It’s 90 years since Cole Porter and F. Scott Fitzgerald took homes on the Cap d’Antibes, raised hell with their Hollywood friends and persuaded the glitterati the Côte d’Azur was the place to party in the summer.
Remarkably, despite the escalating traffic and development of the last half-century, the Riviera has retained its cachet, and the most enchanting places remain unspoiled and magical — and none more so than the Hotel Belles Rives, the original party house of the ’20s.
That was when the young Fitzgerald, flushed with the success of The Great Gatsby, moved with his bride, Zelda, into the Villa St Louis at Juan-les-Pins, not far from Porter’s home at La Garoupe. There was endless partying before the Villa became the hotel Belles Rives in 1930.
Today’s Hotel Belles Rives is a perfectly preserved Art Deco oasis in a resort which still oozes the joie de vivre which made it so popular with British holidaymakers in the ’50s and ’60s, but which has also ceded many of its elegant old villas and hotels to the developers. This one retains a house-party feel which extends to the private beach and jetty behind the property.
The”Fitzgerald” piano bar still dispenses nostalgia every night to guests feasting on exquisite Mediterranean fare on a seaside terrace. Almost every night, one should say, since it rained on a recent visit. But it proved a real cause for celebration, packing everyone in to the elegant dining room which once buzzed with the partying Fitzgeralds and their coterie, but is hardly used in season because guests prefer to dine outside.