Americans and the Making of the Riviera



The first book devoted to the unsung American achievement of creating the summer season on the French Riviera: before the Americans arrived in the 1920s of the last century visitors came only in the winter.

The first important American to visit the Riviera was Thomas Jefferson in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the eccentric James Gordon Bennett Jr., owner of the New York Herald, poured millions of dollars into making Beaulieu-sur-Mer a leading resort. But Cole Porter invented the summer season on the Riviera. He and his wife rented a house on Cap d’Antibes for two summers and invited the wealthy Americans Gerald and Sara Murphy to stay. The Murphys then invited Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. And thus was the new season launched.

Other personalities on the Riviera in the twenties included Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Rex Ingram, Rudolph Valentino, Man Ray, Harpo Marx, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet.

The Lost Generation created the Jazz Age, the Crazy Years.

Michael Nelson has written five books – War of the Black Heavens: The Battles of Western Broadcasting in the Cold War (Syracuse University Press and Brasseys, London, 1997); Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera, (I.B. Tauris, 2001); Americans and the Making of the Riviera (McFarland, 2007) Castro and Stockmaster: A Life in Reuters (Matador, 2011); and The French Riviera: A History (Matador, 2016).

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