THEATRE DE VERDURE ET JARDIN ALBERT 1er, two emblems of the city of Nice.
Le Theâtre de Verdure, inspired by Ancient Greece, has been a mythical place for artists‘ summer performances for over 60 years.
Until the second half of last century, the space was occupied by an artificial grotto exhibiting fake stalactites next to Jardin Albert 1er swan pond. In the very heart of Nice, the garden had been built to satisfy to the tourists’ favourite activity, going for walks. It was in turn called Jardin Paradis, Jardin des Plantes, Jardin Masséna and Jardin des Palmiers before being named after Albert 1er to honour the Belgian king for his brave stand facing the German ultimatum at the start of WWI.
At that time and till the sixties, children would go for donkey-drawn cart rides all around the garden. But the growth of traffic put an end to the attraction, a saddening interruption for our little ones. Today, a merry-go-round carries along young and old in great car drives or space flights.
Art has always been part of the place. Years ago, the bronze statue of a panther, its profile facing the sea, attracted passers by of all sorts who would hold the pose while they stroked the beast in mock of danger for a photo, a souvenir from Nice, the coast, the Mediterranean. Since 1988, Bernar Venet ‘s Monumental Ark 115.5, a nineteen-meter long metal artwork, has been standing on the central lawn and has been discussed as long.
In 1946, François Aragon, architect, changed the landscape of the garden facing the seafront. He started building an open roofed theatre surrounded by dense vegetation, cypresses, palm trees and pine trees. A stonewall overhung by two statues Tragedy and Dance, by Victor Nicolas, made the back of the stage. The amphitheatre tiers and Nice sky as roof gave the shows performed there a very particular dimension that carried the audiences away to the Mediterranean birthplace of civilization’s ancient theatres.
In the eighties, Le theatre de Verdure gradually turned into a Temple of Rock music with shows that have become classics for The Clash, Cure, Iron Maiden, Prince, Telephone, Sting… Today, this unique décor is home to all sorts of events and in particular Nice Jazz Festival in July
The bandstand and the refreshment stand erected in 1868 are no longer there. But strolling across the garden that stretches from Place Masséna down to the beach remains a special treat in summer evening cooling air.
Last but not least, you might be accompanied by one of your favourite stars’ music in your walk. Who knows?