In this article, you will learn more about the history of Beausoleil and its relationship to Monaco.
The border between France and Monaco is quite tricky to find. Like a thread, it is intertwined with the French commune of Beausoleil and the Principality. Shop signs and facades are often the only indicators of where you are. The population of Beausoleil is mostly made up of immigrants – their grandparents, the first inhabitants of the city, came here more than a hundred years ago and was not locals. But we must start from the beginning.
The starting point for the development of Beausoleil was the construction of the famous Monte-Carlo Casino, followed by the Hotel de Paris and other attractions that ensured the prosperity and popularity of the Principality among the wealthy tourists of that time.
While Monaco was growing and blooming, it was the opposite on the other side, in the Italian Piemonte. In 1884 the province of Cuneo was seized by a cholera epidemic. Famine swept the region and the local population had no choice but to flee. Some left for America, but most settled in France, the Alpes-Maritimes, in particular
In order to survive, people were happy to take any job. Monaco was a big construction site and spare hands were in high demand. The Piedmontese thus settled in the Carnier quarter, the closest neighbor of Monaco, still serving as a division point between the Principality and France.
At that time, there was a crisis in olive oil production and the prices plummeted as a consequence. Most landlords, particularly the Blanc family, were seeking a way to keep the prices up. The construction of a new city was thus launched which was to become “upper” Monte-Carlo.
Camille Blanc introduces Beausoleil
The idea of building a new city was a brilliant one, but no one in charge there. The municipal council of La Turbie that owned the Carnier area was divided into two camps: one supporting and the other opposing the project. After all, the construction of a new city essentially meant its separation from La Turbie. That’s when Camille Blanc came into the picture.
Born in 1847 in Paris, he was the son of none other thanFrançois Blanc, the founder of the Monte-Carlo Casino and the SBM company. In 1887, after the death of his father, Camille took over his post.
As the elected Mayor of La Turbie, he asked the French government to separate the new city from the commune and received permission to do so.
On 12 November, the municipal council voted for the new city to be named Beausoleil or “beautiful sun”. Montfleury and Beausejour were among some other options. Beausoleil could have also been called Monte-Carlo Supérieur (or upper Monte Carlo). The inhabitants of the Principality, however, rebelled against any such name.
In 1898 Camille Blanc founded a real estate company called Monte-Carlo Supérieur. From this came the opinion that the new city would become the second Monte-Carlo.
On10 April, 1904, the President of the French Republic, Emile Loubet, signed a decree officially introducing the new commune of Beausoleil. On 8 May, Camille Blanc was elected mayor, which he remained until 1925.
Expansion of the city
Over just a few years, Beausoleil made an incredible amount of progress in both its demographic and economic development. Between 1904 and 1921, its population doubled. At the beginning of the 20th century only 4,000 people lived there. By 1954 their number reached 11,000. The town was expanding and its infrastructure was as well. First a school, a mayor’s office, two casinos, hotels… The First World War suspended the construction work which was only renewed in 1930.
Over this time, many beautiful buildings were constructed in Beausoleil that still remain among its defining features and major attractions. St. Joseph’s Cathedral is one of them. Its first stone was laid on 16 February, 1913. However, it was only opened to public 10 years later. This is also the only major church in the region that bears the name of St. Joseph.
The building was designed by the architects Maumejean and Champigneulle in a neo-Romanesque style. Its beauty lies in a particular harmony of proportions. The architectural composition of the church is rather unusual: it consists of a main building and a high tower with a gable roof crowned by a cross. It is also famous for its huge stained glass windows made by French glass blowers. The church was raised to the rank of a Cathedral on 15 March, 1936.
Beausoleil citizens hold an annual celebration in honor of their patron saint, on 20 March. This year, the solemn mass was delivered by the Archbishop of Monaco, Bernard Barsi. Fireworks brightened the sky over St. Joseph’s Cathderal while everyone enjoyed an aperitif in Liberation Square.
The Riviera Palace
The Riviera Palace hotel, which offers the best panoramic views over Monaco and the entire Cote d’Azur, is the most famous place in Beausoleil. The building was commissioned by Compagnie des Wagons-Litsand the project was executed by the architect Georges Chédanne. Its construction began in 1898 and the building has an eclectic style typical of the Belle Epoque. The facades are made of ochre and the balustrades of blue majolica.
Its main decoration is the winter garden with subtropical plants in bloom and a rockery of incredible beauty. The dome of the winter garden was designed by Gustav Eiffel. In 1989, the Riviera Palace was added to the list of historical heritage of France.
A market can hardly be called a tourist attraction. However, it is one of the most popular places in Beausoleil. Even famous Monaco chefs are known to do their grocery shopping here.
Before the construction of Beausoleil, lower La Turbie only had a few shops and market stalls. Back then the municipality could not afford to buy a market space in the city centre, as the price per square meter was too high.
The only solution was to find someone to construct a market building at their own expense. A businessman and factory owner, Augustin Jean Trabut, was the man for the job.
On 1 November, 1902, the huge market opened its doors. At that time it occupied a surface of 750m2. The building itself was made of stone, iron and wood.
According to the municipal agreement, 30 years later the land plot was to remain in the ownership of the seller. However, the city reserved the right to redeem the property for its initial price. 30 years later, the city council decided to exercise its right and naturally was refused by the owners, since the price of the site rocketed over this time. The city filed a lawsuit and won the trial. The market became its property.
Beausoleil has a number of incredibly beautiful places to visit. You can stroll through the picturesque streets of the city. But to truly understand Beausoleil, one must look into the eyes of its citizens.
A city is not just about its buildings, squares and parks. First of all, it is about the people who live there. Once you are on the streets of Beausoleil, you will be greeted by warm smiles, children’s laughter and neighbors unanimously discussing the topical news. Life is in full swing here, maybe not as smooth as in Monaco, but warm and sunny, just like the city’s name.
In short, Beausoleil has an interesting and long history in terms of its relationship to Monaco, and when you visit you will easily be delighted by its many charms.