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The bendy 1970s edifice that is Marina Baie des Anges

The bendy 1970s edifice that is Marina Baie des Anges

Thanks to France’s unique real estate laws, registered agencies like Pebbles can show you almost any property on the Riviera. That’s why local buyers allow just one agency to work on their behalf. After all, who wants to trail round a dozen offices in the baking sun?

In a new blog series we explore the weirdest and most wonderful real estate in the South of France. All of which are available to view with Pebbles.

This month: Marina Baie des Anges

You can’t fail to notice the curvy mass of Marina Baie des Anges just before you touchdown at Nice Airport. Some liken it to a 70m-high ocean wave. Others a cross between the Egyptian pyramids and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

As this video shows, what’s certain is that the Riviera’s most madcap real estate project shocked and awed when finally completed in 1980.

Marina Baie des Anges was dreamt up by nutcase architect André Minangoy in 1965. City authorities told him to create a lucrative real estate scheme to make the airport suburb of Villeneuve-Loubet shine.

Minangoy responded with “une vision contemporaine particulièrement novatrice”. This ‘innovative contemporary vision’ blended property, marina, parks and beach in one 16-hectare site. Most bizarrely, his design didn’t feature a single straight line. That’s not all – Minangoy originally wanted his apartment blocks to be anchored like Mediterranean islands 500m out to sea.

The four ‘property pyramids’ were christened Admiral, Baronnet, Commodore and Ducal. Classy names, but the A, B, C, D acronym was typical of Minangoy’s common sense nature.

Equally practically, the project’s 1,600 apartments were connected by alfresco shared corridors and staircases. This saved a fortune in materials and time. And saves money in communal lighting costs to this day.

Each apartment also boasted a giant balcony or terrace. This was considered pioneering, because as recently as the 1950s suntans were for farmers or fishermen, not prestige property owners.

Alas, it took Marina Baie des Anges decades to bed down. Fifteen years ago you could pick up a seaview property here for under €100,000. Architecture from the 1970s was considered naff, not natty as it is today.

France’s Ministry of Culture also helped. A few years back they declared the complex “an iconic tourism sight of the 20th century”. Hairdressers, stores and boulangeries now service the 6,000 residents who visit each summer. The local tourist office even runs guided tours of this futuristic building every Thursday.

Pebbles would be delighted if you checked out the property too. After all, architecture fans rent holiday apartments here by the dozen.

Aficionados of André Minangoy’s work may also check out a newly opened hotel in St-Paul-de-Vence that he designed as a bendy business block 50 years ago. Le Vague looks like a Bond villain’s party pad. It also does a cracking €19 tapas lunch by the pool.


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