History

  • Photo ancienne de La Napoule

A city proud of its past and looking to the future

Backward times

Various archaeological traces allow us to trace the human adventure of our territory back to prehistoric times.

Later, the whole region stretching from Marseille to Monaco was occupied by the Celto-ligures, who lived from hunting, fishing and trade.

In the 2nd century B.C., the Romans, having hunted the Celto-Ligures, occupied the area for 5 centuries. In Gallo-Roman times, our territory was known as the "Pays d'Avignonet" and was divided into castrum. Then our region will know a troubled period, undergoing the slow decadence of the Roman empire and the Germanic invasions.

From the 6th to the 10th century, the territory entered the Middle Ages, thus experiencing darkness and terrible plagues.

The great dynasties

Then came the feudal times, and the Villeneuve dynasty made its appearance... thus was born the village of La Napoule. Indeed, after the estate built by this large family was destroyed, they decided to rebuild the castle by the sea. The inhabitants will gather around the building.

Until the 16th century, Napoule will know a prodigious economic development, in spite of the wars and attacks of the famous Barbarossa. Unfortunately, a century later, insalubrity is spreading throughout the territory, which is now deserted.

In 1719, Dominique de Montgrand bought back a devastated fief, and Napoule thus changed lord. He will strive to revive the village. The years pass and our district will live at the rhythm of the French revolution and regime changes...

The Belle Epoque

The city will experience a real boom when it enters the period called "La Belle Epoque". The Côte d'Azur is the international aristocracy fair. The arrival of Duke Michel of Russia will allow the city a real leap forward, when he will build a polo field, a racetrack, and the famous Old Course, the oldest golf course on the Côte d'Azur... Mandelieu-La Napoule then becomes the "City of Elegant Sports". The rich winterers will flock to the Coast where luxurious residences will be built, and luxurious receptions organized. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Waldorf Hotel (now Town Hall) became the Esterel School, a private college in the style of English universities. A port will also be built at La Napoule, at the present Raguette beach, for fishermen and winterers. The economic and tourist development of the city will be very important. A telephone office will be set up in the Termes district, and the tramway line linking Cannes to Cannes la Bocca will be extended to the gates of the racecourse. The famous Golden Cornice, this seaside road linking Cannes to St Raphael, was inaugurated in 1901.

The culture of the mimosa will also make the glory of the city. Indeed the city will become the Capital of Mimosa. When the mimosa is going to be planted on the Côte d'Azur, one will quickly realize the craze that the cut flower creates. The local producers who, until now, cultivated perfume plants for Grasse (rose, jasmine...) will convert to mimosa and the first commercial plantations will be born. Forceries will also see the light of day, with the "forcing" method that will revolutionize the cultivation of mimosa.

The mimosists multiplied and at the beginning of the 20th century there were 80 operators, almost all in Capitou. The mimosa was shipped to the 4 corners of the world.

Unfortunately, the First World War marked the end of a sumptuous era...

The Roaring Twenties

In 1919, the Clews, an American couple, bought the ruins of La Napoule castle. They fall in love with the place and decide to rebuild a castle in their image, and especially in the image of the love they had for each other. Henry, painter and sculptor, built the castle. As for his wife Marie, she designed magnificent gardens, now classified as "remarkable gardens". The Clews loved originality. Sumptuous disguised receptions were organized in their castle, thus gathering all the aristocracy of the Era.

Upon Henry's death in 1934, Mary created La Napoule Art Foundation, a private foundation charged with protecting her husband's works. Today, the castle still belongs to this foundation, which has become an important cultural centre.

The entire estate has been listed as a historic monument since 1947.

The Second World War put an end to this prosperity but once again, the city was reborn from its ashes so that life could resume its course in Mandelieu-La Napoule.

Today, the different districts have managed to preserve their identity. Capitou is the district of the mimosists and basket makers. La Napoule is cultivating its tourist appeal, while Minelle will become a residential district and Les Termes the administrative centre of the city.

The inhabitants are proud of their roots, but have turned to a promising future...