From that azure day at the end of the 1800s when the Alexandra Palace in Menton first rolled out the red carpet for its carefully-chosen guests, it looked as if all would be well with this exclusive hotel.
A few short years later they had just one family staying. A disaster? Hardly, when that family bore the name Romanov.
The last Czar, Nicholas II, thought the Alexandra the perfect place for his four daughters (below), the Grand Duchesses Maria, Tatiana, Anastasia and Olga, to slip away to when the climate of St Petersburg proved tiresome. They stayed many times before the outbreak of the First World War carried that doomed family away from our golden coast forever.
Over the years the Alexandra has had many royal connections. Queen Victoria visited and the Swedish king Gustav V regally resided. Now a beautiful apartment in this Belle Époque marvel is on the market to provide a lucky buyer with a special slice of elegant history.
The Résidence Alexandra, as the former hotel is now called, was designed by the architect Gustav Rives and built in 1885 by the Danish architect Hans-Georg Tersling. Tersling was responsible for many well-known buildings along the Riviera, including the Hotel Métropole in Monaco. The Alexandra sits in splendour on the Madone hill overlooking the sea above Carnoles.
The apartment (95m2) is on the southwest corner of the first floor. A very special salon in a round tower has three French windows opening onto a terrace (13m2) with its view to the sea over the lovely gardens with many exotic plants. There are three bedrooms with French windows giving on to small balconies (5m2). Each, like the salon, has parquet flooring. There are two bathrooms and of course a kitchen.
The present owner, Duchka Crvenic, is leaving behind 25 years of sunshine and superb health. “None of the family have ever been ill here. I believe this is due to the special Menton climate,” she says.
“In summer cooling breezes blow from the Maritime Alps directly behind the town, and in winter the sea moderates any feeling of cold. The freshness of the air and the limitless sunshine makes this a wonderfully healthy place to make your home.
“Menton is right on the Italian frontier, and it’s lovely to pay a visit to a neighbouring country at the drop of a hat.”
€890,000 will secure you a piece Menton’s Alexandra Palace, so different from another Alexandra Palace I have had the pleasure of living close to – Ally Pally in North London.