The Grand Hotel Negresco in Nice is an orphan. Its owner, Jeanne Mesnage Augier, died overnight on January 7th at the age of 95, up until the end, President and General Manager of the famous hotel on the Avenue des Anglais, a monument to luxury, elegance and art.
About ten years ago, when no one could doubt her ability to understand and express her requirements, the owner of Negresco made a will in favour of a foundation that will host dogs, cats and pets without a roof or an owner. The institution already manages dozens of hospices and abandoned animal clinics.
To make the hotel even more prestigious, the 124 rooms and 6 suites display 6,000 works of art, masterpieces collected by Madame Augier, scattered around the halls and corridors of the hotel, which five years ago celebrated its 100th birthday. It is the last “hotel de charme” in France and is among the great 5-star hotels of inestimable value.
Kings and queens, heads of state have stayed there as well. as celebrities in politics and industry, science and culture, such as Winston Churchill, King Baldwin of Belgium, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, the princes of Monaco, Salvador Dali, Louis Armstrong and the Beatles, artists and maharajas.
Valued a few years ago at 400 million euros, works of art aside, Bill Gates fell in love with the Negresco. He was willing to pay even more. Famous international hotel chains too set their sights on Negresco but Jeanne Augier always refused offers, saying that "memories are not for sale".
A Breton from Rennes, the father of Madame Augier, born Mesnage, was a delicatessen owner. After the Second World War he moved to Nice, with his wife and only daughter, to invest his savings in the reconstruction of the city. Jeanne studied singing at the conservatory, first in Rennes and then in Nice.
The real estate business was fine, when the Negresco owner died in 1957 and his heirs put the hotel up for auction. The Breton grocer bought it and, together with his wife and daughter, turned out to be an excellent manager. Jeanne, meanwhile, fell in love with a French lawyer, Paul Augier, who left the legal profession to manage the hotel with his wife.
Unfortunately, they had no children and adopted several dogs and cats. In fact, the Negresco is among the rare luxury hotels where pets are allowed and its restaurants also have a special pet’s menu.
Widowed six years ago, and confined to a wheelchair, Madame Augier continued to manage the prestigious Negresco successfully, personally taking care of all sectors, even employee uniforms and furniture. Only last year the Nice Public Prosecutor's Office ordered an audit of the prestigious monument on the French Riviera to officially confirm its value.
Although now very old and full of ailments, Jeanne Augier managed to avoid all the scams that dozens of international criminal operations had tried to organise against her. In her will – as the hotel employees claim – there is a legacy that ensures the future of the Negresco and its staff. The amount will soon be known when the notary reveals the contents of the will. In addition to the luxury hotel, Madame Augier owned dozens of apartments, shops and various other real estate properties.