Nice se met à l’heure américaine cette année! Nice is showing some American love this year!

When US Congress declared war on Germany on 6th April, 1917, the Niçois city fathers decided to rename its famous « Quai du midi » to « Quai des Etats-Unis ».

A century later, it was thus natural for Nice, which has been commemorating the First World War with a series of yearly exhibitions since 2014, to celebrate the impact the American presence had, not only on the city, but also the entire French Riviera.

1917 Nice l'américaine expoEntitled « 1917: Nice l’Américaine », the exhibit starts in 1787 with Thomas Jefferson, who was the first known American to travel to the south of France, and follows with Uncle Sam’s soldiers on “rest and recreation” as they showed locals the pleasures of bathing and sunbathing. Soon after, with the region transforming itself from a winter to a summer resort, it was the turn of the crème de la crème of American high society to flock to the region’s villas, private beaches and night clubs, to rub shoulders with famous artists from the ‘Lost Generation’.

The region had by then earned its reputation as a hedonistic paradise, and became a mixture of opulence, glamour, joie de vivre, and jazz music. Cole Porter rented a house on Cap d’Antibes for two summers in 1921 and 1922 and played in American-owned cocktail bar le Pam Pam. The wealthy Murphys took advantage of the strong US dollar to escape Prohibition at home and to make the Riviera their home. There, they entertained their many friends from the artistic community. Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Man Ray, and John Do Passo were just a few of the A-listers who participated in their wild parties, while F. Scott Fitzgerald perfectly captured the atmosphere of the era in his famous novel ‘Tender is the Night’.



While the roaring 20’s came to an abrupt end in 1929 with the stock market crash, the interest in the Côte d’Azur never really waned, and American money played an important part in the region’s development. Billionaire Frank Jay Gould opened the magnificent Palais de la Méditerranée right on the Promenade des Anglais, while American director Rex Ingram rescued the Victorine Studios from bankruptcy, giving them an international dimension.

The exhibition ‘1917: Nice l’Américaine’ is being held at the Archives Municipales in Nice until the 29th of September and will also include conferences, educational workshops, jazz sessions, and a cycle of American films held at the Cinémathèque de Nice.




Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)


The story of the disappearance of a glamorous heiress in Nice, a case which remains unsolved to this day, hits the big screens this summer.

Long before the sordid murder of Monaco’s wealthiest woman became a sensational tabloid case recently, another tale of seductionmoney and betrayal among the French Riviera’s rich and famous made the headlines of all the local newspapers: the infamous Le Roux Affair. Today, famed director André Téchiné, the man behind Ma saison préférée  and Les rosaux sauvages, is revisiting this family drama in his latest film L’homme qu’on aimait trop, staring Adèle HaenelGuillaume Canet and Catherine Deneuve and shot mostly on location in Nice last year.

Released last Wednesday to mostly positive reviews, the movie has all the elements that make for a gripping story: a bitter casino war, a love triangle, an unsolved disappearance, a possible involvement of the French Connection… Sometimes reality is definitely stranger than fiction!

It all started some 37 years ago, when Agnès Le Roux, the glamorous daughter of the owner of the Palais de la Mediterranée, disappeared at the wheel of her Range Rover. At the time, Le Roux had been romantically involved with Maurice Agnelet, a lawyer and a serial womaniser, who convinced her to vote against her mother, a former model who also once dated Agnelet and was running the family-owned casino since the death of her husband, at a board meeting. This betrayal led to the take-over of the casino by Dominique Fratoni, the owner of Le Ruhl. Agnès received three million francs in return from Fratoni, but soon after the money was transferred to Agnelet’s private account, the lawyer decided to end their relationship and the heiress mysteriously vanished.

In 2007, Maurice Agnelet was sentenced to 20 years in prison after his third trial, but a few years later, a former mafia member, Jean Pierre Hernandiez, claimed that the real culprit was instead Jeannot Lucchesi, a well-known figure from the Marseille underworld, without however providing any real evidence to support his accusations.

Earlier this year, Agnelet, now 76 years old, was found guilty of the murder for the second time after his own son testified against him, and is back behind bars. However, in the absence of any witnesses and with the body of the victim still to be found, doubts remain as to identity of the culprit, and while Téchiné’s movie does a good job recreating the Nice of the 70’s, it deliberately refrains from providing an answer.

L’homme qu’on aimait trop is currently playing in cinemas all over France.