« F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quotation engraved in marble evokes the happiest moments in his life at the villa « Saint Louis ». Placed officially on one of the walls in the entrance hall in the presence of his granddaughters, Eleanor Ann & Cecilia Scott, it feels as though the message is personally addressed to the guests.»
The Legend of the Fitzgeralds
The history of the Belles Rives begins with a discovery: the ‘Lost Generation’, composed of a disenchanted youth and artists broken by the First World War, heads to the south of France and invents the Côte d’Azur.
Heading up the American trend for between-the-wars literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, pack their bags in 1925 for the French Riviera and succumb to the charm of a dwelling called the « Villa Saint-Louis » in a cove on the Cap d’ Antibes.
It’s here that he writes his masterpiece, ‘Tender is The Night’, transforming Villa Saint Louis into a resort for wealthy Americans discovering the pleasures of wild partying and swimming in the sea.
His time spent on the Riviera provides him with the inspiration several years later for ‘The Great Gatsby’, in which one imagines the extravagant couple throwing many parties on a terrace by the sea with celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino, Hemingway, Franck Jay Gould, Maurice Chevalier and Pablo Picasso, and where a green light always shines on the horizon…
A life lived at night, with Champagne, extravagance, sweet decadence…and the Fitzgeralds make Juan les Pins the place to be, in vogue, where the jet-set of the era like to slum it while cultivating a certain idea of modernity.
It’s in 1929 that the villa, seeped in history, becomes the Belles Rives hotel.
A Family Saga
At the same time, a thousand miles from the Mediterranean, Boma Estène breaks with his native Russia and goes off to discover the ‘City of Light’, Paris, and then Antibes, making his life-long dreams come true.
In 1929, accompanied by his wife, Simone, the daughter of long-line of hoteliers from Antibes, Boma Estène takes over from the Fitzgeralds and metamorphoses the Villa Saint-Louis into a seaside resort.
The Belles Rives, the first hotel on the water along the Côte d’Azur, is born.
In 1930 and 1931, Boma and Simone Estène add a wing and two floors to the edifice which boasts 42 rooms at the time.
Their marriage is blessed with three children, Georges, Raïna-Laure (Laurette) and Casimir.
In 1970, following the death of Boma, Casimir Estène takes over the management of the hotel alongside his mother, and then runs it himself - masterfully.
A Story of Generations
In 2001, Marianne Estène-Chauvin, Boma and Simone’s granddaughter, buys out the Belles Rives from the other members of the family.
In 2006, she buys the hotel Juana, another jewel in Juan les Pins, and creates the Belles Rives Group.
A word from Marianne Estène-Chauvin
"Artists always weave narrative patterns around their image; I built the Belles Rives around my personal history.
It’s here that I feel at ease and guests share the same, special relationship with the place, creating a fiction of happiness for themselves, through the prism of their holiday memories."