The Riviera: A History in Pictures

The Golden Era

Series 1 - Episode 2 The Golden Era



Richard E Grant concludes his tour of the shimmering Côte d’Azur, picking up in the boom years that followed the First World War. It was the dawn of a golden age as Matisse and Picasso, and eventually Cocteau, set up camp here.

The 1920s saw a return to classicism as well as the embrace of hedonism – a Jazz Age lifestyle captured by F Scott Fitzgerald in Tender Is the Night, and satirised by Jean Vigo in his film A Propos de Nice.

Grant saunters from haunt to haunt like an affable art lecturer, his erudition faltering only once, with a grammatical blunder, when he speaks of Picasso’s “sturdy women swimming or laying [sic] on the beach”. Ouch!


Richard E Grant concludes his exploration of the French Riviera's artistic legacy by focusing on how art and celebrity became intertwined in the early part of the 20th century. Resident artists such as Picasso and Matisse found the sun-drenched landscape ideal for experimenting with their work, and as the region became a creative hub, the likes of novelist Jean Cocteau and ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev were drawn to the area. This artistic community also liked to party on the Cote d'Azur's beaches - a pastime that proved equally irresistible to the American multimillionaires arriving in the area on board transatlantic liners.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Richard E Grant
Director Spike Geilinger
Executive Producer Franny Moyle
Producer Spike Geilinger