maurice Maeterlinck died there on 5 May 1949, his ashes were collected (like his wife’s) in a stele erected on the property. In his honor, the city of Nice changed the name of the part of Boulevard Carnot on which the villa is located to the name of the Belgian writer. From 200 boulevard Carnot, the villa Maeterlinck changes its postal address: it will now be 38, boulevard Maurice-Maeterlinck!

Renée Dahon lived there until her death 20 years later in 1969, passionately cultivating the memory of her husband and his literary work. The property, which is extremely demanding and expensive to maintain, will once again find itself abandoned and will then be transformed into a residence of 20 apartments, the Palais Maeterlinck. During the 1980s, the Mélisande Pavilion was built. The entire property then became a luxury hotel, which will also close its doors in 2008.

Symphony of light

It was not until the arrival of Czech real estate magnate Radovan Vitek in 2012 that the Maeterlinck Palace was reborn in all its majesty. Under the leadership of the Nice architect Jean-Paul Gomis, the three original buildings now house private residences of very high standing, in a symphony of light that respects the soul of this venerable property. In the west wing, the former hotel, there are two independent semi-detached villas, all rooms of which have a sea view. The central building contains about twenty apartments on two or three levels. The east wing, the one that Maeterlinck had named Orlamonde, houses six duplexes of more than 200 m2.

Between sky and sea, perched 20 metres above the Mediterranean, the Palais Maeterlinck has finally (re)found its place in the Côte d’Azur legend.

 

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Posted by Jeanette on 8 March 2021
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