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Madame Jeanne Augier and Her Life Story at Le Negresco

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The symbol of Negresco has haunted the minds of artists, celebrities, Presidents and so many more as a state of cultural heritage of the French Riviera. 

Henri Negrescu, the Romanian founder of the hotel

The story of the hotel started back in 1900 with the Romanian, Henri Negrescu, a musician and a waiter for the stars like the Rockeffelers or Vanderbilts which inspired him to create the idea of a new luxury hotel, a palace of wealth and good living where the riches can mix the opulence of the French Riviera. 

During World War I, though, the hotel was turned into a hospital and Negrescu was so generous as to pay for the hundred hospital beds. With the end of the war and of the riches' sparkles, Negrescu was ruined, along with his rich clientele. He died in Paris years after. 

Jeanne Augier becomes the owner of the hotel with her family

The hotel was sold to a Belgian company but it was not till the 1957 when the Breton self-made millionaire, Jean-Baptiste Mesnage bought it for his wife, at first, who was paralyzed due to a wrong done operation and needed a lift equipped for her wheelchair. Negresco hotel was the only one to have it in Nice. Then, it was for his only child, too, his daughter, Jeanne, whom he loved deeply. 

Le Negresco,a mirror of Versailles on the Promenade des Anglais, French Riviera 

Jeanne was to become, for the following years, the heart of the hotel and its new vision: art, culture, luxurious Palace, a mirror of Versailles on the French Riviera. Madame, as it was often called, gatherer more than 6000 works of art. With an Empire furniture, plastic-coated armchairs from the 70s, a « Big yellow chick » by Niki de Saint Phalle, a chandelier whose equivalent is in the Kremlin in Moscow or a painting showing Louis XIV, with its Belle Epoque facade and pink cupola, Negresco is one of the most important symbols of the French Riviera. Also, she created, for her employees, the costumes "a la francaise". She was very fond of the country's values and kept the national symbols close to her. She refused any buying offer coming from international powerful names like Bill Gates. She often said that the hotel was not for sale. 

 

Courtesy of Negresco | 50 years ago + Jeanne and her father in 1933

She married Paul Augier and together they built and redecorated the hotel transforming it into one of France's most prestigious establishment. Celebrities like Mickael Jackson, Brigitte Bardot, The Beatles, Prince, Winston Churchill, Madame Pompidou, Princess Grace, le Maharadjah de Patiala, the King of Belgium, Salvador Dali, Elton John who filmed his clip "I'm still standing" and many head of states, royalties, politicians and important personalities stayed at Negresco. 

During all these years after the achievement of the establishment, Jeanne Augier has lived at an apartment on the 6th floor of the hotel. She has always been surrounded by animals, since she was little. Her mother gave her a puppy as a Christmas gift and she always had an animal next to her as a replacement for a brother or a sister. 

After the death of her husband, she was usually seen having lunch, alone, at the two star Michelin restaurant, Chantecler, the restaurant whose reputation was built with the help of her husband and father. She created a sort of luxurious space with original elements like the carousel. Stories tell that she was, sometimes, seen at her table bringing her own napkin and putting pieces of lunch into her pocket book, as the blog writer, Frank Pleasants says. The last years, Madame Augier was not much to be seen, as she was confined to her wheelchair and suffering from Alzheimer. 

Jeanne Augier has died

On the January the 7th, the sad news of Madame Augier's death came as a struck for some. At 95 years old, Jeanne Augier's life came to an end on her Negresco's apartment, along with her two dogs, Lilou and Lili. A life that is worthy of a Hollywood movie, a life that can teach us strong character and tenacity, the ambition of a vision that can never be transmuted. As Madame Augier had never had children, her heritage will be left to her Foundation, Mesnage - Augier - Negresco, that will manage the estate under her principles of protecting the hotel's patrimony as a French value, fighting for the protection of animals and people in suffering. 

"The board of directors and all the employees of the Hotel Negresco have the immense pain to inform you of the death of Jeanne Augier, Chief Executive Officer, who died on January 7, 2019 in her 96 th year. Owner of the Hotel since 1957, Madame Augier has worked for its renaissance and its influence in France and around the world. With her husband Paul Augier, she made the Negresco, an unexpected Palace, a luxurious establishment in his image, recognized worldwide and the last big independent hotel in France. A passionate collector, she has collected more than 6,000 works of art and furniture depicting five centuries of French history, making a majestic tribute to French talents.

A tireless advocate for the disabled, people in distress and the animal cause, she has worked generously to relieve their suffering. It is in this same spirit that the Board of Directors and all employees intend to perpetuate the creativity, the free and independent character of a great lady who leaves the city of Nice, an emblem of the art of living French-style.

A period of mourning of one month will be respected, symbolized by the half-masting of the flags of the Hotel Negresco. The Board of Directors and the temporary administration appointed in 2013 continue their mission in continuity, ensuring the management and management of the Hotel." as stated in the press release from the Hotel.

The life of Madame Jeanne Augier is, definitely, a page of history, a chapter of inspiration on different levels of society outlining the strength of character and vision, the power of creating her own world and rising of a shinning symbol on the French Riviera, Le Negresco!

Author Andra Oprea