Kicking back on La Croisette with a glass of rosé? Enjoying a panorama of Monaco with pastis in hand?
You don’t know how lucky you are. For a dozen architectural ablutions nearly scarred the French Riviera skyline for good.
Familiar with Christ the Redeemer in Rio? Former Nice major Jacques Médécin (the corrupt crazy who fled to Uruguay to escape charges) came up with his own South American saint: a giant modernist Madonna towering above Nice Old Town from atop the Colline du Chateau. Like Médécin himself, this sky-altering aberration ended up on parole.
Perhaps Nice’s nastiest urban project was ‘Saturne’. As the name suggests, this 1970s plan by architect Georges Buzzi called for a giant blue globe surrounded by concrete pedestrian walkways in just north of Place Garibaldi.
The Riviera’s answer to the Great Pyramid at Giza? I think not.
Cannes doesn’t fare well either. You know the two Lérins islands that bob off the Cap d’Antibes? That’s right, the ones covered in vines, pines and olives trees, and lapped by azure seas?
Well, a third island – made rather predictably of concrete – was championed by local architect Philippe Robert. The artificial landmass was designed as a floating pyramid of 1970s horror: 9 hectares of pebble-dashed shopping precinct with a 600-room mega hotel tacked on. Yuck.
André Minangoy was the Riviera’s golden boy when he dreamt up the curvaceous Marina Baie des Anges in the 1960s. By the 1990s, his project was deemed daft, although prices for seaview residences in this coastal construction have been rising of late. A good job then that Minangoy didn’t let loose on Baie des Anges II, a bendy artificial island housing 10,000 extra residents just offshore. Look at the picture and decide for yourself.
The most aggressive exponent (and some might say most worst offender) for public works is the Principality of Monaco. The Port of Monaco has variously been re-planned as seaplane airstrip, an urban jungle, and – in 1998 – the Cote d’Azur’s answer to Central Park. Argentinian architect Emilio Ambasz planned to replace 70% of the yachts with a cascading amphitheatre of flora and fauna. Buy that man another drink.
Still, none of Monaco’s plans envisaged changing the layout of the venerable Monte-Carlo Grand Prix like Daniel Libeskind’s 2008 plan. The Land/Sea Development (click the link to see it) was set to turn the Principality into Dubai-on-Sea. The project, for better or for worse, is currently on ice.