Haussmannian Style Architecture in Nice, France

We cannot talk about French architecture without talking about the Haussmannian style. Indeed, as a world-famous style, Haussmannian style plays an important part in the image of Paris since 60% of the city is composed of these buildings.  However, other large cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon and even Nice still house some buildings from this era.

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In 1848, the French Revolution of 1789 was still very much in memory. Napoleon III returned from London with an urbanisation project aimed at renovating mainly Paris train stations.  It was Baron Haussmann (1809-1891), to whom Napoleon decided to give the task to rework the city’s plans.

Haussmann’s work is inspired by public space, the desire to facilitate traffic, but also air and light, through the creation of parks and gardens, while ensuring a mixture with the urban environment.

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In Haussmann buildings, the facade is often the most impressive and distinctive of the style.  The buildings built at the time must therefore respect a similar height to form a single unit.  The height should therefore be proportional to the width of the street and not exceed 6 floors.  A very important social aspect at that time, the Haussmann building was characterised by a ceiling height that gradually decreased according to the floor.

A typical Haussmann-style facade is built of stone.  The building is composed as follows:

  • A high ceiling ground floor with a mezzanine (first floor) above it.  The ground floor had to be able to accommodate businesses, except in the so-called ” haute bourgeoisie ” buildings (which can be found in large numbers just like in the Monceau neighbourhood for example).
  • A “noble” second floor, with balconies and richly decorated window frames.  The second floor is the most noble because at that time the elevator did not exist.
  • The third and fourth floors are much more classic.  Individual balconies subsequently appeared due to certain modifications. 
  • Finally, the top floors under the attic were often reserved for maids’ rooms.

Even today, Paris still holds the very image of this style and thus has more than 40,000 Haussmann buildings.  We can find them in different parts of the capital.  However, we are sure to see more if we go to Rue de Rivoli (1st district), Avenue de l’Opéra (1st and 2nd districts), Rue des Ecoles (5th district) or Boulevard Sébastopol (2nd, 3rd and 4th districts).  These streets, among the most famous in the capital, house many Haussmann-style buildings that are very representative of Parisian architecture.

You should know that even if it is less common, the Haussmannian style was widely adopted in many French and European cities inspiring a numerous architects.

Haussmann has also been able to spread its know-how in the various French regions: Rouen, Dijon, Angers, Bordeaux, Lille, Toulon, Lyon, Nîmes and especially Marseille.

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Similarly, in Nice, despite the fact that the city is more represented by the Art Deco or Italian style, we can admire some vestiges of this beautiful era.  It is true that Nice, with its colourful facades, wooden shutters and large terracota-coloured Masséna square, does not, at first glance, remind us of the Haussmannian style, but this style has managed to creep in everywhere.

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Even if buildings are in fact becoming rarer than in Paris, you can still find in some parts of the city, mainly in the city centre, magnificent buildings of this style.

For example, by walking near the Negresco, in the Carré d’Or district, next to La Croix de Marbre, you will have the opportunity to admire Haussmann-style buildings, especially those located on the rue de France.

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Towards the Musiciens neighbourhood, there are also some very beautiful buildings with courtyards. Unfortunately, they are hidden and cannot be seen from the street.

Continuing your walk, towards the great Avenue Jean Médecin, Place Toseli, there are also more examples (restored since then) that attest to the fantastic influence of this style on the city’s architecture.

Unfortunately, with the First World War, the decline of this style began to be felt and really gave way to the Art Nouveau style in the 1895s.

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