Why not? Seriously though, you may well ask why all the blue chairs in Nice, as a recent guest in the gite did. So let me tell you all about them.
The History of the Blue Chairs in Nice
The iconic blue chairs of Nice have become a symbol of the city’s culture and history. These chairs are scattered along its famous seafront boulevard, the Promenade des Anglais.
The “blue” chairs were originally installed in the 1930s by the city’s council to provide visitors and locals with a comfortable and relaxing place to sit and enjoy the view. However, at that time they were white (not yet the famous blue) and made of wicker, and you had to pay to use them.
After the Second World War, in the late 1940s, a certain Jacques Ballanger, the owner of the concession for street chairs and sun loungers in Nice, commissioned Charles Tordo to manufacture 800 new chairs.
They needed to be more robust and practical than the original wicker models, while still remaining comfortable. Tordo was skillful, knowledgeable and already had a number of patented inventions under his belt and he became devoted to creating the ideal chair.
In the end, nearly 10,000 blue chairs were produced in Tordo’s workshop between 1950 – 1970.
Over the years the blue chairs of Nice disappeared into private gardens, onto the beach, etc and production stopped. But in 1999 the City of Nice once again commissioned new chairs.
The architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte produced 2000 new metal chairs, which were a victim of their success and they too dwindled in numbers, thanks to people appropriating them for their private use. Finally to stop this happening the chairs were screwed to the pavement.
Wilmotte holds the copyright and license agreement for the current model until June 2023 when it will pass into the public domain.
Why are the Famous Blue Chairs of Nice Blue?
The chairs are blue first and foremost to represent the beautiful azure sea and southern sky that Nice is so famous for. However, there was another practical reason, and that was to distinguish the seafront chairs from other chairs when they were moved for certain events such as carnival.
The Blue Chairs of Nice Inspire Artists
The blue chairs of Nice hold a special place in the city’s culture and have been celebrated by many artists over the years. One such artist is Armand Pierre Fernandez, known as Arman, who was born in Nice in 1928 (died in New York in 2005). Arman paid tribute to the blue chairs in his work of art called “Camin dei Ingles, 2004”.
This piece is a monumental accumulation of several hundred blue chairs, on display in the Museum of Modern Art (MAMAC). It highlights the significance of the blue chairs in Nice’s culture and is a testament to the enduring popularity and importance of the blue chairs.
Another artist inspired by the iconic blue chairs of Nice is painter Sabine Géraudie who paid tribute with her “Chaise de SAB”, a gigantic 2D sculpture installed on the Quai des États-Unis in 2014.
The Blue Chairs of Nice Today
The blue chairs in Nice have been subject to pranks, controversy and stunts over the years. On 1st of April 2018 the Niçois woke up to find the blue chairs of Nice had been replaced with basic yellow plastic chairs.
I actually saw this and was momentarily utterly bewildered until I realised the date. Stupidly I didn’t take a photo! Very unlike me.
View this post on Instagram
During the second Coronavirus lockdown in November 2020 the blue chairs of Nice were taken away to discourage gatherings. This was so unpopular that they were put back a few weeks later.
However earlier in the same year, during a brief lull in Covid restrictions the Tour de France started in Nice and some of the blue chairs were kitted out in race colours.
(As an aside, did you know the Tour de France is finishing in Nice in July 2024? This will be the first time ever the race has ended outside Paris!)
To celebrate another sporting event, in April 2022, the emblematic blue chairs turned black and red in support of Nice’s football team in the final of the Coupe de France. Sadly it wasn’t enough to win!
Relaxing on the Blue Chairs of Nice
The Promenade des Anglais is a popular spot to relax and enjoy the world go by. The blue chairs face out to sea and inland towards the city, making them ideal for people-watching.
Whether you’re visiting Nice for the first time or returning for another visit, idling away time in a blue chair is a must-do activity.
Today, the blue chairs of Nice are an integral part of the city’s identity and are maintained by the city council. They continue to attract visitors from all over the world and locals who come to enjoy the beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea from the comfort of an iconic blue chair.
Please PIN for later