Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 24, 2017

Seen Yet Unseen on the Riviera

It’s a fact of life that you can’t go everywhere, see all the sights and do everything. Inevitably, museums, historic sites and sometimes entire cities have to be omitted from the itinerary.

Time is always limited. You have to get back to the hotel for dinner, your train connection is in one hour, and so forth. Eventually, the days run out, vacation’s over and it’s time to head home.

Sometimes, you simply overlook something; no matter how much you research, you can’t learn everything about a place. There you are, steps away from some spot on which a momentous event occurred, and you miss it. Or, you might end your tour of a certain museum gallery, only to learn later that a work of art you admire was just around the next corner.

The big, humongous things are simply too large to be fully absorbed. Like this one:

Milan cathedral Brad Nixon 058 (640x480)

That’s the cathedral of Milan. We explored some of it, and devoted a good portion of our time to the famous tour of the roof and its phantasmagoria of statuary.

Milan cathedral Brad Nixon 012 (480x640)

But one can’t fully explore an edifice on that scale without devoting most of a day to the enterprise. If you do that, you surrender the chance at seeing any number of other points of interest. You keep moving, consulting your notes, scanning the guidebook, hoping to strike a balance.

Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to find a justification for missing something … as when you’re looking right at it, but don’t know what it is.

It happened to me in Nice, France. The Counselor and I were making our way on foot across town toward a museum. We crowded in as many other sights as we could, including some of the city’s busy shopping streets.

Our route let us take a look inside a Nice landmark we’d only seen in passing: the Hotel Negresco, on the Promenade des Anglais.

IMG_7001 (640x480)

The Negresco opened in 1913, and it’s one of the places I visualize when I hear the phrase, “grand hotel.”

Yes, we found, the interior is as imposing as the outside.

Negresco interior Brad Nixon 7074 (640x477)

Lavish, luxe, grande.

We were determined to allow reasonable time to see the museum, meaning the Negresco got short shrift. We breezed through, imagining the lives of the famous and wealthy as they must have played out in its rooms when it opened, in the final days before WWI.

Only this week, 6 years after that visit, I looked at that photograph and did some research. That circular skylit room is named the Royal Lounge. Look at it from a slightly different angle, and notice the chandelier.

Negresco interior Nice Brad Nixon 7075 (640x480)

Among the habitués of the French Riviera before and during the first war were many members of the Russian aristocracy, in exile from the turmoil that was bringing their world to an end. One of them was Czar Nicholas II. He commissioned the chandelier from Baccarat. It’s comprised of 16,309 crystals. If you know a bit of history, you’ll understand why Nicholas was unable to accept delivery for any palace of his in Russia. The chandelier ended up in the Negresco.

I looked right at it, but I didn’t know what it was, and didn’t take a deep breath, pause and ponder something like, “Wow, that’s a spectacular hunk of glass up there. I wonder what it is?”

I wish you a merry Christmas.

Some of the photographs in this post and select images from other Under Western Skies posts are available on Click on the linked photos, or CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky photo portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2017


  1. Nice pictures. The one cathedral looks like an older slightly less intricate version of the Sagratta Familia in Barcelona. These buildings are always amazing to see.


  2. There’s a lot to see and enjoy in Nice. In 1997 I walked along the Promenade, too, but went right past the Negresco. Too many astounding distractions pushed and pulled me elsewhere in the city. Thanks for stopping to go inside that grand old hotel.


    • You’re welcome. One’s always making those decisions … what to see, what to pass by. Glad to give you a glimpse of a site in a town you introduced me to. Merci.


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