The Promenade des Anglais in Nice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is characterised by the buildings for which it is renowned, such as the Negresco, the Palais de la Méditerranée AND its famous blue chairs.
La Promenade is part of the history of Nice, but who knows the history of its blue chairs today?
Origins of the blue chair
It all began after the Second World War, around the 1950s, when Mr. Ballanger was entrusted with the task of manufacturing chairs for the Promenade des Anglais. Mr Ballanger was the holder of the concession granted by the city of Nice for the provision of seats on the Promenade des Anglais.
At that time, one had to pay to sit on the Promenade des Anglais and it was a real job to rent the chairs in churches and public places.
Mr. Ballanger called upon Charles Tordo, a Tourettan (resident of Tourrettes-Levens), to manufacture the chairs. Charles Tordo (1914-2003) is the inventor and manufacturer of the first blue chairs in Nice. The first chairs were by the way not blue but white.
Mr. Tordo, already had many patents on his name. Charles Tordo was responsible for the manufacture, repair and installation as well as the rental of the chairs on the Promenade des Anglais.
The blue chairs were made of wood that came from the high country of Nice, beech or plane trees. The chairs were are easy to stack and therefore easy to transport. Over the years, the chairs have been further improved. After Mr. Ballanger’s death, the concession ended and there was a break in production for a long period.
The blue chairs of today
Today, it is the city of Nice that has taken over the installation of the new blue chairs, manufactured in Haute Loire and “redesigned” by the designer Willemotte. The project selected by the City of Nice for the construction of the Allianz Riviera stadium also called on Jean-Michel Wilmotte & Associés’ architectural firm, as did the eco-neighbourhood project around the stadium in the plain of Var to the west of Nice.
The blue chairs are now fixed to each other and anchored to the ground to prevent any movement or theft. The city of Cannes also has blue chairs. The blue colour represents the Mediterranean and the Côte d’Azur sky.
The blue chairs of the Promenade have the particularity of a curvature in the armrest and thus take up the initial design of the wicker chairs placed on the Promenade des Anglais before 1945 that we can still see on the old postcards of Nice.
The Tordo family has created a new removable model of the blue chair with twenty-three pieces that fit in a flat cardboard box. These chairs can therefore be sent abroad or to other places in France to have a souvenir of Nice in your garden.
“La chaise gourmande”
Antoine Soave, oenologist and wine merchant, is a friend of the Tordo children. He owns Saveurs & Anthocyanes, a wine cellar located at 10 Rue Gioffredo in Nice. He buys the premises next door to create the restaurant La chaise bleue gourmande where you can taste a real Niçois cuisine combining tradition and innovation with exclusive and local products and above all excellence cooked by the chef Nicolas Leclair.
The restaurant’s menu changes regularly and is adapted to the season.
The stone and brick walls, as well as the emblematic blue chairs and wooden tables, give this place a typical and authentic setting in the Nice urban landscape.
The blue chair, the ideal place to contemplate the Mediterranean on the Promenade des Anglais, is now available in all its forms and exported to many countries, an opportunity to acquire a piece of blue that will remind you of Nice and its famous Baie des Anges.