From the moment the ambassadors of the silent film industry first discovered the destination and succumbed to its charm, it was inevitable that the "Côte d’Azur - Film" love story would last forever. From 1946, Cannes became a prestigious showcase for international cinema. The creative work happens in Nice, the watching and discussion in Cannes. The Côte d’Azur has the full package. It has been wonderfully conducive to the mutually beneficial rise of film. Its idyllic setting, mild winters and sheer number of days of sunshine, beauty of the Mediterranean, sublime villas and hotels up on its headlands, remarkable landscapes and light all proved to be alluringly “seductive” selling points attracting the leading lights of the film industry. The Côte d’Azur as a film location is worthy of its reputation as the French Hollywood or “Californie”. The Côte d’Azur has seen generations of film directors and actors come and go. Over time, Nice has acquired remarkable film-making expertise. Cannes, too, will always be top of the bill thanks to its famous Festival. The love story continues to this day… In the past 12 years alone a total of 121 feature length films, 195 TV series episodes and 1784 commercials have been shot on the Côte d’Azur. The Côte d’Azur extends a warm welcome to visitors to share its passion for all things film, visit its wealth of stunning landscapes used as classic film locations. See it through the eyes of the great film directors and actors -- and fall in love with it, like so many before…
Film would revolutionize the world. However, it could not have developed without cinemas and studios. The Côte d’Azur quickly met the needs of an emerging industry, exporting its images around the world and providing a beautiful film location where it was a joy to work. Key historical milestones mark the early days of film on the Côte d’Azur… following is a history of the first studios:
- 1897 (or 1898): the Frères Lumière film the Nice Carnival. Early on, directors fleeing the grey skies of Paris came to the Côte d’Azur in search of the light that would enable them to film throughout the winter.
- 1908: Pathé builds a film studio in Nice - Route de Turin. Pathé becomes the first production company to open for business on the Côte d’Azur. Its shoots mainly animal films (Alfred Machin). It closes in 1930.
- 1913: Gaumont opens its studios in the Carras district, Nice. Louis Feuillade, Studio Director, films ten films there. The studios are unable to survive the advent of sound.
- 1919: Louis Nalpas buys Villa Liserb in the Cimiez district of Nice – at the foot of the Régina – to shoot his feature length film: La Sultane de l’amour/The Sultan of Love. The film’s success encourages him to transform Nice into the European “Hollywood”. He goes into business with Serge Sandberg, buying property at La Victorine (7.02 Francs per m2). He builds his studios under the architectural direction of Edouard Niermans who built the Négresco Hotel in Nice.
- From the 1920s onwards, the greatest silent and sound film directors shoot on the Côte d’Azur, choosing Nice as their inspirational creative base or film set. The Côte d’Azur, holiday destination of the British and Russian aristocracy, is now a haven for professionals of the 7th art.
- 1921: the Iris studios at Saint-Laurent-du-Var, which opened during the silent film era, take off with the advent of sound. The turning point is in 1929 when investments are made in sound film production. The studios close their doors in 1943 and are destroyed in bombing raids in 1944.
- From the 1920s to date: over 350 films have been shot by the greatest studios Gaumont - Pathé - UGC - Associated Artists.