Are these the ugliest buildings on the French Riviera?

Locals on the island of Corsica are desperate for their picturesque coastline not to end up like the nearby Côte d'Azur - and when you see some of the architecture on the Riviera, you'll understand. Take a look.

Are these the ugliest buildings on the French Riviera?
Photo: Citizen59/Flickr

You think the French Riviera is all picturesque coastlines with beautiful, pastel-coloured buildings?  

Think again. In recent years and decades, high rises, shopping centers, unsightly hotels and some buildings that are more suited to the set of Star Wars have sprung up along the coast, often drawing the ire of the locals. 

Here are some of the ugliest structures to avoid on your next trip to the Cote d’Azur. 

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, Cannes

Photo: Janet McKnight/Flickr

This convention center is the venue for the Cannes Film Festival, so you’d think it might be more aesthetically pleasing. If the architects were going for haphazard and confusing, they really nailed it.

Marina, Villeneuve-Loubet, Baie des Anges

Photo: Citizen59/Flickr

Were they trying to imitate the Egyptian pyramids? These strangely-shaped blocks of luxury apartment buildings, restaurants, and supermarkets have marred the otherwise beautiful bay of the Marina, Baie des Anges, near Cagnes Sur Mer.

The Polygone Riviera, Cagnes-sur-Mer


If you want to feel like you’re in Disneyland rather than on the French Riviera, go here. This shopping center, opened in October of 2015, boasts 150 boutiques, 26 restaurants, casinos, and a cinema. 

The Bubble Palace, Cannes

Photo: Niklas Morberg/Flickr

Although it's been the scene for many celebrity parties and fashion shows, this “bubble house” looks like it belongs in the Star Wars universe, not on the French Riviera. We do have a soft spot for it but once Mars has been colonized, Pierre Cardin's Bubble House needs to be moved brick by brick up to the red planet.

Odéan Tower, Monaco

Photo: The Pinnacle List

This 70-meter tall luxury apartment building is certainly not meant to be subtle. The tower will hold the most expensive penthouse apartment in the world, at €500 million. 

The Palais des Congrès Acropolis, Nice

Photo: AFP

Naming this convention center after the ancient citadel in Greece was perhaps not the best move, as it only highlights how not beautiful or architecturally significant this one is.

JW Marriott Hotel, Cannes

This hotel and casino just looks a bit too Vegas for the French Riviera resort of Cannes. The purple fluorescent lights could probably be seen from miles out to sea. Although to be fair, are casinos ever pretty?

CGT Trade Union Building, Cannes

Photo: Google Maps

The architect must’ve gone on strike halfway through designing this union building. 

This villa, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferret

Photo: Fulvio Spada/Flickr

We'd all love a villa on the French Riviera, but maybe not one that looks like this. 

The hotels on Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Photo: Google Maps

This famous promenade in Nice has some beautiful hotels, and then it has some that look like this. Mais pourquoi??

Tell us the Riviera eyesores that we've missed out.


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Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.