Over 140 years of History
Hotel Splendid, the 1st hotel in Cannes and continuously open since 1871, an establishment steeped in history…
One hundred years ago Cannes had no business tourism. The town, however, was known as a prized destination for people coming to escape the winter.
Hotel Splendid graced the Allées de la Liberté when the Carlton, Majestic and Martinez Palaces had not yet seen light of day.
On 15 June 1758, the Abbot of Lérins gifted a plot of land by the sea, where Hotel Splendid now stands, for a new chapel to be built. However, work on it stopped in 1764 and the chapel was never completed.
In 1771 the building was sold to J.F. Bournin, a merchant from Grasse who turned it into a soap factory.
He eventually went bankrupt and resold it to a Mr Gazielle who turned it into an oil and wheat shop, then into an inn.
The inn looked onto an expanse of dunes and a small stream. Fishermen used to haul their boats into it for protection.
It was there on the night of 1-2 March 1815, after setting off from Golfe Juan, that a small crew from the Isle of Elba with their legendary leader Napoleon spent their first night on French soil. The street name Rue Bivouac Napoléon commemorates this brief sojourn. Legend has it that Pauline Bonaparte once stayed at the small Gazielle Inn.
In December 1834, Lord Brougham discovered Cannes and contributed greatly to its development and growth. On 4 June 1838, the Port of Cannes was born.
In 1871 the Boulevard de la Croisette was completed, pavements were laid and palm trees planted: the curtain rose on the pomp and splendour of the “Belle Epoque”.
Land in town was going for only two francs a square metre, and barely more than 50 centimes along the sandy Croisette.
The small inn grew. Eventually the Hotel Splendid was built on the site of that inn, boasting a ground floor and three upper storeys.
The opera composer Jacques Offenbach spent the winter of 1874 at Hotel Splendid.
In 1905 it was considerably extended, two more storeys added and was officially named Hotel SPLENDID.
Cannes at that time had only winter tourism. Its hotels shut their doors for the summer due to the heat.
On 24 August 1944, at the height of the Second World War, German delaying units stationed in Cannes were ordered to destroy the beachfront, hotels and public buildings to slow the Allied advance before retreating to Nice.
Under questioning by the Groupe Jean Marie French resistance, at 2 am that same day German Colonel Schneider revealed the fire control centre: the basement of Hotel Splendid.
It was immediately neutralised, the town was spared and the Allies continued their advance unhindered.
After the War, Cannes continued to grow as did Hotel Splendid’s reputation in the heart of the city…