Negresco Hotel and the pride of being Romanian

Why do I love Nice? Nice is a city I only dreamed of. I imagined it as a place for the rich, a place for Hollywood stars full of extravagance. I did not think that it is actually the one place that I will fall in love with from the very first moment.

It’s incredible for me to be able to say this, but I think it’s the only place I’ve felt really good. I could say that I didn’t choose Nice, but Nice chose me.

How did I get to Nice? Shortly, these two beautiful people who won my heart are the proponents of this story; I have talked about them before.

One of them is Alexandru Teodorescu, writer, former political prisoner, a survivor of communist camps, maybe you know him, and he is the author of the book “Juvenile cell”, a memoir of the five years he spent in the prisons and forced labour camps of communist Romania. He is the MAN who impressed me deeply with his life story.

His wife is a poet, my favourite poet, a very sophisticated lady, former ballet teacher at the ballet school “Koenigsteiner Ballettschule Luisa Teodorescu”, a school that still exists today, and which was taken over by Andreea Radu, a collaborator and friend of Luisa Teodorescu (initiator of far-reaching projects, such as the “Mozartissimo” a concert series for young talented people). That’s actually how they ended up in Nice a few years ago.

Even if I didn’t travel too much around the world, I can fell that deep in my heart Nice is where I want to be. It’s all about this beautiful story centered on these two dear people and the beautiful Côte d’Azur, one of the world’s most beloved travel destinations. I believe that destiny brought us together in a hall as bright as the French Riviera.

In a previous article I talked about the wonderful walks on the Promenade des Anglais and about other tourist attractions that I visited in November 2021.  I didn’t yet write about Negresco, a hotel of Romanian origins, having been built in 1912 by a family originally from Romania.

Let’s go back in time; at the beginning of last year, together with Alexandru Teodorescu, his puppy Elfie and my eldest daughter Elisa Olaru, I went into Hotel Negresco for the first time. From the moment I stepped inside the hotel, I felt this modern Middle Age aristocratic vibe. I felt like Negresco was the bridge between the modern world and the old one where nobility lived luxuriously.

We stopped in the first salon where we served tea and enjoyed special attention! It is wonderful to realize that people, who were part of the hotel, enjoy our enthusiasm, our Romanian roots, the same roots as the builder and founder of the hotel, Henri Negresco.

After enjoying the tea, but also the art gallery, I visited the hotel and saw more authentic works of art, from the French sculptor and painter Niki de Saint Phalle. I’ve seen portraits of monarchs, including numerous busts of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Among the portraits of monarchs, the most famous are the portraits of Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. I’ve also seen the tapestries by Raymond Moretti, the sculpture Le Chat by the sculptor Cyril de La Patelliere and works by the sculptor Sacha Sosno. The chandelier in the Negresco hotel lobby was made with 16309 Baccarat crystals, absolutely incredible. It was originally commissioned by Tsar Nicholas the II, but due to the October Revolution in Russia, the order was cancelled, and later on the chandelier was purchased by Henri Negrescu.” [1]

“Here are the most famous portraits of Louis XIV (painted by Hyacinthe Ringaud, the other two copies are in the Louvre and Versailles), Louis XV, Louis XVI, Napoleon III and empress Eugénie under the canopy. Underneath the latter are carpets by Raymond Moretti, the Cat sculpture by Cyril de La Patellière and even a work by Sacha Sosno. In the corridors there are carpets by Yvaral, a portrait of Louis Armstrong by Raymond Moretti, paintings by Mignard and Vasarely, as well as the largest private collection of posters by René Gruau; the monumental fireplace comes from the castle of Hautefort (Dordogne), and the coffered ceiling (17th century) from the castle of Saint-Pierre-d’Albigny (Savoie). The Pompeii Salon was transformed into a ‘Pompadour carousel’, with cherubs and wooden horses, matched with bright colours and men’s clothing in a Napoleonic marquee. The hotel has its own art studio and annually hires a restorer, upholsterers, a marble worker and two carpenters from the Boulle school.” [2]

Our curiosity, enthusiasm and desire for knowledge attracted the attention of the Negresco Hotel manager who came to us and with a gentle spirit, and told us the history of the Negresco Hotel. It was a great surprise when he found out that we are Romanians, just like the founder of the most famous Hotel on the French Riviera.

We said goodbye with the hope that in the near future I will conduct an emblematic interview right in the lobby of the great Hotel Negresco and thus we will get to know more closely the history of the founder of Romanian origin, Henri Alexandru Negrescu.

But who was Henri Alexandru Negrescu?

“Henri Alexandru Negrescu was born in 1868 in Bucharest. Although his father was the owner of an inn, his financial situation was not very good. From a young age, Henri Negrescu worked as an apprentice pastry chef at the Capșa restaurant in Bucharest. In 1883, at the age of 15, he left for France with a band of violinists. He found work in Paris, where he began to prosper.  After Paris, he worked in Monte-Carlo, Cannes and Nice where he held the position of director of the Municipal Casino.

In 1910, having a very good financial situation, he decided to build a hotel for the richest people in Europe and America.

On January 4, 1913, the Negresco hotel was inaugurated with great pomp. The hotel enjoyed enormous success.

At the beginning of the First World War, the French authorities requisition the hotel and turn it into a hospital, and the owner, Henri Negrescu, is enlisted in the army and sent to the front.

In order to honour the many loans contracted for the construction of the hotel, Henri Negrescu is forced to sell the hotel to a Belgian company.

Upon returning from the front, Henri Negrescu was ruined. In 1920, ill with cancer and a bad heart, he died in Paris, at the age of 52.

In 1957, Hotel Negresco is bought by Jean-Baptiste Mesnage who entrusts it to his daughter, Jeanne, who had married Paul Augier, a lawyer and politician from Nice. The new owners have completely renovated it, enriching it with many works of art. Hotel Negresco regains its former glory, becoming an internationally famous name. The famous owner of the luxurious Hotel Negresco, Jeanne Augier died at the age of 95 in 2019.” [3]

Over time, the hotel hosted kings, princes, famous billionaires, members of the Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Basil Zaharoff, Isaac Merritt Singer, etc. families.

“Hotel Negresco has five stars and is located on the Promenade des Anglais, on the shores of the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels).

It has:

  • 121 rooms and 34 suites (Louis XIII style);
  • permanent art gallery with works by artists Raymond Moretti, Cezar, Chiril La Patelliere, Salvador Dali, Vasarely, Yvaral, etc.;
  • 9 halls equivalent of 600 seats for organizing receptions;
  • the “Baie des Anges” lounge overlooking the Mediterranean Sea;
  • the high-class Le Chantecler restaurant;
  • coffee lounge and restaurant “La Rotonde”;
  • the piano bar “Le Relais”;
  • beauty salon, hairdressing salon, massage, manicure, gym;
  • travel agency, laundry, car rentals, limousines, helicopters, airstrip;
  • boutiques (70 showcases of art, Moretti, Vasarely, Dali, fashion, jewelry, Lancel, Christian Dior, Versace, Cartier, etc.);
  • tennis and golf courts;
  • Hotel Negresco is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World consortium;
  • over thirty films were shot at the Negresco hotel. ” [4]


Therefore, there are not many stories of Romanians who started from the bottom and ended up owning empires. This story was the beginning of an interesting and passionate attempt to write the history of an unusual destiny. For any Romanian who arrives in Nice, I think he will always feel a bohemian air and will be proud of the impressive history left behind by Henri Negresco, the son of an innkeeper who turned from a waiter into one of the biggest owners on the Côte d’Azur .





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Despre autor
Mihaela Olaru

Avocat, soție, mamă, o femeie care radiază bunătate „serafică”, a spus cândva o personalitate emblematică a sistemului judiciar din România. 

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