One hundred years ago, died one of the most symbolic architects of the Belle Époque, Hans Georg Tersling, who created the imposing Hotel Bristol and a few large villas in Beaulieu.
Born in Denmark in 1857 to a very modest family, Tersling began working as a carpenter before entering the Royal Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen (1).
With the help of a compatriot, he went to Menton where he assisted the architect Gustave Rives and then settled permanently in the city in 1883.
The Metropolis of Monte-Carlo and the Bristol
Then followed a series of constructions of hotel establishments, including the Metropolis of Monte-Carlo and the Grand Hôtel of Cap Martin.
In 1897, while the foreign clientele increasingly appreciated Beaulieu in the winter, the British Blundell Maple, a large furniture manufacturer in England and eager to invest in the small city, called on Hans Georg Tersling. Completed in less than two years, the establishment called Le Bristol, which has 300 rooms and employs more than 150 people, was inaugurated on January 5, 1899.
In its rotunda dining room with bay windows framed by colonnades, the winter visitors elites of the Côte d´Azur quickly found their place to be.
Villa Masséna and Villa Cyrnos at Cap Martin
Along with the hotels, Tersling is building several villas. In Beaulieu, in collaboration with the architect Aron Messiah, he built a superb house in the middle of a 2.5 hectare park for the English railway engineer James Livesey. Very active, Tersling worked during the same period and with the same architect on the construction of the famous Villa Masséna in Nice. It was, however, at Cap Martin where Tersling built his finest homes, starting with the Villa Cyrnos, whose sponsor was none other than the former Empress Eugenie, who placed her full trust in him (2).
His reputation was then made and the Danish was entrusted with the realization of almost all the magnificent villas located around that of the Empress and which can still be admired in what is today called the private domain of Cap Martin.
Like many large hotels on the French Riviera, the Hotel Bristol became too big and too expensive to maintain after the World War II and was converted into a condominium. Fortunately, its architecture with stucco decoration remains intact and very symbolic of the 1900s.
Remember that the superb rotunda, now owned by the municipality, has become a cultural space where artistic events take place regularly.
(1) Michel Stève: Hans Georg Tersling architect of the French Riviera (Editions Serre 1990).
(2) Etienne Chilot: A garden for Eugenie (Editions Somogy 2014).
Date: January 10, 2021