When one thinks of Nice, they usually think of summertime, the beaches, the casinos, the celebrities, but none of this mattered prior to WWI. Tourists came to Nice for health reasons first, and then because it had become the winter gathering place of Europe’s aristocracy. Then tourism of mass came to Nice in 1864 with the railroad. A paradise on earth from November until April. All over the world Nice was celebrated for its winter season. It was the Belle Epoque and hotels such as the Negresco were built to take advantage of the seasonal tourists to the côte. One of the primary reasons that Nice was the birthplace of tourism.
But the war came and the hotels stopped taking tourists and started taking war casualties. World War I never touched Nice except by the influx of injured soldiers, many of whom were American. The return to tourism was slow and Nice felt the pressure from competitors like Deauville and Biarritz as well as the Italian Riviera. Times were grim for a city whose primary source of revenue was the winter tourists. So the city tried a new tactic. Instead of focusing on Europes grand aristocracy, they decided to seek out those wealthy individuals, blue blooded or not, who wanted leisure. The idea was to create « Palais des Plaisirs ». They found their man in the the American Frank Jay Gould, who had begun to develop properties in Juan-les-Pins. His family, of railroad fame, was involved in a number of shenanigans which some consider a bit underhanded, but he was a big investor on the Riviera beginning in Juan-les-Pins and Nice would become his biggest play yet with the building of the art deco Palais de la Mediterranée.