Since new regulations refers to what a hotel may or may not be proud of this title, would we no longer have the right to qualify the Negresco palace? Under the canopy of Eiffel of the Royal hall, lost in the contemplation of its luster Baccarat (4,60 meters, 16.800 crystals, a marvel for the czar Nicholas II of Russia and which you can admire the twin at the Kremlin), Jeanne Augier, owner and custodian of one of the last jewels of the Belle Epoque of the Coast, cares deeply in this year of 2012 where we meet for Le Figaro Magazine , on the occasion of the centenary of the establishment. No, the 5-star legendary has neither a spa nor a swimming pool (seven years later, it is in the project). Well, yes! Dogs and cats are welcome.

More than allowed, they are invited to tread of small feet on the front porch of the 37 Promenade des Anglais, as in his time, the cheetah by his friend Salvador Dalí. They can leisurely walk the precious marble of Carrara, weaving on carpet psychedelic of Yvaral, yelping in the great hall of the elliptical style of Louis XVI that no less than seven crowned heads came to gaze upon the inauguration of the hotel in 1913.

Stone Duvet, cultural advisor of the Negresco, lifts the veil on the hidden treasures of the reservations of the hotel. ERIC MARTIN/LE FIGARO MAGAZINE

Impassive behind his eternal glasses, the Lady of the Negresco sketch a smile at the approach of her two dogs: Lily, the yorkshire, and Lilou, the sharpei. “I love animals, they are brothers, sisters, children that I never had.” Schema emotional classic. What is less clear, it is his unwavering commitment…

a few years ago, the announcement of the creation of an endowment fund for the “fight against the suffering-human and animal”, to which Jeanne Augier bequeathed his hotel and a few other private property, had the headlines, everyone from his version of the Aristocats of modern times. Jeanne plague. “They have not understood anything.” Certainly, when his mistress will go to Caucade (the cemetery of nice), Carmen, pussy the Negresco hotel, will continue to yards the clientele of the bar, tucked under the portrait of the Grand Condé, on the velvet tan (such as it) of his armchairs. But not because she will inherit a fortune. Simply because the staff of the hotel, which is deeply committed to “Madame”, will.

“I never bought it for the signature”

Jeanne Augier is a patron saint to the former, as we no longer see that in the novels. Who gives willingly of the “my little”, don’t hesitate to crop his troops (“They will have to do something with this hair cut”, she says to a young man in crimson), but that its employees would exchange for anything in the world. The endowment fund serves the fight against animal abuse, it is true, but it is also intended to support actions towards persons with disabilities and especially to the preservation of the extraordinary artistic heritage that Jeanne Augier has accumulated over the decades in her hotel museum. A fabulous and eclectic showcase that she never yield, even to all the petrodollars in the world.

The sultan of Brunei who wants to buy the Negresco, she replies that it is too expensive for him. Bill Gates gets the same refusal. Recently, a proposal arrived from Morocco: “We buy, the price matters little.” Nothing can be done. “I am very cocorico”, like she remembered, the Negresco will remain French!

The brasserie la Rotonde in its decor carousel Pompadour. ERIC MARTIN/LE FIGARO MAGAZINE

Standard and concession were never part of the vocabulary of Jeanne Augier… Young girl already, she was seen in Nice, boyish in dress Courreges or pierre Balmain, climbing the scaffolds of construction sites with her father, Jean-Baptiste Mesnage, butcher breton became rich promoter, in order to monitor progress.

“You know the history of the house, isn’t it?”. More than a mark, it is a requirement. At 89 years of age in this year of 2012, Jeanne Augier’m not too fond of losing himself in the memories. The past has swallowed up both of their loved ones. Nana-yellow of her friend Niki de Saint-Phalle twirling in slow motion on its base of bronze. “Ms. Augier’s adored, his works the enchantaient,” says Marie-Françoise, his personal assistant. At his death, she offered each morning a rose at the foot of the statue.” The hunter livery comes to pick up Lili and Lilou. Since a “bad knee” the nails in a wheelchair, she can not accompany his faithful companions for a walk. “Nothing is ever easy, it would have too much charm”, ” sliding-t-it. A new joke of fate: in 1957, it is because of one of these chairs that all had started.

“It is true, I have not had a life that was mundane”

Jane was 34 years old. She is newly married to the lawyer nice Paul Augier and second his father in his business when the tragedy occurs. The victim of an accident then an error of diagnosis, his mother, paralyzed, finds himself confined. The wheelchairs of the infirm were very bulky at the time, and for that it does not remain cloistered in his room, he had to find a house with a large lift. “Only the Negresco had a sufficiently wide and it was on sale”. The war has ruined palaces of the Coast, which for many will end up cut up into apartments. The Negresco is still intact, when the family Mesnage-Augier bought it and settled there.

the history of The place captivates from the outset the young woman. “I like people with character and boldness, and this Henri Negresco does not lack”. The route of the little violinist, gypsy, who dreamed of offering to the French Riviera its the most beautiful palace, in fact, what impress. Become the chef and a favorite of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and other millionaires in resort, the man eventually found in Alexandre Darracq, the automobile manufacturer, its patron. The great architect Edouard Niermans begins the construction of the building in 1910, inspired by the style of Ritz in vogue in Paris… And, it is said, of the breasts curved from her mistress to the famous pink dome, which overlooks its cornice! Two years later, the Negresco was born, inaugurated with great pomp the following year.

A hotel, a museum to the glory of the French creation Jeanne Augier loved the universe of Salvador Dalí, but did not include Chagall: “He was flying donkeys!” Archives Negresco

therefore, It’s been a hundred years in the year 2012 as the proud silhouette draws the postcard of the bay of Angels (for the occasion, the hotel was closed for six months in 2010 and a facelift)… And more than a half-century that Jeanne Augier is able to refine his universe. With Paul, himself a great lover of art, she imagines the early days of “his” Negresco hotel as an embassy, a hotel, a museum to the glory of the French creation. To the edge of swe despatch riders, it travels through France, crossing the auction to call the extravagant mixture of styles and currents of art, which form the unique character of the Negresco.

A nothing kitsch when it transforms the living-room Pompeii in carousel Pompadour (a flight of little angels, horses of wood and bright colors), funny when she dresses the toilet men way tries to napoleonic campaign (the toilet of hotel the favorite of Philippe Bouvard!), Jeanne becomes a royal when she designed the living room at Versailles: “I hung one of the three full-length portraits of the Sun King, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud, the other two are in the Louvre and at the Chateau.”

In 1965, the shah of Iran entrusted to his palace…

The monumental fireplace from the castle of Hautefort, in the Dordogne, and the coffered ceiling of the Xvii century, the castle of Saint-Pierre-d’albigny, Savoie, remains of Hortense Mancini, sister of the first love of Louis XIV. His manner any personal understanding of the decoration like.

the Councillor of the Intourist under Khrushchev, Jeanne Augier flew to Isfahan in 1965 at the request of Charles de Gaulle airport, where she oversees to the shah the establishment of the first palace of Iran. “It is true, I have not had an average life”, she says, terse. Her best memory? “You taking me away…” His eyes are lost… “I had to come to my husband The Choirs of the Red Army for a private concert. We listened together, at the bar. It was wonderful.”

Jeanne Augier has spent 11 million euros to the renovation of the glass roof of the Eiffel and the façade, both classified historical Monuments. ERIC MARTIN/LE FIGARO MAGAZINE

We are on July 5, 2012. This evening, we inaugurate the exhibition of one hundred years of the Negresco. In the corridors, bloggers, americans, journalists of China and chroniclers of Brazil, fresh off the plane, wandering eyes in astonishment, stopping in front of a portrait of Louis Armstrong by Raymond Moretti, a painting by Vasarely, a painting by Mignard, a poster by René Gruau (the hotel has the largest private collection).

We may have stayed in some of the most prestigious hotels of the planet, nothing prepares them for the exception Negresco… a Graduate of the école du Louvre and cultural consultant, Jeanne Augier, Pierre Duvet concludes: “You know a lot of hotel owners who have their own workshops and employ year-round restaurateur, upholsterers, a mason and two cabinetmakers of the ecole Boulle?” Then, if all of the Negresco, is not entitled to the appellation, Jeanne Augier, is indeed the most incredible legends of the palace…

p.s. : Jeanne Augier died at the age of 95 in the night of 7 to 8 January 2019, a-t-on learned from his tutor. It had been, since 2013, under guardianship for the protection of the solicitations – it is without descendants, and lived in a vast apartment arranged in one floor of the Negresco.

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