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Jeanne Augier 1923-2019

Despite being 95 when she passed away the whole of Nice was shocked and saddened by the death of the owner of the Negresco Hotel, Jeanne Augier. The best hotel in Nice and once the whole Riviera was her fiefdom, she resided there till her passing.

Royalty, artists like Picasso Chagall and Dali who brought his pet cheetah (she loved animals) and international celebrities flocked there.

She would never sell even when Bill Gates said “Name your price ‘: she replied “You don’t have enough money”.

It’s integrity is protected by being declared a National Monument and she had set up a protective trust She was a keen collector of art, mixing up classic portraits of French kings with funky modern sculptures. Each floor was devoted to a different century of French art.

The hotel opened in 1913 under the ownership of a Rumanian Negresco. He engaged as architect Niemann who built the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergeres. It is said he modelled the cupola on the shape of his mistress’s breast.

Both the wars were unkind to the Negresco: the Nazi occupation of Nice was particularly savage and they requisitioned the hotel as a brothel for their soldiers.

However, Jeanne persuaded her father, a property developer from Brittany, to buy it and she married his lawyer Paul Augier.

If you were seeking to describe the hotel the words ‘unique character’ spring to mind.

As you enter you pass a bust of Renoir’s mother to a huge atrium around which the paintings are displayed.

The toilets, one a general’s bivouac – the other a ladies powder room – are one of the many original features.

She had no children so the hotel will probably remain with the trust which is also involved in animal welfare. One hopes that management will remain faithful to the Augier ideal.

Michel di Vacri