The History of the French Riviera and why it's so special
The Origins of the Côte d'Azur
Blue water beaches, yachts under the sun, magnificent hotels, it’s the French Riviera, or Côte d'Azur in French. But it wasn’t always this way.
It used to be a group of rustic fisher villages in the south of France and Monaco until doctors started to prescribe a change of climate to treat diseases like tuberculosis. The English aristocrats went looking for good weather during the winter.
In the 19th century, the railway arrived, casinos and hotels were created, and rich tourists fell in love with the place and built their villas. The natural landscapes mixed with the luxurious infrastructure made the Riviera irresistible for kings, tzars, and nobles from all Europe. In 1887 it was officially named Côte d'Azur.
The French Riviera paradise
In the 20th century, Americans started to spend their summers at the French Riviera. The Murphys were a pioneer family, they built a modern house, invited their intellectual friends, played jazz at the beach, and celebrated big parties that shocked the locals.
Many artists were inspired and tried to capture the beauty of the Côte d'Azur, like Picasso, Matisse, and Monet. Scott Fitzgerald wrote there part of The Great Gatsby, and Edith Warton wrote The Age of Innocence.
There was something special in the French Riviera that attracted them. Something much more complex than crystal clear waters, palm trees, and glamorous gardens. It was a feeling they couldn’t get in any other coastline around the world.
It was a lifestyle, with the excitement of a center for culture and art, but relaxing as no city could. An exclusive paradise of luxury without the shallowness, where they felt the authenticity of a simple life.
It became a place for hedonism and escaping reality, for freedom and fun. Where Coco Channel popularised sunbathing, and decades later women wore bikinis, while in most places it was scandalous at the time.
The hottest spot for luxury holidays
From the 50’s it was full of Hollywood stars, like Grace Kelly and Rita Hayworth. The popularity never faded, being today one of the main touristic vacation spots of Europe, and still celebrating the Cannes Film Festival.
All this history left its marks in The French Riviera, making it into the special place it still is. It has always been an inspiration for Ultra. We have translated it into luxurious but simple watches, that honour that beauty and way of life.
Like the SuperAutomatic Cuir Blue Storm, the perfect watch for the French Riviera.
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