Nice. Place Masséna at the corner of avenue de Verdun

Nice. Place Masséna at the corner of avenue de Verdun

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Nice. Place Masséna at the corner of avenue de Verdun.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: August 2013

Historical context

The development of tourism in the 19th century caused a strong demographic growth of spas or seaside resorts. Tourism towns, created ex nihilo or new neighborhoods built from older cores, have been among the most dynamic in Western Europe, and their growth rate has often been more vigorous than that of industrial cities. Between 1811 and 1911, the total population increased from some 13,000 inhabitants to nearly 110,000.

Image Analysis

Located on Place Masséna, a place where the old town is articulated with the new town, the Claridge hotel is characterized by the sobriety of its facades, thus obeying the urban regulations established by the Sardinian administration, which intends to draw inspiration from the methods that have prevailed in Paris during the construction of the rue de Rivoli under the First Empire. The building overlooks the gardens which cover the lower course of the Paillon and which lead to the Promenade des Anglais and the Baie des Anges. We are a far cry from the type of grand hotel with ostentatious decoration that developed from the 1880s and of which the Excelsior, the Negresco or the Carlton are examples.
Nice in the 19th century was a “seasonal city”: “For six months, we seek the sun as a benefactor, the other six months we flee it like an enemy,” notes Robert de Souza. The electric sign installed on the hotel and inviting you to spend the summer in Aix-les-Bains is proof of this. The Hotel Claridge was not documented in the indicators for Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes until after the First World War, which moreover raises the question of the date of the photo. Paradox: according to the advertisements which appear in these same indicators and which concern the Claridge hotel-pension, it is open all year round.


The traditional tourism that had developed in Nice since the end of the 18th century made it a seasonal city, a winter capital. The First World War put an end to this situation and the city began to welcome visitors in all seasons, even if the illuminated advertisements lag behind the reality.

  • electricity
  • Nice
  • tourism
  • tram
  • town planning
  • french riviera
  • city


Robert de SOUZA Nice, winter capital Berger-Levrault, 1913.HAUG, C. JAMES Leisure and Urbanism in Nineteenth-Century Nice , Lawrence, Regents Press of Kansas, 1982 François LOYER The Century of Industry Paris, Skira, 1983.

To cite this article

Jean-Luc PINOL, “Nice. Place Masséna at the corner of avenue de Verdun »

Video: Place Masséna Visite guidée de Nice