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A picture postcard: Le Larvotto

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Jean-Paul Bascoul

The history of your favourite neighbourhoods, in pictures. Today, it’s the turn of the iconic Larvotto.

Summer is just around the corner and tourists are starting to flock to the beautiful Larvotto beach. However, this neighbourhood didn’t always look like it does today, with many construction projects having changed its appearance over the last century.

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Initially, only a strip of pebble beach bordered this sparsely populated area. And with good reason, as Larvotto was an unhealthy swamp. Almost deserted at the end of the 17th century (only two inhabitants were recorded), the neighbourhood grew as tourists arrived and successive construction projects were completed. Nicknamed the “Mouettes” (Seagulls), the neighbourhood then took the name of “Bas-Moulins (Low Mills)”, and finally the current name of Larvotto.

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© Jean-Paul Bascoul – Larvotto in 1919

The neighbourhood, and in particular the beach, underwent the first of three major transformations, in the 1930s. A retaining wall was built to separate the beach and the “Larvotto baths” from the boulevard des Bas-Moulins.

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© Jean-Paul Bascoul – Le Larvotto in the 30s

In the 1950s, Larvotto was still a pebble beach.

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© Jean-Paul Bascoul – Larvotto at the end of the 50s

The biggest metamorphosis came about thanks to Prince Rainier III. In 1961, the “Builder Prince” decided to build an extension of 54,000m ² over the Mediterranean Sea.

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© Jean-Paul Bascoul – Larvotto during the construction of the extension in the 1960s

The works were completed in 1963 and two years later, in 1965, work began on the Larvotto beach, creating the shape we recognise today. Sand replaced the pebbles and breakwaters were added to protect the beach from the waves. The Sporting Monte-Carlo was built on the new extension ten years later and opened in 1974.

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© Jean-Paul Bascoul – Larvotto in the late 70s

The beach at Larvotto changed very little towards the end of the 20th century. Buildings sprang up, however, reaching ever loftier heights. In 2005, the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort stamped its neo-classical style and profile on the seafront extension next to the Sporting.

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© Jean-Paul Bascoul – Larvotto at the end of the 2000s

Today, Larvotto’s beach has just been renovated by the architect Renzo Piano. It has retained its unique shape but has undergone some architectural changes, with pride of place given to shops. Interviewed by Monaco Tribune, users are, for the most part, satisfied with this new beach complex, even if they are disappointed by the lack of vegetation for the moment.

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© Prince’s Government – Larvotto today

Larvotto’s metamorphosis is not over. Not far from the beach, a new offshore extension is under construction in the Portier sector. Scheduled for 2025, it will expand the Principality by six hectares.

Monaco went through many changes over the 20th century, as witnessed by the Larvotto district. The rest of the town was not overlooked, and if you want to discover more, a group of enthusiasts, administered by Jean-Paul Bascoul, has come together on Facebook to share their old photos of the Principality: Monaco4Ever.

You can send us your souvenir photos of Larvotto in days gone by, on our collaborative Facebook page or by email: contact@monaco-tribune.com

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