I have rarely taken to a hotel as much as I did to the mini-baby-grand, Hôtel Belles Rives in Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera. For this magnificent little gem of a hotel was once the rented home of American writer Scott Fitzgerald (Villa Saint-Louis) and his wife Zelda, who brought mischief and mayhem to the quiet seaside town. Famously known for his novel The Great Gatsby, it was here at the Villa Saint-Louis that he penned Tender is the Night. They entertained the crème de la crème of that time – Pablo and Olga Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Rudolph Valentino, Jean Cocteau … the list goes on. Today’s glitterati now stay here. The transformation to this charming hotel began in 1929 with the Russian emigré Boma Estène, who saw the potential to turn the villa into the Riviera’s first sea side hotel and his granddaughter, Marianne Estène-Chauvin, now runs it – a family dynasty.
It’s the independence of this hotel which has saved its charm – a hymn to the 1930s and Art Deco – skilfully reinvigorated by designer Olivier Antoine. The frescoes in the “La Passagère” restaurant (incredible cuisine under talented chef,Yannick Alleno – his special vegetarian menu for us was a triumph) are restored originals, thankfully protected under 1970’s formica. Even the crockery is a reworking of the original 1929 Belles Rives theme of the wave. To honour the heritage of this hotel, they award a Scott Fitzgerald prize annually in May to reward a literary novel reflecting “the elegance, wit, style and taste of the art of living”.
It was a great wrench to leave this hotel (I did fleetingly consider hanging on by my fingernails) but I was on a tour of the Côte d’Azur’s delights and like most things in the life of a travel PR, you never seem to have enough time to stay, ponder, and dream – that is until I return which I fully intend to do. We visited in December – can you imagine what fun this hotel would be in the summer sunshine?
Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry
Magellan stayed at the Hôtel du Clos as guests of CRT Côte d’Azur Tourisme which is a client of Magellan PR. Follow them on Twitter @Visit_Cotedazur and on Facebook/Côte d’Azur Tourisme.
Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+: Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry. For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com. Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller and via Twitter @A3Traveller.